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I've always enjoyed taking pictures and since moving to Indonesia, I've transitioned from an old, manual 35mm to a pocket digital camera, which makes my hobby even easier. I've been very busy snapping pictures every place I've gone, from volcanoes to jungles to beaches and everywhere in between. It's exciting to be able to see so many new and, to my eye, exotic scenes. With a digital camera, it's a breeze to take fifty shots of the same sunset, hoping that one of them will be representative of what I actually saw at that place and at that time. I spend a good deal of time changing the settings and the angles, searching for that one exceptional shot. And I've started to realize that by trying to capture the moment, I often risk missing it.
This first occurred to me in May when I went on my first ever jungle trek. When we encountered a mother orangutan and her baby, I snapped happily away, until I realized I wasn't actually looking directly at them. It was then that I stopped, put my camera away, and watched the baby climb up and down a skinny tree trunk, looking for a way over to the next tree, where his mother waited patiently, keeping one eye on her offspring's progress and one eye on the tourists below. It was such an awesome sight that it brought tears to my eyes.
Since then, I can't say that I've stopped obsessively trying for that one perfect photograph. But I have remembered, whenever I've seen something awe inspiring, to put the camera away for at least a few minutes, to take some deep breaths, and to truly look at the scene before me. It's served me well. For the photographs of my memory are more than simple images; they encompass all of my senses. When I close my eyes, all of my senses remember what it felt like to stand in the middle of a dark, dense, and wet jungle or to gaze out at the sun setting over crashing waves and a long, sandy beach, or to stand in the dark, wet cold on top of a mountain, waiting for a sunrise that wouldn't come through the rain. The pictures I have to share with friends. The memories are my own prized possessions.
Since I have them to share, here are some shots of my most recent trip--to the lovely island of Bali: