I Look To See and concentrate on seeing what is out there.

I met another false Spring winter morning when I rose from sleep this morning and met Mrs. Lebec upstairs in our living area. It truly is the conglomeration of 4 rooms and a hallway leading to the bathroom. I catch my wheelchair parked on the upper level next to the 2 flights of stairs I had to climb before we decided to purchase a stair lift chair; it is a great machine assembly allowing me to stay in this house.

Each morning I roll over to the sliding glass door, unlocking it then letting Skunk-Puppy out to soil the neighbors lawn as every dog within miles does; why they chose that spot escapes me. I look out the glass to check the conditions out side to determine if I will have my coffee out there or sit in my chair wishing I could. This morning was a good day, making the decision to sit next to the river I prepared then rolled to the Levee. Mrs. Lebec had a cement sitting area 4’x10′ made by our do it all gardener on the Levee edge; it has changed my life, it is that big of an impact.

As I was sitting there my thoughts were on two tasks that I practice every day, this morning however is the first I thought of how reliant I am on them. Look, is the first task; I roll to the glass door with the first issue on my mind to look at the conditions outdoors. I look at the sky for weather conditions, look in the river for debris or abnormalities, the pasture, marina, far side levee all get looked at. Scanned for any abnormalities when I am satisfied I give it another look with a far different goal.

I look at this time and the remainder of the day as well my goal to concentrate on Seeing. Years ago I caught myself missing many details of life, of course I worked long hours at a very demanding job. I began self teaching to notice details and it helps immensely with photography. I now sit in my chair on the edge of the levee looking to see all the details. I am able to see 1/4 mile of the slough to the Northwest, nearly that far to the Southwest leaving 1/2 mile to see and detail. I use my 100-400mm lens 80% of the time while taking photos from this spot. With that lens I am able to see a 20 foot wide area directly across the water from me. As I move North or South the field of vision narrows while the magnification makes the best attempt it can to bring the far near.

I then look to see searching the entire panoramic view noticing every thing not merely the moving creatures but I see if everything remains the way it was yesterday. Every day something is different many times changing to such an extent it creates an entirely new photographic opportunity. I see how the most important part of photography is reflecting on the subject I have become interested in Sunlight and shadows make the image. I see in my minds eye how the shading may be in the next minutes or tens of minutes; if I suspect an opportunity I will continue seeing it to fruition. Spending a lot of time seeing and planning that composure I swiftly move to the far North to see incoming opportunities, then swing South with the same goal in mind.

When I am merely looking without seeing I miss many more opportunities than when I am looking to see. I will catch my self not paying attention to seeing instantly I stage a protest mentally saying to get back on track. To help me see more clearly I use my binoculars, they are 8x50mm great magnification narrow field of vision. They make seeing much easier due to identifying birds on the fly and the direction they are flying as well. When I see the species from 1/2 mile or more I make a decision to begin tracking it to within photographic range.

If I chose the target to become a subject I make a determination whether to begin tracking it towards me. Concentrating on seeing other than merely looking changes gear to begin preparing to release the shutter switch. When I see it has come within 110 yards I will take my first image keeping the shutter activated for several seconds until the bird flies over my head and out of sight. I do not stop to look in the touch screen to begin to delete phots, I never do that as it’s a bad habit to begin.

I practice noticing color, sunlight and changes not merely taking a look around. I notice everything, if someone comes walking past I make it a point to remember the name. I make it a point to see the behavior of the small birds as they predict when the larger birds are on the hunt. I see ripples in the water, the flying characteristics of any critters I see, I see the school of baitfish swimming towards the rising Sun while watching a second wake outlining the Salmon and Strippers following them. I see the Seagulls following them and the Sea-lions prowling the slough not about to share the plump fish it has captured.

Every day there is something new on or near the water I have never seen before that day. However there is on task for me to master each day after I take a look around. I must begin seeing in depth everything around me from Mount Diablo 16 miles to the West, the panoramic 40 mile wide field of vision and when I turn to the East on a clear day after an air clearing rain the Sierra Nevada’s just over 100 miles distance. It is imperative for me to not just take a look around but to concentrate on seeing what is out there.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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