The Journey is the Destination

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Owens Valley Sunflowers

Owens Valley Sunflowers

Travel photography is not about F-stops, HDR or the size of camera-sensor pixels. Travel photography is about the experience. My first visit to the Eastern Sierra region was in the summer of 2004 when my friend and I took a three-day camping trip to Mono Lake / Bodie and Bishop. It was quite the trip, as we got the most amazing sunsets I had ever seen and the scenery certainly lived up to expectations. However it’s not the photography that I most remember about this trip. It was the camping experience itself.

On one of the days, we stayed at a campground just outside of Bishop. Soon after pulling in, we went to the trailer where the campground manager lived. Then out comes this curmudgeonly fellow with an eye patch. Ok. Rough life, who knows. So we follow him inside of the trailer to make payment when I immediately notice a large caged bird in the corner which normally wouldn’t look out of place but what caught my eye was that there was nothing below the bird to catch it’s poop so you can probably imagine where it goes from there. Let’s just say that it didn’t look nor smell like the trailer had been cleaned for some time… I had to fight myself from busting out laughing in his face for fear of being disrespectful but that image has long since stuck with me.

The night was even crazier as a large group of campground patrons next to our campsite didn’t seem to know the definition of curfew and kept their stereos and loud talking going until the late hours of the night despite repeated visits from the authorities. Some of the other patrons were ticked off as well but it didn’t deter those people. Since my friend and I had a sunrise shoot planned (the photo above) we made no attempt to keep quiet at the early hours and shined the high beams into a few tents for good measure. Those people had probably just gone to sleep not long before so neither of us felt any sense of guilt about it.

Though the camping experience was less than ideal, it is experiences like this during a trip that add to the experience. If everything were always fine and dandy then it would be a boring planet. If looking back at the trip six years later can bring a smile to my face then it was probably worth suffering through a night of hell for.

See more of my Eastern Sierra pictures.


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14 thoughts

  1. Wow, I really like this one, Richard. The pattern of the sunflowers almost becomes like a tapestry. This image has some of the classic great elements of art photography including form and repetition.

  2. Thanks guys.

    David – yes, I would say that this was one of the most amazing scenes that I’ve ever seen. I think there were more opportunities for artistic renderings as well with all the flowers blowing in the wind.

  3. Stunning shot Richard! The story is one that sounds all too familiar. You’re certainly not alone in having this type of experience. Glad you can look back and laugh about it now.

  4. That is a great image Richard – one of my favorites of yours!

    I can relate to you campground experience – I hate those, and have given someone the high beam treatment as well.

    Ron

  5. Our experiences can be so much more peaceful if it weren’t for having to deal with our own kind sometimes. 🙂

    Great shot, the amount of sunflowers here is just amazing. Definitely your reward for persevering.

  6. Very true Mark. I went to the Vernal Pools at Santa Rosa Plateau yesterday and the park docents of all people were the most obnoxious. They wouldn’t shut up for even a second. A blind person wouldn’t have even known there were birds in the water since the people kept talking.

  7. You have to admit that the annoying elements of the trip help keep it memorable. I’ve done the high beams payback at a state park when teenagers were allowed to be very noisey even at 1 am.
    The photo is delicious.

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