Monday, December 10, 2012

the quality of the day

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of the arts.

~ Thoreau

A week of quiet walks, looking for light. Some days finding strips of it, kneeling in the snow to meet the low entry of light, the awkward angles. So grey, so often, yet looking at these photos - blue sky, golden winter light. 

The same paths taken, for the most part. This ongoing goal to see things afresh. To see when one has been dulled. When you go on a vacation, everything looks splendid, things sparkle. But how to see this landscape, these paths I walk, have been walking for 13 years, with some clarity. What have I overlooked? What has changed? Every day, change.

Someone I don't know wrote me a message recently and I think it was meant as a compliment. Along the lines of:  I see you're a writer. Imagine how great your wonderful photos would be if you gave that up.

I guess it hit me because it's not something I haven't considered myself. 

When I started getting obsessed with taking photos nearly everyday, I told myself that it was a way to make my writing more full of seeing. Also, a way of soothing writing angst. And also because it was a quicker and cleaner way to indulge my calling toward the visual. If I hadn't been able to take these daily photos, I suppose I would have turned to the paintbox to fulfill this need. I'd painted, just as an outlet, for years off and on, but maybe one person painting in the house at a time is enough. It's something that takes up a lot of space, is messy, and can't be so easily started and stopped. Too frustrating, and honestly, I have a certain amount of skill, talent, but not enough to justify the huge space it takes up, mentally and physically.  

If I concentrated on just the photography, maybe I could make a bit of a living from it. Maybe not. I don't have a lot of the skills needed to go in that direction. I'm not that great at taking photos of people, though with practice etc etc.  And I'm still resisting the temptation of photoshop and programs like that.

Okay, but then I get to thinking, if I gave up photography, maybe my writing would benefit....I'd certainly have more time. And yet, there is this yearning to explore the visual world in certain ways, to chase light on -25c days, for example. What to do with that?


  1. I feel strongly that there has to be room for both, and each pursuit feeds the other. You go! These photos are winter magic. Thanks for sharing!

  2. These are serious thoughts, and I can see why you think them. If I have a vote (which I don't) I'd say Don't give up anything! Except housework, perhaps :) These pictures are so splendid and your voice beside them makes them even more so. I love the light...and I have to say I'd love to buy a large canvas print of the magpie in the trees...

  3. By the way, when I posted, the middle post wasn't there...

  4. I'm not sure if we ever completely decide these things. They come, we walk along while it seems right. All I know is that I enjoy spending time in Calm Things. Thanks for another wonderful post Shawna.

  5. I think this is the thing - we think we get to choose, but that's a beautiful way to put it - we walk along. Thanks you all, thank you Stephen.

  6. Your writing is already wonderful. A person's life should become broader, not narrower, in my opinion. One must grow, explore, challenge, change, along our journey. You can't express without experience.

    Thanks for the wonderful pix. I am so happy that you go out everyday and take those magical shots, and we get to share in them, without having to bundle up and walk the dog . . .


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