Though it's tempting to think you must spend thousands of dollars on equipment to take great photographs, Joshua White is helping prove that the best camera is the one you have on you when the inspiration strikes. His series, titled "A Photographic Survey of the American Yard," is taken entirely with his iPhone and is made up of hundreds of little moments when he was gripped by the beauty of something in front of him. No exotic locations, no extravagant expenses. Just a human observing his world as he moves through it.

American Backyard

American Backyard

White is a professional photographer, but this series proves he is also a student of natural history. Like the most skilled science illustrators, White forces us to focus on the structures of his subjects by replacing color with a limited palette and presenting solitary specimens in a subtle ring of light (reminiscent of looking through a microscope). The result is a careful meditation on the life that surrounds him.

The series reminds me of the great age of exploration when much of the world's plants and animals were unknown to science and exploratory missions gave rise to beautifully illustrated tomes of newly described species. And while only the thickest rainforests and deepest oceans still hide macro species yet to be discovered, White's approach is a reminder that each of us has a world to discover if we care to slow down and observe it. We can start with our backyards, and from there, who knows where our curiosity will lead.

American Backyard

American Backyard

More of the 500-image-strong series is up at Joshua White's portfolio site, and you can follow ongoing additions at his tumblr.

If you're inspired to document your world in a similar fashion and you can't spend a fortune on professional camera equipment, SciAm's Alex Wild has a series of posts in his Thrifty Thursday series at Compound Eye that will get you off to a good start with what you have. The world awaits!