Regular readers of this blog will note that most posts feature photographs of whatever I am writing about. This was based on a reader suggestion back in October. Lately I have been using a rather lovely Nikon digital camera I got for Christmas though some photographs have been captured on my not-particularly-fancy mobile phone. I have been thinking lately about how we perceive things. I am interested in looking around anyway though there can be an extra dimension when you are not only thinking about the place you are in but what angle might look good for a photograph or how could I spin this into a blog post.
My camera is quite fancy though I am yet to figure out how to get the most out of it. I have learned how to change the light settings and for the rest I am just muddling through. I have two books from the library (where else?) and I am trying vaguely to remember what I was taught when I was given a detailed tutorial in using an SLR for work a few years ago. (I was taking photographs of sewing machines. Don’t ask.) Apart from that, I am just pointing and shooting, taking my camera out when I see something and just going from there. One weekend, I plan to sit and concentrate on my camera but of course other things get in the way, life, wanting to sleep, studying and writing.
I don’t have the best short-term memory so a photograph is a good aide-memoire for those little details. Some photographs have prompted post ideas too, such as a post I would like to work on about walking on cracks in the pavement or the recent one about lighthouses. Then again some posts that have required illustration have led me to go out of my way to snap something, as on Good Friday when I used a half-hour in Edinburgh to go to Regent Road to take a photo of the Scottish Parliament for Friday’s post on elections.
When I am out somewhere, I invariably think about what could I write about this. I am currently working on a piece for my writing group that is much harder to write. These posts are relatively straight-forward to write. I can usually just have an idea and go with it for 500-900 words or thereabouts. The issue with the writing group piece is that it is fiction, which is much harder than writing about life. It is also geared to a theme. Even though I set the theme, it’s tricky. I have had two ideas so far that have gone absolutely nowhere. I write stories and have done so for years but they are my own characters and are by now very well-honed. (They’re not being published, though. Everyone needs to have their private stuff.) Writing something fresh to order isn’t easy. I’ll get there but it is tricky. There is a new theme once a month and the ones with photographs tend to be easier for me. A visual prompt seems to work best for me. If I have a comfort zone as a writer, it seems to be using my visual thinking skills to come up with something, rather than using a sentence of words.
We all experience the world in different ways. I prefer to observe through sight. It also suits my learning style. I have recently started studying again and find that those parts of my current OU course that involve music or listening to an audio track are much harder because it involves active concentration and picking out aural details that I just miss. If there is a transcript or subtitles, then I will use those because I read and pick out relevant details far more quickly from the words on the page or the screen than through the spoken voice. When I speak to people on the phone, particularly for work, I make written notes right away to ensure that I have captured the relevant details as my short-term memory will kick it away with minimal delay.
Writing is but another dimension of life, trying to capture thoughts in as few words as possible ready to fire onto the screen or the page, hoping that they will make some sort of sense. A photograph is valuable in showing in some small way what I am on about. It provides context, even if the reader can’t smell what I can smell at the time or hear the sounds around me as I click and shoot.
Being out in the world involves lots of layers. Some experiences can be overpowering in a sensory sense. There can be a lot of noise or a particular level of light. There can be a lot of people and knowing where to look and making sure I don’t bump into people or objects is a challenge. Writing and photographing gives me a focus and thankfully I have an outlet here to let it all out. This focus helps with life too, for it controls my inputs and outputs, placing a sort of band around my brain and keeping things under control. There are different layers to what we see and perceive in our day. It can be simple as our mood dictating how we see things or the weather in turn changing our mood. In trying to understand the world and live life, I try to keep my head from disappearing up my arse and keeping curious is key to that process. The world is interesting and it just helps to remember that sometimes.