It was three in the morning and all I wanted to do was sleep. But a little black furry guy had other ideas and the increasing intensity of his jumps on me eventually got me into an awake state and my night was over.

I lasted almost an hour begging and pleading with him to let me sleep, but eventually a little before four, I found myself clothed and heading downstairs.

Just outside the front door was Tetsuo who had been out all night (chasing ladies, no doubt), so he was glad to see the door open early and the furless-one-who-feeds-me appear in the doorway.

Similarly, the six in the office/studio also rejoiced as I opened the office door and there was a stampede into the darkness of wild little creatures that seemed to have been locked up for years.

Of course, the wonderful thing about these early morning stampedes is that at the first sound of a dish hitting the floor, the stampede happens in reverse and their cute little faces all look up at me as if they have never even seen food before!

It can’t have been very long after that, that I gathered my camera, a cup of coffee, sat in the car, and headed off to downtown Tampa. Even in the darkness, I could see that the skies were heavily clouded, so the chance of anything sunrise related was remote.

But I was more interested in buildings, shapes, and lights. So on the 30 minute drive into town, I was a happy camper, sipping coffee and thinking thoughts of what to shoot.

I made the Tampa Theatre my initial target and while it is in the first two pics below, it was the wrong time to shoot it. If the under canopy lights had been on, it might have been a cool feature, but frankly, it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.

But, that was the only part of this early morning adventure that didn’t.

I had a great time wandering around with little or no traffic and several streets to myself. And some of the shots are attached at the end of the blog … hope you enjoy them.

There are a couple of things I want to point out … the reflection of the building top lights in in the passing cloud above (pic 7), and the couple of instances where the traffic lights were caught turning red/green, and then the homeless guy asleep on the sidewalk in pic 6. Richest country in the world … this should never happen.

There was another homeless guy that followed me and rode by me three times on his bicycle and I could feel his eyes on my equipment (keep it clean!) and realized there was a possible danger point here. I stared him down hard on his third pass and puffed out my chest. And thankfully that was the last time I saw him.

But it was that incident that stuck, along with the other guy who looked seriously stoned and when I answered that I didn’t have any cash, wanted to know if I had a card. I thought fleetingly about giving it to him along with my PIN, but I wasn’t really in the giving mood this morning. I mean, seriously; homeless dudes with the ability to process cards … what is this world coming to!

Driving home I was thinking about the good and bad of this morning’s adventure. A quiet downtown really presented me with the chance to explore some city-scapes without having to battle traffic. Several times, I was standing in the middle of the street to get the shot I wanted. But there was definitely a danger element to where I was and some of the people that were there also. I resigned myself to next time, I will have my Glock with me, but it saddened me that this thought even entered my head.

But standing there with almost $3K worth of equipment among dudes that might value my life to be questionable even at the $20 level … well, that’s a bit of a risk, in truth.

I am definitely safer in the company of alligators. Despite what my kids think.

And so the whole aspect of decency/honesty/truthworthiness as traits within living creatures, is what played out in my head while I was driving home.

Right or wrong, I see no malice in non-human animals. There seems to be very little agenda at play in the natural kingdom. The guys with big sharp teeth might want to eat you, but they won’t rob you. And if they do kill you, it is for food, not in malice.

No, malice and subterfuge are distinct traits of us humans and I suspect that these evolved along with our brains when we crawled out of the ponds.

Truth is a concept that we like to elevate and make out how important it is to all of us. Yet, none of us are completely truthful. Everyone has a darkness within them, big or small. It might be controlled or dominant, but it is nonetheless there.

Young couples professing their undying love to each other willingly promise to always tell the truth and build their “forever” relationship on honesty and trustworthiness.

Even in the bible, if you believe it, Jesus says “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone” … confident in the fact that no human is without a darkness.

I love getting lost among animals. I don’t have to wonder if the possum on the bicycle is about to mug me and run off with my camera, or if the raccoon asking for my card is going to pull a knife on me and force me to give them my PIN.

I recall how growing up in a catholic school system i was taught that only humans have souls, animals do not. Hence only humans can go to heaven.

The argument of being created in the likeness of a god is bestowed on humanity, ensuring that we see humans as being somewhat elevated above the rest of the animal kingdom.

Yet humanity is the home of lies, murder, robbery, and almost every negative trait you could think of. If that is what having a soul means, then the joke is on us.

I choose to believe that all creatures are part of the world we live in. An equal part. None are better than others and none are worse.

Oh wait, I forgot humans and their soul shit … they are worse.

… just a thought.