By 5:30 this morning, I found myself standing on the banks of the Hillsborough River on the University side, looking across at the full city skyline of downtown Tampa.

I love the city of Tampa and really think it is an awesome skyline. The number of tall buildings isn’t excessive and the gaps between them feel just about right.

I have spoken before about the Riverwalk which runs parrallel to Ashley Drive, downtown and has different sections lit in very attractive ways. It has become a feature of several of my shoots these past few years.

There were a couple of canopy sections that for some reason or other weren’t lit this morning and that was a bit disappointing but it didn’t have a huge effect on what I was trying to do.

You see, I brought two wildly differing lenses with me, the 11 mm fish eye and the 600 mm zoom. The fish eye was to give me the real city view and the zoom was hopefully going to allow me to stretch across the river and get shots of the canopies from the river side.

The former turned out to be perfect and I was really pleased with what it delivered. I intended to work from dark night sky to brightening twilight sky and it captured both for me.

Unfortunately the reduction in lit canopies was somewhat limiting to the 600 mm lens. I wanted to catch people as they walked, ran, or cycled, but the walkways proved disappointingly dark because of the lights. But the real problem was that the lens was too heavy for my tripod and what few opportunities there were, were lost while I was trying to set up each shot.

Because of its weight it was slowly dropping on the tripod and so while I normally delay the shot by two seconds on a timer when shooting low light, this time I had to change that to five. Trying to guess where someone is going to be in five seconds from a distance of 400 or 500 feet is quite difficult. And making that spot coincide with the one canopy that was solidly lit, was near impossible. Well, for this old man, anyway.

I have attached a couple of the 11 mm shots … one the night sky and one the twilight one. Hope you enjoy.

As I drove home I resigned myself to needing another (heavy duty) tripod for the large lens, which is going to be annoying. The camera and lens together weigh just over 7 lbs already, so adding a heavy tripod and then carrying the whole assembly around will limit how far I go with it.

What is more annoying is that the tripod is rated for up to 22 lbs but they obviously haven’t factored in the length of a long lens and how it affects the ball-head mount.

What happens is that you find your focus on something, click the shutter button and then when you take your hands off the camera it droops down slowly while the picture is being taken. Miserable!!

Anyway, what I realized this morning was that I had reached a limitation of my current setup and until I changed something in the setup (the tripod), I was going to be stuck with these limitations as they are.

And that’s when I began to think about how similar that is in all of life. We often find ourselves in situations where there are limitations binding the outcome. It might be a personal limitation or perhaps something that is environmental to our situation. It might also be a rule or law that confines us to the extent of what we can do.

These limitations are real and often they are intransigent. For example, reaching the edge of cliff and wishing to continue is limited by the fact that we can’t fly. Or encountering one of these radical republicans and wanting to have them put to sleep, is limited by laws governing acts of murder, no matter how justifiable.

But there are other limitations that can be moved to where we can push these limits further out. For example, if we are unable to lift a seven pound camera configuration over a five mile trail, then we can exercise and develop muscle and stamina to allow us to do so.

Similarly a lot of the limits we encounter are mental and defined by our own fears or phobias. “I can’t have that spider walking on me, I will die” and so we never experience the joy of engaging with such an amazing little creature.

“I can’t swim. Don’t make me go in the water. I will die.” and so we watch the fun from the beach or the edge of the pool.

These are the limits that are easiest tackled and they are the ones that if we are to grow as human beings, that we need to push.

And therein lies my point. A more complete life is one that sees us grow; not just physically, but mentally. And that growth means that we experience new things over time and that we improve something about ourselves each time.

It is a life where we live at the edge of our potential; always looking to see if we can push the boundaries that confine us, just a little further.

Growth is not infinite. We don’t all get to the point where we voluntarily bungee jump and dive out of planes. Tackling limitations does not mean we all have to recklessly endanger ourselves or anyone.

But growth does mean that tomorrow we should be able to do something more than we were able to do today.

What the hell, I will order a stronger tripod today in the sales.

… just a thought!