Walking. Anybody Can Do This. (Not)

2:30 a.m., I’m wide awake, ready to start the day. Hello Day!

It’s a few hours before I set off on the 55th consecutive day of a five-mile walk to greet the sunrise at Cove Island Park.

I’m anxious to see what’s in store for me this morning. And worried that I might sleep through the 4:55 am to 5:15 a.m. peak feeding time for the waterfowl. Normal people set an alarm. I have four gadgets on the night stand next to me ready to jump into action. But for some reason I can’t explain, I don’t. I can’t. A life time of never needing an alarm to get up, I’m not going to start now. I don’t change. And, let’s face it, You don’t either.

4:25 a.m.  I gather up the camera gear. I double check to find the memory card is in its place — the recollection of backtracking 1.5 miles three days ago, getting soaked by a sprinkler system that turned on at 5 a.m., cursing the rest of the way home, and needing to take the car to the park for fear of missing feeding time. All of this is fresh. And it ain’t going to happen today.

I throw the sling around my shoulder. Take a long swig of ice cold water. And I’m out the door.

Photography.  Camera. New hobby thing. Mixing it up a bit.

I’ve watched hundreds of instructional videos on Youtube. Paged through the camera user manual – a lot of damn good this did.  Texted back and forth with a buddy who gave me some tips.

ISO. Shutter speed. Aperture.  Exposure Compensation. Continuous tracking. EVF. LCD. Autofocus. Manual Focus. Single Point. Zone. Wide Angle. Tracking. Single shot. Burst. Still. Video.  Good God. My Head is spinning.

Then add to the soup, small (very) buttons. A small, sensitive touchscreen. Clumsy, large hands. Not yet arthritic, thank God, not yet anyway, something to look forward to. Throw in farsightedness, and you have menus and pop-ups jumping in and out. And blood pressure surging. Jesus, I’m of average intelligence, it just can’t be this hard.

And forget the quality (and breathtaking expense) of the camera equipment, lenses, battery (and back up), and memory cards, there’s so much more to this Photography-thing that was lost on me.

Wildlife doesn’t just show up when you are ready to take the shot.

When it does show up, it is moving, contributing to one blurry shot after another. Not blurry DK, let’s call it an Artist’s unique take on the moment.

And that damn Light. It doesn’t line up at your back when you need it.

And the hand shakes. When did my hands begin trembling?

And, your subjects aren’t always at eye level. You need to bend down, way down. Knees buckle. Back groans. It has to be easier than this. All those crystal clear shots I see on Instagram.

And so today, rather than enjoying the stillness of the morning, I am simmering over the fact that I had neglected to take off the lens cap, and I missed a shot of an Egret.  And another three shots were wildly out of focus. And another series of shots had the wrong Shutter Speed, spitting out dark, grainy crud.  How bloody hard can it be? Pretty damn hard.

I’m walking back along the last stretch of waterfront, tiring of the same sunrise shots, simmering at my unforced errors, and ready to put the camera away.

And then, there She is.

Her head pops up along the break wall.

My Cormorant.  Solitary. Evasive. Always fishing.

She dives down and I’ve lost her.  She pops her head up 30 yards away. That long curved neck.  Her matte-black finish. The orange skin under her bill and chin —  a high end sports car.  I scramble down the break wall, cautious not to tumble over board.  I shuffle forward.

Please God, let me get this shot, please. 

She hears me approach, I stop, set up, I take a long breath. Just one more second Girl, give me one more second to get my sh*t together here.

I focus, I think I’m focused, I see her turn her head up as if to pose, and I snap. Voila.

Damn it DK, you got her!

 


Notes:

  • Photo: DK. Daybreak. 5:37 am. June 28, 2020. 69° F. Humidity 91%. Wind: 2 mph. Gusts: 4 mph. Cloud Cover: 29%. Weed Avenue, Stamford, CT
  • Inspired by Poem by John Brehm: “The slowing down / is speeding up.” — John Brehm, “On Turning Sixty- Four” in “The Sun Magazine, June 2020.
    Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels

Comments

  1. Yes, you did!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. She is a beauty…and so is this picture. Sorry to still be laughing about the lens cap. You done good, DK.

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful light…soft hues…feels like I’m there DK ~ smiles Hedy ☀️☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well done, David! That shot is a beauty! As an amateur bird photographer myself, I’ve experienced just about everything you described albeit from a different vantage point. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Did you notice that you have the numeral 5 all over this post? Perhaps not,because I seem to be more of a patterns person, and you more a stats person. I love falling asleep and waking up naturally and you love making it happen at certain times. We are opposites int hard ways perhaps,but simpatico about the joy of walking and capturing pics of the world around us. Perhaps my photo methodology is a bit more relaxed too,but you’re coming around..)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are definitely entertaining! And kudos on the wanting to do better and better. You sure succeeded with this one.
    Love the poem you quoted. No way to go to need to be other than what and who you are!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. And right there is yet another beautiful framed enlargement waiting to happen to your walls! The difficulty is not you — today’s cameras are wildly rebellious beings from a more advanced planet.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Moments like this are why I get up and walk early! Beautiful!!

    we’ve noticed a juvenile fox perusing the neighborhood, coming out of the woods and skirting through neighboring yards. Walking the grand-dog yesterday morning, I saw him watching us as we hiked up a hill. We grew closer, the dog never noticed, and “my” fox quietly slipped into the woods.

