Twenty years ago I received my very first camera — a Panasonic Powershot, a 35mm beauty with motorized zoom. I was ecstatic! It was my 18th birthday and I immediately set about buying film and taking snapshots of the world around me. Christmas, Easter, family vacations, mission trips… all were now subject to my artistic desire and, with practice, came better pictures. My photography hobby kicked into high gear five years later when I bought a Canon Rebel SLR camera for about $700. It came with a removable lens and all these cool settings, like “Sport,” “Portrait,” and “Landscape!” I was working for a small newspaper at the time and part of my job involved shooting sporting events. I quickly bought a 300mm Sigma lens to go with my original lens and the sky was the limit.

Fast forward more than a decade. Now I use my second SLR, a Canon Digital Rebel, with a third lens and more than 10 years of practice and publication. I’ve been both overseas and inside my own garden, snapping frames. I mostly take landscape and macro photos, though I do mix in a person or two on occasion. But the natural world is my muse. I find colors, textures, shapes and sizes all over the place. Turn the camera at an angle and a whole new world of images becomes available. There is art and there is beauty in photography. There is also freedom. And those three make wonderful bedfellows.

Here’s a sampler of some of the photos I like the most.

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