Male Pine Warbler in Redbud by Paul Rossi
Editor's Note: This is a guest column written by our friend, Paul Rossi. Paul specializes in bird photography, though he also photographs wildlife and landscapes.
I have always deeply enjoyed nature and the outdoors, but there was a moment when it hit me - the idea that I could share my experiences in nature through photography. It was a defining moment of my life. I remember vividly to this day how I felt great excitement, yet a deep calmness at the same time. I knew I found a strong sense of purpose aligned with something that brought me tremendous satisfaction. I knew I could share that. And I felt nothing could stop me. I felt power.
But what happened wasn't fully apparent until many years later, when I realized that I had I deepened my connection with nature.
At one time, our connection with nature was intrinsic to our survival. Our ancestors had a direct connection with nature, and the freedom to fully interact with all of the resources needed for their survival. And they developed and passed along the ability to learn from nature.
Northern Waterthrush in Marsh Marigold by Paul Rossi
But today, specialization has disconnected most of us from interacting with nature for our resources. And technology and computers make it seem as if everything is understood and all questions are already answered, so we are less inclined to go out and interact with nature and discover for ourselves what it has to offer.
Nature photography is one of the best and most accessible ways to reconnect with a past that is still intrinsic to the core of our existence. Our peace of mind and sanity once depended on our connection to nature because if we disconnected, we wouldn't have survived.
Think about that...
Deep inside us, our drive to connect with nature will always be there. It is programmed into us and its importance cannot be dismissed because it once defined what it meant to be free. Free to determine our fate.
Lake Huron Ice Embers Sunset by Paul Rossi
When you are doing nature photography, you eventually experience moments of awe when you witness nature's beauty, power, or mysteries on display. When you capture those moments, you are creating - framing, exposure, depth of field, shutter speed, cropping - they are all creative tools used to present your interpretation of your experience or to present what nature has offered with as much fidelity as possible.
Ordinarily, we do not have the mindset of creating. Yet the act of creating something changes our emotional state and makes us feel alive. It gives us a tremendous influx of positive energy.
And that gives us more power. The power to leave a passive mindset behind us. The power to supersede a negative emotional state that can be induced by industrial society. You have the power to seek that energy and share it. This is what nature photography is about and it is what freedom is ultimately about.
Boredom is a common energy-sapping condition in modern society, and most people afflicted just learn to live with it.
But deep down, they are made for adventure. Otherwise, they wouldn't mind being so bored.
There are many other things in our society that can sap a person's energy level, such as the myriad of information and misinformation which induces fear. But nature photography is a way to counteract that, one way you can make a conscious effort to take responsibility for your own energy level and raise that of others.
Barred Owl Snow Flight by Paul Rossi
Why do I share secrets to finding the ephemeral and hidden beauty in nature?
Because discovery in nature, with its endless variety and ever-changing beauty, fulfills our deepest desire for freedom. And happiness, too.
This is the spiritual part of connecting with nature. If I can help people develop an avenue for accomplishing this I feel good about it. That is why I began teaching photography.
I encourage you to share your thoughts on this topic!
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