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The Elusive Photo

‘As I lay on my belly waiting, and waiting, and waiting, I was determined to capture the phenomenon with my camera.’

A water skeeter, or water strider.

I can remember a time, before children, but after marriage, when I came to my lake and had lots of spare time throughout the day.  I consider myself a visual, and, although there are many incredible places of beauty on this earth, I consider my little lake property right up there with the best. In those days, we didn’t have these new fan-dangled phones with incredible cameras. Back then it was the old camera, and not digital, either. You actually had to learn to create real photos, not just push the button. And so, I spent many hours looking through the lenses of my camera hunting, aiming, focusing, and shooting, trying to get those special, often very elusive photos.  I have taken a zillion photos of the view down my lake, at all times of the day and night, and in all weather conditions, and in 3 of the seasons, (Winter shots not being taken because I was never in residence at the lake during Winter). However, my most favourite pictures are those of the tiny world that surrounds living in the forest by the lake. It is the close-up reveals, and the tiny glimpses into the magical, miniature world here that fascinates me.  Have you ever notice how spectacular things are close-up, the colouration, the textures, the shapes of things that are not really seen with the naked eye? Well, this tiny world is often the subject matter to my photos. In a city, I shoot flowers and vegetation this way, close-up and personal, and when I can the bees and butterflies and tiny life that surrounds the beauty in my city world. At the cabin, I am on the alert for small animals, insects or reptiles. By the water’s edge I adore watching the antics of the water ‘skeeters’, often referred to water striders, water bugs, pond bugs, to mention a few. They are the tiny little creatures that skittle across the water looking a tad like long-legged spiders. They move across the top layer of water, not breaching the surface using their sudden quick leg movements to allow them to skim across the water’s surface. Apparently, they manage to walk across water because they sit on what is referred to as, the surface tension of water. Their long legs disperse their weight over a larger area so they cannot break that top layer of surface tension.  These little creatures propel themselves in a sort of rowing movement, with their back two long legs that function to steer them. I always thought they only had 4 legs which protrude from the center of their body, but, in fact, there is a third set of very short legs situated near their eyes. These from legs have prongs located half way down and their purpose to puncture prey bodies which to feed, usually spiders and other small insects who fall into the water. I did not know this all those years ago. My thirst for knowledge and my purpose to share my lake world with you has lead me to find out a couple more things.  And so, I found myself often heading to the dock with my camera in search of a good photo as I am often salivating for a shot of these interesting little creatures in a quiet creative moment in my lake ‘non’ scheduled, lazy afternoons. ‘If I just lay here waiting, I know I will get it. I know I can capture that great shot of a water skeeter, you know, the one that shows the little creature’s details close-up, and also, demonstrates the slight dents his legs put on the top of the water.’

It is such an amazing phenomenon to observe, never mind capture. And so, I wait...tick, tock, tick, tock, I barely feel the minutes slowly ticking by. I manage to shoot several photos, and each time when I check I am not quite satisfied. Not clear enough, not centered, oops, missed that one, he moved. Delete, delete, delete. Finally, I am rewarded! I find the elusive perfect shot. I am elated. All that waiting was worth it. I have managed to get a pretty decent close-up of one of the little water bugs, with clear detailing of the insect itself, and that incredible display on the image of his legs making the tiny dents in the water’s surface. I am ecstatic! That sense of joy and accomplishment is such a bonus in my day. And I find myself feeling truly blessed, once again, with this little hideaway in the woods. I know back then the wonder and joy I was feeling would once day, hopefully, be something I could share and show to my children, which, by the way, a few years later I did.  Now, if I could only find that original photo shot I took. Where did it end up with all my life changes over the past 35 years since that day? Well, I can tell you, that day in my memories are stored forever up here in my mind, and I can experience the joy and accomplishment of that many years ago moment any time I chose. However…I did find one photo I shot more recently to share with you today!

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