Both weekend mornings gave little reason to take the camera out, as clouds dominated the early mornings across central Florida.

While Saturday’s morning said “mostly cloudy” Sunday’s simply said “Cloudy”, so it was reasonable to anticipate that there wasn’t going to be any sunrise worth mentioning.

As it turned out, yesterday’s gave a small hint of color for a few minutes but this morning was true to forecast … simply dark and grey.

But that’s OK. I decide to give myself a challenge and yesterday I went down to Ballast Point in south Tampa, armed only with a 70mm to 300mm zoom lens. To put that in context, I only ever shoot sunrises, sunsets, or anything landscapish actually, with a wide lens at 28mm. And if I really want to expand the view I use the 11mm ultra wide that gives those fish-eye type images.

So the challenge of a zoomed view was that I would have to look harder for shots that made sense in zoom, rather than the sweeping panoramic type. It also obliged me to step way-back when trying to get anything of landscape quality.

There wasn’t a lot to work with, but I got a small few shots worth sharing and they are at the end of the blog.

This morning, I gave myself a bigger challenge and walked out the door with only the 400mm to 600mm zoom lens. So unless I was prepared to step back to California, I wasn’t going to get anything of a landscape nature here in Lakeland.

This meant that when I arrived at Lake Parker, my eyes were trying to find things far away that made any kind of sense to shoot. Stationary objects like the moon were an obliging find, but the real fun was trying to shoot something that was moving within a dark sky, knowing at best I am only going to get a silhouette.

The number I fluffed was huge, and even those I got weren’t great. It was so dark, the camera had an awful time trying to find a focus and my own handling of what is a seriously heavy camera and lens configuration left a lot to be desired.

Yes, I got little Jesus bird doing his walking on water trick again but that was a miracle (pun intended). But in the main, I failed to get anything of significance. I have included some of what I did get also at the end of the blog.

By the time I got into the car to head home, I was largely annoyed with my own shortcomings and then during the drive, I thought about what I done over these two shoots.

Firstly, I could have stayed home on both occasions and shot nothing. That would have been the easy answer. Or secondly, I could have taken the appropriate lenses with me in order to capture the scenes that I guessed would be in front of me.

But I did neither … choosing to handicap myself with lenses that I knew I would never normally use in such shoots.

And in my mind I smiled. I knew what I had done. I had deliberately set the bar too high for myself. So, failure was almost certainly guaranteed.

And to that extent, I succeeded. Succeeded in failing.

Setting challenges for ourselves is a good thing to do periodically, regardless of the failure that they might bring.

We spend so much of our lives working within our own comfort zones and following an easier path. Yet, the real growth comes from the more difficult one, should we choose it.

We learn more each time we fail than from a hundred successes and it is a good situation to throw ourselves in because even if we learn nothing more than to cope with failure, then we have succeeded.

By the time I got home this morning, I wasn’t even remotely upset at my ineptitude. I reminded myself that I am not perfect and that given the right tools, I will often fuck up.

You see, that is ok. No one was hurt in the process of this failure and it yielded a strong sense of my own flaws and shortcomings.

And once we are ready to recognize our own flaws and vulnerabilities, it becomes easier to accept them in others. Those who foolishly think they are perfect, often seek perfection in the people around them and make judgements when they shouldn’t.

Making any kind of judgement of others is a poor decision and is best left to the gods. But when we make it from an elevated platform where we think we are so much better, it is not just conceited but foolish.

Life is a separate journey for each of us and we go through this journey in our own way, hopefully as best we can. Our version of best is never something that should be applied to someone else on their journey. Particularly when we often don’t even apply that measure to ourselves.

… just a thought.