Because it Takes a Photograph to Know

Carefully I try to balance myself on the overturned tree stump. It’s solid enough, though my feet are on two different levels, and my body angle is not facing the direction I want. I raise the camera phone up and turn slowly, aligning level horizon, the preferred dirt lane angle and the heavy cloud formation. It doesn’t feel right, and I am teetering a little.

I need this height to get the right aspect for the image I have in my mind. It takes mental focus to disregard my near imbalance. I check the first take. Not quite there. Two more images. It’s all I need. Suddenly my left leg is on fire – pain everywhere below the knee. I scramble down and do a merry dance, stomping my feet hard and fast, crying choice words to the sky. 

A final few savage hand slaps to my lower leg and the pain source has been eliminated. Who knew that a black stump would house a colony of black ants in a wet ricefield landscape? Ultimately it’s a small inconvenience to have captured the image I visualised. My venturing along small village roads in the hope of photographing rice harvesting in progress was not successful, yet rewarded me another way. I have many back stories to accompany my images. 

Very few of them have ever been a simple matter of point and shoot. Years of failed images have honed my skills of visualisation and speed of capture. Yet the daring attempts remain the same. Climbing trees, balancing on fence posts, leaning out over a cliff edge – these are part of my standout photographic achievements. I see now the less adventurous use drones. 

What’s with that? Seems almost anyone can do that. My closest was flying in a small plane over the Purnululu National Park in Western Australia. The side door was off so I could photograph for the aviation company, and the small lap belt was all that secured me from disappearing out of the plane. I remember my leg muscles were flapping with the wind forces. 

Oh, and the dawn helicopter flight where we put down quickly in a meadow between solid trees when it suddenly lost power…

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