Choosing the right life lens

It’s been sunny outside all day, but I’m seeing the world through gray-colored glasses.

I’m not sad, nor was I unusually happy when I was using the rose-colored specs in March. It all has to do with photography, and with the art of seeing.

I post my photos on flickr, a photo-sharing site on the internet with lots of specialty groups for themed photos. Boats, recipes, dogs, cats, fishing, flower close-ups, you name it, there’s a group for it. The one I’m having the most fun with right now is called 365 Days in Color.

Someone posts a new color each month, and the members have to put up one photo featuring that color each day, and they have to be photos taken that day, not done all at once and stockpiled.

Sounds simple enough, but it all depends on the color for the month–and how well I’m seeing. There’s also the extra challenge of producing a creative photo of an ordinary object, because goodness knows, when you’re limited in color, subjects are sometimes chosen out of desperation.

I could succumb to laziness and settle for mere snapshots–and some do. But, there’s no fun in that. Photography should be about art, about creativity. It usually takes only a little extra thought to avoid the snapshot, and instead put the subject in an unusual setting, use challenging lighting, interesting depth of field, or even a Photo Shop special effect now and then.

Photo Shopping occurred when I desaturated a pile of buttons and left only the color of the pink ones to show through. Desperation produced a photo of my own lip print when I had forgotten to take a photo and it was nearly bedtime. One of George’s guitar picks, slid behind his guitar strings, captured a hint of life in the Sawyn house, and one of his guitars, softly blurred, provided the backdrop for another set-up shot. My fondness for flower close-ups garnered a lot of comments one day, and one of my own hobbies got front-and-center another day.

Today, the first day of May, we started on the color gray. I cast a roving glance across the objects in my house and sighed. I don’t decorate with gray. This month, I decided, is going to be a challenge. But then I spotted the CD stomper that George was using to label CDs to sell at tonight’s concert; and I took a walk with Lady and saw all kinds of gray objects that I hadn’t noticed before.

And that’s one of the points of this group, for me, anyway. I’m seeing colors I’ve not noticed before because I have to look. I wonder what else in life I miss because I’m not looking. I wonder what good points I miss in the people around me because I don’t take a second look. I wonder what needs I don’t recognize because I’m not using the right lens.

Is a person crabby, or just tired? Is she snobby, or just shy? Is he unfriendly, or preoccupied with problems I know nothing about? Does she need a verbal jab, or a hug?

This month, I’m wearing gray-colored glasses–for photography. For people, I think I’ll use the twin lenses of compassion and forbearance.  I bet I’ll like what I see much better that way.


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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2 Responses to Choosing the right life lens

  1. Monica says:

    I find it amazing to follow that kind of challenge, I admire your daily dedication to it. I think about it and I wouldn’t be able to fit it in my day. With all the extra stress this should be relaxing for me, but I would be disappointed with myself on just doing a snap shot. You are doing a great job.

  2. Monica Sawyn says:

    Thanks! This provides a nice little goal for each day–not that I don’t have others! But this serves to keep the creative juices flowing. 🙂

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