A week ago, at 5:30 a.m., I'd have been walking back from my breakfast at Mepkin Abbey. I have often thought about the fact that I so often keep monk's hours, although I worship less throughout the day than monks do. At Mepkin last week-end, I woke up between 4 and 4:30 a.m., but that's not unusual for me.
If my camera takes good pictures at night, I can't figure out how to give it those commands. I spent some time in the early morning as I walked to breakfast trying to capture the full moon:
A week ago, I would miss the Eucharist service on Saturday morning. I was waiting for my friend to knock on my door for a walk, and somehow we missed each other. I looked at my watch, realized it was 7:25, and not only was I going to miss my walk with my friend, but also the Eucharist service.
So I decided to take a walk by myself. It was a different kind of communion service.
I have been walking the Mepkin grounds for over 10 years--sobering to realize. I've been taking pictures since 2009. I brought a camera to the retreat with me; I was determined to figure out how to make it work.
Let me hasten to say that these are not super sophisticated cameras that I have. I don't change lenses. I keep the auto function on, even though I could be the one making the artistic decisions--there are only about 9 choices on the slightly more sophisticated camera that I inherited from my sister when she decided that she would mainly take pictures on her iPhone. In fact, one reason I would get a smartphone is to have an easy camera feature on a device that would fit in a pocket.
Since I have been taking pictures at Mepkin for 6 years now, I challenge myself to find new angles. For example, here's a picture of a statue that I took in 2009:
Last Saturday, I noticed that some of the tree branches and twigs behind the statue have a thorny appearance. I tried to capture that aspect.
Of course, the advantage of taking many pictures is that you get the occasional surprise. My spouse delighted in this one, with Spanish moss not thorns, which I didn't even remember taking:
I feel like I see the world differently when I'm walking with the camera. I notice angles and colors and the way the light changes a shot. I can't always control what the camera sees, however. Here was another shot that my spouse liked. The cross didn't have this glow when I saw it with my eyes, but the camera caught it:
One of my friends asked me how I learned to take such good pictures. I said that I take a lot of bad pictures, and every so often, one of them stands out. It's one of the blessings of a digital camera: one can take lots and lots of pictures.
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