Through the Eyes of a Lens

Gayle_Cheyenne bookstoreThis 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.

Bunny Face_gray_web   3 Llamas at fence_web   Lambs_web   Turkeys walking_ranch_web

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).

Geese_fly above river   waterfall_river   North Platte River   chickadee 2_in bushMary dog_river walk

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 and Mary_river walk

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

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014



17 thoughts on “Through the Eyes of a Lens

  1. I have had a Cannon digital camera for a while now. I couldn’t imagine not having it. I do photography, mostly landscapes. I have written poetry about photos I’ve taken. Slice of life type photos & poems, and they have been published in magazines. I have 4 lens for my camera. Congrats on all you do. Cher’ley


    1. I’m looking forward to this weekend’s weather in Casper — to be nearly 70 degrees! I’ll be taking the camera on an outing again! Thanks for your comments, Cher’ley, and I hope you enjoy your camera for many years to come!


      1. I had pne just like it,but it was a film Camera, I lost it in our house fire. I felt very sad because it took excellent photos, so when I found a similar digital one, I was thrilled. Cher’ley


  2. Looks like you made an excellent purchase Gayle. The pictures are beautiful – clear and sharp. Bet you’re glad you finally took the plunge. Can’t wait to see some more photos. Thanks for sharing with us.


    1. Thank you for the compliments, Linda. Yes, I’m very happy with the purchase — and I even had an extra school visit to help pay for it, so I’m thankful for that! I do plan to share more photos with the group when the opportunity arises.


  3. Love photos, and the ones you posted are wonderful. SJ does wonderful work, something to try for. I think, for me, taking photos helps to focus what I do. Wonderful post, and I wish you success with the upcoming stories. Doris


    1. I know you enjoy taking photos, too, Doris — and I appreciate your kind words! I also appreciate the pictures and poems you share — I truly enjoy your work! Thanks for the kind thoughts and encouraging comments!


  4. Sure does take nice photos. I’m impressed. It’s hard to believe, but my Nikon digital camera is now five years old. I bought mine for my newspaper work. The newspaper’s cameras were always in use by other reporters. Plus I needed a quality one for sports photos.


    1. The camera also takes video, Mike — the features on this new camera will take time for me to learn. I hope to make a video during my next speaking engagement (actually, it will likely be my husband who takes it) so I hope I have opportunity to share it — or part of it — with the group. I hope you and your Nikon get to enjoy many more years, and memories, together! Thanks for your comments!


  5. Wow, the photos are amazing. Sharp, clear, and the telephoto lens seems to work perfectly. I love the shot of the bunny. Beautiful. I’d say it’s definitely worth the money. Makes me want to go out and buy one! All I’ve used for years is my cell phone but then I’m not photographing professionally.


    1. Thank you for your kind words, Sarah. Yes, I’m very pleased with it (and the bunny was one of my favorites, too — you should see how many rabbit pictures I actually took! LOL) I appreciate you stopping by to comment and for your encouragement.


  6. Great pictures Gayle! Looks like a good purchase. Now I want a new one, exept i just bought my camtera a few years ago and haven’t learned all it’s attributes yet. You take great photos as well as writing great stories. I especially liked that pic of the buffalo in Yellowstone you shared on facebook. I’d love to paint that sometime, I saved it on my computer!


    1. Thanks so much, Neva, for your kind words and encouragement. I loved living near Yellowstone and had a 35 mm that I used for pleasure and for work (editor and reporter of the West Yellowstone News). I’ve always enjoyed nature photography — my parents still like to remind me that, as a child, I’d take 8 or 10 pictures of the same thing (wildlife in particular), trying to get it just right. Of course, film was very expensive for a family on a budget — so sadly, I was wasting money and film without really realizing it until later in life. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  7. Good post Gayle, and timely for me. I, too, have been using a simple ‘point and shoot/ one take’ digital camera that I probably got in 2000 or 2001 and it’s on it’s last legs. My birthday is coming up and I hinted to my husband that a new camera would be a great pressie- especially as I’m going to a few events/ holidays soon and a camera will be needed. I don’t want anything more complex than I had (being pretty rubbish with technology) but the telephoto lens you refer to sounds excellent and your photos show how good it is. My phone camera is good but it can’t zoom or do anything fancy.


    1. Nancy, I think that would make an EXCELLENT birthday gift — I hope your husband takes the hint! 🙂 My stomach lurched at the money we spent, but it is an investment and helpful/necessary for both of our businesses … and therefore, it’s a tax write-off (though not til next year!) I’ve already used it this week for two of my Our Town Casper articles, so I’m very pleased we bought it. Let us know/show us when you get your new camera! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  8. You know I loved this post. Now you have a sense for why I go out and do what I do. The camera gives me the ability to connect with a critter, to literally look them in the eye. Happy shooting.


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