Fight bleakness with your camera

These days, it feels like the world will come crashing down on us at any moment. It may well be so, but there is little point in wallowing in torrents of bad news. But finding something positive is becoming as difficult as digging for water in the desert. This is when your camera can prove to be an indispensable tool for diluting the bleakness of everyday life with some joy. It may sound trite, but simple truths like this often drown in the sea of anxiety and worry. Fortunately, life serves us occasional reminders that when you have a camera, you are fortunate to have a tool that brings joy.

To me, the reminder came in the form of a collared dove perched on a branch in a tree next to our kitchen window, when we were enjoying our weekend lazy breakfast. Back in Denmark, collared doves are pretty rare. You see them more often here in Bavaria, but even here it’s not an everyday sight.

I love collared doves (I love all pigeons for that matter). They are graceful and beautiful in an understated way. They also seem to go about their lives with zen-like calmness. My wife and I were happy to see the dove right outside our window. But we got really excited when we realized that there are actually two of them and that they are building a nest right above our kitchen window.

Of course, I immediately reached for my camera and took a few hasty photos. As I was putting the camera back into the bag, it hit me that this could be a neat little photography project and a perfect diversion from the incessant stream of depressing news. And since I can take photos from the convenience of our kitchen (note to self: we really need to clean that window), I can keep the project going even in case of forced or self-imposed quarantine.

So while the local government officials were announcing a state of emergency in Bavaria, I stayed glued to the window with an itchy finger on the camera shutter release.

I have to admit, nature and wildlife photography is decidedly not my jam. Most of the time, I have no idea what I’m doing, and the resulting photos are mediocre at best. But it’s fun, and I want to think that I’m learning something, both about doves and photography. I’m also learning to be patient, which is a hard thing to master.

Timing is also quite a skill, and it’s going to take me a long time to nail it. I’m also figuring out how to get the best out of my photography gear. The longest lens I have is a 55-210mm zoom with a maximum aperture of f/6.3 at the longest end. This is hardly a wildlife photographer’s dream lens, but that’s all I have, and it shouldn’t stop me from enjoying my project.

As I said, I have no illusions about the quality of my results. But that’s not the point. The point is to break the cycle of negativity and create positive memories. So I want to remember this time not only for the misery and barrage of depressing news, but also for moments when I pecked busily on my laptop, sipping hot coffee, and running to the kitchen window every now and then to capture two doves building a nest, blissfully unaware of the surrounding ordeal in the human world.

And by the way, we named them Thomas and Vitalina.