Total Eclipse of the Sun

I’m a little late to the game here, but after all of the frenzy around the solar eclipse, I needed to decompress a little bit before I thought about the experience again.

My newsroom was directly in the path of totality; located in the first state capital that would experience the eclipse, in the first state it would be visible in, in the first USA Today/Gannett newsroom that would get the chance to report on it. So it’s safe to say that it was a big deal for our paper. We spent months and months leading up to it discussing our plans, and the week-of was a frantic rush of activity.

I went to Central Oregon to cover the event, stationed in a small town called Madras. Or, at least, it was a small town… Until thousands of eclipse viewers descended on the fields outside of town and set up camp for a few days. Myself included.

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Much of what myself and reporter Capi Lynn covered were the happenings in the camp we stayed in. Solartown was set up on farm fields just north of Madras, and hosted about 5,000 campsites for the weekend. I spent most of Friday and Saturday wandering around camp, getting the lay of the land, practicing my shots for the big event.

We met people who had traveled from as far away as Netherlands and as close as Washington and California. There were a handful of Oregonians there, but many of the people in the Madras area seemed to be from out of state. I talked to amateur astronomers, eclipse fanatics who had already seen five total or partial eclipses, and families who turned the event into a road trip. Though my newsroom is in Salem, we knew that Madras – a NASA designated site for one of the best places to view the eclipse – was going to be a large gathering point. While we were obviously there to cover the eclipse itself, the almost-bigger story was all of the people who had come together to experience it.

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We had some fantastic sunsets and a great view of both Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood, so every evening I’d scale the RV and photograph the skydivers that descended each sunrise and sunset.

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We also met one of the locals – an alfalfa farmer named Dean, whose fields bordered the ones that had been rented out for the weekend. Dean had declined an offer to rent his land, hoping to avoid the insanity of eclipse weekend. Unfortunately for him, his neighbors took advantage of the situation and rented out their adjoining fields.

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Capi and I stopped by on Saturday evening to chat with Dean (and meet his adorable puppy!), and follow him out into the field as he changed some watering lines. Imagine our luck when we found out he’s originally from Salem. It was a great local tie-in for us. Dean was gracious with his time and even invited me back the next day to climb on top of his hay barn for an overview of the campsite, although this ended up not panning out…

Because the next day, Capi and I were called out to one of the weirdest things I’ve had the fortune to photograph. One of the largest events in Oregon for the eclipse was a festival out past Prineville; we’re still unsure of what the official name is but it’s been called everything from Oregon Eclipse 2017 to the Symbiosis Festival to just ‘that weird thing near Prineville.’

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On Sunday our newsroom decided to dispatch us to this event, and after an hour drive to Prineville, another ninety minute drive down some dirt roads, and about an hour and a half waiting to get approval to get in, we walked through crowds of festival-goers dressed in anything you could imagine. Including their birthday suits. I would have loved to stay longer than we did, but after all the red tape we had about 45 minutes on the ground before we had to turn back. It was a complete overload of visuals and sound, and I could hardly decide what to photograph as we walked through the dusty landscape.

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I’ve only got a few photos to show here, but if you’re interested in seeing what this festival really looked like, I highly recommend the work by my friend (and former mentor/colleague) Beth Nakamura for The Oregonian

All of a sudden it was Monday and the big day was here. Camp was quiet in the morning, but quiet in a hushed, excited way. People were making final adjustments to their telescopes and cameras. Some were already packing up camp and ready to hit the road the second totality was over.

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I set up my cameras on the roof of the RV – I’m going to get a little technical here but I know I’ve been asked many times how I photographed the event.

The biggest shot I needed to pull off was a composite image I’d been planning of the scene throughout the eclipse. Around 9 a.m., I set up my Nikon D810 with a 24-70mm, at 24mm, on the roof. I attached my solar filter and started the intervalometer to click every 10 minutes – this was capturing an almost completely black frame, with the sun’s orange disk being the only thing visible. During totality I would need to remove the solar filter to make an exposure for the foreground – crossing my fingers that people would decide to view the event from the roof of their RVs, I’d set up a vertical frame with the RVs in the bottom and enough room to show the progression of the sun through the sky.

I’d practiced this two or three times in the days prior to get the framing right and make sure I had room to capture the complete line of suns, but it was still nerve-wracking trying to decide if I really was in the right spot.

