Our Outdoors: Photophone

Time to unplug:  A silent start on the lake is a welcome change from ringing phones.

In this modern world, it’s hard to disconnect from technology.  It seems that in the course of any given day, we check our smart phones no less than a hundred times; sending texts, updating a status or twenty, sharing photos and more that distract from what’s going on in the spaces around us.  Even in the boat, on the water, in the middle of nature it’s tough to put the phone down, but oftentimes it’s for another reason.

With the advent of advanced hand-held technology which at some point added a camera lens to a standard cell phone, the world of the outdoors also became more accessible through these smarter models and fish stories became much more believable.  Where I once would not allow the ringing, buzzing interruption of a cell phone in my boat, they’ve now become not only an element of safety, but also a way to capture the scenes going on in the world around me at a moment’s notice, or when my camera isn’t handy.
Everything in between sunrises and sunsets, and those moments of excitement coming just before and just after are captured in eight-, 12- and even 15-megapixel brilliance which leaves no detail unrepresented. From ducks flying overhead and geese sliding along the shoreline in the shallows with their goslings to the occasional loon slipping silently by the end of the dock, moments that once caused only pause now present the perfect opportunity to hold them forever in the gigabytes of data that these powerful miracles of modern technology possess.

Fast paced:  The author’s brother zooms at 40 mph to the next likely muskie haunt. 

So, this weekend, while my brother and I and our friend Ryan set our phones to silent to avoid the ringing, dinging alerts of text messages, Facebook posts and other unnatural stimuli we get bombarded with throughout the week, we tried to focus on the fish before us – but it wasn’t easy.  With the heat of the approaching summer all around us, and the life and excitement that abounded within it, we were quickly finding that our phones were as much a part of capturing the experience as they were with sharing everyone else’s with us.

Birds of all kinds populated the trees and tough-to-capture species like the elusive oriole that cheered out a lively song in the birch branches above the boathouse didn’t quite come into focus for our hand-held lenses.  But bigger birds, like the loons that magically popped up in front of the boat lift gave us an up-close look, and even some posing for our cameras.  Families of geese waddled along the sandy shoreline and slipped in and out of the shallows when we’d try to get too close.  We took it all in, as we buzzed from spot to spot in the windy summer day that transitioned to evening calm.

Nice shot:  Using his camera phone, the author captures a sunset muskie of 45 inches caught by Ryan Nelson of Valley City, N.D.

In the fading glow of sunset, when Ryan alerted us to a sizeable strike on his soft plastic lure, the phone was at the forefront once again as he battled the mid-40-inch muskie on the other end of the line to the boat.  In the last light of sunset he lifted her from the net for a quick photo – his second such fish in as many weekends – the unnatural computerized snap sound of the lens in the phone replaced the camera click from seasons before capturing the memory just the same.  Teaching me that, in the limited circumstances of sharing these awesome experiences, scenes, and beauty of nature, there’s a small place for such a device…in our outdoors.

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