Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Single Minded Focus

When driving around without a specific goal for photographs, sometimes its difficult to get enthused and its best to pick something to concentrate on. Bridges was a theme for me on a recent road trip.
I am often lost in my own little world. Im not sure if its escapism, or hyper focus, or what it should be referred to. Its not unusual for me to be there in body, but not in mind.

For instance, my husband and I can be driving somewhere and hell point something along the way that I missed. Ive heard the phrase "How could you not see that?" more times than I could count.
Sometimes Ill just be focused on something totally different. Hell be commenting on a car that went by, when I was busy ogling a beautiful home. Or sometimes Ill be thinking about something and I just dont see the world around me any more.

If you see me at the grocery store and I walk right by you, please dont think Im ignoring you. I really just didnt see you. Im probably thinking about whats for dinner, or whats on my grocery list that I left sitting on the kitchen counter. Or I could be thinking about my next project, or planning something totally off the wall and unrelated to shopping.
A road trip that follows a river provides lots of opportunities for photographing bridges.
Watching the news while my husband cooks supper (yes, I know how lucky I am), hell ask me to repeat something from the news story or the weather. I wont know the answer, even though Ive been studiously watching the program. Instead, Ill have to back up the program and re-watch it so I can clarify it for my husband who is working with the fan on and not able to hear everything from the living area.

If I am focused and trying to work through something on my computer, I cant have music or sound of any kind distracting me. It used to drive me crazy when I worked in an office and had to listen to radios on other peoples desks. Silence is golden in my world.  
It also drives me to distraction when someone is making a speech and gets interrupted by someone who thinks they are offering a witty comment. People talking in the audience when someone is trying to make a presentation, hecklers, and whisperers alike, all get my goat. And dont get me started about political "debates", where everyone is trying to talk over the next person. 
Super concentration could be a blessing, or a curse, depending on how you look at things.
I tend to be a generalist when it comes to photography, not a specialist in any one area. However, when I do latch on to a new passion, I do become quite obsessed about trying to achieve my goals. Earlier this year, we made trip after trip down the south shore to try to capture snowy owl photos. My husband laments the fact that we probably wont do that next year, because Ive "been there, done that" and once I have satisfied my obsession, I tend to move on to something new. I may just surprise him. After all, marching around for hours on the cold windy barrens lugging heavy camera equipment in sub zero weather is a dream for most people, right?

When we are driving around without a specific goal for photographs, sometimes its difficult for me to get enthused. Once I take my first photo, though, I generally get into my zone and find something to concentrate on. The theme on our recent trip to New Brunswick, other than the flooded river, seemed to become bridges. Im not sure why, because bridges have never interested me before, but I came back with enough photos of them to create a small series. 
With no access to the decommissioned bridge, my hopes of photographing the flooded river from above were dashed, so I contented myself with exploring below the bridge.
I had spotted a decommissioned bridge on our earlier trip through the area, and was determined to go back and explore it on the dead end road. The road had been removed from the end of the bridge, which made it impossible to cross by foot. I had imagined taking photographs of the submerged trees from above, so was disappointed about that. However, I decided to explore underneath the bridge instead and trekked ahead of my husband and dogs. In my photographic zone now, I would have spent much longer there, but I knew he would be worried about me being out of sight for so long. He knows what Im like when I am concentrating with my camera in hand, with a total lack of awareness in the world around me.

My thoughts of beautiful monochromatic images of trees and water from high above morphed into exploring rot and decay from underneath the huge cement pillars. A dumping ground for garbage, mattresses, spray paint cans, graffiti and fires, the area was far from beautiful but it was quite interesting to explore. A single minded person could have spent hours just in that one location.

But single minded photographers traveling with worried husbands have to make allowances, and my new found bridge obsession would have to be a focus for another day.

published in the South Shore Breaker - June 7, 2017


  1. Wonderful post and images Sara. I love the bridges, especially the ruined one. Where the heck is that ?

    I tend to like white noise... silence troubles me. The CBC is on constantly even when I'm not listening to it.

    Sadly I AM one of those people who interrupt to insert pithy witticisms; not one of my best features.

    I think being in your own little world is not a bad thing. You understand yourself and think about things deeply and that's a good thing.

  2. Hi Sara,

    I recently read your article on the High Head Trail and how beautiful it is. I have been reading about the trail recently as it is getting more and more publicity on the Nature Conservancy's website since being named after a long standing Nature Conservancy advocate, Bill Freedman.

    I am trying to educate people about how the trail is changing with more visitors and how there is very little oversight from the Nature Conservancy. That means the community around the trail is seeing a large increase in garbage both at the beginning of the trail and all along the roadways to the trail as people throw their fast food bags out of the car along the road to the trail and at the trail head.

    So I am asking, as I can see you are a nature lover, and a blogger, to include a little bit in your writing and promotion of High Head to help to educate the public about protecting this trail and the environment leading up to and around the trail. The idea of "leave no trace" or pack out what you carry in should logically be extended to the roadways that lead up to the trail. The same animals live in the areas around the trail, deer, pheasants, porcupines, whales and marine life (that receive the water from the ditches).

    It is interesting to see the correlation this year between a huge spike in visitors and the inclusion of the trail on the Nature Conservancy's website and many people now blogging about it. But with that comes a huge spike in degradation of the trail if people are not educated. The area leading up to the trail, roadways, ditches are all a part of the ecosystem with living waterways running through them that lead to the ocean -frogs, peepers, birds such as pheasants, yellow finches, other animals- porcupines, deer are there daily). Messages such as keep on the path to stop erosion, no camping especially on sensitive plants that take years to regrow, treat it as a living ecosystem so no garbage disposal on the trail or leading up to the trail, etc. Unfortunately with no infrastructure there is no oversight or education so how can we keep the trail and surrounding environment a healthy living ecosystem? Bloggers promoting the trail can help with just a few sentences.

    Thanks Sara, your articles are inspiring!


It's great to hear from you! I appreciate your comments.