Archives for posts with tag: photography

One of the things I like about my camera, is that I don’t have to change lenses. It is a point-and-shoot, not a fancy camera. I find that I take the best photos when I am actually carrying a camera. This sounds silly but my little point-and-shoot fits into my purse as well as into the zippered pocket of my hiking shirt. (Yes, there is such a thing and I wear it over a t-shirt or around my waist.)

My camera has one lens and because of this it is much lighter. But I can’t see as much with it.

In my daily life, I feel that I am constantly changing lenses, the way I see the world. Sometimes, it changes so quickly that I can’t get a good view of anything, just constant changes, blurs of different colors and no definite shapes. These are very difficult days, among the most difficult. It is on these days that I feel frozen for anywhere from a few minutes to a day or two.

I added a cancer lens to my bag a couple of years back. Before the diagnosis, it was a general purpose lens, called, “bad medical stuff that is unlikely to happen but I get it checked out just in case”. And yes, I knew about the one out of eight figure for breast cancer in U.S. women. That’s still the minority and that’s a lifetime incidence, too. The percentage of cancer diagnosed at age 46 is considerably lower.

Then I found myself at age 46, diagnosed with breast cancer and having what would be revealed as four small invasive tumors, of low grade, meaning that tests estimated them to be relatively slow growing.

The cancer lens puts cancer at the center of view when it needs to be there. For me, it was the time of active treatment, which also coincided with continued assessment through scans and pathology reports, the latter occurring after each of my three cancer surgeries.

Now I am considered a “survivor” and  my cancer lens keeps the possibility of cancer in the periphery. I have been told that I have excellent peripheral vision, both literally and figuratively.

My energy continues to return. There are so many legitimate reasons that reduce the energy of a breast cancer patient, chemo, oral medications, repeated surgeries, stress, working to make loved ones feel better, etc.

The cancer lens is also one of those things that can wear us down. Thinking about cancer, every day, even if only for a moment. I see many women worn down by the fatigue of cancer and I believe that this is a very real part of the burden.

The cancer lens can also bring things into finer focus, though. The preciousness of life, the motivation to treasure moments and to appreciate them. This is where people get into this whole, “cancer is a gift” thing. And yes, I agree that it is not a gift. But having a life threatening illness forced my hand to cope with my life and take care of myself better. The way I have dealt with cancer, by and large, has been a gift I have given to myself.

This week, I’ve had a hard time with anxiety, despite the fact that I am on vacation.  I am somewhat disappointed with myself, to be totally truthful, but I am working toward acceptance of the fact that I am a very anxious woman at times and this is one of the times, right before the beginning of a near school year and my daughter’s birthday, when the business of my life can overwhelm me.

My friend, Nancy, also a psychologist and a breast cancer survivor, spent a few hours together earlier this week. We spoke of our friendship. Nancy remarked that even though I have dealt with some heavy problems as a parent and a person, she does not worry about me the way she might worry about her other friends. I actually feel the same way about her. Nancy is very smart, very kind, and very real. She is a very clear thinker. Most of the time, I think I think very clearly, too.

Clarity is a powerful tool.  Clarity means seeing things head on, the possibilities and the certainties. It is at times frightening, at other times just the tool needed to dig through a very deep problem, and at other times, absolutely liberating.

I am real. Sometimes that is hard for people, including me.

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.


I saw this article today and the beauty of the photos as well as the inspiration for the work is very moving.

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