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When A Picture Isn’t Worth a Thousand Words

As I was brewing my coffee this morning, a rich peppermint mocha blend that isn’t “in season” but that I was in the mood for, I found myself wishing that I could take a picture of how it smells. I don’t have the words to describe how delectable the aroma filling my kitchen was.

That’s where I struggle the most as a writer. I want to be able to describe the scene so the reader feels as if they were there. The smells, the sounds, the feel of the breeze or the sun or the rain on your skin. I can take pictures with my camera, but they don’t tell you the whole story. Good writers draw a picture with their words. And I want to get better at that. To do that, I think a person has to experience it and then write about it. 

Yesterday my friend and I went to the lake to look at the sailboats. She had never been, I had been once before. I had taken pictures once before. When we got out of the car, it felt like I was experiencing it for the first time. I had forgotten the sounds at the marina. You can’t hear them in photographs. If you had been around sailboats or marinas I suppose you could draw on your memories, but for those of us who haven’t had a lot of exposure, the sounds and smells are just as wonderful as the sights. The geese squawking. The bell clanging. The water lapping the shore. A fish jumping in the distance.

You can’t feel the stillness of the heron perched for it’s catch. Or the deer grazing in the meadow, never taking his eyes off you. 

It’s true, video can help you experience those things. But what about the smells? I don’t even know how to begin to describe the smell of the lake. Or the clean air in the middle of nowhere. 

What about the feel of the sprinkles hitting your nose? Or the crisp, cool breeze chilling your skin?

How do you experience all of that in a photograph?

The truth is, you can’t, unless you allow yourself to pull from memories you might have stored. But if you don’t have those memories, it’s hard to fully know the experience. It’s not the same as being there. Cliche, but true. All the photos and the words in the world can’t replace experiencing something first-hand. 

By all means, continue to read books, look at photos, watch videos, take “virtual tours”, but most of all, get out there and experience it for yourself! Adventure awaits! And take a friend along to share it with!

Life, photography

Weddings

Who doesn’t love a wedding? Me. I don’t go to them unless I have to. It’s not that I don’t believe in love, or marriage. I do. I just prefer not to go to weddings.

But I had to go to one last weekend because it was my nephew’s. And I said I would take pictures. It was hot. It was humid. We were racing against the clock to get photos done before it got dark. There were times I thought I might be the only one there who cared anything at all about the pictures. That’s probably not true. A wedding is like trying to drive in rush hour traffic in the biggest city you can imagine. There are so many lanes and everyone needs to go somewhere, but someone else has to go before you do, and then someone else needs to go at the same time as you. It’s total chaos. I came away from the experience knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I do not ever want to be a wedding photographer. Enough said.

Congratulations to the bride and groom!

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Summer Nights

Can you believe that I don’t have one single picture from the 4th of July? Normally, I do. Historically I have taken so many 4th of July fireworks pictures that it is crazy. They all look the same from year to year, and I end up missing the real fireworks because I’m watching the camera or phone screen. So this year I didn’t even take my camera. Legit, as we’re walking out the door to go to our friends’ house, my husband asks in disbelief, “You’re not taking your camera?” No. I practiced being present this year and enjoyed watching the fireworks with my husband. Choice well made.

I do have a couple new pictures to share, however.

I cannot be sure that the little light streaking through the northwestern sky is the comet Neowise, but it could be. Even so, I liked the colors in the sunset sky.
I tried my hand at catching the stars. It was not a clear night, and in fact, there was lightening off to the north. I tried to catch a bolt or two for about an hour before I gave up and used my remote shutter release to shoot some stars.

Summer nights in the country are the best! As I was standing out t here in the field with my camera gear, I was reminded of so, so many nights under the stars as a kid–catching lightning bug (or fireflies, if you prefer) and sleeping in the tree house or a tent in the yard. Those were the best nights, and still are!

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Just a Girl and Her Camera

This isn’t me; it’s a stock image.

I’ve found myself taking a lot of photos lately. I always take a lot, but being home and not able to go to many places amid the COVID-19 pandemic, I have taken more. In reality, I think it’s been because I am so sick of hearing all the negative in the world right now so I’ve turned off the TV and social media, picked up my camera, and looked for something positive to share.

