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Sunday, 09 September 2012



I enjoy reading your blog most every day. To this end I am reminded of the cartoon whose caption reads: "What fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?" Answer that will ya'


Here's a compromise for you, Mike: by all means go out for your walk without a camera, but imagine you have one. The most important thing photography has done for me is teach me to look — on a good day, to see as well, but for me it's the looking that has contributed most to life.

With years of practice I'm able to turn on the camera in my head at will; it doesn't interfere with what I'm doing or where I'm going, just makes things and perspectives and colours and contrasts more visible.

(And, as we would have observed in the sixties, it's cheaper than drugs…)

Have you had a camera, you would have missed the hawk entirely: you never would have made it to that place in time to see it! ;-D

You could, of course, take a second walk with the camera (g).

But more to my point, for me it is preferable to leave the camera on such walks and experience my surroundings and be in the moment. Be present. Notice sounds and smells. Don't wear headphones. I recall last year driving home one night at late dusk. As I was crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, I noticed ahead of me a full moon visible more or less exactly between the upright supports of the center span, alongside a glowing view of Mount Rainier to the left. Because I didn't have my camera with me, I was able to experience this rare opportunity. I regret nothing!


Sans a camera, you have managed to paint very pleasing word pictures of whatever you encountered on your promenade in your piece.
My reckoning is that I'm a year older than yourself, 1956 being my year of birth, and walk a lot just to keep the ticker in good health. Living in a rural area like the Rhone-Alpes (France), there are no flat circuits to walk - which is a good thing! Most times I carry a DSLR in a backpack along with a supply of water and other bits and pieces. While I manage to walk in the region of 35-40 km a week and get a lot of pictures, my writing suffers. I have been romancing with the idea of starting writing a book for a couple of years now and I am no closer to it. The idea of having my ankle shackled to the leg of the table spooks the living daylights out of me.
Result: I have heaps of photographs which nobody wants to look at and not a word in the bank towards what I call a pipe dream for now.
There appears no prospect of a change in the situation as autumn will be around soon enough with its enchanting hues.
As for you, keep a balance but do keep writing. TOP is bookmarked and remains a daily must-read. Keep it up!

Hi Mike,

Apropos your lyrical editorial, may I quote back an "editorial" poem by Fernando Pessoa. Pls disregard the title (first line) knowing as how you don't like pictures of flowers (or anything florid)?


If at times I say that flowers smile
And if I should say that rivers sing,
It's not because I think there are smiles in flowers
And songs in rivers' running...
It's because that way I make deluded men better sense
The truly real existence of flowers and rivers.

Because I write for them to read me I sacrifice myself at
To their stupidity of feeling...
I don't agree with myself yet I forgive myself
Because I'm solely that serious thing—an interpreter of
Because there are men who don't understand its language,
Being no language at all.


From Poems of Fernando Pessoa (p. 22)
Translated and edited by
Edwin Honig and Susan M Brown
City Lights Books, SF CA
No copyright notice

A friend enjoys telling people that he is as fit as he can possibly be bearing in mind the parameters of his lifestyle.

Excellent post; thanks. Very sorry to hear that you have a heart health problem. I wish you excellent health. So many people in your situation have found this documentary to be life changing:


Streaming on all the usual video services (Netflix, iTunes, Amazon . . .). Very worth the time.

"A Great Film." -- Sanjay Gupta, CNN

"A Film That Can Save Your Life" -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"I Loved It And I Need All Of You To See It" -- Dr. Oz, The Dr. Oz Show

Hi Mike,

Have been living with same problem for a while. Brisk 3-4 mile walk every day makes a huge difference, even if I do take a camera (it's part of the motivation).

I usually pick a place that takes a while to walk to, spend a while mooching about with the camera, then a brisk walk home or back to the start point.

I use Google Maps to find interesting places, plan a walking route which is 5-7 miles and then drive or take the tube to the start. Have discovered many interesting locations that way which makes the "chore" more of a treat.

A pedometer is a good investment. Try and average around 10,000 paces a day and cram in at least two serious treks a week of around 5 miles plus. When it starts getting easy, increase it to 10 miles or so.

