A fortnight ago, after putting it off for a decade, I finally underwent surgery to sort out a hernia. I’m pleased to report everything seems to have gone remarkably smoothly, and I’ve experienced very little pain. Thank you, NHS!
I’m under instructions to take plenty of gentle exercise, and not to lift anything heavy for six weeks. So, I’ve been walking around the local lanes most days. Usually, when I take a walk, I lug around my bulky camera bag. But that’s not an option at the moment. I’ve been forced to go camera-less. (Well, camera-less apart from my mobile phone.)
I have to say, the experience has been a revelation. I’ve always found the constant burden of a camera bag something of a nuisance, but I love taking photographs, so along comes the gear. Being forced to leave my camera at home, and to walk a bit more slowly than normal, has been an incredibly enjoyable experience. When I see something that piques my interest, I simply stop and have a good look, without the option/compulsion to record the experience for posterity. It’s weird: this must be how non-photographers experience stuff all the time. I’m kind of envious.
After my enforced photographic break, I’ll be tempted to go camera-less more often. But I suspect I’ll resist the temptation. You never know what you might bump into on a walk. Not having a proper camera to hand seems an unnecessary risk to me. I mean, what if I were to come across something unusual like—oh, I don’t know—a fantastic wasps’ nest, and I only had my crappy phone-camera with me?
Well, this, actually:
Dammit! It’s no good: I’m going to have to go back with my telephoto lens soon!
Stupid hernia operations!
Postscript: I did indeed go back:
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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