Monday, June 22, 2015

Top 5 Photos I Didn't Take


Thinking recently about missed chances to take photos, I came up with these five highly picturesque moments that will have to be preserved in my memory only.

5. Row of yak heads at Paro market
October 2010, Bhutan: I joined a group hiking to the Tiger's Nest, near Paro. We came from Thimphu on a bus and we made a short stop at the notorious public toilets beside the Paro market. Along the perimeter of the market, someone had placed three severed yak heads in a row. Each massive, wooly head was sitting at a different angle with its tongue drooping out, eyes in various levels of openness. It was grotesque but would have been a great photo. Unfortunately I'd left my camera on the bus for the toilet break and I couldn't make the group wait for me to rush back to take pictures. I am placing this lowest on my list of missed photos because if I get to Paro on market day some other time, there's a good chance I can find more severed yak heads.

4. Mennonite ladies and a wall of roses
Last summer, near my hometown of Waterloo, Ontario: on a country drive with my parents, we passed a Mennonite farm. Two ladies in their calico dresses and prayer caps were standing in front of a wall of climbing roses, cutting flowers. It was a perfect rural tableau. I had my camera with me but taking photos of Mennonites is pretty rude so I didn't.

3. Falcon in a world of ice
December 24th, 2013, Highway 401, Ontario: it was two days after a major ice storm brought gorgeous destruction to the region. This was the first sunny day since the storm: the sunlight glinting through the ice made the whole landscape gleam with silver. I was in the first row of a Greyhound bus, heading to my parents' place for Christmas. In the centre divider of the highway, I spotted an enormous bird of prey (likely a falcon) perched low to the ground on a broken, twisted tangle of iced-over greenery. It looked spectacular with the world of silver ice all around it. Zooming past on a public bus, it was an impossible situation.

2. Three horses at dusk, Iceland
October 2012, somewhere west of Vík, Iceland: the volcanic landscape here is characterized by funny bubbles and bumps. In a van being driven by my hiking guide, we passed three small hills clustered together. There was a horse standing on each hill: one white horse, one dark horse and one dappled horse. Each was standing still facing the road to the south. It was a magical scene but I couldn't find my voice to call out 'stop!' to our guide even though she was very amenable to photo breaks.

1. 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution
January 1st, 2009, somewhere near Matanzas, Cuba: my then-boyfriend and I were on a Christmas break trip to Cuba. We had taken a public bus to Havana for the day. It just so happened that this day marked the 50th anniversary of the overthrow of the Batista government on January 1st, 1959. Other than a lot of flags on display, Havana had been very quiet. On the night trip back to the beach town where we were staying, the bus made a stop at a petrol stand and snack bar. Someone had placed a small TV on a chair in the dining room and there was a large circle of people silently watching the broadcast of Raul Castro making a speech about the anniversary. It would have been a wonderful photo of normal Cuban citizens reacting to the occasion. I have no idea why I did not take photos, I can only guess that I was too interested in people-watching at the time. This is my #1 missed chance because it will never be the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution ever again.

Can you relate to this? Are there moments you wish you'd captured with your camera?

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