There are many troubling things going on in the world today. I sometimes find myself joining in the noise of the negative. When I catch myself behaving this way I turn to my spiritual beliefs and remember all of the things in this world that I love.
I realize that the love that I give is often more important than that which I receive. None of this has to do with romance, though romance can be fun! The love I am talking about isn’t based on physical attraction or whether or not we are happy with one another at this moment. The love I am talking about is more powerful and transformative than that.
I believe that the emotion of love is both powerful and a great gift. We all have it inside of us and can give it freely if we want to. We have it even if we don’t think that anyone loves us in return. This is where the power lies. I can decide, choose, to love another being and gain wonderful feelings from that. If my love is returned, then that is even more wonderful, though not always necessary.
We don’t control a lot of what happens to us on this earth, but we do have a lot of control over our emotions. I have been in difficult situations a number of times in my life, in fact, I am going through one now. The emotion that keeps me going, makes me get up every day feeling grateful that I did wake up is love. If I am anxious or fearful I am still grateful and look forward to spending time with those that I love. That’s transformative.
The ability to love is my most treasured quality. It’s the best gift I have ever been given and I hope it’s the best gift I ever gave. I can give it away freely and not feel bad if it is not returned. It matters because I wanted to give it. My family,friends, pets, and people I haven’t met yet can benefit from my gift. You have that power too.
It’s the gift that keeps on giving and one size really does fit most. What will you do with yours?
I am grateful every day that I live in the city, not because it is better than the suburbs or the rural areas but because it meets my needs so well. I love the vibrant, busy,always changing nature of the city and I really love Nature in the city.
My backyard is an awesome place. I have contributed to that awesomeness through gardening, maintenance, and the addition of habitats that many animals like. This year my husband and I made the environment even better by including an above ground fishpond ( I will post photos soon.)
What is fascinating to me is that no matter what I do, nature continues to make the space even better with features or animals that are completely out of my control. I have had raccoons, stray cats, dogs, possum, a wild turkey, hawks and all types of new england birds in my yard or bird bath. The big surprise this year has been my friend the parakeet/ budgie that has hung around most of the summer. I have gone to on-line lost pet sites, called the local zoo and looked for posted signs about a lost bird and non of these methods have worked. I don’t know his or her name and he or she won’t come to me. He or she comes everyday with the sparrows and tweets and twitters and eats. Friends and web sites have warned about the up coming winter and how hard it will be for my new friend the budgie. I’ll do what I can… any suggestions?
Sometimes all we need is a pair of cute kittens…
I believe that time is a gift. We get it without asking for it and we can do what we want with it. Yes we have things that we must do and I understand why so many believe that they don’t have enough time for anything truly enjoyable in life but I challenge you to think differently. I am at a place in life where I think about where the time I have been given has gone but also what I will do with any time that I have left. This gift is a luxury and I want to use it well. I invite you to do the same.
My husband and I are using our gift of time in a number of ways, this blog and website are one of them. As he shares his photographic gifts, I would like to share my knack for gardening, bird watching and crafts. If you have interests like ours and would like to share as well- please do. Take your gift of time and give some of it away here. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship!
The other day I saw this maple bush/tree that seems so much in a hurry for fall colors. This was just at the beginning of August.
To follow my own advice, I used some nice Ilford b/w film (HP5+) and looked in our backyard for some plant details that stood out. To my delight, I found a lot of interesting plant and flower details.
It is always a challenge to stay creative in photography, when as photographers we tend to go to the same places all the time, taking the same pictures, using the same equipment.
As landscape photographers especially we get (the wrong) idea by looking at photography magazines that “true landscape photography” can only be done in the Southwest in the famous National Parks. Of course this notion is not true because here in the Northeast we have many beautiful places.
