“What is a camera? A camera is an extension of ourselves. An appendage to bring us closer to the universe. We created such an instrument, because we had lost the joy of pure seeing, of connecting up the unseen and heartfelt with the seen and not heartfelt. The internal with the external.” ~ Robert Leverant
I have recently been taking a class from my friend Ron on iphonography – taking pictures with the iphone. Until this class, I really never used my phone for many pictures preferring to use my Sony and Nikon cameras. However, once I learned about some great apps for pre-editing and post-editing, I have been taking pictures with my phone daily. I really love the app Camera+ which allows me to take fabulous macro pictures (without any special lenses) and Hipstamatic that has features to change the film and lenses. After I take the pictures, I use Prisma, which provides some great filters for making the photographs more artistic. My classmate, Bill, convinced me to create an Instagram account to post and share our creations – my account name is paintingsbypeggy if you want to follow me.
However, the key point of this blog post is not about all of the great new apps (although I highly recommend them), but the fact that taking photographs has made me more aware of my world and the beauty in the environment around me. When I first started taking painting classes, I noticed and paid attention to colors – I would look at the sky and name the paint colors from my palette I could use to replicate that color. I noticed the subtleties of the hues in the mountains and the range of values in a plant, animal or object. Painting made me notice and pay attention to the splendor of the world.
The desire to take photographs with my iphone has again deepened my attention to the world. I recently went to two art workshops: one workshop was in the desert mountains and the other in downtown Tucson. In the past, I would have driven to the workshop, parked and gone to class. But this time, I noticed all of the amazing things to photograph from cactus, mountains, flowers, churches, drainage grates, baby shoes in a shopping cart to a variety of other images full of textures, colors and magnificence . I took pictures before class, after class and at lunch. I really enjoyed my surroundings so much more because I was conscious. When I went to the grocery store this week and was purchasing water from a vending machine outside, I looked up and noticed the brilliance of two palm trees blowing in the breeze. I was aware; I was conscious, I was slowing down and taking in the world. I have purchased water at that machine for 10 years and never once saw or paid attention to those palm trees. It is so important to live in the present moment and really see the things around us. A few days ago, I was listening to a lecture and outside the window I saw an amazing sculpture garden and after the lecture spent time capturing the essence of these pieces of work. I am so grateful that I am consciously paying attention and seeing the world again and appreciating it instead of rushing from one place to the next without noticing the things around me. I am fortunate to have regained the joy of pure seeing and truly connecting to the world around me. It is so important to notice what you notice!
Do you really see the world around you as you walk, drive or move through your day?
What can you do to pay attention and "notice what you notice" each day?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
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