They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away…” (1973) Kodachrome Written & Recorded by: Paul Simon
Many moons ago I was a photography enthusiast. Actually, I still am, just not a practicing one anymore.
Around 1983, one of my co-workers was selling his gently used 35mm Canon AE1. I never had a serious camera before, just happy with an Instamatic and Polaroids, but always wanted one. It didn’t take long in life to discover I had a photographer’s eye and really wanted to dive in. When he realized I was interested, he sold it to me for a little bit of nothing. I made out like a bandit on that deal. I guess I have taken a few thousand shots with it through the years. These days it sits in my old dusty camera bag…in a closet I rarely use.
My photo albums can testify how much I love real film, not to mention the scads of containers of photos stored away. They are just visual moments in time documented for future eyes. Recently, a fabulous photographer encouraged me to pick up the camera once again. A big thanks to Darren across the pond at The Arty Plantsman.
Once I became an owner of a great camera, a telephoto lens and a telephoto zoom lens was added over the years. All-in-all it adds up to some great shutter adventures.
If you’re new to a 35mm camera, one of the first things to learn is the focus of your subject in the viewfinder. In the scope you find uneven lines to mesh together for a sharp focus of the subject targeted. So vital. Line up the focus lines and click away. (I love the sound of the shutter.) The field of depth can be tricky, but it can be mastered. Let me show you some old pictures of mine to give some visual examples.
Below, notice the tight focus of the bee hovering over the blooms at the renowned Ft Worth Botanical Gardens in Ft Worth, Texas. (Theses photos are from the mid 1980’s, so the color has faded with age. However, I’m sure you’ll get the picture. :>)
For the photographer, what I’m about to explain is simple common knowledge. I focused sharply on the bee visiting the blooms, but when I “focused” on the bee, the background became “unfocused”. Notice the leaves and branches are blurry. It’s okay for a shot like this and frankly, it’s expected.
However, when I focused more toward the middle of the field of depth, and not closing up on a bee, all becomes focused. See what I mean?
If Pinocchio came to my house I could zero-in on his nose, but it would leave the rest of his face out of focus. Isn’t it true, sometimes in life we do tend to focus on lies, deceit, and untrustworthy words? Panning back, one can always view the larger picture.
Here’s another example from my old Karate/Kickboxing days. (I used to break concrete for martial arts demonstrations in another life. Patio concrete slabs at Walmart were less than a dollar in those days.)
Notice the tight, sharp focus centering on the concrete slabs atop the mason blocks. Yet, the back of the heads, in the foreground, are very much out of focus. If I had focused on the back of the gentleman’s head on the right, then the stage area would be hazy in the field of depth.
One of my faults is a tendency to be a newshound. With all the jarring frays in the American political world of late, I find I must walk away and focus on other things. I guess you might say I need to fix my eyes elsewhere for a more pleasant subject in my mental viewfinder. Simply put, I need to adjust my field of depth. Do you ever feel that way?
Not long ago, I had a real issue with my 20-something step-daughter. We first met about four years ago. She lives hundreds of miles away making it a bit difficult to have a thriving, authentic relationship. Over a Facebook post, harsh words were spoken. Attitudes, which were hidden, suddenly bubbled out into the raw open. It was a hurtful event. (Much like political hearings on Capitol Hill.) At first, I focused on the words said, words typed, and tried with all my might to keep from judging her too harshly. Unfortunately, I already had. What I needed to do, and eventually did, was to avoid focusing on the words, but also make efforts to step back to get the entire picture inside the frame from a different camera angle. When accomplished, I was able to adjust my lens for a broader view to the point where the up close and personal issue, which involved me, became less of the subject in the field of depth. In that way, the view of the world will always develop much better after possessing. It’s an art, don’t you think?
Photo: Chay Garciavia Pexels
While tell you this, I was hit with a biblical hammer. The parable from Jesus, concerning the Good Samaritan, captures much of the same idea. Here is my layman’s modern paraphrased version. PG13…Suitable with the exception of extreme violence and nudity. (LOL)
A poor traveler was beaten, stripped, and robbed by a gang waiting behind the rocks on a path in rugged desert area. They left him half-dead. Soon, a priest came down the same road, saw the distressed wounded traveler and made it a point to look the other way. In doing so, he went to the opposite side of the path to avoid him. Not long after that, a Levite approached. (A Levite was one who lived in the temple in Jerusalem, born to serve in the daily duties of temple business. Much like a monk or nun.) He too, quickly looked the other direction to avoid the traumatized one in need and walked around the naked, wounded traveler while fixing his gaze on the road ahead. A Samaritan man (From a geographical locale called Samaria in mid-Israel.) came down the same road and saw the poor guy. He had pity and compassion on him as he considered his terrible ordeal. Although the victim was left naked, bloody and unable to walk, he immediately gave him first aid as he bandaged him with what little he had. Then he, not caring if he soiled his own clothes, picked the bleeding man up and placed him on his donkey. Not long afterwards they reached a small hotel. He booked a room, taking care of him throughout the overnight. The next day, he found the wounded man was still in no condition to travel. He left him bandaged in his bed. Before leaving, he gave the hotel clerk a generous amount of funds. He instructed the clerk to take care of him. He went on to tell him to supply whatever needs might arise concerning the unfortunate man. He let it be known he would reimburse him for whatever expenses rose above the money offered when he returned from his trip. (Ref. Luke 10:35-37)
Honestly, volumes have been written about the application of this parable. There is so much taught from the tale. As Jesus shared this parable, He was showing the true heart of God and what kind of heart God can place within each of us who are willing. The “holier than thou” clergymen were focused on where they were going, their schedules, and their own concerns. When the two “men of the cloth” saw the poor, broken traveler, they chose not to focus on him, just like the back of the heads of an audience at a Karate demo. Although the victim was right there in their foreground, for them the idea was to keep the vision of him, and his needs, contained in a blurry haze of forgetfulness. The Good Samaritan had a schedule to keep as well. He was also focused on where his destination was, his clock, and the distance ahead. But when he saw the beaten, bloodied traveler, compassion caused him to think to himself, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Suddenly, he adjusted his lens to a sharp, clear focal point on the needs at hand. His new focus allowed him to see clearly what needed to be done for this stranger who owed him nothing. His new focus delivered a bias for action. You might say, he chewed his gum and walked at the same time. It’s clear, his field of depth changed as he refocused.
After I am dead and gone, my three daughters will be going through my photo albums, my plastic tubs of Kodak prints scanning some forty+ years, as well as boxes of snapshots I felt were important to keep. When they do, they might learn far more about what my true focus was in life. Hopefully they will discuss my authentic field of depth.
Focusing on the subject of need isn’t always easy, but it will add to your personal field of depth. The viewfinder is always located in the mixture of fuel for the race.
“Let us fix (focus) our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2 (Berean Study Bible Version)