An Eye to the Earth
It’s not every day that we’re able to see something so small in such detail. At first glance, it can be hard to get a sense of the scale; only the leaf behind it really provides a reference for the crab’s size. Even then, it looks almost alien. We have so few occasions to bend down and look at the world below our feet that we miss most of what goes on at that level, in all its beauty. It is the purpose and the pleasure of a photographer to capture those scenes that most of us would otherwise miss, and to put them in plain sight.
This photograph was taken in Roatan, Honduras, a popular tropical getaway with long, white sand beaches, crystal clear water, and plenty of gorgeous vistas to gaze at. All that only makes it easier to miss some of its subtler charms. Despite its size, the island is home to exceptional biodiversity, with coral reefs, coastal lagoons, and mangrove swamps. The crab in the image above is only one of many animal inhabitants of the island, a population most tourists will have little more than minimal interaction with.
Perhaps as interesting as the place the photograph was taken in is the time during which it was taken. The above image was captured during the coronavirus pandemic which spread throughout the world in early 2020. Schools shut down, businesses closed, and most international travel was suspended, stranding travelers across the globe. With the state of the world as it was, it could be hard to focus on the small things. This image exists as a reminder that life goes on around us, even when we find ourselves frozen in place, and that we can see it if we only look.
Photography is unique in the world of art because it’s default state is that of pure representation. A painting may have been made of a live subject, an imagined one, or anything in between, but a photograph is captured light. It shows what was in front of the camera, and the art is in deciding what to capture. It’s the perfect medium to remind ourselves of the concrete, tangible world outside our doors.
We live in a constant storm of words and images, as many invented as describing real events. Most of the information that we interact with on a daily basis claims to have some direct bearing on our lives. It’s selling us something, or trying to convince us that something is right or wrong. That’s precisely why images like this one are so refreshing. This piece doesn’t approach you, it allows you to approach it. It’s a window into the life of another creature, in another place, and doesn’t try to break into your life as so many of the images we see do.
About The Artist
Aurora Chalbaud was born in Venezuela, and spent her childhood there before moving to Texas as a teenager. With both a mother and stepfather in journalism, she was exposed to the art of photography from an early age, and spent her younger years taking photographs and building albums. Now she works in HR, devoting her time outside of work to her passion for photography. She focuses on nature photography, capturing images of wildlife and landscapes on her many travels with her family. She and her husband run the Schmidt Fine Art Gallery, an online space for photography to be displayed and purchased. They hope to someday create a physical location for the art somewhere near their home in Texas. The sales that they make on their existing platform contribute toward that goal, one penny at a time.
The photograph is a macro image of a crab no larger than a fingernail. It’s resting on a rock, and because of the zoom necessary to capture the image, the texture of the stone can be seen in minute detail, with tiny pieces of quartz visible as white spots on the surface. Behind the crab is a pale orange leaf, just out of focus, which gives the viewer an appreciation for the size of the crab. A single dark vein runs through its center, branching off to either side and suggesting a familiar pattern that is partially obscured in this instance. These more muted background elements help the crab itself to draw the eye, and contrast the shine and vibrant colors of its carapace.
The focus of the image is on the crab’s face, inviting the viewer to look at its glassy, pale blue eyes, and the mouth between them. The crab’s forelimbs are also shown in crisp detail, allowing the bright red spots along their edges to contrast the blue speckles that are scattered across most of its body, which is a glossy black. The crab’s eyes have no visible pupils, so they don’t seem to be focused on the camera, or on anything at all. It isn’t completely centered on the rock it is resting on, and seems to be slanted slightly to the side, as though it were just another inanimate part of its environment. The lens needed to be close to it for a shot this close up, but the crab shows no signs of fleeing. As alien as it appears to us, the reverse is very likely true as well.
Formats and Materials
The image is available as a calendar, poster, or print. Acrylic, metal prints, canvas, canvas wrap, and framed prints are available. Orders for this piece can be customized and placed at the Schmidt Fine Art Gallery website.
Any one of the print options available will compliment most decors. This piece would work well in a living room or kitchen, hung on the wall for you or your guests to admire. The colors are soft enough that they won’t attract the eye in an unpleasant way, or distract from eating or work. A small print could bring a breath of fresh air to your office space as well, taking the place of a window where there are none.