After days of bitter cold, the temperature has risen to above freezing, and we are glad to get out of the house. The ice that coated roads and sidewalks is melting, the snow in the park is perfect for walking, and the dogs are full of energy. We follow a trail down into a valley. I see a frozen brook in the woods, and stop to take photos…
This could be a post about the reasons to always carry a camera with you (Reason #1: to record memories). Or I could write about Rockwood Park, one of the largest (if not the largest) municipal parks per capita in Canada. Or this could be about how to use cameras in the winter (that post is coming soon). But not today. Today it is all about joy.
Joy is my first thought when I look at this image. The joy of Cai, bounding happily toward me on the snowy trail. The joy of our other corgi Savvy, waiting with her ears cocked, ready to join in the fun. The joy of Janet, laughing at the big smile on my face as I crouch down to greet our playful dog, camera in one hand with my index finger poised on the shutter button. The joy of this beautiful park, the mild winter weather, the scent of spruce and snow and clean fresh air.
I love this photo because it captures a joy-filled moment. I love photography because it gives me a tool to capture this memory. I love learning about shutter speed, exposure, perspective, aperture, focus (and other details about my camera’s operation) because without those aspects of photography I would be able to take this particular photo. Sure, I could have used a camera or a phone on auto mode, but what are the chances I would get this picture when my camera or phone is making the choices for me?
I have found that the best way to capture these fleeting moments is to know my camera so well that I can adjust my settings without looking. I have discovered that I depend on tactile memory a lot, adjusting settings more by instinct than by deliberate thought. That’s not to say that every image on my memory card is perfect — far from it! There are many times when my reflexes are not fast enough, resulting in blurred or underexposed images, or I haven’t anticipated a shot and the composition is, well, meh. But that’s one of the reasons why photography is a lifelong pursuit for me; I’m always trying to learn and improve. And along the way, I find a few images that give me joy.