LOCAL WALKS: Why Go Out?

“Because it’s what I do” claimed photojournalist Lynsey Addario in her riveting memoir about life as a photographer on the front line. Going out for walks is what I do. And although my walks don’t entail the risks that Addario’s outings do, like her, I always bring a camera. Why carry the little black box? Because with it I create new ways to relate to the ever-changing landscape that I live in.

1. This battered, old juniper tree has been carved with initials, climbed by countless people, and photographed innumerable times. It still commands the view with dignity.
2. Same tree, different view, black and white.
3. Another Seaside juniper tree (Juniperus maritima). This one was photographed with a vintage Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 lens.
4. Another Seaside juniper, also photographed with the vintage lens.

With all the talk about technique, gear, or artistic intent, one can forget the sheer fun of photography. That cool little black box with its buttons, levers, lenses, and dials enables us to preserve moments of aesthetic delight, which is reason enough to use it. Beyond that, composing, processing, and sharing images offer innumerable ways to exercise creativity. Black and white or color? Crop? Lighten? Smooth, dramatize? There are so many options to work with, both in the camera and later on. If you take it a step further and share your images then the photographs enter the arena of relationships, which has its hazards but certainly has countless rewards.

So going out with a camera is what I do. It’s very enjoyable – there’s the motivation. But where? Why one place and not another? The decision to head toward one particular place has many facets. There are practical considerations – it can’t be too far away, too crowded, too this, too that. But there’s something less easily articulated that guides me too, an atmosphere perhaps. The more time you spend in a place, the more you get inside its unique atmosphere, what I sometimes call the “placeness.” Having lived in this location for almost four years now, I’ve gleaned the flavor of each place. And they all offer possibilities, both expected and unexpected.

This post centers around a 220-acre bulge on the northwest corner of Fidalgo Island that was preserved as parkland long ago. Used for camping, walking, and boating, it’s popular with locals but I always manage to find a quiet spot where the slow rhythms of nature take over. Miles of rocky shoreline surround a forested center, traced by a maze of trails. The trails that cut through the forest and lead to open balds above the water are my favorites. They’re crowded with unusual plants like the rugged Seaside junipers and colorful Madrone trees that make fine subjects for any artist. Often there’s a hush on the trail, broken only by the croak of a raven or the whirr of a distant motorboat. My gaze switches back and forth from expanses of blue-green water dotted with islands to the tiny wildflowers, odd ferns, and tough lichens at my feet. Even the rocks draw my admiration.

5. Rocks sometimes steal the scene. That’s another Seaside juniper it.

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7. Is it possible to fall in love with the colors of a rock? The little black box whispers yes.
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9.

10. This sensuous curve belongs to a Madrone tree (Arbutus menziesii).

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12. Bark peeling off a fire-damaged Madrone.
13.
14. Dead Madrone leaves, Madrone berries, and peels of Madrone bark litter the ground.

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16. Two lichen species, two mosses, and the new leaves of an unidentified wildflower mingle at ground level in late winter.
17. In early spring the buds of a shrub light up the edge of the woods.

18. Another photograph made with the vintage Takumar lens.
19. Now we’re looking into the water at low tide. This is a side view of an Aggregating anemone holding its bright pink tentacles close in.

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21. A snowy vista at the edge of the park.

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These photographs were all made at Washington Park in the cooler months. When it warms up there are wildflowers in the meadows and on the forest floor – a whole other subject. By mid-summer, the flowers are mostly finished. The grass dries out, the lichens are brittle, and I’m waiting for the fall rains. Then I’ll go back and explore again.

Previous posts about Washington Park are here and here.

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72 comments

  1. Beautiful pictures like always, dear Lynn.
    Why take pictures? You write because of the fun of it. It’s the way you relate to nature. But let us be the advocatus diaboli. We want to kind of own the nature in form of the picture we can take home. Before I got to know Dina as a photographer it never came into my mind to take a picture when going out. When I travelled in NE Greenland a photographer told me that he goes to places twice. First for taking pictures and then to enjoy nature without any intent and without his cameras.
    Anyway, we all like your pictures and find the questions interesting ‘why going out?’ and ‘why taking pictures’.
    Wishing you a wonderful Sunday
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughts, Fab Four, it’s nice to dig a little deeper into these topics with you. I don’t like the idea of “owning” nature but I understand what you’re saying. It’s also very true that the camera can become an impediment to a deep connection with our surroundings. I think there are two sides to it, like many things. Having the camera can also push us to notice more…both sides. Thanks for reminding me to let the camera go once in a while (but will I?). πŸ˜‰ Sunday was good – wishing you a great week.

