Walkabouts and wonders

"A life not examined is a life not lived" – Socrates

Camadramarama, mama.

This morning was full of discoveries and re-discoveries. As well as the winter wonders I found, there was the funny little battle that went on between the long-standing “take it all in” me, and the new “Wow! Look at the picture I just took – I wonder how that happened” camera-toting me.

That last – about the camera – came as a bit of a surprise. Both my most recent ex-s are serious photo-heads who always puzzled me by disappearing into their camera bags just when things got interesting. I found it difficult to see how anyone could experience the same degree of awe looking through a narrow, squared off view-finder , that I felt at the thunder of Niagara Falls or the panorama of the English south coast in May.

Whose is that teddy.....

Whose is that teddy…..

But something has changed. I think I get it now, at least for me – that narrowness forces one’s focus into finer details; lifting what you might ordinarily miss into an enhanced significance. If you can resist the early frustrations of hitting the wrong button here, missing the focal point there, and mixing the aperture with the shutter-speed (yes, really) you will emerge with a new love of light and shadow, angle and texture. Of course, you will see immediately that I was not using the auto-function all the time. And maybe that has something to do with it. For all the advantages of point-and-shoot, the care demanded by working the camera is reflected in the experience and, I think, in the quality of the photograph. It is probably true that a lot of good shots appear out of a process of auto-shoot and photo-shop, but the really great photographs – the ones that convey energy and mood, they always come out of the care of the photographer.

Our instant photo-technology is great, but at the end of the day no camera can equal the immediate all-round visual genius of the eye and brain – that is why I think I was always disappointed by my photos – not realising that the care that more devoted camera-users put into their pictures can give the eye and the brain and the mind some new focus or angle through which to appreciate the world.

Which brings me by a quite unintended route, to my mother’s coat – pictured here, where it hangs by my front door, ready to envelop me in its thick comforting warmth, just as it did my mother, when she first wore it heading going ashore in Antarctica from a cruise she went on when she was about 80, some ten years ago. After she passed away, I found it hanging in her wardrobe – easily big enough for me, and I have used it from time to time, ever since, for cold days like today. And what’s this got to do with cameras? Well, not a lot, except she was my mother and so gets quite a lot of credit for my being here, able to write and enjoy life’s opportunities as I do.

You can just see the badge.

You can just see the badge.

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