Life is Too Short

Since it’s the end of a long week I thought I’d wax philosophical this morning and discuss some of life’s simple pleasures. But first, the bad news . . .

We live in a world that moves at an incredible pace most days. We are bombarded with more information than our brains can actually process, digest and understand. We rush to get to work, we rush through our day and we rush home in the evenings. We fall dead asleep and do it all over again the next day. We live our lives as if time has no meaning! Let me say that again. We live our lives as if time has no meaning!

But time does have meaning and our time here on this planet is all too short. Let me explain.

I receive hundreds of emails and thousands of blog comments each year asking advice on this camera or that filter or on some technique that will add impact to their images. While I’m always happy to help (I do answer every email personally), I rarely see most people following through with their dreams to become better photographers. It’s as if many folks are waiting for permission to live their lives to the fullest and pursue their dreams.

Those of you that have followed my blog for some time probably know that in March 2007 I came down with an inexplicable and still undiagnosed neurological disorder that left me in almost constant pain with muscle spasms and cramps in my lower back and legs. I spent the better part of a year in and out of the hospital, seeing specialists and being tested for everything from AIDS to Cancer to MS. I’ve had multiple MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, ultrasounds, myelograms and neurological tests. My condition is still undiagnosed, but I do have medication to help control the muscle spasms and pain. It has taken me the better part of three years to recover my strength and self confidence.

Before all this occurred I lived my life as if time had no meaning. As if I had all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted. I had no great ambition in life (other than to support my family and raise my children) and no real goals beyond getting my golf handicap down to single digits. It never occurred to me that my time here was limited and if I wanted to leave something meaningful behind, I’d better get off my butt and start really living.

Without sounding like a Baptist preacher let me explain what I’ve learned. LIFE is a gift from GOD. It is finite and final. We have only so much time to grow, learn, understand, teach and pray before we pass through this plane of existence and on to the next. And we have no idea how short or long our life may be! None. Nada. No Idea.

LIFE IS TOO SHORT not to slow down and enjoy its simple pleasures like photographing a solitary flower in the warm sunshine. It’s too short to sit inside reading photography books, magazines and blog posts every night and weekend instead of getting out there to shoot.

LIFE WAS MEANT TO BE LIVED. It’s a gritty, scary and often exhausting “full-contact” sport where everyone is their own quarterback and the two-minute warning has just sounded.

LIFE WAS MEANT TO HAVE MEANING. Millions die each year without leaving behind a meaningful legacy to inspire the next generation. Be a part of the small minority that does.

Yellow

Yellow – Llano, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/4 for 1/1250th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Here’s the Good News . . .

LIFE BEGINS ANEW EACH MORNING. Get up early to shoot a sunrise. Stay up late to shoot a sunset. Carry a camera with you everywhere you go. If something looks interesting to you, take the shot. If nothing looks interesting to you, then you’re not really looking are you?

LIFE CAN SLOW DOWN. It’s all up to you. You can rush through your life and be miserable or you can slow things down to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Go sit on a park bench during lunch and slowly look around you. Look for something interesting and take the shot!

LIFE REQUIRES COURAGE (but what have you got to lose?). Mix things up a little. If you shoot predominantly landscape images, shoot some portraits. Have the courage to shoot a stranger. Be a generalist. Specialization is for insects.

LIFE IS TOO SHORT. Don’t wait another instant. Pursue your photographic dreams with determination. Make it happen! But don’t forget to enjoy your life. The journey through life is why we are here!

What Golden Hours?

I know, I know.

We’re only supposed to shoot landscapes during those “golden hours” around sunrise and sunset. Yes, I realize that most outdoor magazines won’t even consider a landscape image taken at other times of the day.

Being the stubborn Irishman that I am, I just can’t sit around all day waiting for those “golden hours” to occur. Life is Too Short (LTS) and I shoot landscapes and nature whenever I can find the time. That means shooting whenever I find some decent light and a good subject. It might be 7:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 2:30 PM or 8:00 PM.

Luckily, Texas is a big place and the weather here changes faster than most folks can change their mind. We have some of the biggest skies I’ve seen on four continents and the most wonderful clouds a photographer could ever ask for. With a little luck and a lot of patience, even 5:30 in the afternoon can become a “golden hour”.

PS: It does help to carry around a few key filters like a circular polarizer and a graduated neutral density filter.

Lake Buescher

Lake Buescher – Smithville, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens tripod mounted. The exposure was taken at 38mm, f/16 for 1/60th of a second at ISO 100 using a Singh-Ray circular polarizer and 4-stop graduated neutral density filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Flora & Fauna

You don’t have to look very hard for something wonderful to photograph here in Texas. As I tell my friends, “it’s a target rich environment”. Sometimes you capture the big views and sometimes the small views. Both work very well in the springtime!

Flora

Flora – La Grange, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand-held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/4 for 1/320th of a second at ISO 200 using only a circular polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Charlie the Caterpillar

Charlie the Caterpiller – La Grange, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand-held. The exposure was taken at 105mm, f/5.6 for 1/160th of a second at ISO 200 using only a circular polarizer filter. All post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.