Facing Changes

    We moved to a new home last fall, and we’re still settling in. The neighbors are kind and friendly but because this is a retirement community, we’re all close in age. That’s a definite change from our old neighborhood with its people of many ages. This house, though beautiful and spacious, does not have nearly as much storage room as our other house, the frustrating reason we’re still settling in. Nevertheless, we chose these changes.

     Many changes come whether we choose them or not. When that happens, we can cling to God’s promise in Romans 8:28, that he works all things together for good for those who love him. Implicit in that promise is the fact that change happens. We’d have no hope at all if we couldn’t trust God to have our best interests in mind.

    Yet, as we age, the changes we face can bring grief. Favorite landscapes are altered by the demands of new generations upon the land. Society challenges or discards the values upon which we’ve built our lives. Loved ones die. How can we come to our later years without feeling bewildered, frightened, or sad?

    When my father was almost 84, dealing with physical ailments that had trapped his vital intellect and spirit inside an increasingly helpless body, I drove him back to our hometown to see the changes happening there. We passed the place where my siblings and I had spent weeks each summer, picking strawberries. Dad had been a logger then.  After a day in the woods, he’d come home and work until dark to clear land, make a garden, improve our home and put up other buildings.

    Now, he was saddened to see that the open vistas had been replaced by a sprawling elementary school and an encroaching subdivision. Across town, near the home of old friends Minor and Myrtle Bond, a new high school replaced the trees and fields. Dad and Minor had worked together when they were young.

    As we slowed to look at the new school, we recognized the bent old man crossing to his mailbox in front of us. Dad rolled down his window. Minor greeted us in the delighted, enthusiastic manner I’d forgotten, but which in an instant, swept away the intervening years. The two old friends conversed. One couldn’t walk and his voice wasn’t much more than a whisper; the other couldn’t hear very well.

    “How have you been?” my dad asked.

    “Oh, can’t complain,” Minor answered. “We’re nearly to the end of our time, you know.”

     I heard the tears behind the smile, and I wanted to say, “No, no, it’s just the beginning!” I knew that even reaching the end of one’s years on earth is a change that God in his economy means for our good. What I didn’t know was how I would feel when I reached the age of more than eighty. Would I still grieve for things I’d lost?

    Now that I’m nearly there, I know that we do mourn those things. But I also live with the faith that someday, the changes will make sense.
    I want to remember what the apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 3:10-13 about the changes that will happen when Christ comes back. The very earth and all that is in it will be burned up and replaced with new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells. Those who belong to Christ will be there. We can look forward to his return with joy.

    Change then will bring no regret.

Photographing the Details of Wonder

Every photographer wants to share his or her unique vision of the world. In so doing, we use composition, light and shadows, shooting angles, contrast, pattern, repetition or color to capture our vision. Some photographers swear by expensive lenses and high-end cameras. Others use phone cameras or point-and-shoots. With today’s equipment, it’s easy to get good pictures.
I’m a snap-shooter myself. I like to notice the wonderful details that sometimes escape us when we’re looking for the big picture, like this striking beetle that perched for a moment on a weathered stair step. A little research revealed that it’s a banded alder borer.

Below are a few tricks a photographer may use in photographing the wonderful details of the world around us:

Rain adds interest to floral compositions. Or, mist with a sprinkler to provide your own raindrops.

Shoot up for an interesting angle and simple background. Light shining through the petals can give a stained-glass effect.

Try focusing on the detail of a small part of your subject.

Or shoot down….for contrast, color, and composition.

I liked the way the rose in soft focus echoed the color, shape, and softness of the clouds.

Light and shadow adds drama, even on a miniature scale.
Carpenter ants at work in a rotting log. A good macro lens would be a plus here.
Fast speed or slow…closeups of water are fun to try.
Sea creatures depend upon rocks to anchor and disguise them.
It’s not a view from space. It’s the design left in sand by the first wave of the returning tide.
Lines, light, and weathered wood make a pleasing abstract design .
Who knew that slugs like fresh mushrooms for breakfast?
It only takes a rock and some rushing water to make a river!
Faces look back from the strangest places. Or perhaps you see the repeating shapes, curves, and angles of an abstract design.
Maybe not a good photo in terms of clarity, composition, or design…but great for humor or shock value. Three garter snakes seeking the warmest spot on a chilly morning.
A newly-hatched killdeer in the nest, born with eyes open and ready to follow its parent.
A serendipitous frame for the subject of the photo.
While trying to compose another shot, I almost stepped on this little guy framed in grass and shadows.
Spiderwebs on a frosty morning. I liked the contrast of lacy white filigree against the solid red of the hydrant.

What makes you stop and take a second look? Keep your camera handy and record a memory. You won’t be sorry.

Pictures Tell Stories–Faces in Photos

Most newborns learn to focus first on their mother’s face. The human face is so important to us, we see faces even where there are none. My subconscious seems to bring them out of patterns in the carpet or the curtains or in light and shadow on a wall. It’s fun to use the camera to capture some fanciful images, and even more satisfying to capture the emotions on the human face.

A face by the trail…
Look! It’s a gnome!
A not-so-happy woodland creature
Faceless but happy in Arizona!

Disguised as a tree

Not a face, but a shadow-angel in the Grand Canyon
Real faces express wonder.
Or interest…

Or a lifetime of memories…
Or pride.

All it takes is being in the right place at the right time…every photographer’s greatest joy.

Your Photos Tell Stories, and the Story is in the Details

I’m an amateur photographer so I can’t offer professional picture-taking advice. But I’m grateful to live at a time when camera technology is so simple, easy, and fun that only a few short years ago, professionals could only dream of the miracles our cameras today perform. In sharing these photos, I’d like to offer a few tips that might make photography more fun for you as well. 
The best pictures tell stories, and details tell the story best. Here’s one technique that works especially well for travel pictures.
Take an over-all shot to establish place, mood, or occasion.
In this photo of San Xavier Mission Del Bac, near Tucson, Arizona, the people walking toward the gates seem to beckon us to follow. 

Follow the scene-setting shot with others that give more detail. Here is a closer shot of the interesting main entrance to the mission.

The weathered wood of the entry door caught my eye. How many worshipers have passed this way?

An overall shot of the complex interior of the sanctuary…
….followed by detailed vignettes inside the church.
This Station of the Cross relief in the courtyard gives a glimpse of the interior construction of the wall.
A series like this could be completed with any number of shots: perhaps an individual worshiper kneeling to light a candle, or the priest ministering to his flock, or a group of tourists listening intently to a guide.
My favorite shot shows the wrought iron gates opened out from the exit, indicating that the world awaits the ministry of those who’ve come to worship.

Try taking shots in series to draw your viewers in, whether you’re traveling or just looking for stories wherever you are.