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  2. β€œBecause it’s what I do”
    Bodybuilders say the same thing when they prepare intensively and exclusively for an entire year for a single short competition.
    My wife also often says that: There is something else than photography! There certainly is, but because I’m good at it, I devote much, much time to it. But surely it is advisable not to spend too much time on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, it’s not ALL I do and you have a point, as Klaus said above, we should remember to enjoy nature without the intent to photograph it, too. It can become an obsession. I guess the trick is to be aware if photography is getting in the way of other important things. I also wanted to emphasize that it’s really fun. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Like always remarks you maybe can’t properly decipher but anyway: πŸ™‚

    1
    Amazing picture…dignity is the right word here
    2
    Like a sculpture
    4
    Drawing inside a drawing
    5
    The whole thing like one substance
    6
    Nature likes to play
    7
    A mass of colours!
    8
    Thrredimensional
    9
    Confusing…lines and Pointillism
    10
    This one I like Best!
    11
    In a way organic which is irritating πŸ™‚
    12
    Says hello…great!
    13
    This one I also like much
    14
    I guess you coukld alspo present his as a 3m-3m picture, very large and still there would be a lot to detect.
    16
    This one is also great
    18
    A Painting
    19, 20
    colourful sealife
    21
    I like this park bench

    Liked by 1 person

    • I usually can decipher all or almost all of them. πŸ˜‰ My partner also said #2 reminded him of a sculpture. Interesting comments about #4 & 5, thank you. You like #10 best – I think this one is very sensual. The artist and ceramicist in you feels the curves, right? It’s funny about #12 saying hello. πŸ™‚
      I’m glad #13 appeals to you – I almost left it out. What you say about #14 is often true for the ground litter in this park – so many things are there! It’s amazing. The painterly effect in #18 is partly due to the old lens I used there. Thank you so much, Gerhard, have a great week!

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  4. A wonderful variety of observations artfully captured. I especially love #6 on the right. The way those stones fill the crack was a fabulous find. The combination of trunk and stones in #9 is great too … a nice clean comp. Another favorite is #14 … a lot of wonderful detail and texture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The water is always playing with those round stones – it’s so much fun to see. I liked the textures in the wood & stones photo and it helped that everything was wet. Another overcast day but as much as I might want to see the sun, those gray skies make photography easier. #14, the ground study, was made with my iPhone. πŸ˜‰ Thanks very much, Denise, have a good week!

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  5. Those places we frequent the most, usually because they are closer to home and don’t involve long journeys, end up being an “extension” of ourselves. We know the evolution of them, the corners, the details, the passage of the seasons, the birds that live there, their territories, etc, etc. These places turn out to be another “family”.
    It’s really good to go with the camera in hand, because there’s always something worthwhile and touches our sensitivity, but I think it’s very important to walk around them and experience them without having to worry about photography. Just being, walking, seeing, feeling, being in freedom.

    Until a few years ago, I couldn’t go for a walk without taking the camera, because I thought..”and if something interesting comes up?”
    However, I noticed the difference and now, sometimes I walk with a machine, sometimes I walk without it. Both situations are optimal, because it is enough for me to know that the details, the birds, the flowers, etc. exist and that they are there. This is already a joy.
    Besides, it feels good to walk around with nothing in our hands! (but… I’m not a professional photographer like Lynn…which can make all the difference!)

    Beautiful images as always.
    And I agree, the curve and the “skin” of the madrone tree are extremely sensual!
    I wish you a good week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right (again!) about the importance of spending time outdoors without constantly making photographs. I try to do that here and there. At this time in my life, it seems to work to bring the camera almost every time. Hopefully, I’m self-aware enough that if I need to let go of it, I will know when it’s time to do that. I appreciate the way you make your point by using words like “joy” and “being” and “feeling” and “freedom.” Basic human needs. (I do try to be as unencumbered as possible – no tripods, no heavy backpacks, just the camera and an extra lens in a pocket. And maybe a snack!). πŸ™‚ Thank you for your presence, Dulce.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Always good to hear from you, Lisa, and I’m glad you were on your way out. I suspect it’s a little warmer where you are…and it can be inspiring anywhere we are, right? Thanks!

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  6. πŸ’– #1 ! – gorgeous lighting modelling the forms in such a tactile way. And, of course, the wet cracks πŸ‘ Fascinating look at the anemones – not something I’ve ever seen I.R.L.

