I have been fond of the Amazon region for a long time. Marcia and I first visited Peru and rafted on a short section of the Urubamba River in 2001. It is a partially navigable feeder river of the Amazon. When we were there the Shining Path was somewhat active and there were armed guards on the streets around our hotel in Lima and at the restaurants we ate in. Our tour director pointed out the head of the Shining Path when he walked down the street in front of the restaurant … same person described by Darcy in her book. He was staring right at me on the other side of the window as he walked by.
In 2003 we traveled into the Amazon jungle region in Ecuador. We spent time traveling the narrow channels within the jungle in a wooden dugout canoe. We were in the area, not terribly far from where Darcy had owned a kayak tour business further upstream along the whitewater region of the river. Our tour was downriver in the flat brown water area. The company we traveled with stopped taking tours there later due to the drug trade, etc.
In 2006 we returned to Peru and cruised on the Amazon River upstream of Iquitos. Hmmm, when I looked into the boat pilots station I noticed a rifle leaning against the wall in the corner. I assumed it was for wildlife. Heat, humidity, bugs and all, it is still a trip that I would like to repeat with a better waterproof camera this time.
Even before traveling in the Amazon region, I liked to read about it, and I still rarely pass up a good book about what others found and did while traveling there. The book Amazon Woman is one of the better ones and if you are interested I encourage you to read it. She kayaked it from source to mouth after we had been on the river, and I was surprised at the state of life along the river, even in the areas we had visited. When she traveled the river in 2013, it was still just as rustic, dangerous, and difficult than when we were there, but then again, we were only in the safer regions.
I had other thoughts as I read this book. Long distance hikes, like along the Appalachian Trail, are very different from her 4000 mile kayak trip down the Amazon. Hikes along the Appalachian Trail are very social where you have many interactions with fellow hikers along the way. Kayaking down the Amazon is a very lonely trip, even with two fellow travelers. Her Amazon trip comes closer to being similar to quarantine for the same length of time. Her loneliness and thoughts are more like some of us have been having as we stayed isolated for the last 10 plus months.
Lately I have been reviewing my older images to see what I liked best and thinking about how to increase my opportunities for making more such images. The above is one of my favorite images. I made it back in 2001 using an inexpensive small pocket Olympus film camera in Peru. I lost the negatives a long time ago and all I have left are small scans of the 4×6 drug store prints that I had printed after the trip. What makes the picture so great isn’t the camera or processing. It was my being able to grab a quick shot of an unstaged composition in which everything came together perfectly to make an excellent establishing shot. The row of buildings you see in the distance is the entrance to Machu Picchu in Peru and then the walk across the terrace to arrive at the ruins.
As the years have gone by I have switched to better and better cameras (lots of them) with increasing complexity, size, and cost without really increasing the number of pictures that I am most proud of. No doubt, my later images have been more technically perfect, but what good is that if I don’t make images that I prefer and have fun making.
In the last many months I have been working on returning to the use of smaller cameras and lenses in order to lighten the load. That has meant dropping from Fujifilm gear back down to Olympus micro 4/3 cameras for my Homewood images. I am also using my reduced, in number, set of micro 4/3 cameras and lenses for my personal imagery, but I wanted to go even smaller, lighter, and simpler with my walkabout gear. To accomplish that downsizing I have gone back to a small rugged waterproof pocket camera. I purchased an Olympus TG-6 camera to replace the Ricoh WG-60 and the Canon G5X Mark II cameras. I hope to move out more often and further with the TG-6 even though I won’t be traveling internationally; i.e., I have traded gear for mobility and hopefully more opportunities.
Some will interpret my changes in gear as sacrificing gear for opportunities, but I’m not so sure about the sacrificing bit. In my opinion I have found that the Olympus TG series of cameras are quite flexible and capable so I see this as just another challenge to see what I can make with the TG-6 in the future.
My next step is to wait on warmer weather and then go back out walking around home and see what I can find to photograph; but, I really am missing buying and trying different types of cameras. I got into the habit of buying new cameras and lenses for each international trip I took. My love of travel morphed into an obsession with photography gear.
We took a river cruise on the Amazon River 13 years ago. Looking at the pictures recently, it occurred to me that I am still wearing the same Tilley hat. I took a picture of it hanging on my door recently.
When we were on the river in the heat and humidity, the camera I used was a small Sony DSC-W7, 7.2MP digital camera that used AA batteries and only had 3x zoom. I had to take great pains to keep it from fogging up due to the differences in the temperature and humidity between our cabin and the outside and the rain, that happened frequently. If I were to repeat that trip now, which I would like to do, I would just take and use my Olympus TG-5 camera, the one I used to take the recent picture of the same hat I wore on the river. Yes, I would take the TG-5 rather than one of my two WR Fujifilm cameras and longer WR zoom lens. The small size of the TG-5 would be worth it when getting in and out of small boats every day, especially since it is waterproof, not just weather resistant.
Nazca Lines of Homewood at Plum Creek. I made this image from a picture of our driveway. The lines were made by snow plows last winter.
It was more fun to photograph the Nazca Lines from the air when we were in Peru in 2006.
I just read some more about the Nazca Lines in Peru in Wikipedia. They have found even more of them since we were there, but they still aren’t sure of why they were made.
I don’t think I posted my aerial pictures of the Nazca Lines so I might reprocess the pictures using the latest version of LR CC and post some of them.
I enjoyed this book. It reminded me of my two trips into the Amazon. This book is a memoir about a young couple who were traveling in South America in the 1970s. I’d like to go back, but I would need a fellow traveler who likes heat, humidity, and insects. I would like to take a better camera the next time; but, I was amazed by the pictures Holly took with a film camera. You would also be amazed that the pictures and camera survived the trip after their plane crashed and they went down the river on a balsa raft.
I took some pictures in 2001 in Peru with a small film camera. I have since lost the negatives and prints and digital files that were made from scans. All that I have left are the images in my blog and they are only 800 pixels in the longest dimension.
I have been continuing to see what I could do with them and have made a couple of color prints that are now on my wall; but I continue to see if I can make them better. This morning I tried B&W and I think I like these better.
You have to consider that they were originally 35mm film negatives that were printed and then scanned and then downsized to put in my blog and then extracted from Word Press.com and then converted to B&W and then upsized to 8×10 at 300 pixels per inch and then reduced again for use in my blog as you see them above. Ridiculous isn’t it, but since it is unlikely that I will ever go back to get better images, this is the best that I have been able to do so far. I may go back and rework the whole set of them since I think this style of B&W fits the old architecture.
“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha