I used to take lots of pictures. I almost never stepped or paddled into a natural area without a camera in hand. Then I began to wonder whether the desire for a good photograph was keeping me from encountering my experiences with an open mind. In the same way I see only birds when I am birdwatching, I tended to see only the next photo when I was carrying my camera. I am sure I exaggerate this tendency, but it was enough to keep me from investing heavily into new equipment when amateur photography went digital. I did buy a small inexpensive digital camera, but I usually don’t carry it with me. I pretty much removed nature photography from my recreation repertoire. 

Lately I have been rethinking this decision, and it is because of my blog. Every weekend I write about something that happened to me during the previous week, and I sometimes regret not having a photograph to accompany the prose. About half of the time I am able to obtain an acceptable photo after I’ve written a blog. If I am sitting on my front porch writing about my front porch, I can go back into the house and retrieve my camera. If the subject is paddling with Clare, she usually brings her smart phone and I can use one of her shots. Overall she has a better eye than I do anyway. If I paddle or fish or bike alone, I can sometimes return to the site with my camera afterwards. More often than not I have to go without a photo.

I did try carrying my camera with me on my bicycle rides, but my old bad habit of allowing the camera to be a distraction returned. Instead of enjoying the ride, I was actively looking for the next blog entry and the photo to accompany it. Without the camera, I seldom thought in those terms. I enjoyed the hike or the paddle or the bike ride, and only days later while reflecting on the week did a particular happening turn into a story.

This blog about photography came to mind because I do not have a picture of the gar I wrote about in last week’s blog. A photograph of a Jurassic Period fish with 21st Century fluorocarbon fishing line wrapped around its snout would have made for an evocative photo.

Steven Simpson