LOOKING

What the camera teaches

Over the years as I've shot film and digital, the act of concentrating on noticing, framing and capturing a moment has taught me how to be present, to be, in the Buddhist sense, mindful and alert. Take this shot, for instance. I noticed the eagle, I aimed the camera skyward, but the autofocus registered the branches, not the bird. What I saw and what the camera captured were two aspects of the same moment. But for the eagle, looking down through the forest, there is a different view, one magnified by the "telephoto" focal length of its eyes, as it hunts for a small mammal, perhaps; the eagle's eyes are able to resolve greater detail than mine (especially as I wear glasses). If I were color-blind, there'd be a different understanding of the world. 
A camera is a tool for comprehending the world, and a means to express how I see, but it is restricted in its resolving power, in its reductiveness to two-dimensional representation, and by the exclusionary act or art of framing. Behind the box there is an eye, a brain, a sensibility, emotion and technique. The world as I see it is not the world as you or that eagle see it. But we share the wonder, the joy and the challenge of being here, now.

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