Having been fortunate enough to travel quite extensively, I can say with much certainty that most people seem to only care about the “big sights”. Crowds are bussed in, pushing and shoving as they get their obligatory photograph of *insert world renowned sight here*, before trundling back to their bus and heading off to the next stop where the process is repeated.
I like the big stuff too and have the “obligatory photo” at Machu Picchu, the Eiffel Tower and everywhere in between. But a few years ago I started taking a different approach to my travels.
I started focusing on the smaller picture – looking at the tiny bits that make up the giant attractions that seem to hog all the attention. Finding the smaller things takes time and effort but develops a depth and appreciation that isn’t necessarily evident when you’re being herded along with the throngs to see the major sights.
Titanic Dry Dock, Belfast
There is a lot to see and do in Belfast, not least all of the Titanic-related sights. I took this picture in the dry dock that the Titanic was constructed in. Of course, it does nothing to give the scale of how big the ship was, but looking at the rusted metal clamp, fraying rope and aged wood filled me with a sense of awe – something so seemingly small and insignificant played a part in building the worlds most famous doomed ship.
Lava Field, Reunion Island
Reunion Island is famous for its active volcano. A multitude of eruptions over the decades have resulted in a fair amount of destruction with lava having wiped out every piece of vegetation in its fiery path. This picture was taken at one of the older lava fields and made me think of how resilient some life is. Given time, anything can bounce back from what may have seemed at the time like complete devastation.
Nan Hua Buddhist Temple, Bronkhorstspruit
A couple of hours outside Johannesburg, the massive structure of Nan Hua Buddhist Temple bursts out of the landscape quite dramatically. It’s a great place to take amazing photographs and on this particular trip, parts of the temple were covered with thousands upon thousands of tiny Lady Bugs. All jammed up against the bottom of the columns in the temple courtyard, this close-up for some reason reminds me of my childhood – nothing in particular, but just a feeling of nostalgia and a yearning for a much simpler time.
Local market on Mahe, Seychelles
Besides the Taekwando class I attended during this trip, the local food market was a definite highlight. Markets like this are somewhat difficult to find in the sprawling metropolis of Johannesburg and it was interesting to see (and smell) some of the local wares. I was particularly taken with the stand selling cinnamon. The bark, freshly peeled, provided a depth of flavour that I have not been able to find again since that trip.
San Ignacio Miní, Argentina
Granted, the San Ignacio Miní Jesuit ruins are already far from a major tourist attraction so there was no fighting through massive crowds here. The flora, however, was absolutely astounding. This little flower was not much bigger than a regular daisy, but the crown of tiny yellow stamen added another layer of detail in an already near-perfect bloom. A burst of colour in otherwise rather dreary surroundings.
Pikes Place, Seattle
Taken just outside of the bustling Pike’s Place Market in Seattle stands a this imposing totem pole. The close up highlights the faded colouring, precise carving and striking wood grain and reminds me of how the weathered artwork felt as I ran my hand along it – something I perhaps wouldn’t have done it I was just snapping a few quick scenery pictures before trying to get out of the rain.
Perhaps the best thing about getting up close and personal with small stuff is that these tiny things make you realise that you don’t have to travel very far in order to experience something new, amazing or awe-inspiring. A trip of only three steps out into my garden during the annual butterfly migration produced this picture.
Momentarily taking your eye off the big picture and looking closely at the components that make it up is something I highly recommend. There is untold beauty in the world if only we make the time and effort to look for it!