Off the Wall, April 30,

For we who are blessed with sight, much, I’m more than sure, is taken for granted. From the moments we peek for the first time at our parents upon coming into the world to that of present date, are we are looking at someone, someplace or something, in particular. How we decipher what we see is what I call visual interpretation(s) or “V.I.”

As a past professional photojournalist and accident investigator, much was going through my mind, you can imagine, as I sped to the scene of an assignment visualizing in my mind what my cameral settings would be, how I would compose my subject matter and would my picture actually tell the story it was supposed to state.

When I first started working for my first newspaper, we didn’t have digital cameras as many have today, neither did we have ‘semi-automatics.’ Instead, what I used was an old vintage camera with 4 x 5 inch size film. I didn’t have to wonder if the picture took or not. Once I went through the rituals of using that camera type, I knew some type of “V.I.” would be on that film.

I have been a photographer for over 51 years now, the large percentage of which was all done professionally. There were no gradual beginnings of easing into the field. I took advantage of an opportunity, as was many of the sequences that occurred in my life. I know without a shadow of any doubt whatsoever, God provided them and I stepped forward, both taking on the tasks of whatever He had for me.

When you think of it, life and the profession of photography go hand in hand.

In the picture taking business, we get our definition by a contrast of highlight and shadow. If there is no sun shining, there are no shadows. Without them, the picture looks flat (dull – it is hoped that all photos are lying flat).

When we see the sun shining, we feel compelled to outdoors and feel the warmth (if, indeed, it is spring or summer and not winter). We really don’t feel threatened by shadows, but consider them part of the picture as being there for no other reason that where there’s sun, there exists, shadow. When the sun’s out, we feel good, wanting to do activities that otherwise may keep us indoor on gloomy days. Some folks may read a book, rent a movie or watch a bit more television on days when clouds seem to prevail.

Upon looking at a subject, whether a photographer or individual, all people’s “V.I.” is slightly different. An outdoor enthusiast taking a picture of a zebra may describe the animal as white with black stripes, but a person touring a zoo may state it is black with white stripes.

“Shutter buggers,” as persons used to describe camera-lugging individuals, excites in the fact that he or she may capture as many colors as possible to properly portray the image he is seeking.
A person who is color-blind’s “V.I.” will not be consistent with his neighbor who optic system is what is classified as “normal.”

It’s all very fascinating, isn’t it?

No matter how we look at people or objects in front of us, something is going to resonate within our brain matter that will lay a foundation as to how things or avenues of attacks will be done in the future.

A photographer may say to himself, “I will use the automatic setting for one picture, and then, just to be on the safe side, try a ‘shot’ manually, as well.

An angler who once kept his hook tied to his line and then brought it down to the handle, sticking it in the cork, may decide to cut it from the line all together, after being stuck accidentally. His “V.I.” is to make sure there are no lures attached before heading out to the creek.

God has provided so much around us, all in not only in our back yards, throughout our cities and even sights beyond the seas, it would take lifetimes to capture everything.

Likewise, there is so much good to do for our brothers and sisters not only in our communities, but in places like Pittsburgh or maybe Honduras, the “V.I.” of what would saturate our gray matter should instill in each of us that we mustn’t sit around waiting to be served, but reach out and help others who don’t have what we have in our midst.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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