The Yellow-fly bite behind my left ear - the one that the gnats irritated until it became enflamed and swollen to the size of a lemon -- is beginning to itch again. But I barely have time to notice as I swat away more Yellow-flies, smash a blood filled mosquito or two, and try to swallow the hundreds of gnats that have gotten into my mouth without inhaling too many. I try to see whether the pain in my leg is from a biting insect or perhaps just a thorn, but between the sweat pouring into my eyes and the humidity inspired fogginess of my glasses I can't really see my leg that well. It's just after 8:30 on an August morning and already being out of doors is becoming unbearable.
As I do every summer day in Florida, I begin to doubt my sanity. Why am I out here, why am I doing this? Aren't photography and nature observation supposed to be fun? At times they are, but in the heat and bugs of a Florida summer they are not. Other than the critters biting me, nothing has volunteered as a photographic model, and enough is enough. So I decide a wise choice may be to do some photo editing, or housecleaning, or any of the myriad chores that await me. Inside. In the air conditioned comfort of my cottage.
As I steer the golf cart back toward the homestead something catches my eye though. On a little sprig of a White Indigo plant (Baptisia alba) there is a caterpillar. Quickly I switch lenses in order to capture my white, fuzzy subject. As I make adjustments to the camera's settings and crawl about on the ground seeking just the right angle I no longer notice the heat or the bugs. For this few moments only the caterpillar and the light are important.
The result is not an image you'll find in National Geographic. Zenfolio, who hosts this site, needn't gather resources for a sudden surge of print orders. That is fine with me as I'm not a professional photographer (I'd starve if I were!) But when I ask myself, "Why do I put myself through this?" part of the answer lies with this portrait of a caterpillar. It's because I am a photo-enthusiast (a highfaluting way of saying "amateur") that I saw this fellow. It's because of photography that in processing I noticed the two bugs on the caterpillars forehead (did you see them?)
I hope you enjoy FrogmoreFocus. I hope you find some joy and a moment of peace in the photographs I post. If so, it's a wonderful by-product of my work. But that's not why I do it. It's not why I tolerate the heat and bugs. It's not why I fret over processing, and blog posts. As an amateur I have the privilege of doing those things just for my own gratification.
As I resumed my lifelong passion for photography this year I remembered its most important gift; it makes me see differently. It helps me notice what otherwise I might not have. It makes a moment shared with a tiny caterpillar important. Such moments make me think and ask questions (do those bugs annoy the caterpillar as Yellow-flies annoy me?). Whatever we choose to do demands a price sometimes paid in sweat and blood and pain. That price is justified if I may continue to be reminded that I live as part of an amazing, complex, and sometimes beautiful community of living things. Why do I put myself through this? So that I may see.
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. Henry David Thoreau