Friday, November 23, 2007


I always take a nature walk on Thanksgiving morning. Don't get me wrong. I put no stock in the holiday. I am always thankful for this life. I don't need no special day to remind me of it. The only thing I'm extra thankful for is that I don't have to go to the job, but Martin Luther King Day functions just as well for that. I do, however, enjoy the meal.

The day, for me at least, has become the gateway to winter. That was an unequivocally good thing back in Arizona. Here in the east, not so much. Of course I'm happy that the insufferable heat and humidity have come to an end, but there's also a grim realization that there will be long cold grey stretches when I will find myself under-dressed for the weather and a long way from warmth.

Yesterday, unfortunately, was warm, at least in the morning when I took my walk. The fall foliage was just on the backside of its full glory, so I snapped a few pictures with the toy camera. At this point I usually point out that I am not a nature photographer and that I don't really consider nature photography much of an art, but I've put so much thought and effort into nature photography over the past few years that I might as well admit to what I am. It's not all of me, but it is a part.

The typical, ultra-beautiful nature photography you normally see is very expensive to produce. It requires professional cameras and lenses and a lot of patience. In addition, it often requires the expense of going to some incredibly beautiful place. If you really want a fantastic nature shot, it's so much easier to go to Iceland and rent a helicopter. That's what the pros do.

But you and I reader, we are out there with toy cameras. We can all look at nature and see great beauty, but photographing it is not as easy as seeing it. Think of all the boring photos of hills and trees you have seen, and probably taken. The scene was beautiful. The resulting photograph, not. The problem goes beyond our lack of expensive equipment, though expensive equipment definitely helps. To get a nice photo in an everyday location with a toy camera requires a different way of communicating the visual aspects of nature. Toy cameras cannot capture reality in all its resolution, but when understood, they can communicate an impressionistic representation of reality. The picture above, for example, works for me in that respect. It was taken with a toy camera and it accurately communicates a large part of what I saw on my traditional Thanksgiving morning walk. With extended scrutiny, I believe, you can discern many different ways of looking at it. Of course the critic inside says that one way of looking at it is that it sucks because the tree splits the picture more or less down the middle. Yes and I could crop it to fit the classical guidelines of effective composition, but in this case I found I preferred the results of the broken rule. It's more challenging to appreciate, but more rewarding as well.

Ah, but photographs be damned. I'm not working on Thanksgiving. I'm walking, resting, contemplating the coming winter. I wish it were cold, gray, drizzling, with perhaps a few snow flurries. That would be my kind of Thanksgiving.

Here is another photo from yesterday that takes advantage of the inherent limitations of the toy camera. Some days I guess I just like busy, poorly composed photographs. Weatherwise though, it's a much better harbinger of what's to come.