Joys of photography

Photography, my recent hobby, has been a source of unexpected joys – made more significant by the fact that I never liked cameras before.

As fun as the camera itself has been, a few other things have been happening lately, all of which I never expected, but that have been nearly as much a boon as the hobby itself:

The first thing I noticed while surfing the web and reading about how cameras work, is that an interest in photography leads you to looking at other people’s photography. I’ve seen more beautiful, beautiful pictures in the past month than in my whole life of web surfing to date.

The second thing photography has changed for me is that now I venture out much more during the daytime. Previously, I was nearly a self-declared vampire. My schedule alone prompted vestigial fangs to start making their protuberance known. Yet today I woke up early, did everything I needed to, then went to Golden Gate Park looking for pictures. And it’s not just that photography gets me out of bed; it also takes me to places I otherwise wouldn’t have gone: to places off the beaten path; to looking at the ground, the sky; to driving to remote corners that have no reason to draw my interest – except the chance of a nice thing to view.

The third major impact it’s had on me is to improve my eye for beauty. I always loved beauty before; loved it. I’m one of those people who can be stopped in his tracks by the grain of an old fencepost. But little did I know how much photography would further train my eye. I see pictures everywhere now. I pay attention to lighting, texture, color contrast, lines of perspective. With or without my camera, I take pictures every day, experiencing those unique moments in time, letting my soul breathe it in a few, full seconds, then exhaling with a deep pleasure that I was able to see such things. Some I’ve even the good fortune to capture; but the essential quest, I’ve learned, has nothing to do with hardware.

All that effort, and often for only one image: a chance coincidence of nature and device: when the beauty I see with my own eyes also rings true in the final image – or sometimes even, improved upon.

So today I count myself lucky to have driven around a few hours, seeing what I saw, feeling what I felt, and then to come home with something like the picture above (larger version forthcoming). I never thought that from a simple box at the store would come so much. I guess it’s a matter of how much a thing helps us to know ourselves, that makes it rich.