I don’t start the day in a smokey tent in the desert but I do wander when I photograph.
I am not led by trade or grazing and I am not following a long-established traditional route. Spontaneous creativity draws me down streets toward images. I don’t have a plan, just general principles.
I am savoring the sites, sounds, smells, and interesting people of a new city. Scenes, perspectives, lighting, compositions, and chance combinations hold my attention. My camera and a light top-loader pack with an extra lens and other supplies, along with a light rain coat, are my cargo. I listen to music stored on my phone via earbuds. It is a time of escape and of immersion. Cultural immersion.
Walking all day leads me to many unexpected places. Small neighborhoods are surrounded by an immense urban framework. But each one has its own character, its own people.
In a historical city like Budapest you are walking though the glories of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the gray oppression of the Soviet era along with battle scars. Remnants of each pop out, but the Soviet era relics are not as photogenic.
Budapest is a city of ancient castles, palaces, boulevards, synagogues, basilicas, parks, museums, and all the elements of a modern business center. While I visited Hungary it had the Presidency of the European Union.
It is easy to forget time and place. My mind is racing, “what if the bright yellow street car passes through this park and a tour boat floats down the Danube, and ….” So many ideas and so many surprises.
In the distance I hear sirens and I am stopped by a serious officer. Nobody can walk across the courtyard ahead. People gather. Security tightens. The honor guard comes to attention as a black car enters the courtyard with flags flapping. A visiting dignitary emerges and is treated with honor by his hosts. I never knew who it was.
Late in the afternoon, I have to rest. I try to find a shaded outdoor table at a café. It is time to have some lunch, lots of water, and a glass of wine. It is a good chance to watch people on the sidewalk and in the buses. Conversations sound interesting, but I don’t know what they are saying. Maybe I have time for one more glass of wine….
On the way back to my hotel I pick a different route. Who knows what I will see? Ten hours of unplanned wandering have filled me with many memories. I have hundreds of photographs to sort through. Most are not useable for anything. But a few are rewarding and interesting.
It has been a great day. And I am glad that I am not returning to a tent. My hotel near the train station is a welcome oasis!