Here are some ideas that may be helpful in staying creative in photography:
- Use only one lens with one focal length for a week. If you don’t have a single focal length lens (prime lens), put some tape over the zoom ring of your lens to temporarily fix it to one focal length. A couple weeks ago I noticed I was using almost exclusively a 90 mm macro lens. To get a different perspective, I switched to a 28 mm wide angle lens.
- If you regularly use digital, use film for a while. Digital cameras are a great learning tool because of the instant feedback, but it also tends to make us less careful about the process, because we can quickly fire off another burst of five images without carefully checking the composition. By using film, we need to slow down because we are limited to a maximum of about 36 images, and we can’t get instant feedback on the image. This means that we create a memory of the image and it is sometimes surprising to see how images on film look when we see them after a couple of days. Don’t get me wrong, I like digital photography a lot and I use digital cameras regularly, but I noticed how I shoot differently with film compared to digital.
- Go to a place your regularly photograph and make an effort to make a different image. Use a different piece of gear, or a different lens. Try to get a different perspective by getting on the ground for example.
- Print some of your favorite images as contact sheet (i.e. 12 images on a letter size sheet), tape it onto a wall and look at it from a distance. How does the color or texture look from a distance? Do the images look similar or dis-similar from a distance?
- Look for photography books for inspiration. Now that gear and books all have to be about “digital” photography, there a lots of inexpensive used photography books out there. For creative inspiration, it does not matter how an image was made, whether by film or digital photography.
- If you always make images in color, try b/w only for a week. If you use digital photography, do not “cheat” by recording raw files that can be used for color or b/w images. The idea is to be committed to making b/w images only and to “see” in b/w. With color photography, we tend to see color contrast (i.e. the red tomato in the midst of green leaves). For b/w, many colors are rendered the same tone and we need to pay attention to textures, light, and shadow. This will help enormously with color photography, too.
- Take your (or a) camera everywhere you go. If you don’t want to or can’t take you camera with you, your cell phone may have a camera built-in. Look for light in places you walk by. How does light throughout the day affect the way a place looks like?
- Take some images every day. A musician needs to rehearse every day. Being a visual artist requires the same diligence. Set yourself a goal, i.e. I want to take at least 20 images every day. Look at them, and delete them, if there is nothing worth keeping. (This is the beauty of digital photography.)
- Become an expert in places you got to regularly. It helps if the place is easily accessible, so you can go there regularly. Know how the light throughout the day makes the place look. What images can be made on an overcast day?
- Print your own work. While fewer and fewer images are printed every year, and with computers we manage information, there is still something beautiful about a printed image. These days a decent photo quality printer can be bought for under $100. It completes the experience of ‘making’ vs. ‘taking’ an image, when it is printed by the photographer.
- Before purchasing new equipment, define what features you expect to gain. What features do you gain that your current equipment does not deliver? Is it worth all the associated costs (new spare batteries etc.)? Remember that it is not the gear that takes images, it is the photographer. To illustrate this point I wanted to add two recent examples of my equipment purchases (a) A couple of months ago I upgraded my DSLR because I wanted to have better high-ISO performance, and I was not disappointed. (b) Shortly afterwards, I was tempted to buy a 6×7 medium format system to upgrade from my 6×4.5 system. After reviewing the image quality and my investment in lenses I decided against it, because my 6×4.5 system provides already more than enough resolution and the 6×4.5 is more compact and more economic with film use than a 6×7 system. Instead I added macro extension rings to my system to extend its capabilities.
I would love to hear your opinion, or to hear what helps you to stay creative in photography. Maybe we can start a discussion.
Thanks for reading,
Between Alewife Station and the towns of Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford here in Massachusetts is the Minuteman Bike Path. The bike path was built on a former railroad track of a steam train that closed in 1979. The bike path opened in 1994. It is about 11 miles long. What is unique is that this trail connects many different conservation areas along the way.
For quite some time now I am able to walk to work on this trail. On my walks I am passing by Parker Meadow near Lexington Center. On days when it is not overcast, the light is very beautiful in the morning.