As you know, I love photography. I mostly take nature photography, but I also take photos of people. My people shots are usually informal but occasionally I try to take a good portrait. I have come to view the goals of nature and portrait photography differently. In portrait photography, the goal is usually to capture a human image that looks better than a person usually looks in day to day life. If you think about it, people have ever changing appearance due to our changing mode of dress, use of make-up, but even more importantly, we have muscles and our bodies, especially our facial features are in motion. When I’ve had my portrait done professionally, the photographer puts effort into getting me to hold my body in a particular way, tilt me head just so, look at the camera, and usually, to smile. Backdrops and lighting are used.

I think the goal of nature photography is to capture the subject as it ACTUALLY LOOKS. I have taken so many photos only to think, “That looked so much better in real life. Because I try to capture natural subjects as they actually look, I don’t typically rearrange the environment to make a better photo. Occasionally, I use a flash and on the rare occasion, I might move a twig out the way that’s blocking the shot. When I move a twig out the way, I actually feel like I’m cheating, I try to remove myself from the photo except for choosing what part of what is actually there is going to fill the frame.

In this way, I think of taking portraits as requiring being more of a participant in the photo and of taking natural shots as being more of an observer, standing back so as not to mar any of the natural beauty before me.

A common way that I try to take myself out of my flower photos is when my body casts a shadow on the flower. I will move to take the shot from another angle or occasionally, I duck my body down, keeping my arm raised and snap. The latter approach doesn’t work particularly well but if I can’t take the shot otherwise, I often give it a try.

A few days ago, I was taking close-ups of roses, something I love to do. Roses are not just beautiful from a distance. They are mesmerizing up close. The texture of the petals, some creamy, some satiny, some velvety. And their multi-petal form creates interesting light and shadow and well as patterns within their overall forms. It was mid-day and the sun was overhead. I leaned over to snap a photo and I saw my shadow. I was about to make some attempt to remove my shadow when I realized, looking down through the view screen on my camera that my shadow actually added interest to the rose. It looked like it belonged and it actually enhanced the beauty of the bloom by showing contrast of light and shadow.

I often write in this blog about how much healthier I am when I feel connected to nature. Every time, it fills me up a little more. Over time, I am more frequently able to carry a feeling of joyful serenity for a little longer.

Mindfulness sneaks up on me with gentle waves that ebb and flow but still manage to build a reservoir.