Fifty years ago when I got a Kodak pony and started shooting pictures for color slides, it was an expensive, “middle-class” kind of hobby. In the years since the pony was replaced with an Olympus SLR with a telephoto lens and by other technological improvements. But the cost of film always made me very conservative concerning the number of shots which I took.
Now, with a digital camera I am like the child in “A Christmas Story” with his new BB gun. I shoot everything.
Digital photography has been liberating. I am back to Kodak with a DX7590, but what a difference. In a day I can shoot hundreds of pictures and then scroll back through them and eliminate the bad ones and the near duplicates, put the good ones into my computer, process still fewer to send to others by e-mail, and then, perhaps, print a few to pass around and to place on display in an album or a special picture frame.
I also have albums created on my computer to review and draw from later for various projects and events.
Those who received digital cameras for Christmas will have a good time with for them for the next few weeks and months. Many will make lots of pictures of their friends and of events like ball games, graduations and parties. Many will chronicle their trips and adventures with their digital.
But, after the first flush of joy, many will set the camera aside and not continue to use it regularly. Some, however, will discover how they can use their digital camera to capture amazing pictures of God’s marvelous creation. This is what my wife and I have enjoyed for the past month.
We decided to spend our 45th wedding anniversary in Orange Beach, Ala. So we rented a condo. It is on the seventh floor of one of those high-rise building which line the Redneck Riviera.
Sunrises and sunsets on the Gulf have been beautiful. Most mornings there are some clouds which filter the light of the rising sun. Bright beams come through holes in the clouds with rays streaming down to the glistening waters. Often this show of natural beauty continues for half-an-hour or more. In the evening the setting sun paints pink and orange edges on many of the clouds.
The surface of the Gulf is ever changing. Light dances on the water. Interesting streaks of brightness appear and disappear. Dolphins in small groups parade along the shore. They seem to be looking, with great success, for a meal.
A variety of waterfowl join them. Some entertain us by swooping down, grabbing a small fish and then dashing away. Others land, swim along, and from time to time plunge beneath the surface often returning with supper.
Meanwhile, the waters just keep on lapping up against the shoreline. Sometimes they cover much of the beach. Other times they withdraw. Sometimes the waves are high and break upon the seawall. Other times the Gulf seems very calm.
The water bring things, mostly the shell remains of ocean creatures, and deposits them along the beach–such variety in size, shape and color. Some are almost perfect. Many have been damaged by predators and/or by their slow trip from the Gulf to the beach.
Back from the tidal area one finds native grasses, grains and flowering plants in abundance. Less beautiful, perhaps, but an integral part of God’s design for this place on his earth.
The hundreds of digital pictures we have taken have allowed us to seek more information about these creatures and creations of God about which we had little or no previous knowledge. Back on a computer in the condo we can not only look at the pictures of these things, but we can also look up information about them.
Digital photography, coupled with online information, opens whole new ways to learn about God’s creation. My hope is that many people will utilize digital photography and computer sites to deepen their knowledge of both creation and the Creator. What a great thing to do with children during a holiday at the beach, in the mountains, or some other exciting spot of natural interest.
My wife and I are biased, of course, but as we have spent this month by enjoying nature, it seems that the far greater “leap of faith” is the denial that a great mind designed and created the stuff of nature and did so in such a way that there is an amazing interconnectedness in it, as well as with astonishing beauty.
Gary Farley is partner in the Center for Rural Church leadership, Carrollton, Ala.