This was taken a couple years back on a walk through the mountains of North Carolina. It was supposed to be a short two-hour hike but ended up taking twice as long and was more difficult than we thought.
Apparently enough people get caught in the same mistake that the rangers and locals have formed a small rescue industry. I felt bad because it was my idea and my wife and sister-in-law were following my lead. But in the end we made it back before dark with a story to tell. We were hungry but too tired to go out so we ordered room service when we got back to the hotel.
As far as photography goes it couldn’t have been better; I’m still finding photos I had forgotten about. Coming from a flat place like Florida it was a big change to be in the mountains and hills. I think that also contributed to our misjudging of the hike, it was downhill going in and an uphill climb coming back. Florida has no hills so elevation never crossed our minds.
I just looked up the step history for the hike on my iPhone; it was 14,000 steps and the equivalent of 43 stories climbed. That may not be Mount Everest but it’s a lot of uphill walking for someone from Florida. When I’m taking pictures I get carried away and it’s probably not fair to the people I’m with.
I consider myself tech savvy yet I only learned about the iPhone step tracker about a year ago. My phone has been tracking steps for years; who knew? Now I can match it up with some of my photo hikes and see how far I walked. There are a few in there that I can recall very well. But having sore feet is a small price to pay for good pictures. And I’m sure I’ll do it again and again; only now I can check my steps for an added degree of satisfaction.
I can be a real geek sometimes; like this time. I had it in my mind I was going to take some epic photos and so I brought a bag full of gear including a huge lens and a tripod. Things didn't turn out as I expected so there I was with all this gear in the middle of a public pathway as the sun was setting. I made the best of it and quickly setup for the shot. A couple came up and said they wanted to be on TV. Obviously I looked like I was from the local station. I must have been quite the scene.
This is the image I got and so I didn’t come home completely empty handed. But to be quite honest I could have done better with less. I love gear and so this happens a lot. I always bring more gear than I need. However I can count on one hand the times I used everything I brought. It’s not about the gear; it’s about being present in the moment and working with what you have.
Lately I’ve started experimenting with slimming down what I take. By that I mean two or three lenses. Again, even the times I bring two lenses, I end up using only one. Recently I’ve left the house with just one lens on my camera. No bag, no filters, no tripod. I start out with a feeling that I forgot something. However as I start to take pictures I’m less encumbered and more attuned to what’s around me.
It’s not the camera it’s what between the ears. Taking good pictures requires a state of mind more than a heavy piece of glass. Some of the most amazing photographers on the web use inexpensive cameras. That’s not to say all the equipment is unnecessary, it all has a proper time, place and use.
I like the gear because I’m a geek but maybe I need a little intervention. I think of myself as being on a twelve-step program to be free of lens clutter. I’m not there yet, but at least I know it’s an issue. That’s the first step to recovery.
Now I’m off to read about the just announced Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM and 12-24mm f/4.0. I might need one of those in my kit.
There is a colony of skimmers on the beach not far from my home on Anna Maria Island. They have a patch of sand that they come back to each year to hatch and nurse their young. It’s normally taped off so we don’t interfere with the hatchlings. Anything that hatches and nests in the sand is quite vulnerable. The adults take turns guarding the nest. In fact the whole colony, whether they have chicks or not, pitch in on security detail. It takes a village to raise a skimmer.
This is taken at a different location in St Petersburg. Lowering the camera close to the water helps see from the perspective of the wildlife. The small flock of skimmers was picking at the sand while some children swam behind them. With me in front I was surprised they stayed in place for as long as they did. Like so many birds in Florida they’ve grown accustomed to us.
Now is the time of year we also find turtle nests in the sand. Isn’t it odd that the turtle just lays the eggs and then takes off? It’s so unlike other creatures that stick around and nurse their young. After hatching the baby turtles make a dash to the water to avoid being eaten, and then try to avoid the same fate in the water. I don’t blame the mom for not wanting to stick around; the odds seem so slim.
But the good news is the turtles are back on the rise after years of decline. Thanks to the watchful eyes of countless volunteers using GPS and meticulous notes to identify and monitor the nests.
Just taking a walk along the beach you would never know the amount of drama taking place in the very sand beneath your toes.