In the middle of the Pacific Ocean a vast mountain rises from the sea floor. It’s one of the most continually active volcanoes on the planet. The Hawaiian archipelago is a great place for jungle lovers and lava enthusiasts alike. https://leapingaroundtheworld.wordpress.com/hawaii/


Did I really see that?

There’s a funny thing about being human: We don’t observe all that is there.  I’ve found that the mind has a kind of lens that only permits certain aspects of a scene to enter consciousness.  The camera has haunted me in some travels by showing me aspects of where I was that I had not noticed.

I watched a fascinating dual-view journey of Anthony Bourdain traveling to Madagascar with Darren Aronofsky.  These are two people with very different obsessions in life.  One for the beauty of food.  One for the darkness of human nature.  The first part of the show you see Anthony’s view of the trip.  The lusty gourmand savors glimmers of culture’s brighter sheen and the morsels that are going to go down the gullet.  The professional director/cinematographer (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, Noah as his credits) sees something entirely different which is only shown at the end of the Madagascar episode.  As a viewer, you recognize all the scenes that each saw and experienced.  But the perspective of each was so different based on what they focused on.

I’ve spent decades of rather haphazard photography to discover that the pictures I’ve taken capture things I was not able to fully appreciate in the moment.  It’s not that my photography is anything remarkable.  I photograph remarkable things in ordinary ways.  But the issue is that my consciousness in the moment isn’t able to soak up all the detail that fills the frame.

I’m a person who gets overwhelmed by beauty fairly easily.  If I’m looking at a plant, a landscape, a sunset, a work of art, my eyes dart about trying to notice things that capture the overwhelming sense of majesty that I see.  If I take a picture, I see it so much more for its entirety.  But there is something about the nature of optical focus that keeps the real-world experience of the beauty in a fleeting ephemeral sense.  I’m actually very disappointed when the picture comes out better than I remember the scene.  I should capture the visual awareness better than the camera distills it.  But sometimes presence of mind lacks because of some distraction, some inconvenience of the travel experience that takes me away from seeing things as they most magnificently are.  In a way, photography is a way of chastising myself for the things I don’t see on first experience.

If I were a better observer, I wouldn’t need the camera as a crutch.  It’s because I feel like I’m always slipping, just a bit, from full awareness that the camera centers me and reminds me.  When I see a photo I’ve taken that precisely captures what I observed, I’m happy.  When I see a photo that is better than what I observed, I’m reminded of the imprecision of my vision.