This is my friend. We are standing on the banks of the Hood River in Oregon. This is a convergence point where to branches of the river reconnect. If I turned my camera to the left you’d see a series of waterfalls. Needless to say it is a beautiful place. I’m just worried that we are ruining the experience.
I’m being a little unfair by poking fun at my friend for looking down at his phone. And I want to be clear that he isn’t doing anything wrong. Heck, I’m doing the exact same thing! I’m looking at my camera. We are both spending a portion of our time in this natural marvel looking through a lens or screen. We are experiencing it secondhand even while experiencing it in person.
And it’s not like he didn’t get a great photo:
I’ve tried really, really hard to limit my camera time while out in nature. I’ve made a self-imposed rule that I can’t use the camera until I’ve reached the point of return for the trip or a particular segment. For instance, if we leave the main trail to explore an offshoot I will wait until we are ready to return to the main trail to start taking pictures. I will then put my camera away upon returning to the main trail. No photos of the main trail until the hike back.
On a few recent occasions I haven’t even brought my camera. Even though I knew there might be fantastic opportunities, I decided that I’d rather experience it just for myself. But most of the time I’ll always have a camera on me, even if I don’t have my actual camera. Damn phones!
It’s always dangerous to get sucked into my phone while out in nature. I’ve wasted so much valuable time getting all the right filters, crops and effects on my new photo. I’ll eventually lookup, like a diver coming back up for air, and think, “Holy moly. How long was I down there?!”
I’ve been able combat this issue with a three pronged attack:
- Only use my DSLR when out in nature.
- Have a crappy camera on my phone.
- Only use Instagram when I’m at home.
The first attack works great. Even though my camera has it’s own Wi-Fi that can share photos directly to my phone, I never turn that feature on. The second attack works great because I don’t like publishing crappy photos (plus having a cheap phone saves me so much money). The third attack takes away some of the spontaneity that comes with Instagram, but I what does it matter if people don’t know I’m at a cool spot the exact moment I’m there? Only stalkers would need that information. Are you a stalker?
I’ve noticed something interesting ever since I started using my camera less. I’ve begun remembering the experience more. Weird right? Obviously I remember the place when I look at a picture but it’s not the same. Spending most of the time off my camera I can actually remember subtle things like smells, wind, sounds, etc. The memories seem more vivid and personal.
But it never helps to have a few photographs to help jog my memory!