My poor machine.

My poor camera. So abused. I’ve carried the thing from the pitiless dry season of Nicaragua to the tangible humidity of the Amazon. I brought it to the snows of Amsterdam, then took it to the broiler of the Burmese summer. It’s spent a lot of time on the beach and snapped on top of Mount Pichincha above Quito, 15,696 feet above sea level.

I can’t really blame it for failing now and then.

Underexposure Santa Cruz1

It started about a year ago, when K went back to Belgium and I stayed on alone in Santa Cruz. My first attempt at a picture would come out nearly black, undecipherable and gloomy. It’s not a sensor problem, all the setting are correct, from F/stop to shutter speed and ISO, it’s some fundamental problem with the hardware. Every now and then it goes the other way and I’ll get a whitewash of overexposure, glaring white that sears the retina and completely obscures the message just as effectively as the darkest shadows.

The problem followed me the breadth of Turkey and the length of Sri Lanka, popped up while trekking in Myanmar and on the beach in Malaysia. Not a big deal, it wasn’t debilitating, and I still witnessed and paid homage to so much beauty in this world.

But I know I’ve missed some things, the underlying image I was looking for hidden by the malfunction.


There was the time in Turkey, when the sound of hooves approached through the ancient and crumbling streets of Mardin, and I had my camera pressed to my eye as an enormous man on a brilliantly colored donkey came around the corner. My shutter snapped, only barely faster than his hand coming up to shake a fist at me. The sound of the camera was drowned out by his cursing me in Kurdish, the message clear though the vocabulary was not.

The picture I took? A whitewash of confused lines, no subject, just a painful overexposure.

I guess it’s no surprise that an instrument so poorly mistreated would fail to deliver a clear picture now and then. I forgive it. And if another instrument through which I perceive the world sometimes generates a darkened, opaque image, should I again be so forgiving? I think so.

Time to start a dream journal, and see if I can edit out some of the darkness. There might be a path in there somewhere…

beach footprints side by side