I am definitely drawn to photograph some images over and over again. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will recognize the beach where I walk regularly. There is an endless supply of seagulls, surfers, sunsets, hang gliders, and more. And I am drawn to photograph them again and again, trying new angles, different light, close ups and vistas. But is the beach my muse?
Yesterday after a long and busy week keeping me mostly indoors and mostly away from my camera, I just felt the urge to go outside and take some photos. I was exhausted, my brain full after finishing our first full week in the SDAWP Invitational Summer Institute AND still trying to keep up with and participate in the CLMOOC, and yet I could feel my camera calling.
My husband was in the kitchen performing his culinary magic, the cats lounging nearby (never wanting him beyond their line of sight), so I grabbed my camera and heading into the backyard.
I noticed the lavender first. It’s not growing as well as I would like, but that didn’t stop me from learning in to get close to this beauty.
I love playing with macro, the way the lens focuses in on the near and blurs out the background. The afternoon sun allowed the vibrance of the greens and purples to come through. As I looked down I noticed a succulent in a pot that I hadn’t paid any attention to before. I got low–on my knees–and tucked in under the scented geraniums to get close enough. I’m remembering that succulents use those small leaves to conserve water, a great adaptation for an environment like this one where water is scarce…and water restrictions are limiting our elective watering too.
I continued to wander, aiming my lens at whatever caught my eye. I unlatched the gate and headed toward the front yard. There are usually dandelions there–much to my husband’s chagrin…and my delight. I noticed this yellow bloom.
and then later, played with the image with the sketch app.
And this later stage dandelion, with most of its seeds blown away caught my eye. I found myself thinking about wishes and how we often make wishes on a dandelion puff just before we blow the seeds away. Do those wishes take root or do they float away beyond our reach?
I like the idea that there are still a few wishes left hanging here…and posted this on a friend’s Facebook page to send her birthday wishes last night. Later, I played with Waterlogue, a watercolor app just to see what effect it might have.
But as I continue to think about this idea of muse, I find myself rejecting the idea that the dandelion is the muse. I do and have taken plenty of dandelion photos. But I think that the muse, for me, is the camera itself.
With a camera in my hand, my senses are heightened. I notice my surroundings–with my eyes and my ears…all my senses seem to fire. And even when I don’t capture an amazing photo, I feel like I see more, hear more, am more present in the moment.
And, as I seek an interesting photo, I find myself looking beyond the beautiful. Those golden sunset moments are pretty reliable…and I think I will never tire of them, but I am also seeking images that make me think, that help me see beyond the surface and find the beauty in what I might have dismissed as ugly, disposable, a nuisance…
which reminds me as an educator and a human being that we all need to look past the obvious, make a connection and get under the surface to see what we haven’t noticed before. This dandelion plant caught my eye and drew me into the dry remnants of the puff, the lone seed hanging on, the bud getting ready to reveal the brilliant yellow flower that doesn’t even hint at becoming a puffy seed ball. It would be easy to yank this week out and toss it into the green waste (and my husband might when he heads out to mow the lawn), but I’m glad I got to lean in, look closely and discover some of the wonders I might have otherwise missed.
I feel lucky to have my camera as my muse…and even without looking through my lens, it’s teaching me to pay attention, look closely, and connect to better understand myself and my world…and better yet, give me insights into the experiences of others as well. I may not walk in the shoes of the people I encounter, but by listening carefully, looking closely, and opening my heart, I can do my part to be inclusive, accepting, and strive to understand beyond my own experiences.
How does your muse influence you?