Featured, Photo Essay

Catalina Island: No Filter


In my life, I’ve been blessed with the ability to experience slightly more of the world than the average person.  I’ve also been blessed with the ability to share my experiences with others.  In fact, we’ve all been blessed in such a way–in the past ten years, travel has become a shared experience. (Have I used the word ‘blessed’ too much?  Yes?  Ok sorry.  I’ll stop.)  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and that thing I just don’t get–Pinterest) have changed the way we travel–and the way we share our travels.

And I do share.  Oh, do I share.  I share on every social media platform that exists–aside from Pinterest (I just don’t get Pinterest.  And I have no desire to design the most epic 5th birthday party ever, so I feel it is not for me.  Please correct me if I’m wrong).  And in all of this sharing, our experiences often become…filtered.

I can make any location look beautiful.  (And so can you).  I just need the correct filter and, with a tiny bit more tweaking, voila! A stunning shot!  I can crop out the ugly and leave only the beauty.  Take, for example, this photo:


It is an overly-filtered shot of a cactus in front of the dirty window of what can only be described as a dive bar in south Texas.  But doesn’t it appear quaint?  Yeah.   Sans filter, it looks like this:


See?  Filters matter.

But sometimes, very rarely, I encounter a place where filters just don’t work.  A place where even filtered photographs do not match the stunning reality spread out before me.  A place that is so beautiful, I can only remember it, and know that when I am very, very old–and when Instagram has become as obsolete as my nana’s old vacation slides–I will still have that memory.

Catalina Island is one of those places.

Of course, my inability to capture the beauty of Catalina Island did not stop me from trying to capture said beauty.  Take, for example, my failed attempt to photograph the fading light of sunset as it dappled the tops of the mountains…


…Yep.  Definitely not as gorgeous as in real life.  Or, for example, the morning I actually set my alarm to watch the sun rise over the harbor from the roof of my hotel…


…I assure you, in real life, it was far more breathtaking.  Which is saying a lot.  Because these photos aren’t exactly hideous.  In fact, I made this sunset photo my new Facebook header…


One can always tell that I’ve just visited a place I loved, because I immediately change both my header and profile photo to reflect that location.  This is my current Catalina-themed profile photo…


Heck, even I don’t require a filter in the golden light of Catalina.  Now that’s really saying something.

I took over five hundred photos during my short time on Catalina, and not one is as beautiful as the reality.  Catalina Island is a place that will live forever in my mind’s eye; it is a place that requires no filter (or, in hashtag speak, #nofilter).  It is a place that cannot be captured in words, on film, or in strings of ones and zeroes.  It must be experienced.







However, in the next few weeks, I will try.  I will try to share words and images that convey a tiny part of the beauty of this place-that-has-touched-my-heart (and I don’t throw around phrases like ‘touched my heart’ lightly.  Just like I don’t use Pinterest.)  I will share with you stories and images of land and sea, as well as stories of adventure and relaxation.  All of which I managed to fit into two and a half short days on Catalina Island.

As the next winter storm barrels toward the northeast, threatening to further narrow my ever-narrowing driveway and further befuddle my poor little dogs (who are already shorter than the snow is high) I will continue to sift through my island photos and remember the sunshine.

Stay tuned for sunshine.  

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