My interest in photography goes all the way back to when I was a kid and my grandpa would bring his camera down to the farm every time they came for lunch. That was long before digital cameras, of course, and he had this big bag that carried the camera body and a lens or two, a light meter, a flash, and his notebook and pen. I knew that I loved his camera. It was big and shiny and heavy. I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to pick it up, but I did because I needed to feel it in my hands. I was hooked from that moment. Every time he came down, we had to pose for a picture, and it took FOREVER to get the camera set up. I had no idea at the time what was taking so long. I had never heard of aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. I just knew I was tired of standing there. As we posed, Grandpa would take a picture, make a note in his notebook, and the adjust some settings for round two. I don’t know if he took photos of other things because most of the pictures I saw were of us and our cars.

Grandpa had a dark room off his garage that I went into one time. I thought that was the coolest thing that he could develop his own pictures and didn’t have to take them to Walmart and wait for days to see the results of his photo shoot.

Another influence for me was Linda, our babysitter when we were young. She had a much simpler set-up than my Grandpa and would snap random pictures as we played or celebrated birthdays and everyday things. There was no posing. Her shots were 100% candid…life photos. Her camera was a pocket 110. The long, skinny camera with a flash cube that went on top that spun around as you took a picture. I thought that camera was so cool.

I loved that camera so much that when I was old enough to get my own, that is what I wanted. I used it for many years, along with a Vivitar point and shoot.

 When I was older and out of high school, I got a Minolta 35mm with a zoom lens. It was still a film camera, but that zoom lens made me so happy. I took so many pictures with it that the flash quick working and the camera was no good anymore. I purchased another 35mm with a zoom lens, I believe that one was a Bell and Howell.

I didn’t use it for too long until the digital age opened new horizons.

My first digital camera was a Kodak 3.4MP with no zoom. I drove everyone crazy with the all the pictures I took with that thing.

One day I got a notification in my mailbox that I had a package at the post office to pick up. The only information on the card was that it was from a Michigan zip code. My Aunt Barbara and Uncle Ken (and several cousins) live in Michigan and regularly mailed packages to the kids, but it wasn’t anyone’s birthday or anniversary. The package was addressed to me and I opened it right there in the parking lot of the post office. Inside was a Canon PowerShot digital camera!

It was an upgrade to 4.3MP and a zoom! The note inside said that they had upgraded to a new camera and wanted me to have their old one and to keep taking pictures. And that I did! A few years later I upgraded to a Kodak 10MP, 10X Zoom and passed the Canon on to my nephew who was interested in photography.

From there I went to a Fuji 16.9MP, 40X zoom and wow! I took that thing with me everywhere. I even took it on a float trip, and it ended up in the river. Thankfully it was sealed in a waterproof bag! I absolutely loved that camera. It looked like a small version of a DSLR and was capable of shooting in manual mode, if I so chose to do. I did not. The settings were still very confusing to me. But I had wanted and couldn’t afford a DSLR for so long and I loved the way this one felt in my hands. When I got that camera, I gifted the Kodak 10MP, 10X zoom to an aspiring photographer friend in need of a camera.

This is me with my Fuji several years ago.

One summer day I was in the pawn shop in my hometown when I happened to walk down the camera aisle. I wasn’t in there looking for a camera. I was looking for a guitar stuff as I was in the process of learning to play. I looked on the shelf and there sat a Nikon D3100 body, two lenses, and a camera bag. I didn’t know anything about the camera, so I took out my phone and did a search. I looked at the price tag, knowing there was no way I could afford this camera kit. I almost fell over when I saw that it was only priced at $150. And the store did layaway! I quickly called my husband and told him that I wanted it—I had wanted it for years—and this was a REALLY good deal. I didn’t put it on layaway. I knew that there was no way that I could wait to use this camera if I bought it, so I paid for it in full and took it home that day. I don’t remember what the picture count was on that camera when I upgraded to my D3400, but I know that I probably used that camera daily.

I’ve had the D3400 for a couple years now and I love it, of course, but I don’t know that I will ever not want another camera. I expect it’s like any car guy or gun collector. You simply must have it.

Over the years I’ve taken pictures of just about everything. Clouds, cars, flowers, birds, sunrises, and sunsets. Landscapes, city-scapes; pets, wildlife; babies, seniors; ballgames, concerts, tractor pulls, races; birthdays, holidays, fireworks; and everything in between. I love photographing it all and I want to share my photos.

~Sondra