Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Surprised by Art

I started taking photographs with an honest-to-goodness Brownie box camera (Anyone else old enough to remember those?) that belonged to my parents when I was about 10 years old. Got some pretty good shots with it, too.

But I didn’t really take photography seriously until went back to college when I was in my thirties. I was required to take photography in order to earn my journalism degree. When I was introduced to the 35mm SLR Minolta, I fell in love.

I think part of the reason I love photography so much is because I’m such a control freak, and photography forces me to let go of some of that. Yes, you can control most of the results from studio photography, but the kind of photography I like is taking the camera on walks around the neighborhood, drives through town, vacations across the country or even across the ocean where you never know what you might see, what the lighting will be, or how fast your subject might be moving. It’s part art, part technical knowledge, and part treasure hunt. And sometimes it’s just dumb luck.

I remember seeing a wonderful photo of a fence line that glowed golden against a twilight sky and reading that the photographer had gone out to take a picture of the sunset. For some reason, she turned around and there behind her was the sun bouncing off the fence posts. Dumb luck.

One of my favorite shots of my own was even more dumb luck than that. In fact, it was a complete surprise. I didn’t even have a good camera with me—just a digital point-and-shoot I could stick in the pocket of my jacket. Hubby and I were on a tour of Yellowstone Park, and the guide had taken us to a river in a nearby town. I was standing on a bridge watching ducks and seagulls swimming below when one of the gulls took off. I panned, trying to get a shot of it in the air with its wings outspread, but the little dickens turned directly toward me. In panic, I tripped the shutter.

Later, when I checked the shots I’d gotten that day, I came thiiiis close to deleting it. Even on the small screen of the camera, I could see it was so blurred it was hardly recognizable as a bird. But something about the colors made me keep it.  

When I got home and put it up on my Mac I found this surprise:

To me, this photo has a beautiful abstract quality that I couldn’t have achieved if I’d been trying. Dumb luck.

If you’d like to see more of my photography, the rest of it much less surprising, check my foto blog at or click on the "thru my eyes" link on the left. I try to add a shot a day.


  1. Ethereal and haunting. What a lovely surprise.

  2. Good thing you didn't delete it!

  3. To my eye it looks like a painting. Stunning.

  4. I actually did think it was a painting until I read your anecdote. So glad you never deleted it! Thank you for sharing :o)

  5. oh my GOD THAT IS GORGEOUS` YOU DEAR LADY ARE FULL OF SURPRISES!!!!!! ok gotta go check out through your eyes now!! HEHE JACKPOT!! OH and congratulations about your soon to be published NOVEL what a joyous time it is for you!!

  6. Thank you all for your kind words. It looks like a painting to me, too. But no way could I have painted it--or photographed it if I had actually been trying for that. And than you, Brenda, for the congratulations. It really hasn't soaked in yet.

  7. yes, I agree, some shots of mine, that I like the most, have that abstract quality, similar to pointillisme, and they often happen by sheer chance. So glad you didn't delete this one, definitely a keeper!