Photography is something I learned to do relatively late in life.
No, let me rephrase that. As a journalist, I’ve been taking pictures for decades, so I’ve known how to check the light meter, focus the lens and click the shutter. What I didn’t learn until recently -- and what has come slowly and delightfully over time – is how to look at things.
Like the sky, for instance.
When I was a daydreaming youth, my exasperated father’s constant admonition to me was to get my head out of the clouds. Good advice for the time, I admit -- but like any advice it can be taken too far. After a lifetime of staring at things I really wish I hadn’t ever seen in the first place, it feels good to spend time looking at the sky. Only now have I begun to realize how much of the visible universe it encompasses. Why, I wonder, did I spend so much of my time looking elsewhere?
Winters here in the dune country aren’t really monochromatic. There’s the snow, which can be blindingly white and cool blue in its shadows. There are the endless forests of evergreens, the brilliant flash of birds, the endless variety of Grand Traverse Bay in all its weathers, from brilliant azure to bruised purple and slate gray. But there’s no denying that the palette is substantially reduced; in our winter landscape, the true star is the sky.
It’s not always easy to keep looking up. Inevitably, you’ve got to glance down at where you’re walking once in a while – especially on icy winter sidewalks! But it’s done me a world of good to raise my head as often as I can, to contemplate things that are larger, truer and lovelier than I will ever be. Paradoxically, it has made me love this place more passionately than ever.