I got a little ahead of myself in the last post. In thinking it through, I can’t skip the “my cell phone is all the camera I need” era, there were too many important habits picked up during that time, good and bad.
Some of the first camera phones I had were sub-optimal at best. Their limitations didn’t stop me from taking dark grainy pictures at ever increasing intervals, however, I was pretty delighted with the iPhone 5 when it came along. It became my camera, its communication functionality took a back seat. I always had it with me, and as I got more in the habit of using it to take photos, I started to notice a change in the way I was seeing my environment. Looking back at photos from that time, there is a clear shift from “here’s where I am” to “here is what I’m seeing”, it’s a subtle, but important shift. The idea of seeing the world more slowly appeals to me on every level, as the very nature of the world we live in pushes everything to go faster, to think and do in temporary measures as something different or better will come along within a few breaths. Finding something that gave me opportunities to pause just be for a spell was truly welcome and needed.
It wasn’t all reflection and inner peace, though. Along came all the editing apps, filters, and my favorite, Colorsplash! So much fun, it’s like finger painting. I love reading all the blogs and “10 things you should never ever ever do to a photo” opinion pieces that deal out the scathing rebuke for using tools like Colorsplash. I get it, if I was trying to position myself as a “fine artist”, apps like Colorsplash would probably be at the bottom of my list of tools. When I’m trying to entertain myself on a long flight, it’s my go-to game, and no one is going to take that fun away from me!
A few years ago I spent two weeks visiting Cuba with family. We travelled around quite a bit, and saw some amazing sights and architecture. I captured the whole trip, and edited the photos on the iPhone 5. I was pretty pleased with the outcomes. Once I uploaded the photos, however, I began to notice that I had been quite heavy handed on the editing, and in many cases, the photos were not nearly as sharp as they seemed on that little screen. I started to have the nagging thought that I needed a more substantial camera, and a do-over in Cuba, just for the photos, of course. The glorious beaches, and amazing towns and cities have nothing to do with it!
Shortly after that trip, I had another amazing photographic opportunity, a kayak trip through the beautiful Bowron Lake chain in Wells Grey Park in British Columbia.
This is the point where I would share a photo of the beautiful Bowron Lakes with you, but wait, I don’t have any!
On the first day of paddling, we were caught in a fairly substantial rainstorm while out on the water. Storms move quickly up there, appearing from seemingly nowhere as they blow in over one of the mountains that line the lakes. Although my phone was in a waterproof case, either through user error or a failed seal, the case filled up with water on the crossing, and I was without a camera for the entire ten day trip. On one hand, being camera free forced me to really experience and remember the trip, but there were more than a few moments when having a camera would have been pure gold. That first night, for example, as I sat on the shore staring at my soggy phone, a moose calf swam by in the lake about 15 feet away from me. The next day a black bear sow and her two cubs were waiting on the shore near our camp, posing beautifully for a photo, not to mention all the exceptional scenery in that part of the province. I believe that is what the kids these days are referring to as an “epic fail”, on my part! That experience was what it took to move me to the next step of a journey, the step of the journey where I owned both a phone AND a camera. Of course, it was a baby step, and the camera was purchased for it’s ability to survive in water, and for being small enough to mimic the cell phone from a portability perspective, but it was a step, nonetheless! More on that later!