It is not what you hold in your hand that takes a great photograph; it’s what you hold in your heart. – anonymous

I admit it: I kind of have a thing for my camera. My camera has had its feelings hurt lately because I’ve been neglectful in our relationship even to the point of letting its battery go dead.  It’s still pouting.

You see, my camera is my friend. It accompanies me to places I wouldn’t normally go like the world’s largest refugee camp in Africa or sashaying through the coffee fields of Andes in South America.  It helps me sneak up on wild animals. It lets me catch really fast athletes. It holds my grandchildren still long enough to store the moment in my heart and on my wall.  It wolf whistles when my wife- a former model- poses for me. When I get a great image finally framed thru the lens, it screams, “That’s it! Take the photo NOW!  That’ll hang on the wall!”

I never tire of looking through the lens of a camera. No matter how many quality images I’ve captured with a point-and-shoot, I still dislike looking at the back of a camera as opposed to looking through the viewfinder.

And here’s why:

While you might not always be conscious of it, your eyes are constantly absorbing a vast amount of visual information for your brain to process.  As far up-and-down and side-to-side your peripheral vision expands, your eyes are constantly sending the brain thousands of signals.  They look for danger, visual clues to read people and places, and chocolate. My eyes are always looking for chocolate. I can spot a Snickers from 100 yards.

Putting a camera to the eye eliminates a tremendous amount of visual information and collapses into a small rectangular block of the viewfinder.  I frequently pull the camera to my eye and scan a scene looking for the composition until it just feels right. I’ve learned to trust my innate sense of composition and design. You have it too, just slow down a bit and trust your gut.

I took my camera out on a date last weekend.  We’re friends again. We had a short talk, I put a new battery in, and it forgave me.  To make up for all the weeks away, it reminded me how good it is to be loved by a camera.

And how much better the world looks as I look through it.

The Dinosaur Tree photo was taken near Emporia, Kansas, along the Turnpike, early as the moon set. I tried many years to capture this image with the light just right!

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