IT’S STILL MY FAVORITE SHOT!

Since starting my blog nearly five years ago, I have been pleasantly surprised by the wonderful comments I’ve received not only from friends and family, but also from other bloggers who have read my posts from all over the world.  It has been very gratifying!

Yesterday, I received a very different response to my blog. I was introduced to a company called Light. They are a start-up aiming at perfecting a new camera technology that was shared with me along with their Vantage Project on Pinterest.  I was asked to write a story about my favorite photo for their site.

Rather than pondering my options, I immediately decided on my favorite photograph that dates back to 1987.  It’s hard to believe it has been almost thirty years since I captured this shot at the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta!  I was excited to try out my new Canon A-1 (identical to my dad’s beloved camera) and two Tamron zoom lenses.

As a (mostly) self-taught, (mostly) amateur photographer, I shoot photos for my own satisfaction, concentrating on what makes me happiest:  COLOR.  One of my passions is travel photography, and color is like a magnet for me.  I see something colorful, and I am immediately drawn to it.

In Albuquerque at the hot air balloon grounds, I was like kid in a candy store– or, more accurately, me in a chocolate shop!  Color surrounded me, and I didn’t know which way to turn first.  There were literally hundreds of multi-colored hot air balloons in various stages of inflation preparing for a mass ascension into the crystal clear New Mexico skies, and I wanted to see– and, photograph– them all.

Back then, digital cameras and SD cards didn’t exist, and the cost of film and developing was expensive.  I was on a tight budget, so I had to balance being selective with not letting great shots go by uncaptured.  (Wow, how photography has changed…)

The warm hues of this particular balloon grabbed my attention, because of the way they looked so saturated in the early morning light.  The stripes also made for interesting composition– especially since one of my favorite “rules” in photography is the Rule of Thirds:  The Rule of Thirds states that an image is the most pleasing when its subjects or regions are composed among imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds– both vertically and horizontally. (www.cambridgeincolour.com)

 

As I approached the inflating envelope of the hot air balloon, one of the crew opened a flap and invited me to take a peek inside with my camera.  I looked towards the lighter side of the envelope and was delighted to see the shadows of others watching the balloon being inflated from the other side.  The man with the baseball cap grabbed my attention, as did the child who was waving his arms.

One shot is all it took.  I trusted the terrific metering of my new A-1, and I knew the photo I had captured was exactly what I was after:  Saturated color, composition using the Rule of Thirds, texture from the wrinkled fabric of the part of the envelope still bunched up on the ground, and those great shadows.  Other than knowing the photo was shot using my Tamron 28-70 zoom lens with the camera on auto, I haven’t a clue of the technical data.  Who had time to notice?  “Mr. Peanut” was about to launch from the other end of the row, so I made a mad dash in pursuit of my next shot!

At the time, I was sure I would be happy with that photo and others I had shot at the balloon grounds, but I had no idea what the future would bring as a result of my favorite shot.

My dad encouraged me to enter some photo contests with it, so I entered it in the Del Mar (San Diego County) Fair as well as Price Club’s photography contest.  (Price Club is now Costo.)  Much to my surprise, I won “Best in Color” at the fair and Price Club’s grand prize!

Between the video camera I won from Price Club (and sold), and cash prizes won from various contests, that photo netted me more than enough money to pay for all my film, developing, photo albums, and travel for that Albuquerque trip, and more.

After nearly thirty years of incredible travel photography experiences, I would have to say this is still my favorite shot!

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GOING FULL CIRCLE

We had good intentions when we collected all of those shells, but Bruce and I never followed through with crafting a shell-covered mirror frame for our powder room– in San Antonio. It was seven years ago when we moved from that house, left Texas behind, and made our way to Georgia. Our shell collection came with us and ended up in the attic, never to be seen again until I got motivated to sell some of our collectibles on ebay and donate the rest.

There it was, the bucket of shells collected from South Padre Island, and who knows where else. I don’t remember, but I think we even added to the bucket when we brought home shells from Sanibel Island. Why? I have no idea, because those good intentions were a distant memory by then.

Perhaps it’s all about the hunt. Hunting for shells is much like doing macro photography. It forces you to slow down and carefully study your subject. In doing so, you appreciate the beauty around you so much more. Besides, it’s fun! You never know what you’re going to find, and when you will find the one; that beautiful specimen might end up proudly displayed on a shelf to admire.

I imagine the thrill of the (shell) hunt to be much like “garage sale-ing.” Is it really about that perfect find? It could be the process that is so enjoyable to garage sale enthusiasts: Waking up at the crack of dawn, pouring over the classifieds while sipping a cup of coffee, circling the locations of garage sales to shop, mapping out a route, and then hopping in the car with great anticipation of bargaining for a great deal.

After contemplating our motivations, Bruce and I came to the same conclusion: Collecting shells was much like travel; it was about the journey, not the destination. We enjoyed the process, but not necessarily the collection itself. Aside from a few beauties I’ve displayed to enjoy , there was no longer a valid reason to keep the rest. The shell mirror frame was forgotten long ago, and our good intentions were gone.

It was time for our shell collection to go full circle. They had come from the sea, so we returned them to where they belonged. Who knows where they will end up next? Perhaps another couple combing the beach for shells will gather them with good intentions, and they will go full circle once again.

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LIFE’S LITTLE PLEASURES: YOU JUST MAY NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’RE MISSING

In my August 14, 2011 blog post, I SEE MORE WITH A CAMERA IN MY HAND, I wrote about the details I discovered when photographing macro—things I would ordinarily miss when I am not shooting pictures.  Some people would argue that travel photographers miss what is going on around them while they are shooting photos, but those of us who take the time to study our subjects and compose our shots (rather than carelessly snapping away) would passionately disagree.

Sure, there have been plenty of times I have quickly snapped shots on the go when I didn’t have the time and luxury to stop, but given the opportunity, I thoroughly enjoy taking the time to study my subjects.  Beautifully displayed fruit, photographed for my 2011 blog post are a perfect example.  Having a camera in my hand inspired me to stop, study, and shoot.  I left with a greater appreciation of the beauty of the fruits and vegetables I enjoy eating so much, because I saw them as more than just food.

Today, after dropping Bruce off for kayak fishing, I grabbed my camera and took a stroll along the shoreline near the boat ramp.  The previous day, we had seen hundreds of crabs scurrying about in the sand, but we didn’t pay much attention as we launched our kayaks.  This time, though, with camera in hand, I bent down to study these little creatures and see if I could photograph one before it ran off.

Setting the camera to shoot macro, I was able to fill the frame with this little guy that was perhaps an inch wide.  As he stared at me with his claw open and ready to defend himself, I admired his interesting features.  Who knew a little crab could have such fascinating eyes?

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ollowing my short stroll along the Guana Reserve shoreline— there was no way I was going to venture too far off the beaten path and meet up with another alligator—I made my way to the beach to enjoy the sound of the Atlantic Ocean waves crashing on the shore.  The tide was low, so the beach was very wide and full of little shells that had been deposited in the sand by the rolling surf at high tide.  As I gazed out at the waves and reflected back on my kayak surfing days in California, I could hear the crunch of the shells underfoot as I made my way along the beach.  I didn’t give it much thought; the sound was appealing to me, so I continued to absent-mindedly walk across the shells.

I had my camera with me, though, and the mood struck to bend down and take a look at what was creating that crunching sound as I strolled along the beach.  At that moment, I discovered just how beautiful all those tiny shells (most no larger than my smallest fingernail) were that I had previously taken for granted and not given much thought about.  I never knew what I had been missing until then—one of life’s little pleasures.

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