The exposures had to start just before 9 a.m. – with first contact of the sun and moon occurring at 9:06 a.m. – and run until about 11:41 – when the last contact on the exit path would occur. Though I wish I’d done shorter intervals to add more suns to the image, the end result is something I’m happy with. My hunch that people would be on their RV paid off, as you can see a number of families watching from their roofs. This is one image of the eclipse during totality (RVs, twilight sky, people watching, etc), with 16 tiny suns layered over the top (the orange disks from the exposures that were taken with the solar filter attached).

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During totality, as I made the above exposure, I also had a number of other cameras in play. I’d set up a GoPro timelapse, attached to the legs of the tripod holding the Nikon D810. I put a 360 Camera in the center of the roof in the hopes of catching both totality and the horizon behind me in the same video – watching the horizon change during totality had to be one of the most magical things about this event. I haven’t had time or resources to put this together yet, as our paper is still experimenting with 360, but I think it came out ok. I had a Canon 5D with a 70-200 to photograph the crowds around me as they watched the event, and a Canon 7D with a 400mm on a tripod to photograph a tight shot of the sun. And because I’m crazy, at the last minute I threw my iPhone onto a time-lapse mode to capture it as well. Because five cameras wasn’t enough already, you know?

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The eclipse passed in the blink of an eye for many, and I’m a little sad to report that it felt that way for me, too. Running all of those cameras and sweating trying to get my composite to work properly was incredibly stressful. I hardly had time to look at the total eclipse in the sky, as I was too busy jumping between each thing on the roof and making sure it was working.

You’ll notice that I don’t have a large image of the sun and moon during totality. This is partly because, as I mentioned above, the bigger story for us was the crowd that had come from all over the country (and the world) to watch. We also knew that hundreds of photographers would be capturing the typical eclipse image of a black frame with the sun’s corona shining around the disk of the moon. So knowing that I didn’t need to make this image a priority because we had other photographers shooting it, I left it until last on my shot list. And by the time I’d managed enough crowd shots to feel comfortable, and I’d worked on my composite image, I jumped back to the 400mm, removed the solar filter, put my face up to the eye piece and… the sun was beginning to peek around the side of the moon again and totality was over. In the blink of an eye.

But now, a few weeks later, when I think about what it was like? I’d use the same words as everyone else. Breathtaking. Once-in-a-lifetime. Unreal. Watching the sky suddenly go dark, seeing what looked like a 360 degree sunset, noticing the last light on Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood, hearing the crowds around me whooping and cheering… it was simply incredible. When the sun started to re-emerge just two short minutes later, I was so thrown off and sad that it was ‘daytime’ again. If you ever get the opportunity to see a total solar eclipse, I cannot recommend it enough. And put the camera down and enjoy it! I hope to get that opportunity for the next one.

Queen for a Day

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a project I was super jazzed about. But I had one earlier this month, and I figure these are good images to break the dry spell with.

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I spent a few days in late June and early July following the three young women on the St. Paul Rodeo Court. After meeting them at a function earlier in the week, we got to talking about their schedule on the first day of the rodeo. They planned to wake up at 2 am, get in full hair and makeup, get their horses ready, start TV interviews… and that was only until 10 am. They still had afternoon appearances and the opening night of the rodeo to ride in. I knew I wanted to be there in the early hours of the morning as they got ready, and, after asking me if I was serious, they happily agreed to let me join them early in the morning. So on Friday I got up at 3 am and drove to St. Paul.

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I spent much of the day with the court, their families, and members of the rodeo, and over the course of that nearly 20-hour day I learned a lot. Yes, about horses and rodeos, but also about family and community. St. Paul is a small town that hosts the nation’s largest Fourth of July rodeo, and it was a treat to get a glimpse of the hard work that everyone pours into the event. Including the court.

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The three young women – Melanie, Morgan and Britney – are smart and funny, hardworking and dedicated. Being on the court is more than looking pretty and waving. They needed exceptional horsemanship skills, a large knowledge base of rodeo history, and the ability to work a crowd and make conversation with everyone from the smallest fans to the oldest community members.

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Watching the camaraderie between the three – who met when they tried out for the court, and have now spent months together traveling across the state – was great fun. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention how welcoming their families and friends were; the court continuously told me they couldn’t have done the job without their family. I can see why.

