This post by Gayle M. Irwin
Recently, my husband and I purchased a new camera, a Canon EOS Rebel T5. It takes digital photos as well as video. This was a significant purchase, costing nearly as much as a month’s house payment. Although I swallowed hard spending so much money on something that, if dropped, could be broken forever, it’s a purchase that helps us both in our respective businesses.
As a freelance writer, I’m often required to take photographs of my subject matter, and our 10-year-old “point and shoot” digital camera was fast wasting away; last month when I used it to photograph one of my “Cool Kids” for Our Town Casper magazine, I was nearly unable to download the photos – the camera and my computer were having an argument about sharing the pictures. I wiggled cords, shut down both machines and rebooted, and still nothing. So I prayed… HARD! Finally, about 15 minutes later, when I was about to give up, low and behold, they communicated and finally shared the photos! This had been happening off and on for about four months. So, I told my husband, who had been looking at cameras since before Christmas, “It’s time – I can’t worry about this next month when I have to have photos for stories.” So, we bought a new camera – plus a telephoto lens, because, after all, we live in a state filled with wildlife and beautiful scenery, and we travel – so it’s best to have a telephoto for some shots, especially of animals (many of which should not be approached too closely).
We practiced with the new camera while visiting our friends’ ranch a few weeks ago. All I can say is WOW!! The money expended was certainly worth it! Here are a few photos taken at the ranch of the various animals, domestic and otherwise, that we saw.
During the weekend, as Casper basked in 60+ degree spring-like weather, Greg and I took our dog, Mary, for a walk along the North Platte River. The water is flowing freely, not jammed up with ice from winter any more — ducks, geese, and songbirds greeted us along our sojourn. Here are a few photos from that excursion (none taken with the telephoto, although I wished I’d had it to capture the chickadees flitting around the willows or the geese winging onto and out of the water).
Through the eyes of the lens, one can capture very special moments, and when using a telephoto, it’s like your looking into the soul of your subject. As writers, we often do the same with our characters, even with our settings, describing the scene (such as the forest Cody walks through in my children’s book Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest) or developing the characters’ personality and showing their actions. When we zero into our work, helping the reader gain a greater understanding and perspective of our characters, settings, and plots, we’re helping those readers to focus on the purpose of our story, much like a photographer focuses the camera’s lens to sharpen the image and capture the scene/subject.
As I work on my next children’s books, I’ll again be focusing on the subject of animals (a dog for one main character and a cat for other book’s primary character). As I write these stories and set the scenes as well as develop the characters to which I’m hoping children will relate, I’ll be remembering how amazing a camera lens works to focus on the subject matter the photographer wants to capture. Writers and photographers are similar in this perspective: we need to zero in on our work, creating a beautiful image/story for our audience to enjoy.
I’m looking forward to what develops in my upcoming children’s stories as well as what images I capture with the new camera when we take our summer trip to Yellowstone and Teton national parks! Perhaps a bear or a moose will appear in the eye of my lens – and I’ll be grateful to have that telephoto lens!
Do you enjoy photography? (we all know S.J. does!) What’s the best image you’ve captured on film or in digital format? Have any of those photos helped generate story/book ideas for you?
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer, author and speaker. She is the author of five inspirational dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What?, released in August 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, and Our Town Casper magazines and for the Casper Journal newspaper. She pens a pet column for the Douglas Budget and River Press newspapers, and she’s had articles published in Creation Illustrated magazine. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.