When people begin to pursue a new hobby in earnest, it frequently changes the way they view the world. Take, for instance, three people walking on the beach. The amateur photographer is noting the direction of the light, and the shadows, and mentally framing shots as he walks along. The surfer is noting wind speed and direction, gauging the swells, and wondering how long she has to walk before she can head for the car for her board. And the marine biologist is wondering how long it will take the surfer and the photographer to notice the pod of dolphins a few dozen yards off-shore. Same light, same sand, same water - but a totally different experience for each of them.
I tend to latch onto my hobbies with both fists and a wrap a leg around them, too, so my approach to many situations is, shall we say, unique. I'm a writer, so I'm always making note of bits of dialog I like and ideas I might be able to use in the future. I'm a knitter and a crocheter, so I'm likely to pause a movie for five minutes just to get a closer look at the male lead's sweater or hat. I'm a cook and a baker, so I'm always on the lookout for ways to try foods or techniques that are too complicated or annoying for me to want to make at home. I'm a photographer with a love of macro lenses, so I'm always getting up close and personal with the strangest, most mundane things in the world ... and usually making a fool out of myself to find them.
Like skipping part of breakfast so I could wander around in the rain with my camera sheltered under a plastic bag, so I could photograph a drop of condensed fog on a dead grass stem (with bonus upside-down totem pole inside):
I ignored the beach and the boats and the pool at the resort in Jamaica last November, but I came home with 20 pictures of a flower the size of a pencil eraser:
Well, I didn't entirely ignore the beach (there's lots of fun stuff in the sand, like bits of coral):
I also spend close to an hour in the glass house every time I go to the Botanical Garden, communing with the butterflies. You'd be surprised how close they will let me come ... my lens was less than an inch away from this guy's face:
But most of all, I'm a blogger, a multi-media photojournalistentertainer whose interests range from the mundane (look what my kid did today!) to the introspective (news flash: depression sucks!) to the humorous. It changes how I look a the world, and how the world sees me. It means that when I'm having a particularly funny exchange with my doctor, I'm mentally taking notes to use later. My friends have learned to shout, "You can't use that on your blog!" really quickly when I get a certain gleam in my eye. And it means I occasionally find myself trying to document a Monarch butterfly migration while wearing only a towel:
Or, like today, when I decided to take a shortcut across the tree lawn to get from the sidewalk to the street, and I discovered that the ground wasn't nearly as solid as one might have hoped. I stepped, my shoe stayed behind, and I was left hopping around on one foot in the street, fumbling for my camera so I could get this shot:
There are times when my compulsion to photograph and document and fictionalize is annoying - ask Jason how much fun it was in Virginia when I decided I wanted to photograph as many kinds of moss and lichen as I could find, so every hike took three times as long as it should have. But most of the time, I love the way I see the world, and I pity the people who just see the surface of everything in life. I love that I look at a forest and don't just see trees, I see shapes and textures and good places to find rotting logs and cool fungus. I don't get bored waiting for my Butterfly Whisperer to finish in the glass house, I just take more close-ups of foliage. And I don't have any problem remembering what I did last year, because it's all in my blog or on my photo stream. There are certainly worse habits to have.