I have to be honest. I’m no professional. I love photographs and have lots of friends that have pursued photography on a much more professional level. However, I do love experiencing life and a huge part of experiencing it is the art of capturing it. The Latin word captura from the root cap- means ‘seized or taken’, and that is exactly what a photograph does; it takes a moment in time and allows you to take that “time” with you. We’ve all heard the expression “Carpe Diem” translated “Seize the day” and this aphorism captures the very essence of photographers everywhere. Whether professional, mere amateurs or a hobbyist, we live to seize the day by taking captive every fraction of a second we can; taking time as a prisoner of our affairs. This is how I seize my days. This is how I have captured my best moments with WILDlife.
I live to capture it.
Some days it meets me like in this photo above. I was walking down the sidewalks of my school looking down as I took each step. All of a sudden, I noticed this stick bug on the cement. Life came to me. This little guy was not in his “natural” environment; he had made me a visit, and I was ready for the experience. I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket and took a closer look. Inspecting the situation I noticed there were two stick insects, not just one. Trying not to disturb the “two” of them, I quietly and slowly knelt down on the ground to capture life “in the making.” With the touch of a button I had it to carry with me. Life had met me, and I now had it to relive whenever I wanted.
Another example of life meeting me is here in this photo.
This grasshopper had hopped right onto my shoe and then off as quick as it got there. However, when it hopped off it stayed lingering within a couple feet of me. I wondered if it would let me get closer. As I moved closer, I was sure it would leap to a safer distance but it stayed. This intrigued me. I quickly got out my phone to take a picture. Before I knew it, I was laying inches from the creature with my phone resting on the concrete just a couple inches away. I couldn’t believe it had not fled the scene. I managed to get 5 or 6 pictures and then slowly stood up. I had managed to steal another 1/300th of a second of that day and detain it in the digital memory of my photo app. When life comes to me I capture it; this is how I get life’s WILD shots.
Other times however, I run after it. Take this photo for instance.
Here my family had decided to take a road trip to Georgia to visit some friends. As we were driving through some back roads, I saw a sign for a drive thru animal safari. It was a bit out of our way, and not what we planned but sounded like a pretty cool experience. We decided to take the turn and go after the opportunity. It was a chance to see animals not typical to our area up close, and interact with them by feeding them from the comfort of our car. Our kids would never forget it, and I would have another opportunity to photograph WILD life with them and hold it a little while longer. We paid the fee, got our food and began to drive through the 3.5 mile trail. There were emus, zebras, giraffes, pigs, water buffalo and American Bison. Many of the animals would come right up to your car and eat from your hand. Screams and laughter filled the car. We had decided to go after it and had grabbed life by the proverbial horns. Although most of the pictures I took that day were not the most breathtaking, I had bottled time. When I look back at each photo, life is recreated...and some of the pictures were better than this hobbyist photographer could ever have dreamed or imagined.
And still other moments… we meet in the middle. I start walking their way and they start (in this case) swimming mine.
Here, I had taken my kids to Busch Gardens to enjoy our annual passes one last time. As we ventured to every animal exhibit we could, I was going to make sure I had the pictures to prove to my kids that I did take them places growing up. Little did I know WILD life would meet us halfway and make their memories even more memorable than a picture. This hippo decided to grace us with an up close and personal greeting that made my three year old flip his lid. Oh I got the picture, but I imagine this one was captured by his own lens and placed in the archives of his memory database.
In all of the circumstances above, I decided not to let life get away from me. I took out a camera and begin capturing the light—literally “seizing” the day.
Rebirthing: a look at my editing process.
My editing process is really just that—a rebirth of life. Life happens, I capture it and it dies as it sits in the photo roll of my phone until one day I scroll back and bring it back to life. Usually this happens because I’m reminiscing about past vacations, wanting to share wildlife with another person, or just wanting to look back at how time flies. I am then inspired to rebirth the moment as I play, so play is what I do. I open my Pro camera app and play. I play with filters, adjust contrasts, saturation and exposure. I crop, cut and sharpen. If I’m feeling a little frisky I might add some texture. I play until the picture comes alive again to me. Here are some of my before and afters, some rebirths I’ve experienced.