I can’t say I’ve seen this on a hike before and maybe never will again. Whilst wandering on the coast near the Victorian and NSW border, this breaching whale was a pretty special sight.
I’d liked to have a better photo, but my hiking camera lens is usually a compromise. It’d be nice to take a super-zoom or real wide angle, but in the end I usually opt for something which covers a bit of both. My 100-400mm lens would have been handy, but alas it was sitting at home. Oh well. It’s an annoying habit, seeking the ideal photo, as in the end it may have been nicer to ignore placing the viewfinder to the eye and instead just savour the moment. A memory might be nicer than a photograph.
I’m reminded of this by a quote I’ve used before and it comes from the book, ‘Everest: The Hard Way’ by Chris Bonington. Fabled climber, Doug Scott, writes,
‘Speaking now for myself, there comes also the saddening realisation that the view from the top of Everest which I now have in my mind’s eye is very possibly no longer the magnificent pure naked wholly coloured vision of the moment, but consequently wholly coloured by the slides I then took and have seen so many times since.’
I guess this leads to a surprising thought. It was only five years ago I started taking a camera when walking. Before then, I’d take in the sights without documenting anything. Times certainly have changed.
Perhaps we miss the bigger picture by narrowing our perceptual lens through the use of the camera's eye? But in doing so we take the time to appreciate the view and the subject, and we retain it for contemplation and even writing and sharing with a wider audience. That's a very fine thing 🙂
I am yet to see a whale while hiking, swimming, etc. I saw some blow holes in the distance though at Byron Bay and that was special enough, so I can imagine what a great moment this would have been for you. Very exciting!
As for taking a camera or not, well my memory tends to be pretty crap these days and albums helps me relive experiences I would have most likely forgotten. I know that when I have looked through old albums of the children growing up I've been shocked at how much I've forgotten. So they serve as memory triggers for me.
Also. I've noticed that since taking a camera with me I've tended to notice little things that I would have overlooked in the past, because I am now searching for something special. I think of this quote:
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” – Aaron Siskind.
But there are also plenty of times when I've thought, why the hell am I lugging a camera along!! 🙂 Why don't I just look? But mostly it's just sheer joy. It puts me in a zone that helps me forget about my worries. It's different for different people I guess. And of course, taking pics means we can share our experiences with people we care about as well as loyal blog followers. Have a happy new year, Greg, and thanks for sharing your pics with us in 2014. I hope you've got some fun out of it? 🙂
Wise words indeed! The thing about this photo though is it records something I didn't actually see outside a constricted viewfinder. This whale breached a handful of times and on each occasion I was trying to capture it, so took a number of photos. I should have put the camera down at least once! I'm not sure about this urge to capture everything photographically. I'll ponder it a bit more and maybe write about it one day 🙂
I've written about this camera business in relation to my Mt Kosciuszko trip and referred to the same quote. Instead of having a photo which triggers a memory, in my case, all it does is substitute what I saw, so I no longer remember the entire expanse of what I saw through my eyes. Instead the memory is contained within the dimensions of the photograph. I can no longer see anything outside those dimensions, so I've got the picture, but no longer the feeling. It's odd, as that Kosciuszko sunset was beyond vivid. It really was freakish. I think.
Anyway, it's convoluted trying to describe it, so that's why Doug Scott's quote is so good, as it describes exactly what I'm thinking.
Yes, I do understand what you mean. 🙂 The quote is very clear and a good one. People experience things in different ways. My memories are easily triggered by visual reminders like photographs so it's different for me. You don't need to explain it further. I was just discussing how it varies for others. Your feelings are very valid. Best wishes. 🙂
I have no photos of whales out to sea from Shipwreck Creek near Mallacoota, but I did watch a couple many years ago. A beautiful sight.
Yeah, I'm not saying what's a rule with photos! It's just I often don't get a lot out of them. I rarely look at old pictures and when I do, they leave me ambivalent. More than anything, I do know that probably says a lot about me!
Yes, certainly an amazing sight during a walk! That day was full of coastal action as a pod of dolphins also went by close to shore. Nice place to be and I hope to get down there again for a bit more exploring. Not now though. Way too hot!