When you walk the same route every week of the year, you become finely attuned to the passing of the seasons.
I spend at least part of every day wishing I had my camera with me—walking by scene after scene, trying to emblazon it on my memory, resolving that next time I’ll have my Nikon. I have been very slow to accept that decent photography can be done with a cell phone camera, but I think I’m slowly coming around. Today’s walk was a pretty good lesson in the limits and rewards of iPhone photography. (Or “mobile photography” as the Instagrammers are calling it, as if they’d suddenly invented the art of walking with a camera. Anyway.)
Every Saturday, we have a bit of a ritual at our place: morning coffee, a big pancake breakfast, off to the gym for a workout, then a walk through the neighbourhood to Stanley Park.
I used to loathe routine; I always felt that there was no purpose getting out of bed if you knew exactly how the day was going to unfold. But now that I’m older and maybe even wiser, I’ve come to appreciate that there’s not only comfort in routine; there’s novelty, too, however subtle it may be.
When you walk the same route every week of the year, you become finely attuned to the passing of the seasons. A single rose bush or willow tree becomes a study in change; the arrival and departure of the ducks here at Lost Lagoon, for example, becomes a living chronicle for anyone who takes the time to see it.
I used to keep a detailed written journal, but in recent years my photo catalog has become my diary. Everything is arranged by date; if ever I wonder what I was doing or feeling at a particular time in the last eight years, I just look up the day in my photo database and suddenly the events and the emotions come flooding back with the images.
I suspect my photo journal will become more detailed now that I’m settling into using my iPhone. It really is fun to have a camera at all times, and editing photos in Snapseed is a blast. There are, of course, painful limits to the genre. Getting a decent white balance can be really dodgy on the iPhone, and trying to focus on anything at close range makes me want to cut myself. But the trick is to accept and move on. Every camera has its limits.
One outcome of the digital revolution of the last decade is that photography has become so completely disposable. An image, even a great one, is consumed and discarded so quickly now that photography sometimes seems pointless. As a nature photographer, I have resolved to try to document the endless change I see around me, and in doing so, to celebrate permanence. I hope that makes sense.