Adventure: Down Time

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The fireball.

How many of these do I have left? How many do you have left? It’s easy to forget just how incredible the natural world actually is, and how diverse and wide ranging what we might think would be a similar experience–like sunrise or sunset– is from place to place. We just have to go, always go. “It’s too windy,” or “There might be cloud cover,” or “We saw the sunset last night.” There’s always a reason NOT to go but when you do go it ALWAYS resonates. Always.

Sunsets in this region are buttery pastels, soft and glorious, bathed in bugs and humidity. Where I live the sunsets are brash, contrasty and exude unbridled power, like late light to a sailor. A reminder, “I can turn on you at any moment.” What is it about the transition from light to dark? Why does it matter so much? Why does noon light mean so little? Color, shape, direction, add them in and suddenly the world melts away and we shriek to each other “Look at that, would you look at that!” The fireball.

Paddle out, sail out, walk out, drive out. All you have to do is stare. And the sunset provides another morsel of meaning. Time. Watching the sunset reminds us of how fast this little rock is moving. In scientific terms, we are hauling ass. That sun dazzles then fizzles in an astoundingly short amount of time. Go early, stay late as the grey turns to blue and then to black. Stand motionless and let nature consume you. Put the phone away. It will be there when you return.

How many do we have left? Answer: not that many. And what we have left is only if we are lucky. I’m fifty-four so maybe I have twenty-five years of being able to understand what I’m looking at. Less if things get sketchy or if we decided to nuke a hurricane. I go knowing I’ve seen it before, photographed it before, but I’ll still snap a frame or two before just letting it do it’s thing. Then I just watch and wait.

Comments 7

  1. If you require some reasons not to do something, better call me: I have them by the score; sure to have one that fits your specific don’t wanna do gig.

    I got myself all juiced up about the iPhone a couple of days ago, so I wandered off to reap the bounties of life, and almost immediately rediscovered one of the reasons I’d pretty much given up on such devices some years ago: those screens suck in bright sunlight. Even when trying to do silhouettes. The only true emotion I could access was amazement that I would so easily forget, and be suckered right back in. How I yearned for a pentaprism viewfinder. In essence, I imagined that I was using a smaller version of a Leica Q… ain’t used one, but I expect that the electronic viewfinder or the back screen will be pretty much as confusing in similar lighting conditions. I did use my reading specs.

    It could just be my age getting the better of me, but I attempted to squat right down and try for a couple of low shots: I found myself swaying about on the balls of my feet like a drunk, so I went down onto the knees as in prayer, and that simply made it more painful. Obviously, there was no audience: I have no expectations of delivering acrobatics with grace. Funny thing, amateur photography.

    Anyone interested can find the only shot I bothered to try cooking: it’s the last one on the last PROJECTS gallery (9, I think) in the website. Seen one silhouette, you’ve pretty much seen ‘em all.

    What may be a new “feature” to readers is this: my monitor, a LaCie, probably twelve years old at least, has developed a couple of leaks inside the screen: the symptoms look like oil pouring slowly downwards from the top. It’s resulted in clear image viewing being confined to the bottom left corner, as it were. Cool. It still remains readable for text, but as the effected area looks like a semi-greyed out zone, images are now best viewed on the iPad. Be grateful for what you have that continues to work as it should. ;-(

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      Hey, twelve years. You deserve a prize. Just lucky I never came to visit and coated your monitor in my death ray. The phone is puzzling. I tried to use it last year, made a dedicated effort and just hated using it. Terrible lens with the 3x and 5x being pixelated, digitized unsable footage and then the impossible to see screen during daylight hours. I’m going to back to stone tablets.

  2. You are so true and so sad, at the same time. It seems my mother-in-law has only a few left as she is slowly fading away. It made me think how important each and every day is and how, unfortunately, we waste some of them with things that don’t really matter.
    Sunsets and sunrises are beautiful over waters.

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  3. “Sunsets and sunrises are beautiful over water.”

    Indeed, Andreea: add a tall girl, some breeze, a long, floating dress; wrap the whole package up through a 500 mirror lens, and that low backlight turns the world beyond and before her into a wonderland of circles, orbs, galaxies and visual fantasies you can’t see any other way.

    You don’t even need to make a photo: just pick on an area, run the thing through the focussing range and be thrilled at the beauty of the out of focus. It can make the familiar quite exotic.

    A great way of passing some time out on a pier, a little drink on a table beside you, a solid Gitzo between your knees as you search for the unseen through the courtesy of Nikon. One problem: like a polarising filter, such a lens can render the normal forever dull.

  4. I feel like this regarding mountain hiking nowadays. I only started thinking about it a year or two ago, but now it’s

    “How many times can I realistically get up and down this mountain before I can no longer do it?” And the answer is always,
    “Plenty if you make the time and put you mind to it. No so many if you just let life drift by.”

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      Yes. It’s SO easy to “do it tomorrow.” I was with a guy yesterday, big dude. Overweight. Gem of a guy. He’s retired. He’s out of the house at 5AM every day. Out doing stuff.

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