The truth is… you just can't totally quantify or capture moments with photography, video or even sound.Century old smells of stone inside a cathedral; vibes of the people at the back of a buzzing Italian restaurant; feelings of fullness and freedom from going where the wind blows in a limitless direction… they can only be experienced in the individual's heart, soul and "mind's eye" alone.Even writing, as I'm endeavoring to do with my limited skill level, won't be sufficient.Nevertheless, it would be far worse to depend on memory alone in holding fast to this adventure.
Yesterday started early with Scottish breakfast of eggs, beans, potatoes and brown pudding.Pudding in America is not the same pudding in the UK.It is indeed brown, but a far cry from a tasty sweet treat.Shaped like a hockey puck, it was salty and savory.I had three bites.Total.The rest of it I mashed together and ate as one as I sat in the quaint dining room of the Onslow Guest House.Sitting in the middle of a neighborhood, the house is quiet and homey.My room, no bigger than a large walk-in closet, was sufficient for my needs.I had my own sink, but the shared washroom was down the stairs and around the corner.However difficult it was to turn 360 degrees around, I felt safe and comfortable.Compared with the heat of the Middle East, the weather outside was quite chilly.But knowing I'd be camping out in the elements a few days from now, I slept with the window open to let the cool air in.Various birds outside my window serenaded me as I curled up tightly under a down comforter on a twin bed no more than a foot off the ground.This was home enough.Sitting well above the equator, the sun doesn't set until after 9pm in the summer.There are heavy curtains to pull over the windows, but light still spills in, tricking the body into thinking it's earlier than it is.But having just spent the whole day traveling, I had no problem falling asleep.I set my alarm early so I could get a good start on the early sunlight of the morning for my photography.When the alarm went off, it was still dark outside.I didn't think much of it, not knowing the movements of the sun in this region, but still feeling oddly exhausted.I tried to force myself up but it just wasn't coming together.I had gone to sleep a little after 9 and had set my alarm for 5:30am.Had it not been plenty enough sleep.My eye caught the little battery clock on the nightstand.Rubbing my eyes, I looked closer.It was 2:30am.I had forgotten to reset my phone's clock.After resetting my clock and alarm, I rolled over and snuggled back in.
Walking around the Necropolis Cemetery just above the Glasgow Cathedral, I had forgotten what it felt like to be married to camera gear all day.You start out with gear placed in one spot, only to change and move it around as you go along.At least this time I didn't have to juggle camera gear with a couple of weapons at the same time.Nonetheless, it's taking some "getting used to" again.A good thing about having lots of gear is the choices.A bad thing about having lots of gear is the choices.Just because it's strapped to you, doesn't mean it's a right fit for every shot.There's a fine line between a tourist photographer and an art photographer - both video and still.Tourists wallpaper the scene by taking pictures of everything.Artists make deliberate choices about when to capture and what tools to use.I still find myself teetering between the two.I'm have to ask myself before I take a shot, "Is this a 'happy snap' or am I trying to take a picture of a certain composition worthy of framing?"There is a difference.Some shots are for memory's sake; some are to tell a story; and some are to capture something in a way that the eye doesn't normally see.These are the choices I face looking all around me.And to compound that, I am now experimenting with cross-platform capturing.In other words, my camera shoots both still and video.Sometimes an 'image' is best served as video rather than a still, and vice versa.The trick is to know which is the better option when seeing something worthy of capturing.So why do I even write about all of this?Because although I would much rather share this experience with another human being… I don't think I'd be much of a companion because all I'd be thinking about is the proper way to take a shot rather than giving any attention to the other individual.That being said… back to my diatribe.
An interesting thing about photography is that at the moment the frame is captured, that is the only moment of that scene that the photographer doesn't see.Think about it.With a single reflex camera, the shutter lifts up to allow light in, blocking the view through the viewfinder.So the photographer acts on faith that what they are hoping will be captured - is captured.But as skill and technical knowledge increase, that hope becomes more of an expectant faith rather than wishful thinking.Let me take it a step further.The world scoffs at faith as if it's simply that: wishful thinking.But by gaining experience through the exercising of faith, hope becomes more decisive.A calm assurance sense of confidence sets in.However, hope and faith are different from expectation.Not all things work out the way we may expect them to, but all things do work themselves out.Things will happen as they happen, and sometimes the variation proves to be the better option than the former expectation.It's the principle of the "happy accident."The same applies back to photography.Proper planning and knowledge can almost guarantee a desired result, but one can't always plan on or predict that unexpected variable that makes the shot better than intended.For example: a bird flying in low, gliding across the wave break as your trying to take a picture of the sunset on a beach.Or a bee buzzing into the frame and landing on the flower you are trying to compose.Or you bump up the shadows in post editing and details reveal themselves where you didn't see them before.Happy accidents in photography… Happy accidents in life.For example:I got lost on my walk back from the cathedral.Was a bit worried… no phone… no map… only a slight sense of direction.Heading in a 'sort of' direction, I turned down a street and walked right into a cheeky art café!Sitting down for some lentils, a hummus sandwich and a raspberry elderflower juice, I was in eclectic heaven.Called "Sejuiced Café," there was an art exhibit on display.Who knew a wrong turn could end up a right turn.Even more surprising, I did find my winding way back to the guesthouse.Example number two: who knew the Italian Restaurant would serve haggis and chips out of its back end deli?Got the haggis box checked off now.Who knew?Happy accidents.