    This is the 3rd time I’ve seen him, so I looked up the Native meaning for Fox Totem and found this ~

    The fox totem usually comes to you when you are about to undergo a period of change, especially one that is tough and unpredictable. The fox urges you to act swiftly but be guided by your wisdom and intuition. The fox spirit animal teaches you to be resourceful and flexible if you want to emerge victorious.

    So, I also researched Cormorant Totem and found this ~

    When the cormorant is an individual’s totem, the person will have a knack. for accomplishing in unique ways what others could not seem to do. When it appears in our life as a message, it is a reminder for us to dive in to what we have been hesitating about.

    Isn’t life just so interesting? MJ

    Like

  9. Well done!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Way to go, DK. The beauty of digital photography is that you can take ten shots and pick the best one. In the old days of film, I spent tons of money and had to throw out most of my blurry prints. Digital was made for people like me! So if I can do it, anyone can!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anneli. When I see the clarity of your shots, I think, wow, I have a long way to go. But I’m enjoying it (most of the time) and its an excellent mental diversion…

      Liked by 1 person

      • No,no,no,no,no. It’s not me! I have the camera set on something generic (Auto-something) and then I point it, zoom it most often, try to hold still, wait for the little green squares to show up in the screen and listen for the little bee-beep that tells you it’s focused, and then click. Repeat as often as possible before subject takes off. Then I put the pictures onto my laptop and look at them in the baby Photoshop program for people who can’t handle “complicated” and I crop the photo to take away most of the crud around the edges, and I may click “brighten” that adjusts the picture if the lighting isn’t perfect, and that’s about it. Anyone can do it!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Amazingly awesome!! … you got her!! … “I’m walking back along the last stretch of waterfront, tiring of the same sunrise shots, simmering at my unforced errors, and ready to put the camera away. And then, there She is. Her head pops up along the break wall.
    My Cormorant. Solitary. Evasive. Always fishing.”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. LOVE the crispness of this shot! With your permission I will choose one of your shots and print. Oil print.

    And what about that friend who, 2 months ago, said you take the worse pictures with an iPhone. That you make Steve jobs roll in his grave. They don’t get any credit???

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great shot.
    Manual photography has been called “man’s inhumanity to man.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Love this tale. Could add dozens of mine incl my dad’s handling of 1st marriage, including using one film twice AND not closing the back completely. Should have read the signs then but I didn’t…..

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Valerie Meluskey says:

    I’d guess that each of us was a vicarious nervous wreck following you through your way to the winged creatures at Cove Island Park…anyone else relieved DK did not fall into the water? I love the way that the cormorant tilted her head as if to pose a last glimpse of her for you before she dove down again.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Damn David you did it again!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. What happened to the Mary Oliver stillness? Ha
    Breathe relax. Just Be there, photo or not. Meaning of no. 5. Is balance. No 5 means you are busy and in constant motion . And It’s message….slow down. It also means you are very independent and love adventures and cannot stand in one place for too long. Wow sounds a lot like you ha! 👏

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Loving all of these photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Well done; I admire your persistency.

    But tiring of shots of the sunrise? That seems sacrilegious… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I was nodding as I read this – why can’t we just excel at whatever new interest grabs our curiousity and enthusiasm? Really – we’re relatively smart and we really want to get this – what’s the damn problem? A new vocabulary, new steps that must become as familiar as walking…I’m so glad you got the reward and gladder still that you shared it with us

    Liked by 2 people

  21. She’s a beaut, David. You captured her essence beautifully. Sorry you had to endure so much with the camera woes. Tom Petty said, “The waiting, is the hardest part.” But then that all melted away with your fantastic calm and serene pic. Cher xo

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Nice pic David. I bought a camera two years ago hoping to make it a hobby. It hasn’t exactly panned out.
    When I got married my brother was my best man. Don graduated from West Point second in his class. He is a real smart guy.
    For the honeymoon the bride and I were going to Puerto Vallarta , and Don was going to let me use his fancy camera.
    So the morning before the wedding Don spends and hour giving me a quick tutorial about F-Stops, ISO and shutter speeds, apertures, film speed, and I’m taking it all in as best as I can. Like you say, head spinning.
    As I’m putting the camera back in the bag, I say “I’ll get it figured out as I go along once we get down there”.
    Don looks at me and says “Its your Honeymoon. If you’re smart, you won’t take that camera out of the bag”.
    It took a minute for that to sink it.
    Smart guy, my brother.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I told my son this story not long ago.
    “Dad, I dont want to hear about THAT!”

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Sooo very late to this party, pal. Somehow this post slipped below the radar. Beautiful shot of your girl and exhausting journey to reach her. I’m just so glad you didn’t end up ‘in the drink.’ Love that you have this new pursuit. Now allow yourself to enjoy it instead of beating yourself up for not learning fast enough. Patience grasshopper….. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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