For a period of time when my children were very young, I didn't own a camera. That fact has led to a thousand apologies from me to my younger daughter for the lack of pictures proving her existence prior to the age of three. There was also a brief, camera-less period in the early 80s. I left my camera in San Franciso then, along with the film record of my trip to that beautiful place.
For most of the rest of my adult life, I've owned a camera of one kind or another, and I realize now that I've always been stingy with it. The camera rarely came out of its case except for special occasions: holidays, first days of school, vacations, visits with distant family members, and visits to tourist attractions.
Don't get me wrong; I treasure those photos and spend time looking at them regularly. They're the first things I'd grab in case of a fire (other than my dogs, obviously). The memories connected to them bring me immense joy. It's just that the pleasure in the pictures is associated only with the people and the places; there was nothing at all special about the experience of taking the photographs.
My first digital camera, purchased in February of this year, changed everything. Maybe it's the instant gratification of seeing the photos immediately or the freedom of knowing it isn't wasteful to take as many shots as necessary to get a good one. Maybe it's the zoom lens that lets me see detail that was never visible before. Perhaps it's the ability to rotate a digital photo a few degrees left or right to straighten it up or the ease with which I can crop out the ugly, unwanted portions.
Whatever it is, I'm in love with it. These days I'm all about light and shadow, lines and angles, softness and sharpness, and color, vivid color that distinguishes one shade of green from another and helps me see individual trees instead of a single patch of woods.
I took my camera to work with me two days this week so I could photograph any octagons I might find. Along the way, I found so much more. It's been there all along, but without the camera I didn't bother to look for it.
This bright red barn, in use as a kennel now, is hard not to notice. In fact it always catches my eye as I pass it. What I never saw until this past week is the row of trees framing it so beautifully.
If you had asked me whether or not there was a vacant lot across the street from my office, I wouldn't have remembered it. I've always looked at the buildings on either side of the lot. When my camera was with me, though, I stepped out of the office, locked the door, and turned to see the setting sun painting this wide space with Autumn colors.
Exiting I-10, waiting at the stoplight, I looked to my left and saw these little trees silhouetted directly under a tiny white jet trail: a photo waiting to be taken.
This one is my very favorite. A big, new house was built about three years ago on a corner lot where I turn left at least twice a day. I've always focused on the house as I approach the corner, then the road as I make the turn. This week, trying to see things differently, I looked behind the house and saw trees and light and this wonderfully rustic garden shed.
I'm a novice in the photographic arena, and it's thrilling to think about the possibilities that will grow with every new thing I learn. Who knew I'd find a new adventure at this stage of my life? I feel like Dorothy. I'm off to see the wizard and a whole lot more.