    βœ¨πŸ™πŸ•‰β˜€πŸŒ™βš–πŸͺ”πŸ•Šβ™ΎπŸˆšβ˜―πŸŒπŸ²πŸ™‹β€β™‚οΈ

    Liked by 1 person

    • That lighting was courtesy of the low, March sunlight bouncing off the water…it’s cool to see how it changes with the seasons. Between the weather, the time of day, and the tides, things are always changing. The anemones are only visible at very low tides and the sun was slanting on them that day, an added bonus. Not the sharpest pictures but no matter, they really are wild creatures to see. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wholesome is a very interesting choice of words, you made my brain perk up. πŸ˜‰ Most of these photos were made recently and/or this year. A few are from recent years, always between October & April. Summertime looks very different there. Thank you for being here, Alex!

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  7. Beautiful (and enchanting) images as usual, but I admit to loving the rock colours and ridges in #6,7 & 8. I wish I could capture that beauty as well as you, but a look at my early archives says that I did once upon a time. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Terrific album, thank you. A great gift box of varied images, wood & stone, stone and pebbles, etc. and the medley in #16 is such a varied and rich package in itself. Pretty cute crowd showing up at the bench for snacks, too. The twisted juniper limbs in your second shot are really striking, and really stimulate an interesting mood or response, which I can’t quite put my finger on, perhaps a bit desolate but as you say, still a dignified, a striking sort of monument.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That cute crowd includes nuthatches, Song & Fox sparrows, and of course, dogs on leashes. What you say about the juniper is interesting – there is a desolate look to it – after all, it’s dead except for that one branch. But it sits there on a hill overlooking swiftly moving waters, exposed to the elements, on display. A very striking scene. I suppose it can’t last forever and if it comes down in my lifetime I’ll be saddened. Meanwhile, there are always new angles to admire it from. Thanks!!

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    • Another vote for the rocks, that’s interesting. There’s so much variety once you start noticing them. Thanks for stopping by, Mark, I hope it’s warming up where you are. Bit by bit…

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  9. A very special collection this time! The trees are exceptional here, especially the first two pictures. Figures with lots of personality, like good friends. I love the Madrone trees, especially the smooth bark, but also the burnt bark. These trees are fascinating in their forms of survival. I like all the other pictures too. The happy lichen and moss family, the stones in every form and shape, as well as the cuties here πŸ˜‰ It must be wonderful to feel the tiny and extremely light chickadee! The Anemones are wonderful. I love these crazy colors. Did you take pictures underwater?
    I understand the disruption in some of the discussions here. Taking or not taking the camera with us every time we go out. Like you said, there are both sides. It can even help to see more than usual (I experience that too) and why not, if it makes you happy? It is also a bit like a drug. When I don’t take a camera with me, I am sure I see things or motifs that are perfect for a picture. It is hard to stand that then, but it is ok, haha! So I better say here: Have fun πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • The junipers really do have lots of personality. That park is full of them but you don’t find them in many other places – they like a very specialized habitat. And the Madrones – well, they’re just delicious. They add color and curves to the forest. You’re right about the chickadee, too – they’re so light, so fast, so sharp and clear in their senses. I’m dull, slow, and heavy by comparison. πŸ˜‰ The anemones could be seen if you were underwater but in this case, the lens was just inches away from the water’s surface. They were in small pools of water in the rocks left by the receding tide. The sun was bright but low, slanting into the water. Their colors are always shocking and seem luxurious compared to everything else. I appreciate your honesty about going out with a camera. It IS a little like a drug but it’s not destructive, as you point out. As long as we’re aware of our small obsessions and how they affect us and our families I think we’re OK. πŸ™‚

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  10. I feel as if you took me right inside this world. So very PNW! There are several that really speak to me – the lovely light on the old juniper, the left one especially of #6 of the pebbles caught in the rock, and all the beautiful colours in #7. But overall I think I love all 3 of #11 best, the madrone branches – beautiful softness like a caress.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I guess between the trees, the animals, the rocks, and the anemones, you know where you must be. Do you ever see those junipers in the parks in or around Vancouver? I know they grow in that area but they’re so particular about habitat – even here, they’re abundant at this park but uncommon to rare in other local parks. The soft caress – I like that. And then when you touch them, they’re so firm and cool. Such wonderful trees – I’m glad we have them for their curves and warm colors amidst all the Doug firs. Thanks, Alison, enjoy the rest of your week.

