What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor?

While I am neither drunken nor a sailor, I feel like there are pirates sitting on my chest. This has to be my worst year ever for having a cold virus; it has not let me go since December, and it seems to just get worse. No sense in whimpering. I can take comfort in no longer being in the jungle. I hate the jungle.

One of the most fun pieces of equipment that I have been able to finally use has been the Lensbaby Composer. On the Peru trip I decided that for the digital camera I would only take a 300mm and the Lensbaby , which is equivalent to a 50mm. The most authentic way to learn how to use new gear is to take it on a real trip. I do not think we can learn in photography without being forced to use a new tool; the old tools are too easy to fall back to. I knew that if I wanted any decent photographs in Peru that I would have to find a way to use the tilt-focus of the Composer.

I decided to go with the blur. My art project, The Malarone Diaries, was dedicated to the weird dreams that one gets from taking malaria medication. Each night I walked around our boat shooting some moody photos before bedtime. What I like about each of these photos is that focal sharpness is less important than colour tones and composition.

I decided to leave the Sekonic light meter at home. Electronics are not great in the humidity and I did not want to wreck more than I had to. I went with spot metering through the Canon, which is pretty accurate if used carefully. I would always manually meter on the brightest point and then shoot. This technique leaves room for the darkness and the mood, while still retaining the form of the subject.

I do wish that digital had the same range as medium format film. In a shot like the one above, I cannot help but feel there would be more gradations of tones throughout the piece.


Frogs seem to have all but disappeared from North America. I miss the little toads we would find in our well in Winsloe. In Peru, the frogs chirped all night long, and I was lucky enough to find one perched by the boat light one night. The tree frog’s skin is almost translucent and golden green in other shots, but I like this one best because the focal point is on his golden eye.

Spiders are nice to look at, but not to hold. A colony of spiders about the size of my hand set up shop along where the Ayapuya was docked.  They were black, yellow and brown; they also found their way onboard once or twice. Few of the others spent any time looking at the little things. People are all about the big ticket animals like monkey or dolphin, but I am always amazed at how many beautiful and horrible creatures that move around us without our notice. By slowing down and taking a long look in one area, a whole new universe can suddenly arise from the leaves and the dirt.


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