His invisible attributes {and the winner is...}


For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, 
have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, 
in the things that have been made. 
So they are without excuse. 
Romans 1:20 ESV

A friend recently asked in an email if I would consider teaching a class on photography. Your kind of photography, she emphasized.    

I laughed. I don't know if I can, I answered. It's not that what I do is difficult or complicated, it's just that I don't know what it is that I do - it's simply the way I see.

A few years ago, something caught my eye at the edge of the thickets along a back country road - something dangling or clinging, I suppose, exactly what I don't remember. I stopped the car, got out with my camera, and was taking pictures when a friend drove by and saw me. Rolling down her car window, she shook her head and asked, whatever do you see to take a picture of? 

I see what God shows me. I know this because I'm always asking Him to show me - right here in my own backyard or the pasture and fields on our Pollywog Creek property.

It's because I photograph what God shows me in His creation that I'm reluctant to place a watermark on my photos and why I give many of my photos away. If God's invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature are clearly seen in what He has created, then my photographs should point to God and not me.

Nature photography enhances my devotional life - to walk and pray and discover beauty in the thickets, fields and around the pond - life rising from dead places, symetry and order in the life cycles of insects and wildflowers and the way all of life is nourished by light and rain and good rich soil.

It's deeply satisfying to sense that this is God's direction for me in this season - to offer the works of my hands {and camera} up to Him and to trust that He will do with them as He pleases - even if every lesson learned from clinging vines and loud-mouthed blue jays is for me alone.

I might someday teach a workshop on my kind of photography - when the weather is cooler and I'm able to move about easier, but in the meantime I thought I'd share a few tips for nature photography that have worked for me - tips that I've posted before, but with all the lovely changes in nature that come with a change in seasons, I thought I'd share them again.
  • Always begin with prayer. Ask God to speak to you - to open your eyes to glimpses of His glory and the beauty in the not-so-beautiful around you.
  • The best outdoor light is the hour or two around sunrise and just before sunset. 
  • The weight of morning dew on insects makes it easier to get close enough for photos. It also adds sparkle to the pictures when you shoot into the light. 
  • Wear clothing colors that blend in with the surroundings, and avoid wearing bright colors.
  • Wear quiet shoes. It's much easier to sneak up on something.  Avoid noisy flip-flops and sandals. I like to wear ballet slippers or even a couple of pairs of old heavy socks without shoes.
  • Get as close to your subject as you can. For clarity and interest, fill the frame, leaving as little "white space" in the photo as possible.
  • Practice patience. Be willing to sit, lean against a tree or stand in one place for long periods of time. Birds and insects will often come to me if I'm still long enough.
  • Work with what you've got. Wildlife will not cooperate. You can't tell a screech owl to move out of the shadows or a blue jay to stop hiding behind the leaves, but if you move around too much trying to get the best angle, your subject is likely to flee. Begin taking photos as soon as an image catches your eye and then begin slowly moving around for a better angle.
  • Expect the unexpected. It's okay to have a particular photography subject in mind - but be open to surprises elsewhere. If I'm too focused on duplicating a prior wildlife encounter or experience, I'm likely to miss something new God wants to show me. 
  • Make it a habit to keep your camera batteries charged. At the end of every day, my camera batteries go in the chargers to be ready by morning. Put fully charged batteries in your camera, clean the lenses, and make certain there's a formatted memory card in the camera before you walk out the door.
  • If your camera has been in a cool, air-conditioned house and you take it outside into warm, muggy air, the differences in temperature and humidity will cause condensation to form on the camera lens. To avoid this, I put my camera in the garage about ten or fifteen minutes before I head outdoors so that it begins to warm up slowly and prevents that condensation from forming. 
Before I take my own advice and head outdoors this morning, I want to announce the winner of my Cocoon giveaway. Between the post, emails and comments on FB, about fifteen of you entered, and the winner is.....


...Lisa Moreland. Congratulations, Lisa! If you will send me an email with your mailing address, I will get this copy of Cocoon to you right away. Before you start reading, I highly recommend that you fix yourself a tall glass of sweet tea, light a gardenia scented candle, and enjoy!