Instagram, Ansel Adams, and How I’m Having Photo Fun

A teaspoon of Spring

A teaspoon of Spring, on

Photography is one of my hobbies. It’s like writing with a lens. I love trying to communicate something with a photo. Sometimes it’s about how much I adore my cat. Other times it’s the adoration I have for my God and His artistry in nature, as in the photo above.

Last week it was a collection of buttons. Circles, dots, colors, symmetry. They reminded me of my mother’s sewing days.

I’ve enjoyed using Instagram for about half a year now. My son noted that it was the only major social media site I hadn’t joined.

“Just do it,” he said. I laughed and I did.

The service has changed a lot since it began in 2010. Instant camera + telegram. It was a fun, fast, and simple way to show your friends what you were doing or enjoying at that very moment. You could add a filter and share the photo immediately.

Fast forward to today with its 200 million users. Many photos don’t look instant. They don’t look simple. That’s okay with me, though. Seeing amazing pics by professionals inspires me, gives me ideas, and often makes me shake my head in awe.

I discovered Adam Senatori as I looked through my “Instagram suggested” list. He’s a pilot. He’s a photographer. Put those two together and you have his tag line: “A mile of highway will take you just one mile. But a mile of runway will take you anywhere.” Check out his stunning photos here.

I’m also on the lookout for photos that I can add to my photo-fiction collection. These are the images that cause me to wonder and write. Like this one.

The iPhone takes such high-quality photos that I’ve decided to put aside a Canon Rebel and challenge myself to use my iPhone exclusively. (I use the Canon for my day job photos.) One website I use for tips is iPhone Photography School where “iPhoneography” is a passion. I like what it says on the site: The quality of any photo mostly depends on the photographer’s intent and creative vision.

Fun fact: Photographer extraordinaire Ansel Adams and I both married into the same family. What an amazing photographer he was. Here’s a sample of his work. He married Virginia Best, the cousin of my father-in-law, David McDavid. Virginia’s family owned Best’s Studio (1902) which operates in Yosemite to this day as The Ansel Adams Gallery. That’s where they met. As a young man, my father-in-law spent many summers in Yosemite taking photos with Ansel, whose work was just starting to get noticed. I never had a chance to meet Ansel, but several years after he died, I did meet his children at a family reunion held in Yosemite. I later met Virginia and had a pleasant chat with her at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art where the extended family attended a showing of Ansel’s photography. Virginia was a sweetheart and quite gracious to me. I recall her telling me that she didn’t really like attending fancy events.

What photos do I share on Instagram? Whatever catches my eye at the moment and makes me think about God, life, and the people and things I love — like the box of buttons I found. They were colorful and different, and they made me smile and remember. So I shared them. The day before it was a leaf that has an amazing furry texture. Shared. The ice cubes that looked interesting at the bottom of my glass. The cover of a book I was reading. All of these photos are special to me. Maybe they’ll become special to someone else.

Click here to see my Instagram photos. I’m learning new things every day about the art of photography, and I’m hoping to get to the point where I’m posting one photo each day.

Of course, Instagram isn’t the only place I go to view wonderful photography. The WordPress community is packed with its own photo talent. One of my favorites is Robyn Graham. She does such beautiful work, and she includes quotes and original poetry.

Do you use Instagram to share your life and the world around you? I’d love to see your photos.

(Especially if you share photos of your cat.)


Say hello to Bandit, my Feline Most Excellent.

Darla McDavid

I'm Darla, a writer of stories about family, friends, goodness, and God. I love cats, coffee, gardening, and tall stacks of books. Click here to subscribe to my blog. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram. In my other life, I'm an administrative professional and a Sunday School teacher for preschoolers.

6 Comments Write a comment

  1. This was such an interesting story on your site today, Darla…of course you hit my buttons when BOTH “pictures and cats” are highlighted. “But must you temp me with yet another technical program such as Instagram?” I have just gotten a new computer and I am already on overload so it will have to wait in line for an investigation from me. (Which reminds me to tell you I lost my email addresses during the changeover since they were not “saved,” I was told)
    BTW…That’s a pretty impressive bit of news to see the family ties between you and Ansel Adams and his early pictures of Yosemite… which I recently viewed some of, But again, not having clicked on “saved,”I cannot forward them to you, unfortunately.

    P.S. I loved the “tree kitty picture,” my favorite one in that grouping.
    Also,…. the black dog shown in one shot; Is that yours? It looks like an English wolf hound maybe? It resembles one of my late “granddogs.”


    • No, the dog (Frodo) is not mine. He belongs to a friend. And that cat in the tree photo is one of my favorites, too. He was just standing there like it was no hard feat to be perched on tree limbs like that. Go ahead and have fun with Instagram, Nat!


  2. Ansel Adams!!! How cool is that, Darla. And I loved the details of you meeting the children and Virginia at a family reunion. Adams’ photographs inspire me, and the Tetons picture is astounding. You amaze me as well, Darla, so talented with both pen and camera.


  3. I love Ansel Adams’ work. I have not joined Instagram, mainly because I have no idea where I could fit it into my crazy schedule. It looks like it could be a lot of fun though, and I can see how a photography hobby could be an advantage!


    • Thanks, Kate. It’s easy to take and upload photos from my iPhone, so using Instagram is really not a time sink for me. Most of the time I’m clicking the Like button on some incredible photography that comes through my feed. And then there’s my group of family and friends who post photos of their children, pets, and meals, which I also love! But it’s really just another tech toy, though some artists and bloggers use it quite well for their websites.


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