During our travels we’ve discovered a simple truth, and one we should have been practising for a long time.
In the past 10 weeks, we’ve been living in a van. Being ‘mobile’ has been great. When things haven’t gone according to plan, we’ve had the freedom to quickly change our location.
But without a ‘home’ retreat, when our luck seems to have run out, we’ve had no other option but to remain where we are – and to carry on. Often we’ve suffered the weather and gone to bed feeling like we’ve achieved nothing, and on occasion it’s extended into the next day and even the day after that.
Last week we camped at a beach for the third night running. This particularly place had become a ‘jinx’ beach. Perhaps as a sign of our frustration, my camera bag nearly got swept away by a rogue wave here (rescued by Belinda). Here we were again, standing on the sand at 5.30am waiting for the sun to make an appearance. Despite a forecast for 22% cloud cover, we were looking at 100% cloud cover, may be 95% – if I’m being generous. There would be no chance of any colour in the sky for this sunrise. But we stayed, took a deep breath and eventually got something, one composition that worked but only because we waited longer enough for the tide to recede and expose some rocks.
It got us thinking about the many opportunities we must have missed over the years, because we simply quit, cut short an outing because it wasn’t going as we expected. We’ve left home with an idea. Arrive at our destination. And when something doesn’t go quite right, you can start to feel a little downhearted, especially if it’s followed by other ‘unplanned’ disappointments. It’s all too easy at this point to throw in the towel. We’ve been culpable many times in past, allowing these trivial annoyances to become excuses – and end the outing.
There’s dozens of scenarios. On countless times we’ve been in the car park, alone, looking at a view, pondering our next move, when someone pulls up and parks right next to us, and then another car arrives – noisy or playing loud music. Or spending a few hours lining up a picture at sunset, and then would you believe it – a fisherman walks directly into the frame and sets himself up for a night’s fishing. Or my current favourite! – people with no control over their dogs, allowing them to come bounding towards you and your equipment.
At these moments our guilty phrase would sound something like this;
“Shall we get back and leave this for another day?”.
And that statement instantly begs another question “get back for what?”.
I suspect most of the time this translates into watching TV – another season of ‘Breaking Bad’ or relaxing on the sofa watching the game with a cold beer. And then there’s the biggest culprit – stuck indoors aimlessly browsing the Internet, Facebook or Twitter. Or we’ve convinced ourselves of all those other ‘important things that need to be done at home’ – an urgent need to get back or even preventing us from going out in the first place.
Although you can’t be everywhere at once and there are times when it just doesn’t pan out despite all your best efforts – here’s another example from our trip.
Due to a desperate need for re-charging all our batteries, we were forced into a pitstop at a campsite. That week the weather hadn’t been kind and we expected more of the same. I decided to settle in the bar and work away editing some pictures, but kept one eye on the sky through the window. Dark grey – I told myself there was nothing happening tonight. Even when some people passed by with cameras, I thought – “they’re optimistic”. I returned to my beer and Photoshop once more.
When Belinda finally tracked me down and came rushing in “Have you seen the sky out there? What the hell are you doing?”.
The sky was divided into two. One side dull, dark and uninteresting and the other without doubt the best light at sunset we’d seen on this trip. I was facing the dull side, convinced it wasn’t worth trying, and I managed to achieve zero pictures. It was Be who took this picture below whilst wondering what I was up to.
Very few times did an outing go according to a preconceived plan. We almost always had to adapt or change and often endured a certain level of discomfort before something happened. And at the end of all this effort may be there would be a reward or may be not.
For this trip, our reality has been one of an enforced ‘staying out’, we had no fixed location, and were either on-site or close by. We had time in more abundance than ever before, something we craved for at the start of this project. But more time hasn’t necessarily solved feelings of frustration. Overcoming this has been an important lesson, if only so we can relax and enjoy the moment a little more.
I’m currently working through my Lightroom catalogue, selecting the best pictures for further editing. As we glance through nearly 100 chosen photos, we remember the events leading up to each picture. We are certain in the majority of those 100 images, we experienced moments feeling downbeat, tired or fed up. And also perhaps little panic, as the light changes so quickly. Now we are prepared for it. It’s become part of the process.
Being out and more importantly ‘staying out’ has been our main advantage on this trip. The alternative – being at home, in our comfort zone – is surely a guarantee we wouldn’t achieve much at all.