We indeed did get your weather today. I also went for a walk, but couldn't leave the camera behind. Having a camera along makes the whole of the walk seem more ... sensible.

Dang it.
I was going to send along one of my red tailed hawk photos; I used to do a lot of wildlife photography. I have a handful of very good red tail shots.

Except that I forgot how long ago it was. They were taken on K64 slide film! The slides are still in good shape, but my slide scanner (an excellent Dimage 5400) unfortunately was orphaned by the demise of Minolta, and its driver no longer works with any computer I own. Third party software may do the trick; but I haven't gotten around to seeing if Vuescan will work with it.

Sigh. Backward, to the future. That'll be next weekend's project.

Take a camera along with you. Anything. That's what the Holga motto is all about. Just have a camera with you and photograph what's around you as you go along.

When I was on the bus the other morning heading into work, I saw three balloons that had become entangled in the median strip. Purple against dead grass tan, in the early morning. And then I was past it. Of course I didn't have a camera ready; I never do when I'm sitting on the bus, spacing out. But it was there, and it would have made a good photo.

Or you could just become a birder. Then you would have noticed it.

As for the exercise, it is OK to stop and take a picture, as long as still do your total of an hour of walking. Figure out an hour's walk and follow the course. It just may take you longer to get it done. The important thing is to get it done every day. If the camera helps get you out the door, all the better. But face it, you are not going to do it all winter, so you need to find something else to do indoors. A workout step is the simplest and cheapest I have found. You just want something that is a normal step height. Put it in front of the TV and catch up on your movies/sports/whatever for 45 minutes a day all winter.

Did it look anything like this one?


Not the safest habit to have, but I try to keep my camera in the car seat next to me on my drives from the country into my city job and back again. This hawk was feeding on something in the right ditch as I came around a curve and I was able to catch a grab shot through the windshield as it flew off.

Aaaaah, I wondered what you meant. Yes, me too. I've had three ambulance rides to hospital in three weeks last month. AF with chest pain. I'm reassured, "Don't worry, you won't die of AF, try to ride it out, but if the pain gets too bad, by all means call 000 and come in to hospital."

And it's the same problem - too much sitting (among a couple of other things). I had an awful bout of black depression last year which made me lose the will to do anything but sit and read and do this.

I'm out of the hole now, but these computers, fantastic as they are, are going to be the death of us. I just get absorbed and forget how long I've been motionless.

Result: my leg muscles have wasted (not the only reason, but a big factor) and walking is now stick aided and slow. Nothing for it but to try harder.

So don't let it get this far. Get up. Set a timer. Pay attention. Be disciplined. Or else.

On seeing: back in the 80s when I used to do a lot of nature photography, I came to realise that we don't see immediately. I learnt to walk very slowly, and stop frequently and just look. And look again. And keep looking. Look through the foliage. Look for movement, particularly. Animals and insects are masters of disguise.

On one memorable day, this got me a close up view of a praying mantis eating a small frog it had caught in its front legs. I got three or four shots, but my CU skills weren't great then and getting it all in focus eluded me. I'd do a lot better now, but I doubt I'll ver see something like that again, mainly because I won't be there!

I would guess that had you stopped to photograph the balloons, the attractive couple, and the unnecessary duck feeding ( waterfowl make a good living and don't need handouts ), you would not have crossed paths with Yogi or the hawk. So, you actually enjoyed the sights, and generated less of the bad-for-the-heart-sitting-at-the-computer time needed to process your photographic images. It all evens out in the end, Mike.

@Joe: here's another one...

"There's plenty of time for sleeping when you are dead."

If I'd been photographing rather than just walking, I wouldn't have missed that hawk. I would have noticed

I you had been photographing, there would be no hawk for sure :-)
Someone should finally invent a chip which would take photographs directly from brain, so that no camera would be needed.

You can still snap pictures of stranger's kids and not get arrested as a paedophile ?

Not in the U.K. you won't and even in Ireland I'd be very wary


I really empathise with this post! I've been recently thru-hiking and alpine mountaineering, and in both cases, I had my cameras on me (a DSLR for the thru hike with two large 2.8 lenses, and an S95 compact for the mountaineering).

