Just when you think you’re just keeping it together, an artist crosses over. Last time it was David Bowie, and I had to sneak time in a quiet spot at work to process that event – a majorly tough day. This time, thankfully, it happened on a Sunday, New Zealand time. Malcolm Young has gone, founding member of AC/DC, rock, rhythm, rift genius and writer through a generation of music. He was an inspiration to those who love music, and equally an inspiration to those who appreciate music as an art-from and as a relaxing escape.
One of the coping mechanisms I have for dealing with my arthritis (other than my wife) is to dissolve into the nearest riverbank grasses, or walk on the wildest lonely coasts, knowing full well it’s going to hurt later. I push myself to the edge; to go where no photographer has been before; to gain unique images, wherever my tripod can go onto virgin territory, whether it’s on dry land, rock or sand, or offshore in salt or fresh water.
I drive myself to walk on, through, over, or under anything to gain access to a unique angle – whether it be for hours across farms, long-grassed riverbanks, sandy and muddy shores to bush – or to negotiate twisted coastal pōhutukawa branches over water. Usually, it’s a combination of all the above. I always pay the price days later with swollen, painful lower joints from the walking and a sore upper body from carrying a multi-kilo combination of camera and tripod.
All this effort is to create an image in a frame that’s completed with minor processing once I get home. This work is usually accompanied by background music from legends whom I admire and have grown to love over the decades. Usually, the music is from the 70s or 80s when every band had their own unique sound, discernible within the first bar.
Another way of coping is through burying myself in work, doing silly hours plus overtime, taking on all possible projects, and surviving on three to six hours sleep a night. Although not usually recommended for one with this set of medical issues, for a driven person in the production engineering trade, it has kind of worked thus far, even to surviving professionally (mostly).
The end result is the reward, the achievement of a designed image, or an uncommon sight on film – something truly unique – and the satisfaction of being the only one to have seen these events or occurrences until the images are published and shared. It makes the pain worth the result, because even though the pain is always present, there’s the bonus of creating something for others less active or able in the process. I am always aware that there is someone facing a tougher battle than mine. If my photography raises a memory or a smile for them, that too has to be a good result.
Caption: This image is from a walk along the coast, taken while clambering under/over/through the long pōhutukawa branches that are just above the high tide mark. I like the rough bark texture, and twisted limbs from untold years weathering storms, yet they remain strong and flexible. Every year the flowers come with the heat of summer and bring colour to the coast.