God’s Gear

Shanti blesses congregants, Ananda Sangha, Palo Alto, CA, February 9, 2020. Canon 6D, deep crop from photo taken with the 135mm F/2.0, +5/3 stops exposure adjustment to compensate for the bright background.

I’ll sometimes browse the used lens ads in websites of the major camera stores or on Craigslist, and it’s become increasingly clear to me that I don’t have the same perspective on finding better gear that I once did.

Today, for example, I saw a very expensive used Canon 11-24mm lens on Craiglist for $2100, and I felt no twinge of desire to have that model of lens for myself.

I now feel the same even with the less exotic Canon lenses, for example, all the varieties of the  popular 24-70mm F/2.8 series. While I recognize that those lenses are wonderfully useful – I owned a Nikon 24-70/2.8 in the 1990s – I feel no hint of a desire to save up and buy one.

I think partly it’s because I’m realizing how very much I can get out of my relatively humble gear, all of which is very, very good, but not terribly expensive: a 24-105 F/4 L IS USM, a 135mm F/2.0, and a couple of 50s – the compact macro 50mm F/2.5 and the 50mm F/1.8 II.

But I also know for sure that it’s because I’ve seen what happens when I tap into a deep source of inspiration when I’m taking pictures, regardless of the lenses I own. Namely, given sufficient lens quality, the lens itself doesn’t matter, and not even a $7,000 lens will make a difference.

I know this for a fact. I’ve taken blah photos with the same lenses with which I’ve taken photos that soar. The difference is that the good pictures were made without exception when I was able to offer the core of my heart in total sincerity to be an instrument for the Divine to show the wonders of its presence in the natural world.

I don’t take artsy photos – I’m just a workaday utility photographer. Therefore “good” needs its own definition in the context of the work I do. And maybe I’m unable to take photos that are as deep and pungent with God as a more elevated full-time photographer-devotee could. But I know that my photos are more eye-sweet when I’ve offered myself to God, at my own workaday level.

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