Sunrise from Chestnut Mountain
At the library today, I looked at the photo exhibit. I was surprised by how many people were entrants in a contest to catch the beauty of the landscape in the small, rural community in which I live. I was struck by how easily any one of the entrants could have take any of the other photographs. The magic of digital cameras and photoshop levels the playing field between beginners and advanced photographers. My own entry was couched between many others. There were no ribbons declaring it first, second, third, or even honorable mention. However, I still congratulated myself for having entered.
I love photography. It has been a way for me to slow down and catch life for further reflection. My first photographs in high school had a creative, explorative feel to them. Edgy, but poorly developed. The pictures in the years before children were more carefully composed, reflecting both a surfeit of time and, perhaps, indulgence. I sent them out to be developed...and it showed. The photos I shot during my children’s childhoods were often harried, quick, and perfunctory, “Just a quick one of you girls dressed for the dance, pleeease?” And now, once again, with grey hair streaking my head, I have my camera out and I am trying to capture the moments and people and things that move and delight me.
I am pathetically unsophisticated and undereducated. Though I surprised my children with my knowledgeability about depth of field and f stops and ASA numbers, it was a kind of magic slight of hand. I enjoyed their look as they were slack-jawed and dumb-founded. The truth is that my familiarity with those terms was limited to use on a camera I knew well; like a lover I once loved, I knew all its kinks and quirks. Today, I shoot with my Sony when it’s special and if it is a transient shot, out comes my iPhone. I love looking at the photos. I have a friend who advised me to delete any photographs that don’t please me before I load them onto my computer. I try to do just that.
So the fact that I willing put a photo out to be judged says a lot about me. It wasn’t the contest that prompted the entry, it was the thought that I was willing to be judged cheek to jowl with photographers who, perhaps, might be better trained and better equipped that made me want to compete. The risk was that I might be embarrassing myself, but my mind was put at ease when I saw my entry hanging on the wall.
My photograph may not have earned a ribbon, but, apparently, it didn’t earn ridicule either. I submited an image that captures part of Whately, and I shared it with anyone willing to look. Entering a photography contest was a goal I had for this fall, and one that I can, proudly, cross off my list.