Sunday

I {LOVE} Sunday::to remember the LORD's everlasting love...

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But the steadfast love of the LORD
is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children's children

Psalm 103:17
{Photo: 3 of our children's children this weekend on Pollywog Creek}

With the Sunday Community at Lisha's #GiveMeGrace

Saturday

Still Saturday::in a season of uncertainty...

...uncertain seasons are often some of the most powerful moments we experience with God in this age. More than seasons of security and prosperity, they demonstrate that God exists and rewards those who seek him {Hebrews 11.6} 
So if you are in one of those seasons, take heart. God is graciously allowing you to experience the reality that he "acts for those who wait for him." {Isaiah 64:4}
~ Jon Bloom, Not By Sight, p. 57

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

Tuesday

12 Tips for Backyard Nature Photography...

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For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, 
have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, 
in the things that have been made. 
So they are without excuse. 
Romans 1:20 ESV

Not too long ago, a friend asked if I would consider teaching a class on photography. Your kind of photography, she emphasized.    

I laughed. I don't know if I can, I answered. It's not that what I do is complicated or difficult to explain, it's just that I don't know what it is that I do -- it's simply the way I see.


Several years ago, I was driving my car down a back country road when something caught my eye at the edge of the thickets -- something moving, dangling or clinging, I suppose. I honestly don't remember, but I stopped the car, got out with my camera, and was taking pictures when a friend drove by and saw me. Pulling her car up beside me, she rolled down the window and shaking her head asked, whatever do you see to take a picture of? 

I don't think I responded, but the answer is that I see what God shows me. I know this because I'm always asking Him to show me -- right here in my own backyard or the pasture and fields on our Pollywog Creek property.


It's because I photograph what God shows me in His creation that I'm reluctant to place a watermark on my photos. If God's invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature are clearly seen in what He has created, then my photographs should point to God and not me.

Nature photography enhances my devotional life -- to walk and pray and discover beauty in the thickets, fields and around the pond -- life rising from dead places, symmetry and order in the life cycles of insects and wildflowers and the way all of life is nourished by light and rain and good rich soil.


It's deeply satisfying to sense that this is God's gift for me in this season -- and to offer the works of my hands {and camera} up to Him and to trust that He will do with them as He pleases -- even if every lesson learned from clinging vines and loud-mouthed blue jays is for me alone.

I might someday teach a workshop on my kind of photography -- when the weather is cooler and I'm able to move around easier. For now, I'll share a few tips for nature photography that have worked for me -- tips that I've posted before, but I've been asked recently to share again.


  • Before heading out the door, begin with prayer. Ask God to open your eyes to glimpses of His glory and to the beauty in the not-so-beautiful around you. Many of my photos are of common weeds.
  • Get outside early. I shoot almost exclusively with natural light, and the best light is the hour or two around sunrise and just before sunset. 
  • I do not own a macro lens, but the weight of morning dew on insects makes it easier to get close to them for photos. The dew also adds sparkle to photos when you shoot into the light. 

  • Wear dark clothing or in colors that blend in with the surroundings. Avoid bright colors.
  • Wear quiet shoes. It's much easier to sneak up on something that's likely to run or fly away if they hear you. Avoid flip-flops and sandals, they make too much noise. I like to wear ballet slippers or even two pairs of old heavy socks without shoes.

  • Get as close to your subject as you can. For clarity and interest, fill the frame, leaving as little "white space" in the photo as possible.
  • Shoot your subject from different angles. Kneel, sit, or place the camera on the ground (on something to protect the camera), if you can. 

  • Practice patience. Be willing to sit, lean against a tree or stand in one place for long periods of time. Birds, insects and other animals will often get closer or come to me if I'm still long enough. 
  • Work with what you've got. Wildlife will not cooperate. You can't tell a screech owl to move out of the shadows or a blue jay to stop hiding behind the leaves, but if you move around too much trying to get the best angle, your subject is likely to flee. Begin taking photos as soon as an image catches your eye and then slowly try to move around for a better angle -- stopping to take more photos along the way.

  • Expect the unexpected. It's okay to have a particular photography subject in mind -- but be open to surprises elsewhere. If I'm too focused on duplicating a prior encounter or experience, I'm likely to miss something new God wants to show me. 
  • Make it a habit to keep your camera batteries charged. At the end of every day, my camera batteries go in the chargers to be ready by morning. Put fully charged batteries in your camera, clean the lenses, and make certain there's a formatted memory card in the camera before you walk out the door.
  • If your camera has been in a cool, air-conditioned house and you take it outside into warm, muggy air, the differences in temperature and humidity will cause condensation to form on the camera lens. To avoid this, I put my camera in the garage or on the porch about ten or fifteen minutes before I head outdoors so that it begins to warm up slowly and prevents that condensation from forming. 



*Slightly edited from the archives

*All photos are from my Pollywog Creek backyard

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Monday

My way or the high way...

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In case you've missed me saying so, this is not my time of year. I haven't been thrilled about summer since it meant a break from school and being able to sleep in — a very, very long time ago.

It's possible that my appreciation for summer might change now that none of my grandlittles live minutes away anymore and summers out of school might be when they can visit — but I'm not there yet.

I'm trying my best to work with it this year, because griping about the weather is obviously a total waste of time and energy and because getting outside is good for what ails me, so I've adopted a new summertime routine.

The days I'm home all morning I head out to my sweetgum-tree-shaded backyard swing as soon as the sun comes up — with two baskets (one with pens and books, including a Bible and notebook, the other with my camera and lens), coffee (iced, of course, in a Mason jar)...

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...and two battery-powered fans (don't laugh).

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My goal is to stay outside, except for pit-stops and refills, until noon. No big deal, you might think, because I'm sitting in the shade with fans, and all, but that just keeps me from dying. You can still sweat like crazy in this sub-tropical, humidity-saturated climate just by walking out the door. 

(10 AM)

All that to say, in one of my backyard swing, iced-coffee mornings last week, the story I read in Jon Bloom's Not By Sight was pointed squarely at me. Preparing to lead the women's study at my church this fall, I've spent more than ten hours meeting and planning with other women on the ministry team over the past two weeks. I've probably devoted at least that many hours in study and prayer on my own, as well, and there are hours of preparation remaining. 

I'm thrilled about all that we have planned for the fall, and I can visualize how I hope it will unfold, but Bloom reminds me what I know, yet tend to forget: "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." (Proverbs 16.9) 
God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8,9). They are frequently bewildering to us, but they are always better because God is orchestrating far more than we see or know in every unexpected event or delay. ~ Jon Bloom
LORD, I hold these plans for the women's study loosely, as wonderful as I think they are. You know every woman who will join us this fall. You know our hearts, hurts, and needs. You know infinitely more than I do. Please give us the wisdom to change what needs changing; and if you lead us in a different direction, I'll release all that's been planned and joyfully follow you. 

Sunday

I {LOVE} Sunday::to hear of his steadfast love...


Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

Psalm 143:8

With the Sunday Community at Lisha's #GiveMeGrace