A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: email@example.com
- Name: Tom McLaughlin
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
My camera is with me wherever I go, on a strap over my shoulder or nearby in the car or the truck. When I see something beautiful or interesting, I want to capture its image. If I should forget it, I’ll turn around even if it makes me late.It’s rare though when can I replicate what I see - especially beauty, which, as the saying goes, is “in the eye of the beholder.” What my eye sees and my camera sees are similar but never the same and neither sees the world as it really is. Objective reality exists, the perception of which I can only approach with the faculties my Creator gave me, or with the device Nikon made. I try to understand the world around me using my brain, and I try to perceive it with my senses knowing those faculties are limited and the results will always be imperfect.It’s helpful to keep this in mind when editing pictures, which I like to do, but for which I seldom have enough time. Editing is so much easier with digital photography and cheaper too. All one needs is a computer whereas in the old days, a darkroom was necessary with enlargers and chemicals. Amateur photographers I know refuse to edit, considering the process unacceptable compromise. One won’t even crop, believing that if he didn’t frame it properly when shooting it, too bad.I’ll bet that if I asked them, few would object to converting a color shot to black-and-white, yet they wouldn’t consider digitally enhancing colors or contrasts or brightness. I use to feel the same way about my images, but not anymore. The way I see it all now, whatever emerges in my picture-taking or my editing will be just another imperfect rendition of reality. I’ll always keep the original, however, and edit a copy. I’ll play with it to enhance whatever feeling I had that prompted me to shoot it in the first place.Every image has feeling associated with it - if it’s my idea to take it. If I’m shooting for someone else, that probably won’t happen. To the extent I can capture the beauty of what I see, I capture the feeling with it. Others may not feel what I do when they look at it, or feel anything at all. Guess that’s because we all perceive the world differently.If I’m shooting, then I’m right with the world. If a week goes by without taking pictures of something I’m not doing well. I’m preoccupied or I’m too busy to live as I should and I need to change something. I’ve learned that it’s a barometer I shouldn’t ignore.Often my children and grandchildren have inspired me to pick up my camera. As infants and toddlers, they’re almost all feelings and they catalyze instinctive, reciprocal feelings in me. My daughters notice my connection to my grandchildren because their love is more intense than mine. They like to see themselves and each other as little children too. Old pictures tap old feelings.When my children were little, I couldn’t afford color prints, so I shot a lot of slides which were cheaper and we’d have set up a slide projector to see them. That was a bother, but it did foster attentiveness. When I made prints of favorite slides, they never looked as good to me as they did when projected onto a screen in a darkened room. Today, I much prefer to see my images on a back-lit computer screen than as a print on photo paper. I’ll enlarge some, frame them and hang them up, but I’m less satisfied with the result. I prefer them on a high-definition TV screen, and if I ever become more prosperous, I’ll purchase some of those large, framed LCD panels to display my images where I live and work.Here’s hoping I never again go off unprepared to capture whatever the world would show me.