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In short, I couldn’t have asked for a better group to work with. There are always things I wish I could improve on, always things I wish I’d done better. But I came away excited again about work and making images, and that is such an invaluable feeling.

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2016 in Review: A Year on Staff

So my 2016 review is being published a few days into 2017, but I’ve got a good reason (I think). Yesterday I completed one year as a full-time staffer at a daily newspaper. And even in the last day or two, I’ve shot two assignments that made it into this review – so I figure that’s a good justification for leaving it until a year to the day.

365 days. Mix in the weekends – when I still thought about this job, edited for this job, planned for this job – and I’ve been a staffer every day for a year. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating that there were many days when I thought I’d never get here.

On the way, I’ve made many friends. I’ve learned a number of things about photojournalism and myself and what it means to be a full-time employee. I’ve remembered why I’ve loved photojournalism since I was a sophomore in high school; I’ve remembered why it’s given me many headaches and sleepless nights.

Here are my moments from 2016. I hesitate to call it a best-of, because one thing I learned this year is that I’m not always the best self editor. I have a bad habit of picking photos for the moments they remind me of, for fleeting feelings that don’t always translate. I hesitate to “kill my darlings,” as they say. That’s a goal of mine for 2017: edit myself better, and reach out to my many resources for a more critical eye.

With that in mind, here are some of the things I saw in 2016. And here’s to another, better year.

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And a small shout out to one of the best things I ran into on assignment this year, Samantha the Bernese Mountain Dog. Her owners are also pretty great. And yes, a puppy really is one of the highlights of my year. Just look at her.
Photo by Michael Cary Arellano

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Catching up to U.S. Olympic track

I’m still behind on blog posts for the year and working to catch up. Some of the images are a little past their shelf life now – this set is from July, after all – but I wanted to share a few anyways.

Back in July I got a chance to go to the U.S. Olympic Team Track and Field Trials in Eugene, where the best track and field athletes from around the country came to compete for spots on the U.S. Olympic Team.

The athletes weren’t the only ones at the top of their game that week. I found myself sitting next to photographers for Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, the AP, The Register-Guard… you name it, they were probably there. And many have photographed track and field longer than I’ve been alive, or have been at Hayward Field so many times they know it like the back of their hand. I’ll admit that it’s intimidating to sit next to such talent and know it’s only the second time I’ve set foot in Hayward, and one of maybe a half-dozen times that I’ve photographed track in the last eight years.

Thankfully I had some room to experiment and try different angles, as the paper had been planning to run wire images for the duration of the trials. It took a bit of the pressure off me, knowing that if I failed it wasn’t the end of the world. I tried some angles that didn’t work out, shot some pan-blurs that didn’t go as planned, and made a whole lot of other images that won’t see the light of day. But you know what? I’m glad I tried some things out of my comfort zone. I’m even more glad I’ll have time to practice these things before the next big track event. So often I am afraid to take risks in case I miss the critical shot. But if I practice these things, they become less about a blind risk and instead become another tool I can use. So, here’s to trying. Sometimes you might come in last place, but the journey is (at the very least) half the fun.

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Throwback: Australia

It’s been a year to the day since I returned from my summer in Australia. As with many things, that feels both so recent and still so far away.

I was working for Rustic Pathways, who I also worked with in Southeast Asia two years ago. It’s hard to explain what exactly Rustic does, because there is so much wrapped up in it, but the short story is that it’s a travel company for high school students. They work with local communities to offer immersive, educational travel programs, many with service components. As a photographer for the company, I was responsible not only for taking photographs but also taking care of the students.

I always intended to post this last round of images from Australia when I returned to the U.S., but several things held me back. The same as when I left Asia, it was almost too hard to look at the photos again. I both missed my travels but was happy to be home; I was still processing everything I had learned but also figuring out what my next move would be.

Coming home after Rustic always left me a little lost. You spend all summer working with teenagers and co-workers who both inspire you and challenge you – and who you will probably never see again. You come home to people that don’t understand the experiences you’ve just been through, and there’s no way to put it into words.

So I let myself put off the final blog post I had planned in a series of three (parts one and two here). I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to show. And then it felt like it had been too long to post them. With the year anniversary of my return looming, I decided to look through the folder of images again.

