The art of observation

Girl at Kitty Hawk statue
Grace at the statue of John Daniels at Kitty Hawk

Some of the most iconic photos in the world have been taken by amateur photographers.

Take for instance, the photo of first flight. When the Wright brothers decided they were going to take to the air in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903, they needed someone to document their feat. They turned to John Daniels, who worked at the life-saving station in the coastal town.

Orville Wright set up the Gundlach Korona camera on his tripod and showed Daniels how to trigger the camera’s shutter by squeezing the release bulb. Daniels took the picture of the brothers ascending into the air, but it wasn’t until much later until they knew it had been captured on film.

Since those early days of photography, we have been intrigued with capturing moments in time through the glass of a 35 mm lens. Today, thanks to smart phones and digital technology, we all have the ability to share our view and observations of the world around us.

Elliott Erwitt once said, “Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

This week’s #HappyAct is to take a photo of something that intrigues or inspires you, then share it.

This blog post was inspired by the award winning photographs of my two daughters who entered their photography into the Kingston Fall Fair. Grace won two firsts and a third, and Clare won one first, second and third, with her winning photo being chosen Reserve Champion (second best of all photos submitted in all categories) for the junior category. Here are some of their award winning photos.

Photo of flowers

 

Photo of dog on couchPhoto of chickensPhoto of flower

Advertisements

Watch for rainbows

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide”

We’ve had crazy rain this spring, in some ways a welcome reprieve from last summer’s endless drought. When the rain teams down, it can seem like eternity before the sun shines again.

But amidst the storm clouds and raindrops, if you watch expectantly, you might just see a rainbow.

A metaphor for life, really.

Here’s one of my favourite artists these days, Ed Sheeran singing The Rainbow Connection with Kermit the frog and some pictures of my favourite rainbow pictures, one taken over the lake this week.

This week’s #HappyAct is to watch for a rainbow. Instead of wishing for a pot of gold, let’s all wish the sun shines strong for Canada’s 150th birthday next weekend.

Two women and a rainbow
My best friend Leslie and I discovering our pot of gold under a rainbow in Killarney Park in Ireland

Stand on your desk

St. George's Cathedral
St. George’s cathedral in Kingston in full autumn glory

I was watching a biography on the great Robin Williams. They showed that memorable scene from Dead Poets Society where he stands on his desk and asks his students why, and he replies, “I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”

It’s easy to not see what is before our eyes. Case in point. I was driving home the other night and for the first time, saw a bright red roof of a barn shimmering in the late day sun. I had never seen that roof before even though I drive the same route twice a day, five days a week, fifty weeks of the year.

Sometimes we need to make a conscious effort to see things from a new perspective. The risk if we don’t stand on our desks from time to time is feeling uninspired, unfulfilled, bored and unhappy.

This week’s #HappyAct is to stand on your desk and challenge yourself to look at things with a fresh eye. If you’re not into standing on your desk, try this. Every day this week, on your daily walk or commute, pause and look at your surroundings with fresh eye. What did you discover? Leave a comment. Here’s what I found one day on a quick walk around the block from my office.

Limestone carriageway
A limestone carriageway, from the days of horse and carriages.
Doorway
One of the many beautiful doorways of Kingston
Frontenac Club Inn
The Frontenac Club Inn on King and William Streets. Note the plaque on the wall–this is the first time I’ve ever stopped to read it, even though I’ve passed it a million times. It is dedicated to the men of the Frontenac Club who fought in the second world war. I learned the Frontenac Club was made up of leading Kingstonians, garrison officers, faculty and officers of Queen’s University and Royal Military College and was closed in the 1930s when the depression hit.