there are two things you can be guaranteed of if you live in oklahoma in the month of march:
- the wind is going to blow
- your allergies are going make you wish you could take your eyeballs out and wash them under the faucet and/or remove your nose from your face and do the same.
but it’s not all bad. because march is also when the redbuds – our state tree – are in full, glorious bloom.
i’ve been documenting my love of redbud trees and their bright, magenta blossoms for five years now….can you believe that?? and the other night i got a wild hair to look back at all my redbud photos. which as a photographer/blogger is always a fun exercise. so if you’re up for it, let’s take a walk down memory lane.
i started my blog in august of 2010 so this was the first spring for me to document here. i was still fairly new to blogging and to dslr photography. i was using my canon eos xs with the kit lens. and there was no post-processing with the exception of a little boost in contrast and saturation that was available with the basic windows photo software.
there’s nothing special about this photo in terms of composition or light. but it doesn’t matter to me. because i specifically recall taking this photo…. these blooms were a true delight after what was a very difficult few months for me. it was kelsey’s senior year of high school…i had some major empty-nest stuff going on and my mid-life crisis was in full bloom. plus we were in the midst of a huge bathroom renovation. i will never forget how absolutely glorious that morning was and the joy and peace that washed over my heart while standing there with my camera.
what a difference a year makes right?
i took my first online photography class in the fall of 2011 right after my big empty-nest meltdown and the rest, as they say, is history. that christmas i asked santa for a new lens for my camera- a canon 50mm f/1.8 (the nifty fifty). this lens was an affordable way for me to be able to take photos with a shallower depth of field – the blurred background (or bokeh effect).
it was so exciting for me to finally be able to capture images that captured what i saw in my mind’s eye. i was taking tons of photos and reading everything i could get my hands on about composition, light, exposure. plus i had just barely started to dip my toe into photoshop elements. this was the year that everything changed. and seeing this photo now just makes my heart burst with gratitude.
this is the year that my photography went from an ’empty-nest’ hobby to a passion for seeing life from behind the lens.
as much as i loved my nifty-fifty, i was frustrated because i was never able to get close enough to my subject, so i had once again asked santa for a new lens…this time a 50mm f/2.8 compact macro. with this lens i was finally able to move in closer and with the shallow depth of field, capture beautiful bokeh.
that was the year i was really digging deep…i started my first 365 project…i was taking a class on composition, another class on post-processing, learning to add textures and text to my photos. i was starting to find my voice, photographically speaking, and figuring out what i wanted to say. i was also digging deep in my personal life that spring – digging deep in my faith. my photography helped remind me of all that way good and beautiful in situations that were dark and painful. a practice that has enriched my life and one that i continue embrace whole-heartedly.
sometimes less is more…that’s what i think when i look at this photo.
i was still using my compact macro, but i had made the switch from photoshop elements to lightroom. i wanted to rely less on post-processing and instead, shoot with more intention. be more mindful about the story i’m trying to tell with my photos. tighter focus, better composition, really being intentional about the light.
i find that my art often imitates my life (or vice versa)…i was really learning to see…really noticing things – little things. an intentional practice of looking for magic and wonder in my ordinary life. but it was also learning what it means to really be present in the moment. which will be a life-long learning process for me i think. which is why i continue to take photos.
getting up close and personal….that’s what macro photography is all about.
i had upgraded my camera to a canon 70D. plus my friend terri was selling her 100mm f/2.8 macro lens and my trusty compact macro had bitten the dust…perfect timing. macro photography is a completely new way of seeing things. the littlest details come into focus – the tiny little stamens inside of the tiny little blooms. the texture of the bark. and technically speaking, i love the sharpness of this lens and the gorgeous bokeh it creates.
paying attention to the details…a source of delight and inspiration when i am doing it. but those times when my heart is hurting, i tend to let myself get distracted and i lose my connection. but the good news is that you can always get back to basic…start again…get back on track.
five years later, and i am still learning.
i shot this photo with my tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens…the thing i love about this lens is that it lets me have a wider area. a little more whitespace. a little more breathing room. it doesn’t have quite the same sharpness and the macro, but i’m ok with that. i’m still learning to make peace with things aren’t perfect. i’m still learning to give things space. i’m still learning to let go and learning to trust the bigger picture…even when it doesn’t make sense to me. i’m still learning to see things differently. i am still learning.
can i tell you…i have loved putting together this blog post. i love that i have documented the last five years of these redbud trees because i love seeing my growth and evolution and a photographer. but i especially love this because of the connection i feel to each of these photos…remembering those moments so clearly… seeing the growth and evolution my life.
even though sometimes i want to cringe at some of my earliest photos and blog posts, i leave them here because i believe they are just as important in my journey…perhaps even more so. because that’s where i started. the first step. my hope in sharing this is that you will see that no one starts out with all the skills or all the answers. it’s a process… a life-long process. but it’s so worth it.