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I saw this quote recently, while strolling around on Goodreads:

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”     – Ansel Adams

Nice, right?

Though I fancy myself a writer, I think I understand what he means: there are times when all the adjectives in the world fail to describe something adequately, and all that is left is the moment that sits before us. We can try to capture that moment with a camera, but often that too will fail, and then we are left to sit in the midst of it, soaking it up as much as possible before it – and we – flit away, changed.

Of course, despite that, I take a crazy number of pictures, trying with all my might to reproduce what cannot be reproduced. Because I don’t have an actual camera – saving up for that now – I use my iPhone, which astounds me with its ability to grab some of what I’m seeing, most of the time. (Pause…we walk around like it’s nothing, that phone/camera/computer/texter/shopping mall/exercise tracker/library/etc., and yet: what? How does that even exist? My grandparents would be astounded…unpause.)

So imagine my delight a few weeks ago, when one of my best friends showed me the panorama feature on my phone when we met for a weekend in Sedona (which, incidentally, was almost named Schnebly Station).

Holy vortex, batman!

Holy vortex, batman!

Since then, I’ve become a bit obsessed with the feature.

What?! Hills! I bet those would make for a beautiful pano!

What?! Hills! I bet those would make for a beautiful pano!

It warps everything just a little bit and makes me rethink beauty.

All I have to do is look up, aim my phone, and…spin!

All I have to do is look up, aim my phone, and…spin!

I am aware of the limitations: the colors are not as fine, the perspective is off. And I’m aware, too, that I’m taking this shortcut that actual photographers would surely never take.

A bit dark, this sunset...

So dark, this sunset…

 

and a bit brighter in a regular snapshot.

and a bit brighter in a regular snapshot.

But then I remind myself that I’m not an actual photographer, anyway.

I pulled over on the way home from Thanksgiving in Southern California, and ducked beneath a closed fence, to take this picture.

The possibility of a good panorama + ducking under a closed gate = possible trespassing?

I remind myself that all I’m trying to do is focus with photographs, when words become unclear.

Because really, I do not yet know the words to describe such a moment, though I am learning, though I will continue trying.

Because really, I do not yet know the words to describe such a moment, though I am learning, though I will continue trying.

And for now, that’s fine with me. Just don’t even get me started on using effects in the panorama feature. Such technology seems a mockery of actual photographers and real darkrooms – but hell, it’s such fun that I’m not even going to try and resist.

The antiqued Northern California coastline, in late 2014, as the sun descends.

The antiqued Northern California coastline, in late 2014, as the sun descends.

(Psst…why are you still sitting here? You’ve surely got a panorama of your own to take!)

 

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