There is a common expression in photography, that "the best camera is the one you have with you." And, for many people these days, that camera is their smart phone. Smart phones are compact, always with us, and these days take very high quality images. On Instagram and similar sites, I have seen some truly stunning and creative images taken with smart phones. I've tried to embrace my iPhone more as a camera, but, for still photos, I just don't like the interface. I don't like looking at and touching a little screen to focus and take a photo. I feel disconnected from the scene and less likely to spend time thinking about composition, or crouching and moving around to get a better angle. There's something about looking through a viewfinder, and having to actively choose the ISO, exposure and aperture that draws me in and encourages me to be more purposeful about how I take the photo. I've had times, often while riding my bike, where I've seen a scene that I wanted to capture, but despite having my iPhone, just didn't bother, and often regretted it later. So, I've now taken to keeping my light, compact 50mm lens on my camera, and keeping the camera in my backpack at all times. Most days, I take it to school and back without taking a single photo, but I like knowing it's there. Part of getting a good image is putting yourself in a situation where your chances of getting a good image are increased, and you're definitely not going to get the image if you don't have your camera.
So, when a recent change in my routine gave me an unexpected photo op, I was ready. A couple months back, I purchased a single speed commuting bike. I love my new bike. It's light, elegant, fast, and very easy to clean as it has only one gear and no derailleur. But, the tough gearing makes very steep hills a real challenge to climb. I like standing in the saddle and grinding out the hills, but there is one hill on the way to my school that I could manage on my geared bike, but can no longer get up without dismounting. Years ago, I used to ride through Heiwa Park, which is near my school, so I decided one morning to try that route again. It turns out, it only adds a couple minutes to my total commute time, it's a nicer ride, and I can get up the final hill to my school without getting off my bike. So for the last month or so that's the route I've been using. This time of year, the sky is just starting to brighten at the time of my commute, so last Thursday, as I was riding through the park with my camera in my backpack, I noticed a row of tombstones silhouetted against the lightening sky with a couple of crows sitting on them. I stopped, got out my camera, and framed a few shots in the cold before getting back on my bike to continue on to school. It was just a scene likely oft repeated, if seldom documented, that I happened to notice because of a change of routine, and was able to photograph because I had my camera with me.