“The camera basically is a license to explore.” Jerry N. Uelsmann
Today is National Camera Day. Being a Nature Photographer, cameras are obviously a big part of my life. I received my first camera when I was about 7 or 8, a little Brownie Box Camera. I mainly photographed family, places of interest, vacations. But eventually I ventured into taking photos of the glory and wonder of nature and found my favored activity. My focus was always on nature, rarely snapping a self-portrait when I was out and about with my camera. But I did take a few, sort of.
Today, there are lots of ways I could celebrate National Camera Day. It is always a delight to capture nature up close and personal. But I have recently shared some favorite nature photos, so a repeat did not seem necessary. Certainly, the history of the camera from the original camera obscura to the wonder of digital cameras available today is intriguing—but not very personal.
Dad—Raymond Francis Ross—would have been 97 this year, but he died in 2014. He always enjoyed photography and was the official family photographer. He even was a professional photographer as his second job, taking photos for weddings as well as for high school yearbooks and church directories. The backdrop he had set up in the garage helped him record family photos over the years, even self-portraits of him and mom. Eventually, he sold nature photo greeting cards in the local senior center.
Over the years, Dad and I took many trips together to take nature photos. When Mom came with us, she was incredibly patient as we stopped again and again and again to snap a photo or waited just a bit longer for a bird or butterfly to cooperate. Together the three of us watched whales in Ventura, looked for birds at the Salton Sea and enjoyed afternoons at places like the Arboretum, Descanso Gardens, and various zoos.
The memories of me and Dad and photography always make me smile. No matter where we wandered, Dad and I lamented that the hike in as well as the hike out were both uphill! Some trips—usually birthday adventures—took us out for long weekends to places like Monterey, Yosemite, and Mono Lake. We ate a group lunch under the shade of a small grove of redwoods as part of a Monterey Bay Aquarium Trip, and we wandered the dunes near Mono Lake in the dark after giving up on waiting for the moonrise. Part of the fun of the trips was waiting afterwards to get the photos developed and then deciding which ones were keepers. (Dad never shifted to a digital camera.) We could always count on each other to be interested in looking over our many—hundreds?—of photos from any given trip!
At the Salton Sea
At the California Poppy Preserve
Dad’s Photos from Mono Lake
Anytime I wander out on a new nature adventure, I figure Dad is with me in spirit. And he must be taking photos in heaven as well. And there, birds and animals and butterflies must be cooperative models. Right?
How are you celebrating National Camera Day?
SOME QUOTES ABOUT CAMERAS
“A camera teaches you to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange
“The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.” Susan Sontag
“The most powerful weapon in the world, as far as I’m concerned, is the camera.” Paul Watson
“I tried to keep both arts alive, but the camera won. I found that while the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can!” Ansel Adams
“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” Ernst Haas
“Saturate yourself with your subject and the camera will all but take you by the hand.” Margaret Bourke-White
“I can zero in on subtle things because I’m holding the camera.” Patrice Leconte
“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.” Alfred Eisendtaedt
“The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.” Annie Leibovitz
“One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind.” Dorothea Lange
“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.” Henri Cartier-Bresson
“The simple act of having a camera, not a cell phone, but a camera-camera, there’s a kind of a heightened perceptional awareness that occurs. Like, I could walk from here to the highway in two minutes, but if I had a camera, that walk could take me two hours.” Jerry N. Uelsmann
“When you are younger, the camera is like a friend and you can go places and feel like you’re with someone, like you have a companion.” Annie Leibovitz