What I found are the images I have replayed over and over in my head for the last year – a whirlwind final 9 days in which I traveled from the Great Barrier Reef to Uluru to Sydney with two co-workers I loved and a fantastic group of students. I haven’t forgotten the images I looked out for this blog. I just didn’t have the words to put to it.

What I was really grappling with was, that was probably the last summer I’ll travel with Rustic Pathways. I love the work, but it’s a challenging thing to drop your life every summer to go abroad and then come back basically unemployed again. It felt like going back to square one. I knew that it would probably be my last time when I went to Australia. I knew that when I returned. But I don’t think it really hit me until this summer. It’s the first I’ve spent stateside in three years, and I’ve seen all my co-workers, friends and students from previous summers back out there traveling. And it’s not like I’ve been “stuck” here. I’m living in a place I love, I have a great life here, I have a job in an industry I spent many years dreaming about. But the wanderlust still pulls me, as I think it does for every Rustic traveler. That’s why we keep going back. The promise of more places to discover, more people to meet, more connections to experience.

Safe travels to my friends out there. I know many of you are returning home this month, and I know it can be both a wonderful and difficult time. Here’s to the last days of my summer down under.

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This is one of the last photos I took in Australia. It’s not my favorite image by far, but it was a special moment for me. It’s self portrait taken only hours before I boarded a plane home. My friend and mentor Jose Lopez always encourages us to take self portraits – it was the first assignment he gave us at the New York Times Institute a few years ago. That was the first time I’d taken one, and this is only the second one since that assignment. But as I ran through this park in Sydney at 4 a.m. trying to catch the sunrise over the Harbor Bridge (the image above this one), I thought so much about all of the lessons Jose has taught me. And I thought, what the heck. Just one. You have a few minutes. So I set the camera down, ran to this spot, and gazed up, looking into the future and also at the last Australian night sky I would see.

Sweet light at the rodeo

It’s summertime in Oregon and we’ve had a very busy few months at the paper. Between various staff vacations, extra events and the nice weather, there’s a lot going on. One of my favorite recent assignments was the Santiam Canyon Stampede, a small rodeo east of Salem. It kicked off at 7 p.m. so I was hoping for great light – and it did not disappoint.

Planning to crank out quite a few blogs in the next few weeks, here’s to the first of many! And here’s to the rodeo, one of my favorite things to photograph.

 

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Settling in

If the first two months on the job were a little quiet, things definitely picked up in the spring.

It’s finally sinking in that I’m not an intern and I get to stay here. I’ve had long-term internships in the past, and I haven’t yet been at the Statesman as long as I worked at those places. I’ve had internships where I worked 60 hours a week and might as well have been a staff member, save for what was basically an unseen asterisk by my name. Molly J. Smith, Photographer*.

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I’d say there’s a certain weight that comes with that, but upon further thought I don’t think there is. As an intern I tried to work like a staffer, and as a staffer nothing is good enough for me. There is always room to shoot better. I was dissatisfied with a lot of work from March. I saved the few frames I liked to combine with April images for a longer post, but then I got to the end of that month and wanted to go back and re-shoot most of those, too. I guess that’s a good thing – better to feel this way than content, which I find can lead to laziness.

We’re heading into summer now, and it’ll be my first summer in three years working for a newspaper and not off traveling for Rustic Pathways. I’m missing the idea of being abroad, but I’m really looking forward to spending a summer as part of the community I live and work in. The people in this area were really good to me in March and April, and I continue to feel fortunate to be welcomed into their private moments.

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at the Titan Track Classic at West Salem High School on Friday, April 1, 2016.

Quick shout out here to Salem hip-hop artist Matty – I did a shoot with Matty for the release of his upcoming album, but after reviewing the images I thought I could do better. He was great to oblige me in coming back for a quick 15 minute re-shoot later in the week. I really wanted to experiment in the industrial space attached to the paper’s building (where they used to house the printing press), and Matty was a great sport about trying out a few locations around the warehouse. There’s a lot of interesting textures, including this wall splashed with castoff ink. This second round, with an assist from Michael holding some LED lights, looked much more dramatic and interesting.

Salem hip hop artist Matty will be releasing his new album on April 5.

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___ at the YMCA on Wednesday, April 27, 2016.

___ at the YMCA on Wednesday, April 27, 2016.

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Not all who wander

Not all who wander are lost.

But I was.

