Wanderlust, Photography, and Learning

A friend of mine, also a supreme believer in wanderlust and very excellent Instagrammer and photographer, was asked these three questions for a profile shout out on Instagram. She has asked me to answer them as well. So, Kim, here you are. And if any of you are on Instagram, I recommend adding ktr239. Her travel photos are excellent.

  1. When you take pictures, what are you looking for, and what do you look for when composing the shot?

I first started taking photos for completely selfish reasons – for myself to remind me of the awesome things I have been fortunate enough to see. But that has changed. Now I want to show people who might never get the chance to see these sights the things I have seen. We all learn through stories and communication. Photos are a great form of communication. Many people are visual. And most times, when showing a friend or colleague a photo, many questions arise about the photo – where was I, was it scary looking at a lion, would you go back?

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This girl is special. This is the first time a ranger/guide actually drove us to a specific location following the directions of other guides in the park to locate lions. And this was the closest I have been to a lion in the wild.

Normally I’ll just snap away. That is the beauty of digital. Then when I think I have enough photos that will suffice, I’ll try and look for a different way of setting up the photo. Maybe zoom in to one specific focal point rather than a wide-sweeping view. Maybe I’ll lie down for a different angle (where possible of course). As I’m still learning my camera and photography, many of my best photos have come from sheer accidents. And I can live with that. And animals can be every bit as expressive for the camera as people can. These two photos showcase that. This penguin watched me snapping photos and then decided it was his turn so started to alter the way he was standing. I know he did it on purpose. And if you cannot see a little smile on the face of this adorable steenbok then you are just a grumpy person who still thinks coal is a suitable Christmas gift!

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The Monastery is the second-most photographed spot in Petra. I thought the cats added something different to all the other photos I have of it.

I’m becoming more acutely aware of lines, of symmetry, of that one solitary object you take for granted but can be a great focal point for a photo. I’m also learning that photography rules are meant to be broken. Not everything needs to be centered. Sometimes out of focus works well. Again, here’s where the beauty of digital comes in. If you can tell that the photo didn’t turn out – delete it. The worry of only have 36 exposures on a roll of film are long gone. My problem has always been not visualizing a scene completely so I usually end up getting superfluous stuff in the photo. And while I like lines, I often tend to fidget when I shoot so my horizons are normally out of whack. But you can edit that later!

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This one required tweaking to the horizon before going on Instagram (and here). This is Stockholm, by the way.

I’m also still acutely aware that I am a complete amateur and any good photo I take includes a great deal of luck.

  1. What drives your wanderlust, and in what ways does photography contribute?

I’d be lying if I said I’ve always had an insatiable appetite for knowledge. There was a time that I despised the fact I might have a brain. “I’m an athlete, damnit. People should worship me for that!” While I never went so far as to say this out loud, my brain would scream it for me. But you know, things change.

Now I share the viewpoint that many people do – the day I stop learning is the day I die. Being called cute is great; being called intelligent is fantastic!! I’m glad everyone wants me on their quiz teams.

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Looking out towards Table Mountain and Cape Town from Robben Island, former prison home of Nelson Mandela. The tour is conducted by former inmates, and while informative, it struck me as very commercial.

I have had some memorable professors and teachers at school, and without wanting to disrespect them, I have learned more on my travels than I have from any text book. I have learned more about culture, society, people, humility, compassion, arrogance. And more importantly, I have learned more about myself. I actually quite like myself. My ability to forego what I see as “normal” back home and do the opposite when travelling completely baffles me. I’m stubborn. But I do it. I’m also more respectful than I ever thought I was.

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The majestic and eerie Wadi Rub in Jordan. I had never heard of the place before I moved to the Middle East. Now I’m upset I only spent a few hours absorbing the history this place has.

My wanderlust is fueled by a desire to keep to learning and a child-like curiosity I hope I never lose. As a writer, I also hope it fuels creativity inside me. Perhaps I’ll stumble across the next character for a book? Perhaps I’ll see something that triggers a story idea?

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One lonely tree, desolute and weary. Where would this story take you?

And where does photography fit in? Creativity. It also gives me a chance to inspire and educate. Even through mediums like Facebook and Instagram, I have had friends and strangers comment on photos and ask about them. Now I try and leave a little bit of trivia with each photo, making it easier for people to Google the location if they want in-depth information. And being visual myself, photography is the perfect way for me to summarize an experience. I will say that I don’t always take a photo. Sometimes you just want an experience for yourself. I’m still selfish that way.

  1. Where have you travelled so far, and where do you want to go in the future?

In short, I have seen a lot of Europe and most of the Middle East. I’ve been to most of the countries in southern Africa as well. I have a big void in Asia and all of Africa (pretty much) above the equator. I always said I wouldn’t go back to a country if I could see some place different; but that kind of gets thrown out the window when I talk about South Africa. I will be going there again in August, on yet another safari. I have not been to this part of the park or stayed at this lodge so it will be different. And every day in Kruger National Park is different anyway. I’ll also be going back to Cape Town, for my third time. But since it is firmly planted in my top 5 cities I don’t see this as a letdown either.

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My favourite kind of roadblock. I have experienced this many times in Kruger. And I hope to do so again.

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In the Drakensberg in South Africa. Four of us had climbed to a further peak during our 13 kilometer hike amongst the mountains. Only then could we get a view of the reservoir in the distance.

As for the future … wow, I am open. Sadly, it still costs money to travel. But I would really like to see tigers in India. You can keep the Taj Mahal, for me the real beauty is in the wildlife. I’m looking at that for early 2016. They say the “World is my Oyster”. Since I’m not allergic to shellfish I’m going to find out. Might take me a while. But I intend to keep learning until my very last breath. And if my below site is the one I have on my last breath, well, that would be amazing.

Cheers,

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10 thoughts on “Wanderlust, Photography, and Learning

  1. Great photos, Ger. The cats in Petra stand out to me… well, one of them did – I didn’t spot the one on the left until I read your caption!
    Enjoy your travels!

    • There were actually 3 cats up there but one of them was too busy trying to block the stairs up to where we took the photo from.

  2. Thanks for sharing your responses to those questions, Ger. I agree with you regarding travel photography being a great way to share experiences & knowledge gained. Hopefully also to inspire others to take the leap and embrace exploration. Travel is a great way to grow, to expand the mind, to learn. For me, it’s complete freedom & it fills my hunger for knowledge & discovery.
    Your photography is always interesting. You capture what I look for in wildlife … That is, an emotion. Something to connect me to the animal. I have the opposite problem with composing my shots though … I need that straight horizon & I always look at the full scene. Means I don’t take as many shots & probably miss out on some great ones. I need to learn to break the rules 😀

    • You take great photos. You also don’t have to sift through over a thousand like I do … your way might be better.

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