Wednesday, March 5, 2014

15 Freiburg

Cameras cameras everywhere

The 2010 statistics for camera ownership in Hong Kong showed that, on average, there were 3.7 cameras owned per household. That's 2.9 points more camera than the average number of kids ! And this excluded the crappy cameras then given away as a bonus on cell phones.

It seems to me that not only are cameras integral to recording the progress and cuteness of our sprogs (before they turn into adolescent she devils), but that cameras are some people's only way to cope with a holiday. "Oh Geoffrey, why did you leave the camera in the hotel room" or "Oh Geoffrey, I did say before we left that there would be no harm in buying some extra rolls of film, Graham keeps his unused rolls in the fridge."

Then there's another type of camera person. Mr or Mrs "Into It". Mr and Mrs Into It carry all the kit. Maybe in their minds they think, all the time "I am a place hunter, I take photos. I post all my snaps. My view is worth for someone else to view." (Usually it is not.)

Personally, I blame the emergence of the camera on holiday clan on two things; social media sites like flickr, and the annihiliation of the rain forests due to Global Warming.

I think what we are experiencing is what happens when there aren’t enough tigers and elephants to shoot and bring home stuffed as souvenirs to hang on their walls.  "Mr and Mrs. Into It" whack reams of photos taken at every minute, in public web pages, in VAST quantities.

I'm not sure but I'm thinking that we’ve come to expect, almost demand, that every sight we just might believe is worth seeing again for one nano second should be allowed to be snapped; so we can then pass it on in full 13564 x 25609 pixel resolution to those on our “friends lists.”

I pity the security guards who have to tell a holidaymaker "Sorry, you can't photograph the King's Mother's funeral cortege, it is not respectful."

Worse than that. It seems to me that with the explosion of bytes on a memory cards and / or the immediate upload that if we don't be careful we will lose our "looking carefully" skills and "round the hearth and storytelling" (or down the pub) traditions.  At this rate Canon, Nokia, Apple, Samsung and Nikon will be driving a farewell to intestine and eyeball stew and singing out the family history in a dung-smoke filled Mongolian tent. Instead it will be hello to takeaway pizza's and rotflmao around the communal handheld - isolated in our own bubbles or sitting alone in an armchair at Starbucks.

Now then, get to my Freiburg point...  I'm thankful that when I was 13 and I hiked through parts of the Black Forest I didn’t have a camera with me. I didn’t own one. I think there were only four cameras in the whole scout troop. The chunky black bakelite camera things or the new Kodaks or Olympus Trips were usually stuffed down at the bottom of a Karrimor rucksacks, under the important kit; like an extra sweater, two packs of playing cards, a bright orange fluorescent-help-I'm-lost-in-the-rain-on-a-mountainside raincoat, chocolate bars. The camera was an afterthought.

And when, at the end of the hike, or the achievement of something, when the lad with the Olympus Trip finally did take a pic (because he was reminded by an adult who suggested that "hey lads, you may want to take a photo of this moment) he took one pic. The lad with the lens did not take three dozen shots and a couple of selfies. This was because he used film, tangible film, that you had to buy and carry around and then pay three weeks of hard earned pocket money to get processed and printed.

When I was in and around Freiburg we breathed the air, we talked about teenager angst issues, we felt the SchwarzForestBuzz. We stuffed the camera and forgot the photos. Maybe we got a few for our parents otherwise we were going to get some earache.

The fun in my trekking holidays in the 1970s and 1980s was in the going and in the doing, and then the talking about the doing afterwards.The trip wasn’t focused on preparing and collecting souvenirs to bring back home or transferring images from one place to another. Hiking in the Black Forest was about being and talking to my folks about the being for weeks after. Holidays without my parents were opportunities to create myths so that when I returned I could build up stories to huge, impossible proportions.

Those mountains aren’t as good as the German ones. They'd be called hills in Germany.”

German trains don’t make as much noise as our trains do. German trains are great and travel at the speed of sound.”

Freiburg’s cathedral is about eight times taller than that cathedral. And its spire is better...”

So that's why I've got nothing photographic on Freiburg on this page. When I went I was more into nicking Grolsch beer mats from the street side cafes, buying mountain walking sticks with funny badges to pin on it. And buying a real cuckoo clock that hung on my bedroom wall for the next eight years. Photographic souvenirs of my mates? Why would I do that? They were my mates. They weren't going anywhere.

I think there's a way we can get back to real social interaction, real looking and authentic being there. Impose a government tax on every photo posted on the internet. Charge two cents for every photo uploaded. Three cents for those without a like. And let everyone know that the proceeds from this tax are going into my holiday spending money fund.

Black Forest, Freiburg:

Black Forest, Lucerne;

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