Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Winter Photography

Two years ago, we had one of the worst winters here in Michigan that I can remember since I was a kid. I think most of us in the midwest and northeast remember the term "polar vortex". It snowed for weeks on end, storm after storm, temperatures always hovering around zero.

That winter kept me inside, and I hated it.

Last year I was determined to not let winter beat me again, so I invested in high quality long underwear, a long down-filled coat, and new snow resistant pants to go over my long underwear. I had a warm hat, good mittens and the ever important neck gator. I was ready for winter. I was not going to be held hostage inside my house again. I went out at least once a week, if not more, to photograph. Sometimes with my dSLR, but mostly with my iPhone (the fingers don't get as cold using the iPhone). I got a lot of great winter shots, and came to appreciate the beauty of the blank white canvas, and bare tree branches against a gun metal gray sky. I fell in love with winter photography. Notice I did not say I fell in love with winter, that is a work in progress.

This year a El Nino winter is forecast, supposedly warmer and drier than in recent years. I am hopeful but not unrealistic, winter is still winter in Michigan. None the less,  I still have the same good quality clothing and the same determination to get out and photograph that I had last year.

Two weeks ago we had a lovely winter afternoon; blue skies, bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid-30's, no wind. I set off for a recently discovered county park with my Canon dSLR. My daughter and I had been there a month earlier and at that time I had only my iPhone with me, but I knew I wanted to go back with my big camera. I was not disappointed.

The willow trees across the river from the park were what drew me back with my big camera. I wanted to try out some of my new Topaz Labs processing software.

Winter no longer holds me hostage, and I am ever grateful for this hobby of photography that gives me reason to venture out in any kind of weather.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Starting Points

"We cannot live our lives constantly looking back, listening back, lest we be turned to pillars of longing and regret, but to live without listening at all is to live deaf to the fullness of the music."                                                          
                                                                                                     ~ Frederick Buechner

For the past two years, I have spent each morning while eating breakfast feasting on the words of C.S. Lewis, reading a gathered collection of stories from his books in the devotional A Year with C.S. Lewis. I have gained many insights from Mr. Lewis, but I knew that after two trips through the book, my time with him was coming to a close.

I have heard the words of Frederick Buechner mixed into Sunday sermons over the years of church attendance, yet I had never been moved enough (or maybe I just hadn't heard the right words) to seek out any of his books. That is until this fall when my daughter, who is constantly moved by words, checked out a couple of Frederick Buechner's books from our local library. She instantly fell in love with his book Longing for Home. As a fellow word girl, she was excited to share what she was reading with me. I was moved by his words as I read them, they were like life lines being thrown, pulling me back to the safety of the shore.

I was soon on Amazon, adding some of his books to my shopping cart - one of them was Listening to Your Life, Daily Meditations. I had found my new daily devotional. Unfortunately Longing for Home is out of print, but there was a Kindle version available for $2.99, so I ordered that for my iPad. I was able to obtain a "new-used" book for my daughter from an independent bookseller as a Christmas present, she only likes to read tangible books.

I wrote in my last post that I was half-heartedly going through Susannah Conway's Unraveling the Year Ahead, hoping to find some direction for 2016. Mostly it was just depressing as I looked back at all the hopes and dreams I set sail with at the beginning of 2015, most of which never reached their destination, having sunk in the months between January and December.

On Monday, January 4, I read the above quote from Mr. Buechner in my new devotional. Those words gave me the kick in the butt I needed to get on with some plans for 2016. All those hopes and dreams last year were just starting points, they weren't end destinations. I should know by now anyway, that I am not a destination girl. Instead of living with regret, I am going to rejoice in what I did accomplish, which was a lot, and move joyfully into 2016.

In 2016 I am going to be much kinder to myself, not spelling out such specific details. Instead I am going to be open to the process, focusing on three areas of creative growth - photography, writing, and mixed media collage. This year I am setting sail without a care or concen for the destination.