Gallery: getting up close and personal
What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.Aaron Siskind
Like many photographers, I shoot quite a lot of images of flowers and that’s the first thing I think of when asked to showcase macro photography (which technically-speaking I don’t do) or close-up photography (which I do a lot). After that, my next thought will be insects.
But I already have a few posts here on those lines: Beautiful blooms and bees in close up and A selection of summer bugs.
So what to do when Amanda asks for close ups and macros for this week’s Friendly Friday Challenge? Widen the net, I guess, and look for those occasions where I have tried to pick out the details in other subjects. That too I have done previously, while exploring my own local area, so the following photos are all taken from my travel archives, specifically my early 2020 trip to Indochina. In all of them I tried to get closer to the subject and pick out a detail that spoke to me in some way.
If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.Robert Capa
Roof detail of the Fujian Assembly Hall in Hoi An.
Assembly halls were built there by each section of the Chinese community to serve as both place of worship and gathering place. I loved the colours, and the arched back of this little dragon on its roof.
Just a couple of the many appealing details in the Chinese All-Community Assembly Hall in Hoi An.
This hall is also known as Quang Dong or Quang Trieu and was built in 1885 to serve the Cantonese Chinese community.
Prayer cards hanging from incense coils in the Cantonese Assembly Hall in Hoi An.
It is evident that as well as a tourist attraction this is still a place of worship.
A wall carving detail from the Thien Hau Pagoda in Saigon / Hoh Chi Minh City.
Thien Hau is a sea goddess. It is believed that she can travel over the oceans on a mat and ride the clouds to save people in trouble on the high seas.
Star anise for sale in Binh Tay Market, Saigon / Hoh Chi Minh City.
The market was constructed by the French in the 1880s and lies in the heart of the city’s Chinatown.
Marigold offerings at Wat Xieng Thong, one of the largest temples in Luang Prabang.
The offerings are made from cones of banana leaves ornamented with marigold flowers and designed to look like mini stupas.
Detail of a bannister at Wat Sensoukharam, another of the many temples in Luang Prabang.
This temple’s name means ‘Temple of 100,000 Treasures’, which refers to the story (truth or legend? I’m not sure) that it was built using 100,000 stones from the Mekong River.
A carving near the entrance to Tran Quoc Pagoda, on the banks of the West Lake in Hanoi.
The turtle is one of the four animals considered sacred in Vietnam, symbolising protection, longevity and wisdom. In a traditional Vietnamese fairy tale, the turtle had a powerful sword that helped the Vietnamese to win a war against the Chinese.
I noticed this pretty little carving of a bonsai tree in an art/coffee shop in old Hanoi.
If it hadn’t looked so delicate and hard to transport I might have been tempted to buy it! As it was, I had to settle for a photograph.
These two details are from the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.
The red and gold carving is on a pillar of the Throne Hall, while the painting is from the frescos around an outer courtyard, hundreds of metres in length. They depict an episode of the Indian epic Ramayana and are the biggest mural frescos in South East Asia. They were damaged by the Khmer Rouge and are only gradually being restored.
Images of Angkor Wat abound. The five towers, the concentric walls, the reflective pools. And I have photos of all of these, which one day, when I can find the right words to sum up our visit, will find their way into this blog.
But for this post I am focusing on a particular aspect of the temple, its stunning carvings. Here are just three examples.
A rosary at Choeung Ek (the Killing Fields) in Cambodia.
Of this place too I have many photos, and again I will share them when the time is right. For now this single image sums up for me both the horror of the place and the natural human reaction to what happened there.
This rosary was left by another visitor on the so-called Killing Tree, found on liberation to be smeared with blood, and worse; here babies were killed by having their heads bashed against it before being tossed into a grave with their mothers.
I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.Diane Arbus
I visited Indochina in early 2020, just before the pandemic took its grip on the world
The opening three detail shots especially spoke to me. And a poignant shot at the Killing Fields, such a devastatingly sad place.
Thank you Ruth, I really appreciate your visit and feedback
Some lovely things here, as well as objects reminding us of upsetting and horrifying times. You may never find the words ….
Thank you Margaret. I do hope to be able to do so, it’s a story that should be told and never forgotten.
We seem good at forgetting …
Lovely detailed shots here
Thank you 😊
Beautiful photos Sarah! Loved the details you picked out and the quotes were perfect too.
Thank you Sheetal, I’m glad you like the quotes 🙂
Great images as usual, very thought provoking especially the killing tree, of which I knew nothing about.
Thank you – I knew nothing about that tree either, but in a site full of shocking history, that tree was by far the most shocking of all.
Great selection of photos. Often it’s the details that have impact especially when paired with writings.
Thank you Sandy 😊 I have a bit of a thing about photographing details – so much so that I often get home and realise I don’t have a single photo of the whole building to put the details in context!
That happens to me too!
Wonderful collection. I’ve visited The Killing Fields but didn’t take photos, it was just too depressing and shocking. The one you have is just right.
Thank you Alison. On our way to the Killing Fields I had it in mind not to take photos, as I thought it might not be appropriate. But after talking with our guide at the entrance I decided that I would. Her parents had been impacted by the Khmer Rouge regime, losing family members and suffering hunger. She was passionate about the need to share what had happened with visitors like us but also with the wider world, and it seemed that by taking photos and writing about it (which I did in my old blog and will reproduce here one day), I could help with that. She also told us that her mother was rather unhappy that she visited so often but at the same time understood how important it was that visitors to the country saw for themselves the past that had shaped present-day Cambodia.
Yes, I can see that now Sarah
I’ve read someone else’s account of going there. I’m not sure if I did a post of this or not!
Wow, so much detail here Sarah 👍🏼
Thank you Teresa 🙂
Amazing details you have sourced from your collection, Sarah. Well done. As an artist of sorts, the details you have highlighted make absorbing viewing. The intrinsic movement of the arched dragon, the carved scared turtle and the colours of the temple frescoes are all fascinating, but are dwarfed by how my eye was captured by the blue bonsai! That shade of blue is gorgeous!
And you were worried about what to post!
Thank you Amanda 😊 I can usually find something to post – the challenge this time was not to duplicate what I’d done in the past! I’m so happy you got so much out of viewing these photos. I have to say, I don’t see the turtle as looking scared, but I’m pleased you like him – I thought it was a super little detail at the time. Glad you love the bonsai too. That was a cool place which our guide led us too – an art gallery with a coffee shop on the upper floor, but still surrounded by the art pieces 🙂
Scared should have read sacred!
Wow, what a beautiful close-up collection! The details are incredible and very beautiful!
Thank you Amy, I really appreciate the feedback 😀
Great selection, Sarah. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favourite, but if you were to twist my arm I’d say the marigold offerings. It’s so simple yet says a lot.
Thanks Mari – I wouldn’t twist your arm but I’m always happy when someone picks out a favourite. It’s so interesting to hear which ones catch someone’s eye, and why 🙂
A stunning collection of close-up photos.
Thank you Don 🙂