To B or not to B

My next trip is a photography workshop held by the talented Keith Skelton. I met Keith at his Los Angeles street photography workshop in February 2011. Over the years, I have wanted to take Keith’s other workshops held around California: the Salton Sea, Death Valley, Alabama Hills but my work schedule conflicted with the dates…that is, until now. In a few days, I’ll be attending the Eastern Sierra (Bodie and Mono Lake) workshop during the Summer Solstice.

Since the first street photography workshop, I kept in touch with Keith through Facebook. Because I follow his posts, I learned about the Fujifilm Finepix X100 as it first came out. This fine looking camera delivers excellent shots. The colors are vivid, skin tones glow, but it’s a completely different camera than my last one. My former camera was a Canon Rebel, which also delivered great photos and was easy to use. I took thousands of photos on the Rebel T1i. It was foolproof and I got crisp shots most of the time.

When I decided to sell the Rebel for the Finepix, I knew I would need to change how I take photos. But more importantly, how I view my surroundings. With the Finepix, I am deliberate and in the moment. Taking photos is a slower process and in some ways it straddles the spectrum of a film camera and digital. The camera has a fixed lens (no zoom), electronic viewfinder and works best in manual mode so I’ve had to learn about shutter speed, aperture and ISO. I spent sleepless nights reading the camera manual and photographer’s blogs.

So in a few days, with my Fujifilm Finepix around my neck, hiking boots on my feet, water in my backpack, I will test my ability to be in the moment and not think of anything else but the scenery. While I’m comfortable expressing myself through words, this upcoming experience will be different…it will be visual and tactile. 

I’m excited about the learning experience but right now, I have mixed feelings: I wonder if I should bring Butters and Bambi along on this trip. You may be thinking of course I should bring them but my dilemma is such: the focus of the workshop is on the scenery. We will be shooting from 5:30 am until sunset, which during Solstice will be past 8:00 pm. We will talk about photography, learn about photography and test the limits of our cameras.

If I bring Butters, I will be distracted with having to feed and exercise her. If I don’t bring Butters and just the Airstream Bambi, it would not be the same since Butters belongs with Bambi. 

I have a day or so to decide this. And I wonder if I should only bring my camera and myself to the edges of Mono Lake so I can be engulfed by the Eastern Sierras.

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