One of my favorite things to do when I have some free time, is to go for a walk with a camera in hand. I have always loved capturing a moment of beauty or interest and the art of reflecting everyday life in a unique way. Living in the mountains and being surrounded by lakes and wild life gives a budding photographer, such as myself, an abundant and beautiful palate of readily available landscapes to photograph.
These walks have become a time of solace and self reflection for me. The busyness of life slowly slips away as I focus in on a flower growing from the crack of a rock, a bird showing up to have a splash in a puddle or a silent cemetery on a winter's day. I have to admit, I find it difficult to sit still if a camera is near bye. The world is such a visual feast, how can I not want to capture it? My camera allows me the ability to do that, to take a moment in time and turn it into a lasting impression.
I finally decided to take what I considered a passionate hobby to the next level and to buy a proper camera. Down the rabbit hole I went as I entered into the vast and intricate world of photography. Fortunately, and I say this with a hint of sarcasm, there is a plethora of websites, blogs, videos, courses and reviews to help one make the right choice. Some weeks later, with a dazed sense of what might work for a beginner photographer who wanted a decent camera for cheap, I settled on a Cannon T6I Rebel. Although second hand, it was in mint condition and included a few extra accessories. This would be a great camera to get me started before investing in higher end equipment.
And so, the process of collecting photography paraphernalia began. I found an old style leather camera bag at a second hand shop that would work just fine, then progressed to a stylish, made for all your gear, back pack which I then traded in for a small contemporary carry case that I could travel with (lesson learned). I bought a 50 ml lens, and will soon add a good zoom lens to my collection, but for now the kit lens will have to do. I even took an online photography course that I never finished, but it got me started and for twenty bucks who can complain. I was set.
My photography walks became a place of learning as I adjusted to having a mini computer with a lens attached to it in my hand. At times it could be frustrating but, bit by bit, I figured some things out and there was always Auto mode if I just wanted to point and shoot. And although I am aware that a higher quality lens would take the shot to the next level, I am also aware that taking pictures is not just about the equipment ... right?
So off I go with my T6I and humble gear in tow and begin to get back to my reason for loving photography in the first place. Taking photos.
One of my most memorable outings happened last summer. It was hot and sunny and I had the whole day free, that almost never happens! I packed up my van with everything one would need for such an occasion; Snacks, sunscreen, hat, comfy shoes and all of my newish camera gear. I was excited to finally have enough time to go and visit an old ghost town that I had been meaning to get too for a while now, only an hour's drive from my house. There would be old buildings, machinery, trains, antiques, abandoned mines and homesteads all in a natural setting. A photographer's paradise!
It was great. I spent the whole afternoon walking through the old town capturing artful shots of relics from a time past. With a creek running alongside the main street and a back drop of mountains, the setting was perfect. However, the real magic happened on my way back home.
I decided to pull over for a break at a rest stop that sat on the edge of a scenic little lake. My feet were hot and sore from walking around all afternoon so I took off my shoes and waded in the cool water at the shore. It was then that I began to notice the life happening around me. This lake was a breeding place for bull frogs and the water was full of tadpoles which were swimming all around my feet. Then I looked up to see little dragon flies using the reeds of grass growing out of the water as resting posts. The lake was nicely lit by the late afternoon sun and so I quickly went and grabbed my camera.
I spent the rest of the afternoon absorbed in this little world of dragon flies and tadpoles, working my camera like an almost pro, trying this setting and then that one. It was here that I began to realize the ability of my camera and the relationship of aperture to shutter, what an ISO really did, and dang would it be great to have a 70 – 200 mm zoom lens right about now, I was in the zone!
Getting a clear shot of the tadpoles was challenging as they blended in with the bed of the lake and there was the reflection off the water to contend with as well. Much to my delight however, a solo tadpole decided to swim over top my foot just at the right moment and this shot happened.
The vibrant blue of the dragonflies were beautifully illuminated by the sun against the marshy green and brown colors of the lake. Fortunately, they would land and sit still for a while so I could easily photograph them. However, with only an 18 – 55mm lens, I still had to be pretty close, which also presented a challenge as they would fly away.
A couple hours had passed when I suddenly noticed the sun was beginning to set. I was completely lost in time and I loved it! As I slowly came back to reality and noticed my surroundings, I saw that the lake was perfectly placed between two mountains and the clouds were beautifully mirrored on the water. My final shot to end a spectacular day.
I know I still have a lot to learn and there is so much more I can do if I had this lens or that filter or a better tripod and so forth, and I will someday. However, my day in the little lake was a reminder that no matter what camera I hold in my hand, photography is really about the capture that you are privileged to get, in those moments when you just happen into something magical.