The greatest toy my wife ever bought me is my digital camera. Well, plural, now. She bought me my first one in 2004, and here's the very first photo that I took on a hike. It's of a rock climber on one of the cliffs near the summit of Crowder's Mountain, a quartzite monadnock not far from Charlotte, NC, where I live.
Fast forward some four years and two months later. Carole bought me a second digital camera that's a bit better than the old one. Nice lens, more memory, etc. (Both are made by Canon.) While I do the lion's share of my hiking in the mountains, my latest outdoors excursion was in the low country, in Florida, and features the scrub jay that stole all of the bait out of the live trap meant for the problem raccoon at our campsite.
I'm left to conclude that I'm not a very good photographer. I'm far too impatient and I never learn all of the details of a camera's operation. As soon as I learn the basics, I shut down the learning process and just start snapping photos as fast as I can. That's the thing about a digital camera. You can take so many damned photos that you're bound to snap a few that are pretty good.
At any rate, having these cameras has meant a lot to me. The fact that I can record so very much of my hiking and camping and backpacking experiences has added a tremendous layer of joy to my outdoor activities. I took pictures when I used a film camera, but of course not nearly so many.
Here's one from June 24, 2004, the day I learned how to use the camera timer for self-portraits. This is, I think, the first self-portrait that I took on one of my hikes. This one from the summit of Cook's Wall in Hanging Rock State Park near the NC/VA border.
And a self-portrait two years later when I was in the Bald River Gorge Wilderness in Tennessee. By then I had a tripod that I took along instead of struggling to find a rock or a stump to put the camera on.
Well, it's been a few weeks since I've been on a hike, and I'm going stir-crazy to get out of the city and back into the woods. My next trip is in June when I plan on hitting some big waterfalls and bagging some peaks I've never climbed. And, of course, I'll also be taking quite a pile of photographs.