An Hour, A Trail, and a Camera

23 08 2012

August 21, 2012. Twenty one days down, ten to go. On-lookers may reason we’re on the downhill side, but August is a lopsided mountain in student affairs – the climb, the long-haul, just keeps going until it suddenly stops somewhere in the vicinity of Labor Day (if we are lucky and our students stay sane, safe, and sober).

I was at my desk. I had reached the limit of my ability to reason clearly and push forward with the paperwork that has piled up while I’ve been training the Resident Assistants. I looked at the clock. It was only 5:20 on a beautiful afternoon. No evening session planned. I wasn’t on call.

So I bolted.

I was possessed by a sudden, single-minded energy. I had not planned it, nor had I thought of doing it until that moment. It just popped into my brain as a whole thought, and I practically tripped over my own feet in my attempt to move quickly (the fear of getting stopped by someone’s need as I try to leave campus is a very real one in August). I was home, changed, and on my way within minutes.

I saw others setting foot on the path as I pulled into parking at the Indian Creek Nature Center. But once I set out on the trail, camera in hand, I did not see another human being for a full hour. As I walked, I felt my entire body relax. My breathing deepened, and I felt my soul open up, not like a flower to the sun but like a jack-in-the-box, swiftly and all at once. I have never been a  “granola” girl, but as my physical fitness has improved I’ve discovered that getting out in nature, on foot or by bicycle, has the automatic effect of releasing any tension I carry. I relax completely.

I’ve also discovered that taking my camera has an interesting impact on my experience of nature. I feel myself expand as the tension leaves my body. And the camera exerts an opposite pull: that of focusing my attention. It would seem that expansion and focus are opposites. But in the context of nature photography, they not only coexist, they paradoxically enhance one another. As my being reaches out to the natural world surrounding me, my camera lens selects something on which to focus and I see the place and the moment in striking detail. I see light, color, texture and find I am also more grounded, able to use my other senses more extensively.

I spent one hour on my own – just me, my camera, and a few critters (both seen and unseen). By the time I returned to the parking lot, my shoulders were no longer hunched up to my ears, I was breathing normally, and (best of all) no sense of panic or worry remained in my head or thumping heart.

And now that I’ve used my words to describe the experience, I thought you might like to see some of what I saw on my short journey of expansion and focus (I took 100+ photos, so this is truly a sampling):












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11 responses

23 08 2012
Tammy

Great pictures, Jen! I love the close up of the tree bark. Reminds me of Jayson Lawton for some reason. : )

24 08 2012
jenion

Wonder why it reminds you of Jayson?! I miss that skinny little crazy man!

23 08 2012
chrisinnm

Love that late summer evening light!

23 08 2012
Betts Williams

Thank you

23 08 2012
Mom & Dad

Loved the remarks, and the fotos were fantastic. (Even thought I’m now a native New Mexican, I had no problem telling they were shot in Iowa!)!

23 08 2012
crgardenjoe

Love that trail–and often ride the Boyson Road trail in the morning near my home since a new route makes it more convenient. Nice photos, I especially liked the turtles–were you on one of the bridge shooting down?

24 08 2012
jenion

Joe, I was at the lily pad pond. Noticed it in July while riding on Otis Road – the day Sarah and I saw it, there was enough water in it that a deer had waded into the middle to cool off (it was 103 degrees). Not nearly as much water now! Anyway, I was standing on a deck built out over the water.

24 08 2012
Melissa

one of your BEST POSTS EVER! Seeing your pics made me relax. 😉

25 08 2012
jenion

Glad you liked it Monkey! Love my camera 🙂

25 08 2012
Shari

Very nice….

18 09 2012
srfcreativestudio

Jen I am amazed at your photography talent – no fair that you are a talented writer and photographer – the turtle picture looks like it was painted – amazing and I love the field with the birdhouse!

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