On my last day off, I couldn’t have asked for a better day weather-wise. The sun was shining, the sky was a stunning shade of blue, there was a gentle breeze and the temperature was a picture-perfect 20 degrees Celsius.
When deciding how I was going to spend this precious day off, I knew that grabbing the camera and spending an hour or so around a nearby creek was at the top of my list.
Upon my arrival, it took less than five minutes to get completely absorbed into the creative bubble of this enchanted forest, focused on a world of tiny subjects in their intricate detail.
Thoughts of the real world had completely suspended. It was like I had jumped into vacation mode, yet was still just minutes from my house.
On this quiet morning, I appreciated the peace and solitude of the moment, even though I was surrounded by many species of wildlife pursuing their business of the day. I marveled at the soothing effect of just being there, bearing witness to nature’s gentle pace.
I noticed that my usually hurried steps gradually slowed down as if to not disturb nature’s ebb and flow. My breathing slowed as well, as a calming effect took over.
I scanned through the tall grasses and plants surrounding me, looking for my next subject. My senses were fully tuned in, trying to spot those moments that we miss while rushing from commitment to commitment.
Thoughts of my to-do list drifted away as I followed a monarch butterfly floating from plant to plant, posing and preening in the sunshine as if to say “Take my picture, take my picture!” I happily obliged and then thanked her for the opportunity.
A ladybug catches my eye, sitting quietly on the next row of plants. I think to myself that I have never took a photo of a ladybug before! A new first! I carefully set up the shot with my patient subject and started squeezing the shutter to document this moment for posterity.
Through my lens…
To me, nature photography is about challenging myself in taking the time to set up a shot with the best possible composition and lighting, given the conditions, and then shooting a few carefully chosen alternatives to maximize my chances of a shot with impact.
It’s not simply about taking 50 shots and picking the best one later. I enjoy the artistry of figuring the technical details out myself, in the moment.
When I am at home, reviewing the results of a photo session, I enjoy comparing my shots and asking myself why this one picture tells a story better than another, and then to learn from it in time for the next photo shoot. It is really amazing how 1 degree more to the left or the right, or up and down, can make the difference between a good shot and a great shot. This is the challenge, both in real time and in post-editing.
And even when I manage to capture a great shot, as a photographer, I am always trying to outdo my last “best picture”, kind of like a runner is always trying to beat a personal best time.
It is also in that process of hunting for that “aha!” moment in photography, that rambling thoughts get pushed out in favour of calm and serenity. Whether I am out in the field (literally) or reliving the shoot in post-production, I get completely absorbed in the moment. My mind shifts from active multi-tasking thoughts to a relaxing state of mindfulness.
In the process of transitioning from the to-do list of the day to the sights, sounds and delicate aromas of nature, it has a grounding effect.
Nature photo shoots always seems to be good for the soul and an opportunity to recharge my batteries. I often wonder if nature photography is really about the camera or is it about the peace, the serenity and the gentle state of mind that it brings.
Maybe it’s a bit of both!
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Have a great day,