Article by Curtis Beaird
Photography by Curtis and Norma Beaird
Even Photography can be our teacher.
If a mind is a terrible thing to waste, photography is an excellent way to develop it. The world we live in is filled with ever-changing variety. While a cloud structure may be given the name Cumulonimbus, there are no copies. Each one is original to the moment we see it.
The view through a camera lens first engages, then immerses the mind in that time of originality. Questions present themselves. How long will it build? How high will it climb? Will the rolling gray edges expand and gather into the blue?
With face fastened to the back of the camera, with my eye intent on every advantage that sight offers, my energy builds as the intensity of concentration gathers itself through each click of the shutter. That moment. That single moment has come and gone, and will never be again. I made a record of the sighting. The moment was not lost for lack of attention or focus. I saw it. I remember it. I will share it. I am a photographer.
Photography taught me focus.
Turning or sliding the barrel of a lens produces one sort of focus. That technical process produces the mechanical reproduction of what the lens is pointed at. The sharper the better, unless of course; we prefer the soft focus of a child's cheeks or a puppies nose. Gentle focus is also ours to produce. Just turn or slide the barrel a little more or a little less.
The focus that photography offers me is more a matter of attending to the subject. First seeing, then appreciating what I see. As Switzer put it, "The universe in a drop of water." It is the focus of being captured by colors. The reds, the greens, the blues as they blend, offering that "one of a kind" moment.
Shadows play across the edge of the rose. Light reflects, refracts and redefines the melting ice as a mirror of wonder and enchantment. Click. Click. Click.
Paying attention becomes more like breathing than grim determination. Strident discipline and forced concentration are non-existent. Flow replaces the brittle edges of effort and will. "I can" replaces "I must." The moment becomes what it is - eternity. The tattered is stitched together. Life is made whole. Click. Click. Click.
Photography taught me Faith.
I love clouds. Their boiling immensity of grays and blues. Their fleeting wisps of thin whites playing free and easy on a wind only they can make visible. Both the bold and powerful, the fluffy and gauze-thin streaks playing against a blue background called sky, so rich that it takes your breath away. It has forever held me spellbound.
While Joyce Kilmer said, "I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree," I would say, "I think I will never see a poem as powerful, as captivating, and awe-inspiring as a cloud." And then, it is gone. Clouds in the spring and early summer form and reform. They appear in all their unique wonder. I scramble for my camera.
Where is the memory card? It's in the slot on the side of the computer. Grab it. Flip the door on the edge of the Canon. Slid. Snap. Move. I'm out the door. Back at the spot in the yard. The perfect angle with the green of a huge pecan tree as foreground. The exact spot where I saw the cloud shaping and shifting. But wait. What happened? It's gone.
Thirty seconds in the life of a cloud is forever. Whoever said, "The only constant is change" must have learned it from a cloud.
As it often turns out, the best cloud I ever saw has always been the last one I didn't manage to photograph. From imagination-powered fascination to a sense of loss is a photographers periodic experience. That is the dark side of fascination. Some really do get away.
The experience is common enough that we even invented a term for that moment when we are captivated by a visual moment and capture it right then and right there. It's called the "grab shot".
Then it dawned on me. Like the manna from heaven that was fresh every morning, there would be another cloud. Then another and another. Each one offered by the creator God, Who is endless with His offerings and generous with His bounty.
Now, instead of lamenting the loss of the last and presumably the best cloud that I missed and will never see again, I enjoy and share the many I have photographed. I celebrate the many more waiting to appear in all their beauty and grandure. The best cloud? I will see it tomorrow.
Click. Click Click.
Copyright 2013, Curtis Beaird. All rights reserved.