By many measures, 2015 was a great year for me. I moved to Portland, Ore., the city that I have non-stop talked about since 2013. I worked for Rustic Pathways again, this time traveling to Australia to photograph programs in the outback and along the coast. I went on a lot of beautiful hikes in my new home in Oregon and some great road trips around the Pacific Northwest, and had a lot of freedom to do what I wanted. I picked up a a few freelance assignments in Portland, and I spent a lot of time working for and learning from talented photographers I am lucky to call friends and mentors.

But for the first time in a long time, I also felt very lost. I wasn’t sure what direction I was going in, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do anymore. I’d become disenchanted with newspapers and journalism, but I’d dedicated my college career to that. I’d sacrificed relationships and my personal life for that. And then suddenly I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted anymore. It’s hard to point yourself in the right direction when you don’t even know what you’re working towards.

And then, in December, in the last weeks of the year, I found me again.

I applied for a job that I thought would be my last try at a newspaper. One last hurrah. And I went in expecting that once again I would be second place. 2015 was full of a lot of that. Close calls, but no dice. Looking back on it now, as cheesy as it is, all of those things happened just the way they should. The jobs I applied for hired people I know or have come to know, and they are great talents that are so deserving of the positions they’re in. And none of those spots were quite right for me, nor I for them. Until I found my place.

I’ve been at the Statesman Journal in Salem for two months now. I’ve been constantly impressed with my colleagues. I have realized just how much I missed that dry, dark newsroom humor. I’ve made new friends. I’ve been pushed to do better, shoot better, create better, and I’ve seen that there is still so much farther to go. I’ve been at assignments that I couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear at – like the funeral home sale that was so quirky and weird – and events that made me want to cry – like the memorial for a young, newlywed marine who was killed in a training exercise. I got a call one day from the parent of a local high school student, thanking me for photographing his son in action at a basketball game. I had a stranger hug me in a park because they were so excited to meet someone that worked for the local paper.

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This is my first full-time, official job. One where my title doesn’t contain the word intern – even though, lets be honest, my internships have often been 50+ hours a week jobs. Now I’m on staff, with my own desk and official business cards and a place on the staff list. It’s a strange feeling. Some days I can’t believe I’ve made it, but then when I sit and think about things, I realize this is exactly where I should be. There are not enough words in the world to thank the people that got me here, nor the people that now let me be a part of their lives every day.

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To close… A few weeks ago I met a girl, a University of Oregon journalism graduate, working in a Starbucks post-graduation while she looks for a journalism job. She told me about her dreams and her goals and her frustrations, and I knew exactly how she felt. I’d spent a good chunk of my first year in Portland waiting tables to pay my bills, all the while dreaming of bigger and better as I watched friends and colleagues move up the ranks in our industry. I thought I was done for, many times. So I surprised even myself with the words that came out of my mouth. “Don’t give up,” I said. “It will happen. Work hard, don’t lose sight, and it will happen.”

It happened to me. I’m here. And I hope I never stop being thankful for it.

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Five countries, 24 cities, 92 days

5 countries, 24 cities, 92 days.

28 flights, 13 buses, 6 boats, 3 overnight trains, 1 motorbike and an infinite number of taxis and tuk tuks.

I’ve boated down the Mekong River, traveled by bus through the Shan state of Burma, journeyed alone through Cambodia, hiked through Laotian jungles covered in leeches, climbed over thousand-year-old temples, cycled through ancient cities, fallen off an elephant in Laos, taken a night train from Hanoi to Sapa in Vietnam and then another from Chiang Mai to Bangkok in Thailand… the list goes on.

And now, after three long months, my Southeast Asia adventure is over. My time with Rustic Pathways ended about two weeks ago, and now that my solo travel through Cambodia is done, it’s time for me to return home. I’ve got a lot to figure out in terms of what I want going forward. What I am sure of is that this summer has been a life changing experience, and despite some of the challenges faced along the way, it was worth every second. A big thank you goes out to the people I’ve met along the way. It wouldn’t have been the same without you all.

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My flight back home also marks a year to the day since I left Portland, Oregon. It’s a little overwhelming to think about all of the experiences I’ve had in that year. In some ways I’m right back to where I started last September 1 – returning to Arizona with no clear next step and no job on the horizon.

