Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Does taking pictures keep me from seeing? 

When I thought of this before, I had in mind those hords of tourists snapping their cameras at whatever the tour guide is pointing at.

I also was thinking about pointing a camera and clicking the shutter in contrast to the process of looking, drawing, looking more carefully, drawing, looking again, drawing.

And finally, I thought about the contrast between me with my little camera set on automatic for snapshots (the OED says that "shot" has an early form of "scott") and the real photographers I know with their technical expertise, their ability to see and frame and light and choose focus and speed and then to develop or work digitally with the photo until they have a work of art.

Last night, however, sitting on the deck with a good book and a hoppy local IPA, I saw the light change out of the corner of my eye and turned to see this:

and then, this close-up view of the light in the sage

and then this to the east

and then the light in the rabbitbrush to the north

and then the light in the drying penstemons
with the maples red on the mountain

And finally, I thought I had been thinking the question of seeing and photography badly.

A real photographer could tell me how to make each of my photos better, no question about it.

But with the camera in my hand, I went from wonder to wonder, looking at the light, clicking the shutter, looking at the light, clicking, looking, clicking. 

I wasn't trying to be a photographer. I wasn't a tourist. I was trying to see. Trying to see the sage and the rabbitbrush. Trying to see the light. Trying to see the thing itself, not the photographic representation of the thing.

Of course, the photos remain after the seeing and then can be posted here to remind me of what I saw. But they are secondary. Last night I saw the light in and on and around the sage. It was thrilling.


michael morrow said...

seeing...hearing, listneing, feeling, touching, tasting, smelling....being a many splintered thing


There is a stand of 10 Maples where I take my midday snooze these days. One is fiery red, another half; the other eight have a few yellow leaves but otherwise are as green as they were in spring. glad to finally see what "rabbit grass" is. x m.r