Friday, June 08, 2007

A river runs through it

S curve
Shanghai, China, May 2007 [Click to enlarge]

I evolved a little tradition when I was in China. I'd wake up really early - which wasn't overly difficult given how messed up my internal clock was from being in a time zone 12 hours ahead of home - and head up to the top floor of the 66-storey hotel. From there, I'd scan the city and capture the hazy images of a megalopolis getting ready for another busy day (see here for another image shot from here.)

Beyond the overt goal of bringing back some decent pictures, I felt like I was committing the feeling of this place to memory - if such a thing is possible (is it? Do share...) This early-morning experience allowed me to pause and reflect in the midst of what was - and remains - an experience of a lifetime.

The river that gives this city its life seems almost peaceful as the rays of smog-blocked sun begin to wash over its surface. Although I'm sure anyone foolhardy enough to swim in it would likely grow a third arm, it was postcard perfect from my quiet little spot in the sky.

Your turn: Do you stop and reflect on a place when you're travelling? How do you slow things down so you don't forget what it felt like to be there?


Anonymous said...

I travel quite a bit , especially within Asia, since my family lives in Hongkong from where I spin off to take sidetrips. Committing sights and places to memory can be inevitably difficult. Independent travel allows me to linger around places that appeal more to my senses a bit longer. When I backpacked through Cambodia, I always had a pocket-sized reporter notebook handy for notes and words, mostly in Cambodian, I heard locals speak. That all the temples, monuments, and ruin sites bestow long names and rich history make me dread about forgetting them as soon as board the plane. Pictures, summary in a few sentences, sketches--all capture that beautiful transience of my being there.

Anonymous said...

Carmi I most definitely slow and reflect in certain areas when I'm travelling.

There is something in the craziness of travel that requires me to do this. I love to occasionally get away from the mundane. However there is something comforting and soothing to the soul when you step out of the odd world you are traveling through and watch it from a detached eye. Especially if it is travel due to business rather than specific desire for travels' sake.

Does any of what I just said make any sense at all?

By the way, in answer to the first question snuggled into the first part of your post, yes you can capture "the feel" of a location through photos. Not everyone can but Carmi you most definitely have the talent to do so.

Anna said...

Always Carmi. I try to slow it down by gazing through my viewfinder. :) It was good to hear from you yesterday!

Have a great weekend.

Mike Young said...

Wow, what a city. So many people.

I have travled the US extensively. My favorite times are those when I can stop and relax and try to, as you said, get a feel for the place.

I fell in love with Crescent City, California because I was there at a time that was conducive to getting a feel for the place. It was to my amazement that I learned later that it was one of the few cities in the US that has been hit by a tidal wave.

Lifelong Learner said...

I try to take in everything through the senses. Sights, smells, feel, taste, sounds. That way, when I see the pictures, they become more 3D in my mind. In that snapshot I try to recall those memories. In China, it would be the smell of food/air/traffic all in one, car horns honking, the smokey/spicy taste of all comes back in a picture.

If there isn't a picture to prompt the memory, then the places can get jumbled in my head. A picture separates the memories out and keeps them all together.

Great question.

kenju said...

When I am travelling alone, or with mr. kenju, the pace is slow enough to pause and reflect on what we are seeing. When my daughter is along (as she was in Europe last fall) the pace is considerably faster (not by my choice) and it is harder. That is where photos become invaluable for catching memories!

craziequeen said...

I don't travel a lot, but I did find myself 'pausing' reality at the recent joust I attended.
The event was over, the tents were packed and everyone was getting ready to leave.
The stud wass quiet, the horses put away and the stable staff resting.

I strolled down to the jousting ring alone and leant on the rail, staring off into the green English countryside.

I like to take a few minutes of reflection wherever I am - even walking around work, or doing the gardening.

Good question today, my dear friend :-)

And I think you should come to the UK next year to photograph and report on Medieval Re-Enactment in England ;-)

Michele sent me :-)

Panthergirl said...

I'm always torn between taking a lot of pictures and just EXPERIENCING a place. Sometimes being behind a camera sullies the experience a bit. So I usually strike a balance and make sure that I really take things in, in my mind.

Great photo, Carmi.

Here via michele!

Anonymous said...

To slow down on vacation? I go sit on a bit of park grass and can't be budged from there, except maybe to shift with shade.

Michele sent me at this ungodly early hour.

rashbre said...

Interesting view. There does seem to be some haze over the scene, I'm assuming its a 'leaded' world still in China?

I agree with your comments about when to take pictures and how obvious the camera looks. I have a pocketable camera for some wanderings, so thta I can be more discreet when I want to. I still use th big SLR in a more purposeful way, but like you say, its fun grabbing shots whilst wandering too.


Rachel said...

Wonderful picture! What a view from up so high. I don't get to travel much but I do try to stop and reflect when I'm there, probably not as much as I should. But if I were to travel that far away, I expect I definitely would!

Christy said...

I agree with panthergirl. It's hard to separate myself from my camera, but at the same time I want to be able to enjoy a place away from the lens. Balance is key so the camera gets left in the room or rv at least part of the time. :)

The photo (river runs through) is awesome by the way!

Mike said...

Another great picture Carmi. Like you I try to take pictures of the places I go. It is sometimes better though to find a quiet spot and just soak in the beauty around you.

Michele sent me.

Anonymous said...

I have a good eye for finding beauty in the places that I go. I dont go many places. I haven't been many places. England was amazing but other than that I have only travelled oin the states. But I would recommend you take a trip to south west virginia into the hills. you'll find something beautiful there i could promise you that. If you haven't been you should go.

Lifelong Learner said...

I responded to this one, but it didn't come through!

Whenever we leave a place, we always try to take in the place through all of our senses. Tastes, smells, sights, sounds, textures.... we just get as much of it as we can. The fun thing about that is that when we see a picture of that place, it suddenly becomes 3D, and we relive all of those feelings. It's why pictures are so important, don't you think?

By the way, I love your title of this one. That's one of my favorite movies. :)

David Edward said...

early mornings in China: was the coffee good?
here from michele

Anonymous said...

I travel differently

and become as close to a member of the culture as i can in as quick a time as possible.
post modern, free spirited, cultural anth field research of sorts.