On my recent Writing/Meditation retreat at Dharmagiri in July, I gave myself a break and packed no fancy gadgets, only my trusty old Nokia. It’s not a smart-phone, just a chunky Stone Age Nokia that provides basic services like texting (where would we be without it?) phone calls, a calendar/reminder system and that’s about it. Over the years I’d ignored the little circular lens at the back of the phone – I mean, you look at the screen in the front of the phone, don’t you? Who goes around examining the back of the thing?
However, once I’d retreated to the Centre which offers no radio, TV, newspapers, or internet connection (you really do RETREAT when you drive up the hill) and when the Writing course was finished, I spent another four days on my own, doing more writing, and relaxing. But even I grow tired of reading, and I was written out, and while basking in the mild winter sun is lovely it doesn’t do much for fair-skinned folk – and that was when I remembered that my cellphone had a camera feature. Now: I’m no photographer. I’m the first to admit this. Furthermore, I have a family who take a keen interest in photography, have fancy camera equipment, and take umpteen photos on every family occasion. So I don’t bother to take photos myself.
But, left to my own devices, and admiring the winter scenery in the Berg, I thought:what a marvellous picture the mountain would make, especially at sunset, and dawn. What a pity I didn’t bring my camera. Yes, I do actually own a camera, but it languishes in my cupboard at home and whenever I go on an outing you can bet that halfway to the destination I’m thinking: drat! Should have brought my camera .. It happens every time. So, as you can see, I’m not camera minded. However, I used a Box Brownie when I was a kid – point and press – that worked for me. Dead easy. Then my Dad (reluctantly) let me use his precious Kodak, which boasted the concertina fold-out lens – this was high-tech stuff, back in the 1950s. Years later I acquired another simple Point&Click camera, still using rolls of film. What a pest those film rolls were! They had a life of their own and would unroll exactly when you didn’t want them to, exposing the film, and you landed up with even more grainy, light damaged prints of – nothing. For klutzes like me, the digital camera has a lot going for it. Unfocussed pics, wobbly pics, finger trouble and mistaken clicks? No problem! Just press the magic delete key.
I gingerly explored the Media Menu on my phone, found the Camera option, hopefully pointed the lens at the mountain, pressed the Capture Button and voila! See some of the results below. A shady pathway, Bamboo Mountain at dawn, and my favourite picture of Bodhisattva Quan Yin.