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  11. I especially like your same tree / diferent views early on, both change of angle and change of 4C/B&W — the same is never the same, is it? always different, because of weather, or angle, or season, or mood.

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  12. Beautiful images seen as only you can! I recently decided to try taking my camera out for walks as opposed to only on photo outings. I typically haven’t simply because of the weight. But it seems like a good thing to start doing. You’ve given me some motivation.

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    • Howard, you’re very kind. Equipment weight can really be a challenge! Hopefully, you’ll grab your lightest lens. I’ve gone through various scenarios, using a sling-style strap that goes on one shoulder for years. As I think you know, I’ve stayed with smaller mirrorless systems to save weight. Scoliosis makes carrying anything harder each year. These days a wrist strap and pockets that are big enough for everything but the camera are working for me – for walks under 2 hours. For longer walks, I have a really, really light backpack with very little in it.
      There are so many things that pop up on any walk that can make interesting images. I hope you have fun!

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  13. Hmmm… I never thought of it as journalism, but it is what we do. I can look back to see when the first Red Currant blossoms showed up last year, or the year before. Catch the time when the swallows first show up at the nestbox. Or when someone kindly identified a plant or flower or some other living being. Thankfully the risks are far less challenging.

    “Having lived in this location for almost four years now, I’ve gleaned the flavor of each place.” Has it really been that long? How time does fly. It’s quite amazing and satisfying to have that sense of place develop. Isn’t it?

    Favorites (this time around): 7!!!+++ 8 and 9 and 10 (love them sensuous curves) and 15 (love that the chickadees are eating from your hand! I overlook that bit of eco-correctness for that magical feeling of that tiny creature’s trust- it’s a connection that thrills) oooh! and 17 (love the light you caught on the budding leaves!) and how wonderful that you have 20 (a tide pool to explore).! How lucky we are to have an escape into nature! πŸ€— πŸ’ž 🌱

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    • Well, I didn’t mean to imply that we’re journalists necessarily, but I like the way you took that and ran with it. Yes, I’m good with leaving the risk-taking to others and reporting in my own way on the news of the world – my little piece of it.
      It’s been 10 years since we came to the PNW from NYC and almost 4 years since we moved up here. It sure helps to be retired – otherwise, I wouldn’t have had one-tenth the experience I’ve had outdoors. The more you can get out, the more you can watch a place go through seasonal changes (even from a window!) and the more you understand where you are.
      You like that rock in #7 too, it’s interesting – such a mundane piece of the earth but it was a pretty one. It must have been overcast that day for all those colors to show up so well.
      I feel exactly as you described about hand-feeding. I only wear gloves if it’s way too cold – that was Joe’s hand. πŸ˜‰
      I think there are probably quite a few places to see tidepool creatures at low tide, you just have to learn where they are. That day I was lucky to be in the right place when the sun was slanting into the pools, lighting things up without glaring. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for your thoughts! Have a good weekend.

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  14. You’re the first photographer I know of to talk about β€œthe sheer fun of photography.” Thank you; it is that. You’ve enhanced the dignity of the juniper tree by photographing it in such lovely light (#1). I love seeing the smaller stones nestled into the big rocks in #6. Your compositions take them from ordinary and expected to special and surprising. I’m sure the rock in #7 has many lovers, including me; I hope you don’t mind. I like how you’ve depicted the texture of these rocksβ€”the ones in #s 5, 6, 7, and 8. I can imagine that the stones have helped to burnish the tree in #9. Was it pure honesty that led you to retain the white object in that a composition? I can see why you keep returning to the madrones. They are lucky to have you to take such stunning portraits of them. The lichens and their friends in #16 are other worldly; this is a beautifully captured hodge-podge. You do get some wonderful bokeh with your Takumar lens, especially in #18. Thanks for this collection of cool-weather photographs, lovely all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Linda, I thought it might be refreshing to admit that sometimes it’s just fun! Most times, in fact. I’m glad you like the various rocks…must admit that the white object in #9 didn’t jump out at me, now it kind of does. I can’t claim sheer honesty – I do move twigs out of the way sometimes and I clone away distracting small objects sometimes, too. I just didn’t that time. I’m lucky to see those Madrones…their color and curviness are great foils in the mostly deep green, jagged landscape here.
      Spring flowers are coming, slowly, which is best. It’s been cool and cloudy here for the most part. There will be more like this! Thank you!

