When I saw this week’s WordPress photo challenge (Look Up), my first thought was that it would be the easiest one yet for me. It turned out to be much harder than I expected, and the reason has to do partly with changes in photography itself over the years.
When I saw this week’s challenge, my first thought was, “Cloud photos! Right up my alley!” I’m a sucker for the beauty of clouds. It’s not enough for me to just enjoy them, though. I feel the need to capture that beauty, freeze the moment, something I’ve talked about before. I pause to take cloud photos in parking lots, at the beach, and out the window of my office and my car. The picture here is one I grabbed last month, trying to capture the drama of the sky at the store where I was meeting my daughter to shop. Everything, even the rat-with-wings that is a seagull, looks more impressive against a sky full of clouds. Too many people spend all their time time looking down, and miss so much, another topic I’ve talked about before.
The challenge turned out to be harder than I expected. My file of cloud photos has more than 400 images, so selecting just one was hard. I pulled up a bunch of my favorites, winnowed it down to a half-dozen finalists, and went through those with my husband to finally settle on this one.
Which brings me to cameras. When I first started taking pictures, back in the 1960s, I used a Kodak Instamatic. This camera could actually fit into a fairly roomy pocket, and with its tiny drop-in film cartridges and flash cubes the whole setup was easy to throw in a suitcase. It was not only small and light (compared to other cameras of the time), it was a breeze to use, with nothing to adjust but the framing of the picture and the decision about whether to pop in a flash cube.
I’ve since learned to handle a full SLR, and even develop my own film and prints, but my photography has circled back to convenience and today I take all my pictures with my phone. I love that it’s always in my pocket ready to go, so with a few seconds’ notice I can be snapping away. Compared with my original Instamatic, there are four important differences:
- The amazingly tiny camera on my phone takes much better photos .
- Film was expensive; pixels are virtually free. I never have to stop and think about whether pushing the button is worth it, so I just keep clicking. This makes me look like a better photographer than I am, because out of 100 photos pure luck would get me one or two good ones. (Just imagine how many photos I took to have so many saved in the file!)
- I can see my picture right away, without waiting days for the prints to come back, and make whatever adjustments I want to the framing or angle..
- I can make more adjustments later on, using everything from the editing function in the phone to PhotoShop and its ilk.
The beauty of the clouds and sky fills my heart. Skies change, which is part of their attraction, but the miracle of technology helps us grab that beauty more easily and hold onto it. That miracle is more readily available and easier to use than ever before.
This leaves me with two thank-you messages. One goes out to the techs who developed my phone camera, for the pleasure it brings me. The other, to the forces of nature that give me the beauty of the sky and the mind to appreciate it.
To everyone else I say: Look up.