Gifts From Above

I have a new hobby: photography. My adult children asked me what I would like for a retirement gift. After some thought I said, “A camera.” I named a model that is suitable for self-recording videos and taking good pictures”. In the end, they generously gave me a better model and I was happy to receive this improved gift. 

Since then I have been taking lots of photographs and started an additional Instagram account @visiojourney to assist in my learning journey. However, I have yet to begin making teaching video content for my YouTube channel. Lord, give me your grace to start.

An engrossing hobby

Photography has been an engaging and fun hobby with so much to learn. There are so much technical knowledge and skills to understand and develop and I am so thankful for the many instructional videos available in YouTube to learn these skills so I can go out and practice them. 

I found that watching YouTube can also be engrossing and addictive for I ended up watching video after video telling you what kind of lenses are best for getting good photos. Because I am unconsciously seeking a short cut to better photographs, I keep watching these videos even though I already have lenses: a Viltrox 23mm f1.4 and a pancake Fujinon 27mm f2.8. “Maybe a better lens will help me make better images more quickly, without having to patiently learn the skills!” Of course, this is only partly true. Good lenses and equipment are vital, but so is having good photography knowledge and skills. Therefore, I need to remind myself to obtain more skills and resist the temptation of buying more and better lenses. 

Providence in buying second-hand lenses

However, to complete my system, I needed a zoom lens and after watching many reviews I finally settled on a Fujinon kit lens, the ubiquitous 18-55mm and the newer Fujinon 16-80mm f4 lenses. I checked Carousell and consulted Matt, my son, and he recommended the older kit lens, and even offered to pay for me. What a pleasant surprise! I was thrilled, of course. I completed the transaction and bought it at $300, a good price. 

The Carousell transaction was interesting and frustrating. The meeting point was settled and I was there on time. “I am here in front of Fun toast”. Ten minutes later, I wrote: “Hi D–, I am waiting here at HillV2. Hope you did not forget our appointment”. Another twenty seven minutes later, the seller finally replied, “Hello, are you still there? So sorry. I just woke up. And my phone was dead the whole night. Please let me know. Apologise for this”. “I am here. Still waiting. Can you come soon?” “Ok I’m getting it and bringing it down”. When he arrived, he apologised again; I checked the lens and completed the transaction. I was surprised that in all, I waited a total of one hour and ten minutes.

Another interesting story of God’s provision was the wide/macro Xenvo kit for mobile phones that I had been eyeing and wanting to buy. Camera macro lenses are expensive and bulky so I had been looking at getting the portable and much cheaper Xenvo macro lens. Therefore when an acquaintance told the WhatsApp hiking group that he wants to sell this exact lens kit at half price, by God’s providence, I happen to open the message and straight away registered my interest and arranged to collect it. This time with another interesting thing happened. 

I arranged to COD the item after I had pre-recorded my sermon for the Deaf Congregation of my home church. At his home, the hiking acquaintance surprised me and gave it to me free of charge. I never had the opportunity to know him as I was away from hiking during the last five years of my pastoral work. Even though he did not know me well, he generously gave me the Xenvo kit free of charge. I felt grateful and touched by this blessing, and also that God was showing me that he does care for the details of my everyday life, not just my needs but also my wants. I must say photography is fun, and I hope it will always remind me of God’s love and faithfulness. I hope every time I use these gifts, it becomes a trigger of thanksgiving to God.

LORD, you are faithful and abounding in love, and I feel overwhelmed by the generosity of loved ones and acquaintances. You provide not only for my needs but also my wants for it pleases you to bless me. Bless the givers and help me use these gifts for the joy of photography and the praise of your name. 

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My Photography Journey

My two adult sons and a daughter asked me what I would like for a retirement gift and I told them I would like a camera. I wanted to learn photography as it would help me in my blogging and I also hoped to use it for recording videos for YouTube. They bought me a beautiful Fujifilm XS10 camera. It is small, light and suited for both purposes. I was thankful for their thoughtfulness and generosity. That was how my photography journey began.

I found myself watching YouTube to learn more about the camera and how it can be used. I watched video after video about photography skills and lenses and types of photography, including contemplative photography, which I think is too dominated and influenced by Zen Buddhism. Christians should baptize this type of photography – a full immersion baptism, and make it into another window for people to find and know God. It did not take long for me to realize that I have entered a vast interesting world that is dazzling, puzzling and rattling.

To accelerate learning, I started an Instagram account @visiojourney, and saw the many stunning pictures that some others took and I was dazzled. They were very impressive and wowed me. The earth is indeed full of the glory and beauty of our King. I felt totally discouraged as it would take years to be able to take such beautiful pictures. 

One question that often hit me as I sat transfixed by those pictures, “How did that person take that photo?” I simply have no knowledge to figure out how such beautiful, amazing, striking photos were taken. It was puzzling and frustrating. I could see that this journey is no walk in the park but a very long and winding (and possibly costly) road.

Initially, as I watched YouTube instructional videos, I thought buying better lenses would be the solution but I soon learned that there were many other more important factors. It rattled me. I felt uncomfortable. I had thought I had jumped into a swimming pool only to realise that it was actually an ocean. I will definitely have to pull back my expectations and settle for something more down to earth. 

I must say though that I am enjoying the luxury of learning at my own pace and without any pressure. It is after all a hobby, a useful one at that, but I am in no hurry to improve and I am certainly no perfectionist. Thus, all is well. I am at peace with my slowness and ordinary photographs. I will take it a step at a time and delight in the process of learning to take meaningful pictures. 

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