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  15. Beautiful pictures. First I thought I liked the ones with the rocks the most. But then came the lichen: WOW!
    And then the anemones……!!!!
    I’m so glad you took your camera with you on your walk πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that – first you liked the rocks best, then you saw the lichens…two very unassuming parts of our natural world that many people don’t look at. And the anemones are just impossible to see most of the time! I’m very glad you enjoyed the post and commented, thank you!

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    • Thank you! Curves are everywhere, right? I use “curves” as a keyword in Lightroom, where I organize my photos. One of these days I intend to do a post of just curves – but meanwhile, as you know, they’re there anyway! Thanks for sommenting. πŸ™‚

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  16. Felt like I was walking along with you. I can SO appreciate just getting out there. It’s what I do. Curves are everywhere indeed. I loved the pebbles stuck in the boulders at the shore line. So pretty, unique and great captures. A great eye… Donna

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  17. Hey Lynn, oh that juniper tree sure does command that view with dignity, what a beauty it is. And what a wonderful eye you have, and yes I have said this many times before. Love the rocks, but I’m a wood girl πŸ™‚ Super post and photos .. thank you!

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    • Excellent, my friend! I’m having more fun than I was toward the end of last year. I always feel more positive when the light increases and I know all the plants are coming up. I hope you’re having fun, too, and sorry I’m late visiting again – things are busy. See you soon!

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  18. “Because it’s what I do….” I love how you wove Lynsey’s quote into your post., Lynn. Her war photos have been tragic yet riveting. And your theme is peaceful yet riveting. What jumps out at me is that over the four years you have settled into your spaces, have observed deeply and now really know the place and it shows so beautifully in your images. They way you’ve grouped them works really well, too. Your juniper images are graceful and the rock photos are gorgeous. The madrones and the anemones are so cool! Nice to be back among your images. πŸ™‚ Hope all is well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Did you ever read that book? It’s very good. Peaceful yet riveting, huh? That sounds good! πŸ˜‰ I couldn’t have dug so deeply into this place without being retired and having a roof over my head (and a wonderful partner) so I’m grateful for that. Thanks for mentioning the grouping, which can be difficult to work out sometimes. I guess you know that. All’s well and suddenly very busy. I’ve volunteered for a few things nature-related here and we leave on April 2nd for a southern Utah road tour. Should be good! Have a good weekend –

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  19. I agree with you, dear Lynn: the sheer joy of doing something can easily get lost in the thought of appropriate equipment, artistic intent etc etc.Β  It’s good that you remind us in the text here, but the sheer joy of taking pictures that you experience cannot be overlooked in your photos anyway.

    You start the day with the juniper, which with all its traces of life is a real tree character.Β  I think the pictures you took with the vintage lens are very beautiful, but I can’t really assess what it means to take pictures like this.Β  So far this field of experimentation has not lured me, I just watch you and enjoy the results.

    The rock and pebble photos are my favorites today, I am always amazed at the variety of colors where we are used to expect only shades of grey.

    Madrone wood in your photos here bears a lot of resemblance to human body parts, including our vascular system.Β  I haven’t noticed that before.

    With the arrangement of your pictures, you always find a harmonious arc that ends in the evening.Β  Here it is the snow that covers nature for its hibernation.Β  Wonderful!

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    • Thank you for coming back to this post. Yes, those junipers are tree characters. And there were more in Utah, a different species with the same overall look. Very rugged plants. I think in #3 you can see what that vintage lens does – it gives a softer image with a little more emotional weight. I was attracted to it when I read about it online and saw examples of the beautiful bokeh (blurred background) it makes. It’s difficult to get precise focus with it – there is no automatic focus and it’s hard to see if you really have the focus where you want it. But that’s part of the beauty and it forces me to use the camera differently, less technically. Rocks and pebbles, yes, so much to see there. I have come to that slowly – I found beauty in plants long before I found beauty in rocks.
      I often think of the madrone trunks and branches as “muscular” so I know exactly what you mean and I’m glad that came across. “Sinewy” is another madrone word. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that the bark is smooth and warm-colored, that makes the comparison to human bodies easier.
      I usually try to begin with something that gets attention and end with something more calming, I guess, and the reason the last photos often have an evening feeling is that I usually don’t get outside until mid or late afternoon! πŸ˜‰
      Thanks for the email – I’ll reply soon – πŸ™‚

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      • “evening feeling is that I usually don’t get outside until mid or late afternoon ” … of course the time in your photo walk can be the reason. But there is nothing to urge you placing one of the late photos at the end of your presentation. I always recognize it as a decision to give the post some kind of conclusion, even if the decision may be subconscious.
        Anyway, I like the way you design the dramaturgy of your contributions.

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