But so much has also changed. So much has been packed into that time. Moving from Oregon back to Arizona, beginning to freelance, dropping all of that to move to New York City’s backyard in New Jersey for seven months, and then leaving that internship for Southeast Asia… What a year. I haven’t truly been home since last November; there was only a three-day gap between my move back from Jersey and my departure for Thailand. Now, as I return to Arizona, I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing next. I can only hope it will be as exhilarating and fulfilling as the work I did this summer.

So, without further ado, here’s the last of my images shot for Rustic Pathways. Plus a few at the end from my solo adventure at the ancient temples of Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Until we meet again, Southeast Asia. I’ll be missing your noodle soup and delicious mango smoothies, but not the rice. So. Much. Rice.

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Angkor Wat

Ta Prohm

Bayon

Pre Rup

Angkor Wat

Neak Pean

Neak Pean

RusticAugustBlog24

Waterlogged cameras and split-second decisions

It’s been a roller coaster of a month.

A few weeks ago – though it feels like much longer – two of my coworkers and I were dumped into a river in Laos when the basket on the elephant we were riding came loose. My camera body and go-to lens took the plunge with us, leaving me with a dead load of camera gear and some big decisions to make. These are some of the last decent frames taken with that camera – from the end of my Frontier Photography trip and the beginning of the Backroads of Southeast Asia trip I was running during the spill.

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Though it had a brief few hours of reincarnation, my camera was ultimately dead. The lens, too, clogged with river silt and water. After some time spent assessing my options, I made a frantic journey through Bangkok to purchase a new camera body on a layover between Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Yangon, Burma. The three days leading up to that final decision had dragged on for what felt like weeks. But even in the shop, as I held the new camera I would buy, it felt like an impulsive choice to put down the money. As I rode back to the airport and dashed through security I was wondering if I’d done the right thing. The uneasy feeling stayed with me for the next two days, especially when I began photographing again.

I was off my game. Big time. I’d let the loss of gear get to me in a big way, and I was fighting so much with what I was working with. I’d lost a 24-70mm f2.8 to the river in Laos, and now I was shooting with a fixed 50mm and a borrowed 16-85mm f3.5-5.6 meant for a cropped sensor and not the full frame camera body I own. I missed my old lens. The view, the feel, the quality. I’d worked with it for years and knew its quirks and what it would look like every time I raised it to my eye. Instead, I was looking through glass that I had to fight with. I could see a large vignette around the 16mm view, and a small black rectangle in the center outlining my real frame, and I kept losing sight of the edges I was supposed to line things up in.

I had known this was going to happen. I was well aware of what a DX lens on a full-frame camera meant. I said to myself that it didn’t matter, that a lens was a lens and I would make it work. But with every shot that I framed wrong in-camera or every moment that I missed because the focus wasn’t right, I got more and more frustrated.

More than that, I was frustrated that I was letting it get to me. So much of this work is mental, and I was wasting my energy fixating on the wrong things. The camera doesn’t make the photographer. It’s a saying I’ve heard many times and something I’ve always repeated to young(er) photographers, but here I was letting that hold me back. The trip had been in Bagan – an ancient city of Burma with thousand-year-old temples as far as the eye could see – for a day, and I couldn’t make an image I was satisfied with.

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All this after I’d just started to hit a good stride in the summer. I was happy with the frames I was producing before this. I was getting good feedback from friends and colleagues. A fellow photographer in Arizona messaged me to say keep up the consistent work, that I was pushing myself towards a new breakthrough for “great work.” Then, one spill off an elephant and I’d had a big disruption in the quality I was producing. Because of what? A ‘different’ lens? A new feeling when I looked through the viewfinder? Fear? Frustration?

It’s been two weeks since I made my first frame with my new camera body, and it’s time to put it behind me. I’ve got a week and a half to knock it out of the park on some of my last assignments for Rustic Pathways this summer, and I need to stop letting myself get held back by insecurities and frustrations and different viewfinders. Life rarely works out the way we expect it to. I didn’t embark on this journey this summer expecting to lose my camera and lens to a Laotian river, but it happened. What I did expect was to make some great frames and some unforgettable memories, and I’ll be damned if I let broken camera change that.

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Edit: One thing I forgot to mention is what fun I’ve had with my 50mm lens. It’s one I used to work with a lot early on in college, but something I haven’t used in years. The fixed length is teaching me to get more creative, and it’s got a beautiful feel. Most of the frames on here that were shot post-accident were made with the 50mm 1.8.