Have you guys ever used a finder? Ray and Charles Eames used it often in their teachings, and I learned about it in Keri Smith's delightful creativity guide, Living Out Loud.
A finder is a piece of cardboard or paper with a much smaller square cut out of it. You use the square to focus in on smaller elements of larger things. For instance you can use the finder to separate one box of cereal out of the long shelves at the store, or one face on the page of a magazine spread. It's the opposite of trying to see the bigger picture. You want to embrace the isolated beauty of a tree instead of being swept up in the forest. You can make your own finder using the image below:
I've done a version of finder work in the last few weeks by switching the lens on my DSLR to the 50mm f/1.8D. It's a fix lens, so you can't zoom in and out. The focus area is limited so you have to really pick and choose what you want to look at and emphasize. It's been a great opportunity to get to know this lens more and to focus on the little things.
It's been a cool exercise in point of view. I'm always telling myself to step back and not get so caught up in the details. But sometimes it's the best thing to get a little bit closer.