Thursday, March 31, 2011

InnocentInnocent. A couple of nights ago, I went to a screening of the United Nations Association Film Festival(UNAFF) film selection entitled Grandmother to Grandmother: New York to Tanzania.(see link at end of Blog) It is the powerful documentary about the Grandmothers in both the Bronx and in Tanzania who are raising their grandchildren: standing in the absence of their children, the parents who have either died (AIDS, gang-violence, drug-related), are incarcerated or are not capable of raising their children due to addictions. The description from the UNAFF website states "AIDS, drugs, and violence are wiping out a generation of parents, leaving millions of children behind". The grandmothers living in the Bronx have a task made more difficult because many are poor women living in sub-standard housing located in gang-ridden neighborhoods. The women inTanzania are impoverished by the AIDS epidemic at best and may be sick with AIDS themselves. But both groups are still stepping up and saving their grandchildren.

These stories affect my faith. I wonder where is God, that something this horrible can happen. I am inspired by the courage and selflessness of the Grandmothers. I see the power and generosity their communities provide. I see gritty faith shown in their ability to get up and do it again, one more day. I see joy in their lives. And then I realize what I am actually seeing is God showing up, amidst the trial.

I shot the image Innocent in a township in Capetown. I saw the same selfless, sacrificing community rallying around those in need, the same kind of effort going into saving their children. I don't think I will ever be able to understand the reason for suffering and evil in this world, but I AM glad God shows up to help us through.
~To God Be The Glory~

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Divine InterventionDivine Intervention. Intentionality is important in my work. My resultant images are consistently better when I am intentional about my shooting. But not always. Divine Intervention was a spur-of-the moment decision, a 'grab shot'. I was beginning a hiking trip in Glacier National Park last summer. We had just flown in from the West Coast and were arriving at our hotel. I pulled out a point-and-shoot camera and 'grabbed' the shot—no tripod, no set-up, no early morning light, no intention. The beauty of the scene compelled action.

My relationship with God is very similar. When I am intentional about being in God's presence, my relationship grows. It makes sense, right? When I make a new human friend (!), the more time I spend with him/her the better we get to know each other. Thankfully though, God doesn't require any work on my part to further our relationship. During those times when I do seek Him, He honors my actions and I gain connection, insight and guidance. Yay! But He loves me too much to just leave it up to me to initiate. He knows I can be flakey, self-absorbed and rebellious. Sometimes He needs to 'grab' my attention in a way that compels me to act. He did that on the Glacier Trip where Divine Intervention was shot. In a period of rebellion, He softened my heart through the natural beauty that surrounded me and through some interactions with my hiking group. It was a wonderful intervention—one tailor made for where I was in my life and presented in a way I could hear. The nature of God's love compelled me to action. Very Cool.
~To God Be The Glory~

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Waiting for the LightWaiting For The Light. So much of being a nature photographer is being at the right place at the right time—ultimately hoping to capture a scene in the right lighting. To do so, one has to travel to remote places and get up before dawn. It requires preparation, planning and determination. Many a time I have been driving around in the dark wondering where that darn road is that I had scouted just yesterday! The joy comes, when the road is found, the camera set up and the waiting over. The magical lighting that has taken its own sweet time to arrive, does and the beauty of its soft exquisite tones reveal what my mind imagined it might. All the effort expended in getting there has proved more than worth it!

It occurs to me that this is what my faith is like. Whether discerning God's Will in my life or just being filled by His love, more and more I try to intentionally put myself in the place where He speaks to me. I pray, read Scripture, go to church, listen to other believers, be still—all in an effort to hear His voice. As a good friend wisely said when we were discussing faith, "I don't want to miss the possibility of something really great happening just because I didn't show up"!

Sometimes, however, when I go on a shoot, the light doesn't come. It may rain or be foggy and I need to come back on a different day hoping for more cooperative weather. The cool thing about time spent with God though, is that it is never wasted. He promises to show up and he does. My relationship has grown and I felt the love, connection and guidance I desired. God is way more dependable than the weather and during this rainy spring, that is a very good thing!
~To God Be The Glory~

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wonderfully Made
Wonderfully Made. When I view any raw image directly out of the camera, there are certain aspects I look for, a special quality that makes this image stand out from another—great lighting, clear focus, wonderful colors. Rarely does an image not need some optimization to accomplish the beauty I see when I shoot. Sometimes the focus is off and I need to sharpen it. In other images, the focus could be too sharp and I need to incorporate a 'soft focus' feel. Sometimes the image needs to be converted to black and white to make the most impact. Other times I just need to remove some stray specks of dust that got lodged on the sensor when I shot. With Wonderfully Made I intentionally cropped in on the exquisite sweep of the leaf, leaving the head of the tulip out. To me, it was the most beautiful part of the flower. I converted to black and white and added a soft etherial feel to focus in on and to convey the beauty of this sweep. I realize in my relationship with God, the same things happen. He needs to clean up my dust spots and sharpen my focus when it becomes too soft. He needs to grow and mature me. He loves me too much to leave me 'un-optimized'. He has a vision for me that will surely make the 'sweep of my leaf' impart the impact He intended.
~To God Be The Glory~

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dawn Of A New Day
Dawn of a New Day was made in response to a friend's request to join a group of photographers donating a limited edition of a print to a web gallery to raise funds for the Japan Relief effort. I picked this image because in the midst of terrible devastation, struggle, or loneliness, it has been important for me to remember that there is a new day ahead. God has always gotten my attention most consistently by my awareness of the beauty and majesty of the natural world. My children tease me because one of my "predictable-oh-no-here-it-comes-again-roll-your-eyes-comments" that I have said once or twice in my life (!) is "When you see beauty like this, how can you not believe in God." To me, it is true. And to me, when I witness a scene as dramatically beautiful as what I saw when I captured Dawn of a New Day, I believe I am, as the Psalmist says "gaze(ing) upon the beauty of the Lord and seek(ing) him in his temple." Cool!
~To God Be The Glory~

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Angry Sky
Angry Sky, reminds me of times in my life when God seemed far away from me. This sense of distance has usually happened during one of two circumstances: times of my rebellion when I didn't care what God said or did or wanted for me, or during times when I have had to wait for a response to my prayers, longings and/or understandings. Both 'distances' come down to one thing though, me wanting my own way. Either I wanted what I wanted even though it was clearly not God's intention for me or I wanted what I wanted NOW and not in God's time. The result always looked like Angry Sky . a place of gathering storm clouds, which sometimes broke into chaos, but sometimes (through God's benevolence) did not. Thankfully, unlike the sky in my image, God was never angry with me, just sad I didn't trust Him. Just like the weather we have been having in Northern California lately, I am tired of the spiritual, emotional, and personal storms .... I am going to start trusting God better. Note to Self.
~To God Be The Glory~