One of the gifts I have been very fortunate with in recent years is the presence in my life of a few special young ladies who like to experiment with my camera and me.

Experimenters have helped me blossom and expand my range of photography skills in many directions. From steel wool to long exposure photography, a key element of my success has been the patient and willing support of these very beautiful ladies.

And to a person, they have been so much more than just subjects for my lens; they have developed plans, creative ideas, and in many instances guidance that has taken my skills down some interesting paths.

In many ways I am still only at the beginning of these journeys and many miles from being expert. But it is the learning (as well as occasionally achieving) that gives me the real thrill.

I spotted Brittany the other evening under a tree putting a lighted hoop through its paces and so it called me out to try to capture it. Typically, I wouldn’t even have tried because it was really too bright at that time of early evening to properly shoot long exposures on the light trails.

And so I had to adapt what I had already learned about the camera and try to get it to ignore a lot of the ambient light. She encouraged my efforts and kept working her magic and after many failed initial efforts, I stumbled into this sequence that I have attached here. I hope you enjoy them!

This morning as I awoke to a chilly but beautiful Florida morning, I heard my camera moaning in anticipation at what this weekend might bring it. And by the time the weekend is over, I hope to have delivered something that puts a smile on its face.

I have a few ideas and I will see where they take me.

But in the meantime, I began to think this morning about how my own camera success is not just dependent on some willing co-conspirators but very much enriched by their presence.

Gone are the days when passive observation of a beautiful happening is enough to count my imagery as successful. Sunrise and sunsets are enriched by birds, silhouetters, and yes even hoopers. (OK, I need to stop making up words for a while … pretty soon no-one will even understand me as I resort to a made-up language to help paint my pictures).

Flowers are enhanced by bees, love bugs and raindrops. And the trails brought to life by alligators that cross them.

One of the lovely aspects of what we do is that there is always someone or something to enrich our experience. We just have to step off our island and offer a welcoming hand.

And when it comes time to try something new, it is almost always better in the company of others. They expand our thought process and provide insights into a variable that might make our experiment work. Or at the very least, work better.

A huge part of life’s learning comes from our involvement with others. And an open mind is one that learns better.

So I always try to share an experience with those that I learn from. It becomes a joint effort and when it works, a joint success. Those are the best successes.

As experimentation tools, cameras provide a wonderful platform. Their success is very quickly determined and their feedback is invaluable to the learning process.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of life behaved like that? An instant feedback loop that helped redirect our efforts and improved our aim?

I think what I have learned thus far is that true friends are the cameras in our “real” life. They help guide us and let us know when we are doing something right or wrong. They don’t judge and only support.

When we experiment by traveling down a new path, they give us the feedback on whether it is a good or bad move. And when we listen and understand, then we are best able to determine if this really is a path for us, or not.

The destination for each of us is the same, so it doesn’t really matter where we actually go. Only how we get there!

By experimenting we take our lives in new directions and our lives become more interesting and full. Why would you want anything less for your one life?

People who are success-obsessed and destination-focused, avoid experimentation because of the risk of failure. But the real failure is never having tried.

Travel the path less-worn and bring someone with you. Life’s journey is best witnessed through the eyes of a true (and experimental) friend.

Have a wonderful week!