“To see a world....”

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Most everyone I know sends me photographs. There is not a week that goes by without someone forwarding personal photos, or photos of wildlife, or seasons, or landscapes, or gardens, or rock formations, or paintings, or sculptures—often a gallery of gorgeous pictures from some obscure website, or YouTube posting—passing it on to me through e-mail. Sometimes there is a musical background, or a song being sung with the words appearing over the photos. Sometimes the slide show goes on...and on. You know you are captive for a while, watching the perspective of people you may never meet. Yet, you enjoy the gallery because it is intended as a kind connection, a time to share pleasant moments with someone who already has experienced the feeling these photos evoke. Sometimes, I forward these slide shows on to others.

Isn’t technology amazing! I was thinking this recently when I came across a box of Husband’s family slides I had never seen before. Mind you, I have viewed a lot of them in days gone by—many full carousels as I recall! After the family dinner, the screen would be assembled, the slide projector would be placed in some strategic spot far enough away to display a full view on the screen but close enough so that the image would not be blurred. Then the carousels would be brought out. Once the lights were shut off, you knew you were there—for a looooong evening of unscripted nostalgia.

Those slides hark back to a time when it always took some effort to produce photographs: lining up the subjects, sending the film off for development, opening the envelope with anxious anticipation to see how the pictures turned out, and then returning certain negatives for conversion to slides. Today, photo taking is quite commonplace. Isn’t everyone doing it? And what a variety of contraptions! Brother George pulled out his cell phone and snapped a few shots of cat Oliver during some cute play moment. Many whom I know have digital cameras with hundreds of stored photos which will never see the light of paper. Although, I expect some of these will find their way into computer systems as edited slide shows.

Serious hobby photographers use both digital and film cameras. They consider the two as completely different media, each serving a different purpose. More convenient results may be obtained with a digital camera. Photographs can be printed off easily in various convenience stores; they look exactly as displayed on the screen. Film photos continue to be favoured by many, all the while acknowledging that they take more work. Unless you develop them yourself, prints from these negatives are at the mercy of lab technicians.

Camera clubs are a fine way for people to meet friends, explore sites of interest and enhance their skill at experimenting with photography. I have often thought of joining one, especially now that spring calls! For years, the only camera I owned was the throw-away kind. I now have a video camera which takes both moving and still photos for occasional use. Yet, I claim no enduring devotion to photography. I think I still prefer to capture the sites and sounds of my surroundings, slowly and deliberately—only as a memory through my mind’s eye:

To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of (my) hand,

And eternity in an hour.

William Blake

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