Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Capturing Light: Details from a Camera

Details rock my world. I love the feathered edge of parchment, the steam from my breath when out in the cold, the glimmer of light on a cloudy day. I snap a zillion photos of details, zooming in to catch the prism of a water drop on a lotus, the texture of roots poking up from rich blackness, the sheen of polished wood. I always promise myself that I'll include the details in my WIP.

I rarely do. The photos rarely see the light of day. Embarrassingly, several thousand are up-loaded to my computer but unprinted. Another 1000+ reside on my camera. Yet untouched. There's always something more to see, something else to capture.

Tomorrow I head for Philadelphia for a conference. I'm excited. I know I'll spend the rest of the week snapping pictures -- and all for what?

My hope is that all of those views and angles and shimmers and flashes reside somewhere in my head. I may not pluck one out, pristine and unsullied, to insert into a scene -- but the things I see, hear, experience all bubble & simmer in my brain somewhere, ready to be used when called upon. I may not spread the photos out around me, waiting for inspiration, but the act of catching the last leaf on a tree leaves me with something inexplicable. And that's what I try to insert into my WIP.

Where do you get your details? How do you reveal a scene or find inspiration? On another note, what do you do with all of your photographs? (And no, I don't scrapbook!)


  1. I found it so odd I clicked over here b/c Snapfish was uploading my photos at a slow pace and look at your question...Today they had a get 100 free if you spend $5 so I'm getting some printed...FINALLY. I adore details. I also enjoyed the details you listed at the beginning of this post.
    ~ Wendy

  2. I can be about details. All I do is think of something in a uniquely physical sense. Often times it doesnt take much because the setting is already unique. You only need to characterize it in a way that the reader can grasp.

    I'll describe my house for example.

    My house is a white rectangle with a low set roof. Two large windows face south, one for each bedroom. The inside has wood flooring and grey smoke stained walls. There is one bathroom, a kitchen and an entry with a place to keep my shoes.

    Boring. Nothing special there. it could be a house anywhere. But lets focus on what makes my house unique.

    My house is a small rectangle set in a quiet corner of a quiet neighborhood. From within the only thing that can be heard is the rustling of nearby bamboo blowing in the wind, or perhaps the hum of a distant tractor plowing a field.

    Above, instead of focusing on my mundane house as it is, I described it in relation to it's unique surroundings. The words I chose to use are nearby bamboo and distant tractor. They alone evoke wonderful imagery. Where could those two possibly go together? In Japan. That is where I live. And those are two aspects of my house that probably make it different from yours, hence its uniqueness.

  3. My ideas come from all over, news items with a twist, an overheard conversation that I finish or sometimes pictures.

    As for photos - I have Windows calendar email me to remind me to download and order snaps each month. They go in an album, scrapbooking is too much work.

  4. I'm not a great photographer but I'm always snapping pictures. I find that the very act of doing so helps to capture the moment and its accompanying details in my mind. So even if I never print them the taking of them serves a purpose. Whether I'm writing or painting, my mind is influenced by them.



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