Ladies and Gentlemen, for this next assignment, I will be breaking all of my own rules.
Those of you who follow my travels regularly know that I a man of habit. For example, 1) I never divulge my destination or travel plans ahead of time, 2) I always work alone, and 3) I typically travel with six or seven cameras.
Why so many? Because different cameras do different things—some are good for fast and easy video, others better for high-res stills, some let me edit and post photos immediately, others are waterproof . . . and also (little known fact), I tend to destroy cameras very easily.
Well, this time I am traveling with just one—uno, solo, single—camera (gasp!).
My new Nikon D600 showed up at my office like a baby on my doorstep (as if delivered by some friendly stork) and I opened the box as gingerly as a parent peeling the blanket from a newborn’s face.
Unwrapping a brand new camera brings a swell of excitement and the promise of future adventures and artistic endeavors. As I fiddled with the camera’s switches and buttons, my new baby giggled with electronic beeps and then sighed the satisfactory click of a virgin shutter.
Unlike newborn babies, my new camera comes with a 340-page instruction book detailing all the ins and outs of this rather high-tech, digital SLR, and although I am generally allergic to technical writing (weak plot), I am forcing myself to read this diagram-rich paperback line by line.
In fact, I am reading two books in preparation for my next National Geographic Traveler assignment: the Nikon D600 User’s Manual AND the only slightly-longer Voyage of the Beagle by a guy named Charles Darwin.
In Chapter 17 (Spoiler Alert) Darwin arrives in the Galápagos Islands and writes, “The natural history of these islands is eminently curious and well deserves attention.” I was relieved to read this because tomorrow morning I intend to make my way to the Galápagos Islands, where I hope to take many splendid photographs with my new camera.
So there—for the first time in the history of this blog, I am revealing my destination a full 24 hours before my departure (don’t get used to it folks). How excited am I about this next voyage? I am thrilled (ecstatic!) and I cannot think of a better place on Earth to exercise my new camera. There will be many animals—there will be penguins!—and there will be good light. My camera will be happy.
And finally, to shatter just one more habit—I am bringing somebody with me!
Allow me to introduce photographer Brian Forbes Powell, winner of our recent Nikon “The Full Story” photo contest. Brian’s photo essay about ranchers and land use in Arizona was beautifully depicted and although he has won many accolades, a new camera, and a trip to the Galápagos, the real prize is the traveling with me—of course.
Together, Brian and I will be spending a week exploring the vibrant Galápagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions. I am truly looking forward to this voyage, especially since I will be focusing primarily on photography.
Darwin didn’t have a camera, and so all we have from his trip is a chapter in a book where he does his best to relay the color and strangeness of this exotic world with words. Fast-forward to our day, where all of us are trading thousands of images with one another without stopping.
Photography lets us share stories in a way that words cannot.
This is precisely what makes me so excited to use my new camear down in Ecuador. I have a lot to learn about the D600 but I am already very happy with certain aspects, like the time-lapse feature (that let me share this Montana sunset) and the wifi adapter, which allows me to tweet high-res images directly from my SLR (like this grizzly bear!)
Now I know that so many of you entered this contest and hoped to win a camera and a trip with me, but the beauty of the internet is that you can still travel with me online. We leave tomorrow first thing in the morning and should reach Galápagos 24 hours later. As always, I will be tweeting from @WheresAndrew and sharing the beauty of the place here on my blog—just bear in mind that starting now, every image I share was shot with my new camera.