Photoless Photowalks

Updated: May 10, 2021

It was the Good Friday long weekend this week and I had plans to do everything that’s relaxing and soul pleasing and that did include long nature walks with my camera. I walked along the lakeshore, I walked along the nearby trail - Don Valley trail and today I went to one of the city’s coveted green spaces - The High Park. I thoroughly enjoyed each of my walks and they did me a lot of goodness for I always returned in good spirits, healed nerves and not to forget an appetite for something sumptuous. One thing that didn’t come out of these walks was any photograph to share.

The first two days of the long weekend were rather cold and gloomy. But despite the discouraging weather, on Friday evening I decided to visit the waterfront of Lake Ontario. The city has done a great job of providing us boulevards, parks and artificial beaches along the lakeshore. I decided not to take my camera on this day and just walk without expecting as much as a random shot taken on my iPhone. I walked as far as I could till my legs begged to get back home. I didn’t regret not carrying my camera with me on this day. I had to awaken myself before I could awaken my creative side and that’s what I did. I connect to my inner self better when I am close to the water with the caressing breeze and soothing sound of water. The distance I built with myself over the week was certainly fading off. I was happy.

The next day I felt inspired to take another long walk but I had no intention of carrying my camera this time either. The camera-less walk of the previous day liberating. But that doesn’t mean I had no intention of capturing any great pictures. I decided to use my phone. I didn’t have to create a high-resolution picture that I can enter into the photo contests but just create pictures for myself. Most of the time that’s what we need to do right? Just create something for the sake of self-satisfaction. I went on my two-hour-long walk on the Don Valley trail. It’s a nature trail that’s less than 20 min walk away from my place and runs along the Don River. The river may look like a mere stream and doesn’t really add to the feel of walking by water but the whole trail runs through some interesting stretches - Old abandoned bridges, railway tracks, underneath the huge Prince Edward Viaduct, interesting sculpture work strewn on your way and a small stretch of rapids. In summer and fall, the trail becomes even more enjoyable. There was a lot to photograph and share here, but I didn’t take a single picture. I just observed. I enjoyed the mental image of things I was coming across. I was composing and framing the subjects in my mind and storing them in my secret vault. There was a special joy in running the creative engine without facilitating any possibility of sharing the product of this creativity with the rest of the world. I must have captured a dozen good pictures on this walk that were creatively satisfying. One day I will try to attempt to make the same pictures with my camera. I am sure it’s not going to be easy- after all, imagination provides the kind of settings and ease that a camera may not be able to provide.

It was 12 degrees outside this afternoon and gloriously sunny. I planned a visit to The High Park with a friend. We both love photography and enjoy going out on photo walks together. Today I decided to carry my camera and all my lenses with me. It’s a rarity that I go about with more than one lens. I was in the best of spirits and wanted to be experimental. I packed my bag, got ready, met my friend at the subway and we talked all the way to the park. It wasn’t even five minutes that we were into the park that I could see the image that I could be making. I pulled my camera out only to realize I didn’t load my memory card. Urgh! What use of a camera and lens worth thousands of dollars when I forget a mere hundred-dollar memory card. I was disappointed but the place was too peaceful not to enjoy. Camera or no camera I wanted to enjoy the day with my friend. We carried on and walked along the park trails and the lake for two hours. On the way, my friend took pictures and I observed the birds, the barren trees, weeds and the specks of spring-blooming here and there. Observing and making mental images felt satisfying yet again and I am encouraged to revisit the place (making sure I carry my memory card and battery) to make real pictures one day.

The weekend has come to an end with three walks and no photo work to show. But for the sake of this blog, I did force myself to take one picture with my iPhone. Here it is. It's not great but I like it for it inspires me and literally made me look up :)

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