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A Fisheye Has No Memory

October 06, 2012

Seychelles seen through fisheye lens

Your view of the world is distorted when always seen through a lens

There's a problem I've developed over the years and if my random browsing through the social networks of fellow wanderers can tell me anything, I'm not alone. I used to travel encumbered by equipment. A simple backpack stuffed with a rolled up beach towel, bottled water, a couple of protein bars, a book, and a journal. Sometimes a camera would be found at the bottom but all it did was collect sand in its crevices, coming out only if something especially shocking crossed my path and even then the images would sit idle on the device's internal memory, never making it to my laptop much less a social sharing network.

Those days of travel are very clear. I remember every intricate detail - the way one particular wave swelled, curled, then pitched as I sat on the dawn dimmed sand during a winter swell on Oahu's North Shore - the abstract swamp green hues of the shell of a honu that popped up every few minutes of an hour as if to make sure my kayaking expedition along a wind swept NaPali Coast went without a hitch - the yellowed eyes and jutting rib cage of half starved oxen blocking the burgandy Range Rover on a cobbled road to Milk River in Jamaica - the smile on a certain 2 year old's face when she saw Pacific Northwest snowfall for the first time. Barring old age senility those images will remain sharp in my mind and attached to an entire sensory experience for the rest of my life. Because I didn't have a camera with me.

But now, in my pocket I have the newest smartphone with a touch screen interface that looks more like Tetris - blocked full of colorful cubes indicating every photo and video editing app you can imagine. In my backpack is a Canon, a lens, a waterproof camera, a waterproof instant YouTube uploading video camera, SD cards, and batteries. I'm ready for anything and because of that fact I'll see nothing.

I don't refer to Murphy's Law of photography where the best photographic opportunities happen without a camera in sight. For an amateur I have to say I've captured some National Geographic worthy (not really) moments on digital. I have a knack for being in the right places at the right times. I'd have great cocktail party banter if I could actually recall half of it. Do they allow slide shows instead? The problem you see, is now that I'm locked and loaded with photo and video 24/7 I spend too much time seeing things through a fisheye and not my own. I'm obsessed with capturing every little thing that I deem to be interesting. I'm building and incomprehensible database of travel photos to account for any editorial project that may come my way. Even a plate of food presented to my table doesn't stand a chance. I have more photos of sashimi than any teenage Japanese girl on vacation in Waikiki - minus the two fingered peace signs. Then there's the personal curation - InstagramPostagram, Pinterest, Viddy. Now, when that perfect wave begins to build on the horizon, the honu pokes it head out towards my paddle, the wild animal challenges my path, or that 2 year old (now 5) sees something new, I'm busy fumbling to choose the right camera and adjust the settings to match the light. In doing so I've blocked my periphery from attaching the other senses of sound, scent, and touch to the moment. While I've collected galleries upon galleries of images that have made others exclaim that it made them feel like they were there, I confess I cannot say the same. And I was there.

In five days my bags will be packed for another island brimming with photo opps and on arrival my three month early New Year's resolution will kick in - every other day of the trip the equipment will stay at the hotel. I'm already uncomfortable with the notion that I'll likely miss a Haley's Comet passing over the Northern Lights during a blue moon moment but even if I do, I'll be able to say I truly experienced it with all of my senses in tact. I may not have any photos to share with you here or to enter into National Geographic's next photo essay, but I'll have  something that I can keep for myself, for old times sake. You should too.


Wish You Were Here - Marcus Maraih, Editor, YAHglobal.Com

post by : Editor - YAH Yaps

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