I recently bought a new camera so everything was a photo opportunity. Driving at dusk, I was trying out the different settings for nighttime use, low light and sunsets. While I was deciding if I should put on the wide angle lens or keep the telephoto one on, I missed a beautiful sunset of reds, yellows and purples along with three deer standing in a field close to the road. On another drive, someone said ‘coyote’ and by the time I had decided on the right setting for the camera, he was long gone across the road, down the ditch and halfway across the field. I would love to have seen him close up! Then I saw my perfect opportunity. As the moon was just coming up, it started with just a glow of white on the horizon; then the small semi-circle of golden orange. I hopped out of the pickup, glued my eye to the tiny little view finder and then pushed several buttons without success. It was operator error – not the camera’s fault that I didn’t really ‘see’ it. While others enjoyed a full harvest gorgeous moon rising, I stood freezing and frustrated. By the time we got back to the cabin and I took the time to set up the shot with the right settings and did capture a bit of the full moon through the trees. It was more enjoyable. I knew I needed to make some changes in my approach to nature photography!
The next night, I headed to a look- out spot to view the sunset. Well before the sunset, I worked with the camera and came up with a few different options to try. I told myself it was OK if I missed ‘the perfect shot’ as there would be more winter sunsets. As I walked out on the bluff, I first looked with my eyes and felt with my heart the last long rays of sunshine on the valley below. I watched the movement of the clouds and saw the colors swirling and shifting surrounding the sun as it was slowly falling to the horizon. Once my senses had taken in the beauty the Creator had given, I then picked up my camera for some shots (see more sunset photos on my face book page ‘Cabin by the Lake’.
Likewise, before capturing the hoarfrost on trees, bushes and other objects, I stood and examined the little crystals, sharp like thorns, glistening as they reflected the light. I listened to the blue jay screech as it came in to the feeder and heard the rustle of the chickadees on the frosty branches. I headed down the path to the lake and with the fog, hanging like clouds all around me, it was like walking into a magical winter wonderland. The thick frost sparkled on red berries, made branches droop under the weight. As I stepped onto the lake, into the fog, I could walk a few feet out to the lone tree now plump with frost. I could ‘hear’ the silence except for an occasional whoosh of frost that had become too heavy for its host and it slid to the ground.
It was only when I had truly seen the sights before me that I then picked up my camera and tried to capture its beauty and wonderment. Yes, I may miss some fantastic, once in a lifetime shots. But I realized that I could give myself permission to ‘put the camera down’ and still enjoy moments, sights and sounds of nature, without needing to capture it in pixels. Some things are just better captured with your heart!