Craig Mod is right. Walks are a platform. Walking + photographing + notes = magic. I walked 53,854 steps, 19.6 miles, and wrote 4,688 words in four days. I could have walked more, walked longer, and written more. The writing, in particular, was easy. The walking wasn’t but it wasn’t hard, either— I was just barely on the edge of pushing myself. Didn’t even come close on the writing.
The hardest part, weirdly, was photographing. Photographing for even four hours at a time is hard— I would get to this point a few hours in where I would see something beautiful, something that deserved to be photographed, something I wanted to photograph, and think ugh. I have to get the camera out. I love photography but it’s tiring.
I can handle at least 8 miles a day. This is going to be the range I plan around for the next project like this — shooting for 5-10 miles a day.
I won’t walk this much, though, if I have the choice. If I’m deciding how far to walk in the moment I max out around 4 miles. So next time I’m going to plan the beginning and ends of the walk more specifically.
The second day is harder than the first, but the third is easier, as my body settles into walking mode.
If I’m going to bring a tripod I really ought to also bring an ND filter, especially if I’m photographing water. Even with the smallest possible aperture it’s tough to get an exposure longer than 1s and, I mean, if I’ve bothered to bring the tripod anyway, why settle for just 1s?
Siri-driven note taking doesn’t work if you don’t have internet.
People basically range from indifferent to actively excited about having their photograph taken.
Especially with a tripod, the settings for portraits vs. landscape shots are really different, and I get nervous when I’m taking photos of people so I don’t get the settings right. Next time I need to take advantage of the camera’s preset feature so I can quickly switch between the right set of focus and exposure settings.
Travel writing. It’s fun. Something really clicked for me about this project and writing for it vs. writing the technical, professional stuff I’ve been spending most of my time and effort on so far. I need to lean into that— I’m not sure exactly what it is but there’s something interesting here.
People get excited about/interested in a project based on a location they’ve heard about. I didn’t push very hard to advertise this one but I bet I could have picked up a bunch more subscribers with more lead time.
My Twitter audience is less interested in my photo work than I’d hoped, but more interested than expected. I think it’s finally time to re-open my “main” Twitter — with 1000+ followers — and see what I can do with photograph-driven content from that base.
Breakfast. I should really know this by now — I worked at Pivotal, after all — but eating enough at the start of the day made a big difference in whether I felt like I wanted to die.
Coffee shops. I don’t normally work in coffee shops and I wasn’t actually confident enough to try this time. I ended up doing all the actual writing in my motel room which wasn’t really optimal. It was quiet (ish) but not comfortable.
Craig Mod invented this style of walk-and-photograph-and-write time boxed newsletter and his are great. He mainly walks in Japan. Get on his weekly newsletter, Ridgeline, and his monthly newsletter, Roden, to make sure you catch the next one.
Soth (rhymes with “both”) is a major figure in the world of phonebooks for books that mix portrait and landscapes into visual poems about time, place, and aspects of the human experience. He also makes wonderful, rambling videos about photo books.
Edward Weston helped invent modern photography at Point Lobos. His monograph The Flame of Recognition was one of the main explicit pieces of research I did before setting out.
Architect, philosopher, surprisingly major influence on software design. If you build anything, you should read A Pattern Language.
When I got home I immediately did two things: I ate 16 ozs of tofu cold, because that was the easiest at hand protein, and I started planning the next walk. I have an eye on doing a very long walk — like a month — but I don’t have the equipment, the physical stamina, or the skills to pull it off yet.
So: Training. I’m looking at doing a walk in the Bay Area, late this year or early next, when the light is at its absolute best. Time: About a week. Length target: 5-10 miles per day. Based on the experience I had this past weekend, I expect that amount of walking will be tiring, but not overwhelming. Exact timing will depend on what else I’m doing for work and when I take on my next big consulting contract.
In the meantime— need to finish the next book, make some changes to my equipment, finish a pair programming video course I’m working on with a friend, get caught up on some paperwork bits and bobs.
What do you think of, when you think of San Francisco? Oakland? The Bay Area?
If you live here, what parts of it have you never been to?
If you don’t, what questions do you have about it? When does it appear in your life?