Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Heading Home

Feet throb, knees burn. I am past the point of exhaustion and keep moving for fear that if I don't I won't be able to start again. Up at 5 a.m. Eastern time for my flight. All is well until the Captain announces that the plane will be in a holding pattern over Eau Claire, Wisconsin for 40 minutes. Missed connection. The gate agent asks me not to shoot the messenger when she tells me I have been rebooked onto a flight departing at 9:30 p.m.: ten hours later!

The Mall of America beckons; a short LRT ride away. Developed by the Ghremezian brothers of West Edmonton Mall fame, it boasts 500 shops and an amusement park. The cheesy souvenirs purchased for those at home can now be augmented with real shirts. The temptation of the multiple shoe stores and the drop dead gorgeous boots is almost more than I can bear. Five hours at the mall is better than five hours in an airport, without a doubt. But this was to be a day of rest and recovery.

Last night, after playing with flash photography in an old Salem, Ma. graveyard, I had already hit the wall. I was done, exhausted, unable to conceive of another day hiking or shooting or, frankly, shopping!
My feet ached, my knees burned, I was exhausted. Home and rest were calling me.

It was the end of the 5th Dgrin shootout, and the total, utter exhaustion was a familiar and welcome feeling. This, my third shootout, was just like the others. Up at 5 a.m. to shoot sunrise and scenes lit with morning light, a mid morning brunch followed by critiques or shooting or both, followed by sunset and then a hearty meal in the company of good friends, old and new.

The shootout started slowly for me, photographically speaking. Landscape shooting is a challenge for me – to go beyond good exposure, proper focus and a pleasing composition and sort out the correct set of tools to use to create a stunning photograph requires effort, and I am rarely successful. The shots from the first few days leave much to be desired and from the last several days have yet to be seen. Finding a subject in Acadia was difficult – how do you shoot sunrise over the ocean? What is your subject when the horizon stretches forever? And how do you shoot fog? No matter. I have spent the last seven days in the company of great old friends, great new friends and great talented photographers, chasing light and searching for wildlife, without anyone pushing to hurry to the next location, or wondering why I would 'stop there?' All share a common passion for photography and the camaraderie that comes of this is remarkable.

Before I board the flight home, I am still left to wonder why the canned message for the moving sidewalks in Minneapolis were made with a British accent.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Off to the DGrin Acadia Shootout

It is the kind of sleep that muist happen regularly, but that you don't recognize. It is so deep and so satisfying . You only know when you are having a sleep like that when it is rudely, harshly interrupted. Raging Black Sabbath jolts you out of it, ends it and you feel robbed. Not even the slow realization that it signals the beginning of the Dgrin shootout is enough to force your body from the Nirvana of your bed. Five minutes later, The Rolling Stones are only slightly more successful.

Six a.m. And 8C. Fifty pounds of luggage in the duffle, and what feels like another 50 in the camera bag. Ridiculously long line ups at the airport. People seemingly moving their whole belongings to another place on the globe. And it must have been a good week for the local outfitters, as camouflage is everywhere. Twelve dollars for microwaved porridge and coffee.

The announced 55 minute gate delay does not happen, and we arrive in Minneapolis on time. Turning the cell phone on reveals a message from my wireless provider: Welcome to the U.S.A. A fee of …..applies to all phone calls and texts. Phoning the toll free number to update my plan reveals no easy way to get both! And a recommendation to block the internet access of the iPhone! My Canadian debit card does not work at any of the vendors here at the airport, and the ATM is out of cash. The connecting flight to Boston is delayed – no information on how long or why.

And despite the above, and the grey, grim skies in Minneapolis, I can only feel good about what lies ahead this next week.