What started out as a summer of restrictions ended up as a summer of exploration and discovery. With COVID-19 altering our plans for the summer, we did like many other families and took to the outdoors. For as much as I thought I loved the outdoors and the parks in my area, there was a lot that I never knew about.
Cleveland has one of the best park systems in the country and though we had enjoyed some of them during previous summers, this would be quite different.
This time around not only would we be venturing out and exploring, but I’d be doing so for the first time as a photographer. The parks are already beautiful and enjoyable on their own, but having a camera in my hand with the purpose of capturing their beauty forced me to slow down a bit more. I was forced to focus on smaller details amongst a vast tapestry of splendor.
And so it was on my journeys to various parks, some of which I’d visited previously and some I’d heard of but never had the time to visit, a change of perspective.
I quickly realized how much was out there. So much that I had previously walked past or quickly glanced at. Now I was stopping and observing. Attempting to catch things in a frame that would otherwise seem mundane and ordinary. What stood out to me the most was the amount of time I was able to spend in one spot. I was completely occupied, observing and attempting to capture all of the minute details, angles and variations of each scene that I came across. Only once I was satisfied and had exhausted all of my ideas was I ready to move on.
It dawned onto me that each park was really a collection of an infinite amount of scenes and experiences and that camera or not I would never be able to capture them all. But I had fun trying.
As I was appreciating the parks in a new way, I was also learning the technical aspects and experimenting with my camera. I was learning a new skill – photography.
I became fascinated with observing the light and how it often filtered through the trees creating natural spotlights and casting shadows. Sometimes the sun would provide a beautiful backlight and create shadows or silhouettes. Conversely the sun could then illuminate a scene in a meaningful way. Learning to use that light was of particular interest to me and kept me curious.
We covered a lot of ground this summer and came upon some really unique areas that I didn’t even know existed. After all of that, it still feels like we’ve only barely scratched the surface. There’s so much more out there, much of which is still hidden in the parks that we already visited. They’re just hidden, sometimes in plain sight, as the details often are, just waiting to be revealed.
There are also other parks that we have yet to reach that I know are waiting for us to make some brand new discoveries. Of course I’ll be there, camera in hand ready to capture what I can.
I found that the things that are familiar to us and are all around us that we often overlook require something that slows us down to examine them and appreciate them. That happened for me and my family this summer. The journey that I took this summer gave me a new appreciation for the natural beauty around me, and a new skill as well.