This post was meant to be about something other than what I’m writing here. I’ve been trying to write it for a couple of days; words are failing me right now. I can’t quantify my thoughts. Each time I write something it feels wrong, like the words I’m using aren’t good enough. I don’t know why this is. It may be because my anxiety has been high during the last week. Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe I really don’t have anything to say.
So instead of fighting myself in my mind about my inadequacies as a writer, I’m giving up on that post. I’ve saved it in drafts, in case I feel one day like I can find the right words.
Instead, here’s a photo from my recent holiday in St Kilda. I hope you like it because I do.
As I write this I find it difficult to believe that 12 months ago I was China for the first time, alone, exhausted, ill-prepared for the oppressive humidity at Shanghai Airport, trying to make my way through customs with no knowledge of Chinese & no clear idea of where I needed to be going. I was attending a conference for work & due things going on in my life I wasn’t able to bring my husband along with me to enjoy the experience of a visiting a country I’d not been to before, nor was I able to extend my stay beyond the five days of the conference.
On the second last day of my stay I had a few hours of free time so I joined a couple of people I met at the conference on a walk to try to make our way to a pagoda located on the top of a mountain, that could be seen from our hotel. We weren’t able to get to it so instead walked the gardens located at the base of the mountain enjoying their tranquility & beauty.
I was amazed to see the air full of dragonflies. They flitted around, paying no attention to me standing there, gobsmacked to see so many of them at once. I guess the combination of the humidity & the abundance of water provides a perfect home for them. They can be just seen in the photo above as mere specks in the sky; I didn’t have a lens suitable to capture them close enough but I didn’t want to edit them out of the photo either.
Travelling somewhere new is an experience like no other. The excitement of new surrounds & the possibilities of what photographic opportunities might arise cannot be matched. Unfortunately I don’t get the opportunity to travel to new places often. I do visit Melbourne a few times throughout any given year so I’ve been trying to focus my attention on capturing the things about the city that to me make Melbourne feel like Melbourne. That allow me to look at them when I’m home & think yes that photos speaks of Melbourne, at least to me anyway.
I wonder if I can create photos like this of my local area? Can I look at the places I’ve traversed so often & find something of interest in them? I think I’ll give it a try. It cannot hurt & it might just help me improve my photographic skills. Regardless of the outcome of this challenge I’ll write about it here. Hopefully I’ll have a photo or two I’ll be happy to share sometime in the near future.
This weekend past saw me in Melbourne holidaying with a newer friend. When packing I decided not to pack my camera. My thought process being that I wanted to focus on relaxing, instead of feeling like I “had” to use my camera. Of course as we pounded the pavement of Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday the urge to capture the scenes that caught my eye was strong. I took out my iPhone with the intent of using it as my camera.
Weirdly enough I found myself stuck. I couldn’t use it. I felt ridiculous, wanting to use my iPhone in lieu of the camera I didn’t have. So I put it away. I replayed this in my mind that evening as I was trying to fall asleep. Without a camera in hand I felt exposed. Yet I have read probably hundreds of articles over the years about photographers who exclusively use their camera phones. Surely if they can then I can too? Everywhere we went people were using their phones for one thing or another.
So on Sunday I vowed to try again. This time it felt a little easier, I guess because I’d talked myself into letting go of the unease. I took photos that I’m happy with. Which is really all I want from my photography. I want to makes images I’m happy with, that I can hang on my walls to admire. Preferably with my camera as it seems I’m more comfortable using it as a device to capture things than I am with my iPhone.
I’m late to following up my last post; I’ve went away for a few days, got home & life caught up with me. Anyhow, returning to the subject of favourite photos from 2018.
This cityscape (is that even the right category? Does that even matter?) was taken on my last day in China which was a Saturday. It is of the Bundt in Shanghai. I love it because it reminds me of my time there, but also because of those clouds. The day prior a typhoon went through Shanghai. I arranged for three of us to experience a half day tour of Shanghai on our last day there & our guide explained we were lucky to see clouds like this. She said the typhoon had blown away the smog usually seen in Shanghai (although she also said that the smog isn’t as bad as it used to be), leaving behind a beautiful sky full of fluffy white clouds.
I also love the juxtaposition of towering buildings overlooking the water on which floats both rickety boats & modern flashy ones. It felt like a true Chinese scene, modernity crashing up against China of old. I hope one day to return; for now my photographs will have to do.
Here is another instance where being on foot has allowed me to photograph an image I’ve thought about numerous times when I’ve been a passenger in a car, without having had the ability to stop to allow me to take photos.
I love the rhinoceros statues found throughout Dubbo. They immediately conjure images of the zoo in my mind & something about their various incarnations & locations brings a smile to my face. Of them all the mother & baby outside the zoo itself are my favourite. The material they have been constructed of implies a sense of life to the statues & it’s because of this material that they appear different every time I see them. The shadows in the crevices of their skin I find particularly fascinating & I wonder if I got that close to a real rhinoceros would I notice that too?
I think taking the time to experience a destination on foot is by far the greatest opportunity to get to know that place. On the flip side, experiencing a location by car does allow me to see a lot more of a place & if time during that visit allows or perhaps a return visit takes place then I can take a tour on foot of the places that captured my imagination while I was a passenger. Perhaps that is the best of both worlds?
I love the opportunities that are presented when holidaying at a location that I’ve stayed at before. Although nothing beats the thrill and excitement of visiting a new destination, there is satisfaction to be found in returning to a place I know. It becomes intimate to me in a way, by knowing where good coffee and food is to be found, or which side streets to use to get somewhere quicker. Or even knowing that wandering the length of a particular street will provide ample architecture to photograph/
Sometimes it’s a simple as returning to a site I admire, preferably when the conditions are favourable for photographing it in its glory. But other times magic can be found by viewing a location from the eyes of someone else. Whether it’s a self guided walking tour, a thematic tour (architecture, food, drink) or a guided tour by someone who knows their city and its intricacies, viewing a place in this way is always fruitful.
Last year David and I took a short break in Adelaide, with the primary goal of attending a show we had tickets for. We took the opportunity to do something different, and paid to be part of a walking tour of Adelaide city with Graeme Fanning of Down To Earth Tours. Surprisingly it was the two of us and Graeme, which made for a terrific opportunity to drink in his knowledge of Adelaide. For whilst I have visited Adelaide multiple times, I had never really taken the opportunity to learn about how the city came to be. It was a fascinating walk, and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in this kind of thing. We enjoyed it so much that if given the time on a return visit to Adelaide we would take one of the other tours on offer. And we’ll certainly take tours like these in other locations we visit.