Christ – Our Light And Life (The Link Between Photography And Christian Living)

So last Sunday I took on the most speaking arrangements I had in a day. There was the discussion and introduction to Basic Photography, and then two Sermons on the title, ‘Overcoming the Spirit of Poverty’. If you count the two times I was assigned to lead worship, then that all adds up to 5 speaking arrangements in the span of 9 hours. 
I thought that my topics on Photography and Christian living were going to be separate… but I was wrong. In God all things were made and in Him all things come together. That was definitely the case last Sunday, December 14.
I opened up the Introduction to Basic Photography with a question: What shots do you enjoy taking? What shots do you appreciate? The kids, aged roughly between 12-25 answered with the generic (and funny) ‘selfie’, but then the serious answers came: a kid named Ivy answered that she liked taking and seeing sunsets. Few of the kids shared that they liked nature and scenery. One of the older girls, Rose (who I perceive to be way more mature than her age), said that she liked taking random, unscripted scenes.
I remember asking them that leading to the shots that I enjoyed taking at first. I shared with them that I was fascinated with night shots featuring car light trails, and the reason why I asked them what fascinated them was because that’s pretty much where I started. I looked into how you could take night ‘scapes brightly lit by, among other things, pronounced lines of light following the road… and shortly after, I was looking into how to take other shots of other things as well.
My very very first car light trail shot.
I remember being blessed by the human light-meter skills of
the legendary Mr. Noli Gabilo for the Manual settings for this picture.

That’s how I obsessed over the notorious method of HDR photography. I liked landscapes, and I liked nature as well. I was therefore naturally interested when Trey Ratcliff (an excellent photographer with one eye) described how more details can be forced out of a digital photograph. I have learned through the years that this is accomplished either by deriving highlight and shadow details off of a raw file and/or blending shots of one scene but with varying exposures… all through the help of special software. 

Over the years I’ve struggled with the temptation to HDR each and every landscape.
You gotta understand that like Black and White, HDR has its moments.
There are only particular shots and situations when it works.  
I asked them about the shots they liked and how I handled my desire to take the shots I liked, and this could partially be because I wanted to get them curious, as I was curious at first. If I could empower them to get the nature shots and the sunsets and the random, unscripted scenes that they said they liked, then I know that they would be more confident in taking pictures of more diverse subjects, without fear.
From here I remember that I was led to tell them, above all things, to shoot, and not to stop shooting. I opened up (for probably the first time) about how oftentimes I would see a great shot and keep walking.. then I would stop and turn around, fumbling for my camera and/or my phone, only to turn around again to tell myself to shoot it some other time. 
I also opened up about how I was super excited during the last weekend of August 2008. Our trip to the Rockies with my parents and my beloved brother Kip had already brought me over the edge in excitement – I didn’t care if I looked like a tourist because it was all just so awesome. My senses – not just my eyes, but all of me took in the absolute grandeur of nature, and I could say that the glory of God couldn’t have been more obvious in this, His creation which we beheld… 
..and then it started snowing. Up until that time, I was the only one left in the family who had never seen or felt snow, and you could imagine how it was absolutely impossible for me to contain how awestruck I was with it all. It was too much that I had to call everyone back into the car for us to just praise, praise God, for all His blessings and the wonder and beauty of His creation. 
Needless to say, the shots I took at the time were beautiful. I was still learning proper landscape composition techniques, but a majority of what I took, well, you see them on my site, and if you were to look at any of my shots, please, take some time to go through those ones I took during the last weekend of August 2008. 
My father died last 2011, and my brothers called my mother and I to spend Christmas in the USA that year. I was excited to see Colorado again. I prepared, I prepared as much as I could to take shots of the same or superior level to what I took last 2008. I had better gear: Back then all I had was a Nikon D40 and an 18-55mm non-VR kit lens, a borrowed 55-200mm lens and SB-400 flash, and a cheap 20$ tripod. During 2011 I was armed with a Nikon D80, an 18-200mm lens, an SB-600, and a 100$ Manfrotto tripod. I watched lessons online, and took video advice from legends like John Fielder. I even watched old episodes of Bob Ross (the awesome painter with the happy trees and clouds) for inspiration. 
I had more time – we spent a little more than a week in Colorado during the winter. I definitely took more shots… but I ended up wanting. 
‘Hello my friend! Stay awhile, and listen!’ – Deckard Cain
My conclusion, as I discussed it with the kids, was that I didn’t enjoy where I was and what was before me more than I pushed myself to take better shots. My lesson, therefore, to the kids, was to enjoy… Enjoy life, and the shots will follow. 
This is where things just… Connected. I really didn’t expect to link Photography to Christian Living, but I just had to give a huge grin and a chuckle as I continued my discussion. Our Father loves us so much that He takes us by surprise, by just bringing all things together for His glory. 
Enjoy life, and the shots will follow. Yes, we could choose to see life for the problems in it, for the darkness around us, but we have to remember that heaven and earth – yes, even these things will fade and die, these things will end and pass away… but Christ’s word, and Christ Himself who is the Word made flesh, He will not pass away. 
Jesus Christ said in John 10:10 that the enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy, but He came to give us life, and life abundantly. We are able to see past the joy stolen from us, past the death and destruction we see, and we are definitely able to enjoy life only through Jesus Christ, who not only gives us life, but abundant, SUPERABUNDANT life. 
In Christ is life, and it is stated so beautifully in the Word that this life is, above anything else that can be mentioned, “the light of all men” (John 1:4).
It is no accident that photography can literally be translated as writing, or drawing with light. We see all that there is in all its brightness and color only because of light. Light can come from a natural source, or an artificial source…
…but as Christ is the life and the light in us, we are able to produce shots for our satisfaction and for His glory. In Christ, we are able to enjoy a superabundant life, a life of victory over poverty… 
and the shots will follow. 
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, all creatures here below
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
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May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you His Shalom. – Numbers 6:24-26

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