I had a girls’ day out today with my friend Miss Corinne of A Green(ish) Life. I’d not seen her since New Year’s Eve, so it was really nice to catch up in person. FB is no replacement for a true social-outing! She’s involved with conservation efforts in the Thousand Islands Land Trust, and therefore keeps me up to speed with different events in the area related to outdoors activities and environmentalism. On the agenda today was a lecture about winter photography by Vici Zaremba and Steve Diehl at the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center on the lovely Wellesley Island. I’m no photographer – my husband knows more about our cameras than I do – but I’ve felt drawn to learn more about nature photography. Their focus was on winter photography, and they shared slides of some beautiful examples. Some that really stood out to me and captured my imagination featured ice. Often, the photographers confessed they’d taken the photos in ditches, but you’d never known. The examples were so beautiful and focused in on the way the ice captured ripples around reeds. There were also some lovely shots of ice on rocks and thin sheets just barely obscuring decaying oak leaves in a stream or pond.
One of the big take aways from the event was their focus on conservation. They spoke at length about their efforts with the Indian River Lakes Conservancy, a local organization that works to preserve land, educate, and provide recreational activities to the public. I learned a lot about the biological importance of my beautiful home. I can’t wait to further explore it and share it with the little one.
The lecture pleased this Druid in training because, not only was it a blend of art and environmentalism, but the photographers really emphasized natural awareness. They shared their process and admitted to photographing the same little spot for hours and hours, or waiting outside for lengths of time until the lighting or wind were just the way they wanted. Photographing the land around them, they have come to know many different plants and creatures – some I had never heard of before! They made Northern NY sound a bit like the Amazon to me with their talk of newly discovered and rare species. It’s all quite exciting! Some of the photos they shared demonstrated their growing ever closer and more aware to just a small corner of the world. First a normal shot, then closer, then closer still thanks to their amazing lenses. Their perspective of nature has become very intimate because of the time spent in it, visually meditating on its shapes and colors. They studied decaying leaves, ice bubbles, and snow drifts in loving detail.
It really inspired me to look closer. In the winter, especially, we can forget about that. The green world has mostly gone to sleep, and so the landscape seems very monochrome and bare of the interesting details we all celebrate in the warmer half of the year – the spiral of a young fern, the color and texture of moss on a log, the soft ridges on a fungi… And yet winter is also full of its own beauty and intricacy. When I returned home, the first thing I noticed upon exiting my car was a sheet of black ice, cracking and full of lace-like patterns. I wish I had had a good camera with me at the time. And a macro lens. And a tripod.
As we learn to grow in appreciation and awareness of the natural world, we Druids could learn a lot from photography – their methods, their aesthetics, and their zen-like patience. Even without a camera, why not take an hour or two to explore and appreciate the simple beauty all around us?