The friends who usually join me on the adventures I do in the mountains and wilderness areas here in the Pacific Northwest are typical, normal hikers...and by “normal” I mean that my friends are not photographers. Oh, they do carry cameras with them on hikes -- little, pocket-sized digital point-and-shoots -- and when we get to the summit of a mountain or a viewpoint overlooking an amazing river or canyon or whatever, my friends pull out their cameras, shoot a frame or two, and then sit down to eat the sandwich they brought along.
My friends do not carry extra lenses, filters, or a tripod, and sometimes I envy the lightness of their packs. My friends do not look at a scene and think, “Wow, this is nice...but it’d be better if I move over there so that tree is in my foreground,” and they certainly don’t think, “The sun will set in four hours and I need to stay here on this cold mountaintop till then and hope for really nice light at sunset. I have a headlamp in my pack. I’m pretty sure I can find my way back down the trail in the dark.”
On the trips we do, my friends joke that I am the Expedition Photographer, and they often show great tolerance of my artistic obsessiveness. They don’t seem to mind if, for a minute or two, the group has to stand around cooling its heels because Kurt has spotted magical light on a grove of aspen trees.
This week my buddy Neil (he’s kind of the unofficial social secretary of the group I hike with) joined me on a road trip over the still-snowy North Cascades Highway, and, further east, on a trek along the rim of a canyon in the warm and sunny Methow Valley. Though I sometimes do solo trips without friends along so I don’t have to worry about my photo agenda getting to be too big a pain for non-photographers, it is safer and more fun to travel and hike with good company.
At one point on our canyon hike, Neil and I paused and I shot a series of individual pictures of a wide landscape, knowing that I would piece them together later on the computer into a panorama. The clouds and the land looked amazing (click on the bottom picture to see it at a size that better does justice to the scene.) Neil got out his pocket camera and he too photographed the landscape.
“Nice Light!” my non-photographer friend said, and I cracked up because Neil’s words were exactly the kind of Photographer-Speak/Kurt-isms that I often use when I’m seeing photo possibilities in the mountains.
I figure it’ll only be a matter of time now before Neil too begins to pack along a couple of extra lenses and a tripod, at which point I'll hafta pull Neil aside from the non-photographers in our group and teach him more of the artsy-fartsy lingo.