Bus Ride to Fort Williams.
Driving by Loch Lomond, hills roll along and a huge rocky mound juts up in the middle of a neighborhood.It is lush and green; a richness reminiscent of Hawaii, minus the palm trees and surging surf.It is quite different from the scenery I've been used to driving down Jalalabad road in Afghanistan.It is raining.There is no dusty horizon and I suspect there never has been or will be.Traveling by bus is truly authentic.The route runs through neighborhoods, butting up tightly with other cars in traffic.Live is real.Life is simple.It goes on just the same as the day before.The sheep graze as the traffic inches along.In the middle of sprawling suburbia stands an old-world cathedral, looking over a high school football field as the damp sky mists water through the air. Loch Lomond is barely visible behind the mist resting upon it.A bicycle rider dressed in a rain parka rides by. The water is still… The hills on the opposite coast are shrouded… the cows are laying low... It's a sleepy morning worthy of a cozy fire and someone to curl up next to.Reminds me of the song, "Into the Mystic," by Van Morrison:
We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic
And when that fog horn blows I will be coming home
And when the fog horn blows I want to hear it
I don't have to fear it
And I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And magnificently we will flow into the mystic
The mountains are huge mounds that sweep up from the lowlands, barren of trees but covered in grass and moss. Towards the base are patches of pine groves, but mostly the green hills roll along. The clouds dust across the tops, lifting up like smoke rising from a steam engine.Ironic how the clouds seem to be moving up, but the rain still falls lightly, yet steadily down.We just picked up a new crowd.The people who sat in front of me smell wet… like a wet dog.Will I smell like that in about a week?I'll be in good company with the others smelling the same,I guess.They speak German… I think.Sounds like it.I can't say that's my favorite language and accent to listen to.Don't know why.Just isn't.Sounds sloshy and full of tongue.
The lowlands are boggy with pockets of still water and marsh dispersed throughout.Imagining what it would've look like earlier this morning covered in low clouds and fog… The whole scenery reminds of the movie, The Never Ending Story.I just want to open the window and yell, "Atreyu!!!"I'm growing very grateful that I didn't leave my neoprene socks and gaiters back in my room.But now I'm thinking I shouldn't have taken out that second packet of combat wet-wipe towels… the large ones meant for large areas and heavy cleaning.Guess I'll have to take a dip in the water to get clean… looks cold, though.Very cold… but not too cold for the deer feeding alongside the road.They have no fear.Hikers are walking right up maybe a hundred feet from them… taking pictures.Passing by, they just look up and stair at the bus - like it's no big deal.Except for the massive size of Glencoe, nothing around here is really a big deal.It's beautifully simple that way.There doesn't need to be noise and fanfare.The sheer size of the mountains around me are enough to awe.My heart swells at their majesty.Truly God's strength manifested through this creation art of His.
We are high enough now that the clouds sit lower and closer, heavy with condensation.I try to compare it in my mind to the mountains of America's West… but there is truly no comparison.These are breath-taking.The mountains of the Midwest seem like violent and jagged creations of tectonic shifting.These are solid and settled commitments of land, tops and edges worn by centuries and centuries of weathering.Waterfalls trickle down while hikers travel along the streams running below.Century old rock formations rest in their original setting places… echoes of the roamers long before.Outlines of homes, farms and boundaries.The valleys are vast.The land is teaming with richness, and no other world exists outside of here.
What surprises me is how well-kept the houses are - for the most part - each and every one of them.But I guess, knowing how long they've been here, the Scots have an engrained sense of ownership and pride in their homes and towns, making do with what they have and restoring the rest.I wonder how they get along this far away from big cities and fast living.I envy their ability to do so.I long for more simplicity in life, but am not confident I could fully grasp life as simply "just living."A much different reality than I'm used to.Maybe one that could change with maturity and time.
For the next week I will be riding along in a canoe with the tide of the loch. Albeit I won't be alone (going with a tour group), I will have no technology. Will I be able to handle it?? We shall see...