Once a week, I spend some time outside, taking photos of nature. I make it a point to be in the moment and become one with the environment I am shooting. It sounds so silly, I know. It wasn't always this way. In fact, when I first started taking photos, I simply pointed and clicked at whatever I thought looked cool. Until one afternoon when my perspective changed. It was a cold day, having just snowed a few days before. I was driving around my town, looking for scenes to photograph when I came across a deserted playground at the edge of a frozen lake. A playground covered in snow with a sheet of ice as the background seemed cool enough to me. I pulled over and started taking photos. Slide covered in ice, click. Docks stretching out to the frozen lake bed, click, click, click. As it turned out, those photos didn't come out that great. What happened next was truly magical.
I walked back to my car. It was an isolated area. I was a little spooked. Because of my trepidation, I was hypersensitive to the sounds around me or should I say the lack of sounds around me. I looked over my shoulder as I approached my car, I heard trickling water. I remember thinking, where was that coming from? I had looked around me. To my right was the lake, obviously frozen. I looked to my left. A bunch of trees and a big ridge of snow. The sound was coming from behind the frozen ridge.
It took me a moment, but I soon realized the trickling water was a stream! Snow, frozen lakes and drab looking scenery had been my photography subjects for weeks. A trickling stream of water? I couldn't believe my luck! I raced towards the ridge. It was steep. Very steep. I stared towards the top, still in the isolated area, with my camera hanging from it's strap around my neck.
Here's how the thoughts formed in my mind, as I tried to decide what my next move would be.
Do I dare?
No, it looks too dangerous.
But, but it's a stream!
What if I climb to the top, fall, break something and get hurt?
After debating with myself for a few seconds, I decided the risk was worth the reward. Anyway, I would be careful. Very, careful! I carefully and slowly climbed up the ridge and peered over. At first I didn't see the water, although the sound was very loud now that I was atop the ridge.
Finally, I had found it! It was, indeed, a stream. It wasn't much though, a very small body of water enclosed by snow and ice. I started snapping pictures like crazy. None of them came out good. In fact, because of my excitement many of them came out blurry or crooked.
However, I learned the most valuable lesson of all that day. If I just stop, look around and focus on my surroundings, a whole new world of surprises would appear right in front of me.
My view of the world is slowly starting to change. I find myself looking at the people, places and things around me with new wonder and appreciation. To quote my favorite movie from the 1980's, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once and a while, you can miss it."
I wish I had started paying attention much sooner.