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A Camera Makes Me Observe More

I used to think a camera was just for capturing life’s special moments and family milestones. After my parents and children died, my family moments with my brother were few because he lives five hours away. I wasn’t traveling much, so there didn’t  seem to be much to photograph. I put the camera away. All my cameras used film back then. The photo below preserves a moment of time that was special to my son — digging for clams with new acquaintances he met while we were camping at Sequim Bay in Washington State. It was taken with a camera using film.

Digging for Clams at Sequim Bay in Washington

Then digital photography arrived and I got  my first digital camera. At first I used it mostly for business. When I started writing at Squidoo and blogging I found myself taking pictures to illustrate my writing. That led me to landscape photography. I found myself thinking more about the photos I snapped. I found myself becoming more observant. I began to notice a flower growing in the hollow of a tree or in a sidewalk crack. I wanted to show people what they might not see as they hurry along about their business.

Take this tree, for example. Before I had a camera in my hand, I might have not stopped to notice its condition. It’s either dead now or on the way to dying. The lichens are feeding on its branch. I can see it was infested with bugs that the woodpeckers drilled in to eat. It’s a rather ugly old almond tree now, but there’s a lot for a nature photographer to notice. This may be the first year since 1993 that it won’t produce any blossoms.

Dying Branch of Almond Tree

Had I not been looking for interesting things to photograph, I might have passed right by this bit of star thistle growing on a bridge in Templeton, California. It’s amazing how a plant can sprout up in the tiniest bit of soil.

You can see this happening here, too, in this photo I title “A Real Rock Garden.”

A Real Rock Garden

When I take a photo walk, I’m constantly looking for things I’d never look for on a regular walk. If I would see them, I wouldn’t really notice them because they don’t demand attention the way a stunning sunset or a cute animal does.

Does having a camera with you when you take a walk make you notice parts of your surroundings you might not notice if you just walked by for exercise or on the way somewhere?


What do you think?

10 Points


  1. Hey, you have great pictures here, and a good story that pulls out our memories who have experienced the times of conventional cameras. The rise of “photo exhibitions” in various web-based media makes almost everyone in the world learn to take pictures. Professionals or amateurs alike can produce good photos thanks to sophisticated cameras or even by just camera phones, though not all are capable of producing unique images.

  2. What a wonderful story! One of the things that I promised my father was that when he passed I would scan all his slides. When he died suddenly (almost four years ago now) my mother put all the slides and pictures aside for me,. I found out how many images my father had collected.

    My kids and I scanned them all (more than 40,000). That was why I started my wander/family history blog!