None At All

While out on a walk at my favorite nearby lake I decided to pack light and set off with a thermos of coffee, an old film camera (in this case my Canonet), and my iPhone. I came out to have a little peace after a month and a half abroad in a mild attempt to reset my mind and get some fresh air. Thankfully, it just so happened to be an absolutely perfect day, a cool, slightly cloudy spring day with a touch of wind to give the lake gentle waves and the trees a beautiful white noise as it blew among the leaves.

As I walked along stopping by a few of my favorite spots along the way I could not help but take a number of photos with my trusty Canonet. I eventually arrived at one of my favorite places on the trail, a small boardwalk. I pulled the camera to my face and slowly started to swing back the film advance and to my horror found I could only wind it half way back meaning I had run out of film.

After a moment of disappointment I simply wound the film back into the canister, slipped the camera into my jacket pocket and pulled out my iPhone to take a few so-so photos of the scene to mess around with later. Disappointed with the results, I had a moment where I felt stupid for not bringing along more film. It was a weight that made me feel like I had wasted the walk out there. A few seconds later I realized it was not at all worth the worry. Why burden myself with such thoughts? This in mind I simply lifted the weight of the loss off of my shoulders, took a deep breath, and continued to enjoy my time in the forest without the need to photograph it.

I decided to take my time walking back and wandered off the trail, forging my own path. A few minutes later I discovered two trees that had fallen across the shore of the lake and rested at peace over the water. Vines with green leaves had started to grow outward from the forest and onto the sunny trunk of the fallen tree. I picked up a weathered old 2×6 piece of wood found nearby then slowly walked out onto one of the trees.  After placing the wood across the two trunks I had a nice makeshift bench to sit on. I let my phone sit in my pocket, took a few sips of coffee and enjoyed my time without feeling the need to photograph the beautiful lake aorund me. It was perfect, legs dangling down above the surface of the lake, wind was creating deeper waves at this point and I was lost in the beauty of it all.

Many people talk about the iPhone being a great camera or go on and on about the benefits of digital cameras and their seemingly unlimited capacities, but this day decided to evolve a bit differently than others and left me with a fresh, welcome perspective. This day left my mind at rest among the trees, water, and sounds of a perfect afternoon. Then I got to thinking and the now common phrase, “the best camera is the one you have with you” came to mind and I thought to myself, sometimes the best one is an ellaborate DSLR, sometimes it is a simple old film camera, and sometimes it is the one built into your phone, but today, on this perfect afternoon with a cool breeze on my face, the best camera was none at all.


  1. Ted - April 25, 2012 at 3:39 am

    It’s neat, when you think about it. Cameras were designed after our eyes, more or less. They were created to keep memories. But what about the photos, the final product? What are they? Images, memories, but not true ones.

    I suppose I’m trying to say that it is wasteful to always be living with our cameras and remembering with our photos. I’m glad that you, as a photographer, can still live with your eyes now and then.

    Kudos for the nice post.


  2. David - April 26, 2012 at 3:08 am

    I completely agree; well said, Sir.

  3. sunhead - April 27, 2012 at 1:04 am

    i am glad you can live with just your eyes and gadget free every once in a while too! you used to do it a lot more often… :) time to go camping. welcome home.

  4. Lauren - May 3, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I love this – I definitely often experience the disappointment of not getting any good shots out of my expedition and “wasting my time”, as well as the “why didn’t I bring my camera?!” freak out. I often tell myself to shift my perspective to truly enjoy the experience as it is, rather than worrying about capturing it in some digital format… to make sure I am getting the most out of here & now as it happens. Being camera happy is a hard habit to break, but I have been working on being truly in the experience, rather than an observer through a lens. Great article. :)

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