In our current world of uncertainty it can be easy for one to become stressed and live on the edge. So, the need to find ways to take care of oneself in all aspects of life becomes more important as the uncertainty grows around us. One of my favorite activities for connecting with God and others is through outdoor photography. Nature has many healing properties to it that can be easily passed by in the rush of getting things done. And a simple walk in the woods on a nearby trail can help to promote peace of mind and body. For me the key is often slowing down enough to find the beauty in the simple and small things that surround us every day.

For me outdoor photography is not about capturing the perfect picture. It is about taking the time to observe and seeing things in a different way than I may have missed before. There are many ways to enjoy nature and capture it from grand vistas to watching bugs display their beauty inside of a flower. I find that there are many benefits to outdoor photography that anyone can enjoy even if you don’t have a camera.

1. Taking the time to slow down: In our world of getting it done yesterday, I find that stepping back and taking deep breaths can renew one’s energy and bring a different focus. Doing this while out in nature helps me to see things that I would have easily missed if I just walked on by. Having a camera also helps me to slow down and see things from a more artistic perspective. Seeing and creating a good composition takes time to develop and slowing down is the first step in trying to capture the mood of the scene.

2. Outdoor photography helps to build new skills and improve the ones that I already have. The power of observation can be enhanced by simply watching the clouds roll by. Or by stopping and standing silently for 30 seconds and taking in the world around you. Take time to experience the smells. And the little things that are living life around you that can open up other parts of our world. Slowly turn your head and body in both directions several times. Take the time to observe what is above you. Bend down and take in the world from a ground-level perspective, or a knee-high level. If you have small children this is the world that they see. There is a whole world to discover and endless opportunities to connect with nature and those that are around you. If you have kids with you make a game of it. See who can find the most interesting things in 30 seconds. Seeing things through another’s eyes can help connect people. And taking pictures of what you find can build lasting memories. For me these unexpected moments can be some of the most memorable ones.

3. The health benefits of getting exercise are worth the time it takes to get to new places. For me wandering the neighborhood park or going to a new state park are worth the time. The endless places and the length of the trails don’t matter to me. For me simply being there is the prize. And being able to wander about the trails brings the health benefits and helps to renew my mind and body. It is also a great way to connect with others on the trail.

4. It gives the inner child a chance to explore: for me the quest to explore never seems to end. And the opportunities that nature offers is unending in the ways that you can explore them. The power of imagination and one’s ability to see things in different ways can be breathtaking and endless. And sharing a sunset with ten different people will give you ten unique experiences to enjoy. My kids have always loved to explore and one of the unwritten family rules was if dad did not get hurt trying something then the kids would often get to explore it too. And mom would be close behind taking the pictures of the adventure. It was always fun to give the camera to one of our girls and get their perspective on the world around us.

I invite you to come along and make your own adventures. The world of the foot traveler is vast and bringing others with you are just gifts you haven’t opened yet. Nature’s gifts are endless we only need to take the time to soak them in. The camera is not required; but it can help create lasting memories for generations to come. So come and “shoot the world with light,” as you experience life at a little slower pace.


The Path of the Mushrooms

They reach up like jointless fingers that stretched from the floor of the forest. Colorful enticements that quietly looked up in the shards of light, as they captured the changing light around them. The distant light brings the energy to do their task. The slow undertaking of consuming others around them. Their true purpose is to bring life from the death of others. To breakdown those that have served their greater purpose. But now they hold fast to their brothers that have come to slowly consume what remains.

They hide in plain site for all to see their unique beauty. They grow in the quiet damp places and on the sides of the trees. These colorful members of the forest reach out to all that would take notice. But are often passed by as perhaps less important than those that live around them. Their prupose goes unnoticed as the passing of time claims those that others would come to see. But they hold a rich beauty of distinct shapes, colors and sizes.

The family of fungus hides itself among the dead seeking to do its job and go about its way unnoticed. But to those that know them they can be small treasures worth the effort of finding. Their abundance of flavors and colors have adorned many tables. Often prepared with butter and a bit of salt these delicacies can delight one’s taste buds. Some are delacacies for chefs, prized items that can fetch a good buck if they are in the right condition. Many are grown on farms for the masses to enjoy in everyday fare. But one needs to know where to look and at what time of year to pick them.

Some of them hide in the shadows of dimly lit undergrowth where dirty, oozy things spring up from the world around them. While, others climb the arms of the forest around them. They grow here and there and in the hidden areas of the forest floor. They spring forth in the light of open meadows. These soft creatures can’t take much abuse and prefer to be left alone. In fact, some of them insist upon it. Their toxic look-a-likes keep others from indulging on them. To the point of poisoning those that ignore the warning. So, one must be careful and take heed of these look-a-likes that protect them. The untrained eye or the unsuspecting picker can be fooled. And what seemed like an easy meal can become a toxic mess, for the one that does not know the subtle difference between them.

For the casual trail traveler they are colorful delights that can bring to life the forest floor with rich colors and opportunities that some would pass by. But for the ones that take the time their bountiful array of shapes and sizes are only matched by their colorful hues. So, grab a camera and your favorite walking stick for a casual walk among the mushrooms in the parks and forest nearest to you. And always “shoot the world with light.”