I started this blog as a concerted effort to really see things. To notice moments and points of view. The camera lens became my way to frame and articulate ideas visually instead of with my normal surfeit of words.
But the camera can get in the way.
Last weekend I spent an enjoyable morning exploring the University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum. It was a gloriously sunny day, which was terrific for the soul, but challenging for photographers. The sun directly overhead does strange things to colors as viewed through a lens, alternately washing or blowing them out.
I found myself in a snit in the middle of a glorious stand of blooming peonies, annoyed with the sun because it kept me from taking a decent picture. It took a few moments for the irony to settle in.
While taking pictures is fun, it is hardly the point. It is not the only way of seeing, and it is most certainly not the best thing about a glorious day in the middle of a stunning landscape in full bloom.
It was surprisingly difficult to put the camera away and simply be.* Putting aside the photography let me notice the feast available to my other senses: the soft grass underfoot, the birdsong, and the evocative scent of lilacs in full bloom. I spent three hours drinking it all in, letting it feed a part of me I hadn’t even realized was hungry.
I may be getting better at seeing. But I still need more practice at simply being.
*Lest you think that none of the shots worked…