Look! No Photos!

After a month in the Douro for harvest (which was fantastic, by the way!) I spent less than 48 hours at home before leaving for another ten days in England and Italy.

I found myself one morning waking up in Milan – as you do – and setting off to see the sights before getting on a train to some other place.  Came up out of the Metro, looked around me at the Duomo… and realised I had left my camera at the hotel.  As a blogger who has been wedded, no, make that welded, to her camera for a solid month of harvest, let alone the past two years generally, I felt a little odd… naked… unprepared… inadequate even.

And then I looked around me, and my eyes filled up with the building, sky, plaza… and I realised what a joy it was to see everything and not be mentally cropping and framing and focussing.  After that, as my travels continued I actually chose not to photograph things, but simply to look at them.  The only exception was a moment of idleness when I was waiting for an event to begin and took a photo of a painted ceiling, as an aide-memoire for the colour combination (a deep purple red and a vivid turquoise), for my design files.

As I flew home, for the first time entering Portugal from the east, I recognised the Douro valley beneath us.  I am reasonably certain I recognised the configuration of the river and the “cabeça” headland near Quinta do Vesuvio, but we dropped lower as we continued west and I was really thrilled to recognise the sequence of Symington quintas coming into Pinhão: Tua, Malvedos, Vila Velha and Roriz, as well as Bomfim.  Then the valley of Pinhão and finally the folds of the Marão, the north-south range of mountains that defines the western boundary of the wine making region, in a thin haze or fog, so all I saw were mountain silhouettes in varying shades of blue in the thin layered whiteness.

Best of all, with no camera, I retain these images in my mind’s eye and I can summon them up at any moment, in any place, whether or not my laptop is handy.

So, I am sorry I cannot share these images with you, but … I am grateful for the reminder of the value of just plain looking and living in the moment, and not always thinking in terms of what I might publish.  I needed that.

10 thoughts on “Look! No Photos!

  1. I’m so with you. Sometimes you miss the moment because you’re so busy preserving it for the future. I’d rather rely on my memory, embellishments and all, and just enjoy the present.

    I got back from England a couple of weeks ago. Had an awesome time. I’ll be posting soon about it.

    • Hi Margaret! Look forward to reading your perspective on England. I have a stack of stories, and photos, to catch up on in the next week or so, England among them. Scribble, scribble, scribble, eh Gibbon?

  2. One of my pet hates is the way others take a photo and then want to show it to you instantly. I’ve just about broken that habit with the kids…or at least them showing it to me!!


    • Hi Dave! I’m chuckling, but ruefully. The danger of the digital age – we live to record, not to live. Shudder. This experience definitely pulled me up short. Good on you for keeping the kids grounded!

      • …something else we’ve noticed and have started to battle against is that everyone takes a lot of snaps but nobody takes THE photo. Going through old albums after my grandma’s funeral there we all are in groups on the sofa, but the first time five grandchildren in the same room for perhaps ten years and we never sat down for The Group. Out and about now we try and get the story of the day in one shot – the people, the location, something to explain the event – something worth printing and mounting in an album rather than leaving in a computer directory with the other 875.

    • Good point, planning for specific shots. On a quick check I have 20,000 photos on my hard drive right now, since I began blogging and photographing in earnest. So the other point is – edit those photos ASAP, dont leave them to back log like this! I have a major job ahead of me, I cannot not do, to discard duplicates and useless shots, and tag the remaining ones so I can locate them when I need to. Heavy sigh…

      • I read a great book once called “How technology bites back” or something – here’s another great case of how it ends up taking more time and trouble. The way the kids cameras chew through AA batteries I’m not all that convinced digital is any cheaper… At least mine takes a rechargeable pack. David

  3. “So, I am sorry I cannot share these images with you, but … I am grateful for the reminder of the value of just plain looking and living in the moment, and not always thinking in terms of what I might publish. I needed that.”

    Dear Cynthia,
    I believe we all need that. :)

    • Hi Timethief, thanks for stopping in! Yes… that and a deep breath and a few moments of stillness. I have been trying some of your one minute meditation techniques. So far I only seem to manage 10 to 15 seconds before my concentration fractures, it seems, but I live and hope and persevere … take care!

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