What I found is this: the first time I did the hiking, I would be looking to take photos all the time. By about the 4th or 5th time, I think I was getting photo fatigue, the camera stayed more or less away until I really saw something I was interested in taking a photo of (even if I was hiking on a new trail).

Sounds good that you're looking after the your body: keep on walking / hiking whilst the weather is good!

Happy trails, Pak

You know sometimes you just don't need a camera. The picture stays locked in your head for ever. I have a library of images in my mind that never made it to the camera and I still enjoy them.

But Mike, if you had been photographing instead of just walking, the hawk would have probably long been gone by the time time you photographed the boy with the balloon, the family feeding the mallards, etc :)

Right at the beginning of my career in photography I went to Utah (the usual places - Bryce, Zion, etc.). One morning while out early I realized that I wasn't vacationing but working. Since then I either travel for work or I travel to travel. No matter which one I'm doing I never stop seeing pictures though.

Truth be told: In my case I think carrying a camera has warded off those moments like you had with the hawk. But that's just my impression..

In case you are looking for a picture of a Red-Tailed Hawk to go with your post, here's one of a parent taking flight from the nest:

It's a bit "busy" with all of the tree branches, but almost full-frame and looks pretty cool on 30x20" print.

Wildlife is pretty cool to watch and yea, if you look around, it's there ... but too many people (especially the younger generation) have their heads buried in their mobile devices to look around. These Baby Hummingbirds were at a nearby golf course I walk too:

And these baby finches were on my front door! ;-)

Mike hi

I get what your saying, but I have to admit that after so many years of photography, I am always 'taking photograph' - with or without a camera or mobile phone.
It's just second nature and I find I'm always saying to myself [ quietly in my mind !] snap - good pic !

I do a similar type of walk around the Thames in London, from Blackriars Bridge to Westminter Bridge, then cross over and back again on the other side (about 5 kilometres), walking fast(ish) but clicking mentally all the time.


@ Geoff Wittig, Vuescan works well with my Minolta Dimage 5400 under Snow Leopard, better and more crash-proof than the original software, I think. All the best to Mike and the others struggling with heart health.

I find that somehow, the picture in our mind is always perfect - framed just right, infinite dynamic range, never over- or underexposed, well-focused, no distracting backgrounds, no noise, etc etc.

Once again, you've posted an essay that could be about me.
I'm chained to a desk too, and about 6 months ago, my cardiologist pointed out that death would crimp my social schedule. He suggested a standing desk.
This one works for me:
Takes some discipline to crank it up, and frankly makes your legs hurt for the first month or so.
But that's a good thing.

Yes, Paul, when I bring my toddler to the local playground, I take a camera. No one has gotten upset with me for photographing their kids, though I do generally ask.

People have some pretty amazing misconceptions about the laws around this stuff. A colleague recently told me he'd forcibly stop anyone who photographed his kids on the street, and was taken aback when I told him he'd be on the wrong side of the law.


I at first misread "(~18°C)" as minus 18 degrees Celsius and thought, if he thinks that's "a perfect day for walking" then they must be really hardy pioneer-like folk there. Then I realised, I'm the one in the southern hemisphere where it's winter...


Not a red tail.

But a hawk...

I love BC for talking walks and pictures.

This one posed for a good thirty minutes while I got up to about 6 feet away, where I stayed for about 10 minutes.

Juvenile sharp shinned hawk I've been told.


On the same theme as the Forks Over Knives poster, here's an audio interview with Esselstyn http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday/audio/2437606/caldwell-esselstyn-plant-based-diet and a video on some other benefits of a plant based diet http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/

Sitting at a computer all day was getting to be painful! Old age, arthritis etc., so i built a standing work station!
I used some butcher block counter top material and cabinet legs from Ikea to make a two tiered platform. It took a bit to get used to, , but It has really helped a lot!
Don't give up those walks!

I'd send a pic but I need to finish a project and tidy up first!


Your post reminded me of the above.

The obverse of Jim's featured comment - I've taken to not taking my camera with me when I walk to clear my head. Not because I need to keep moving, but because I need the 'noise' to process, to work itself out.

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