I always carry a camera of some sort because I believe the old dictum "The best camera is the one you have with you", I don't hang it round my neck and look like a tourist but keep it in a bag that's quick and easy to access it from
How much money did that "Moonrise" shot make? Humm...............
A lot of times when I don't have a camera with me, I wish I had brought one. You can always bring a RF camera or at least something small.
Usually, the RF are enough but if I find a scene that 35mm does not do justice to then I will return later with a MF camera and I will have a better idea of how to shoot the scene. I would love to have a LF camera to shoot some scenes.
Thy heart -- thy heart! -- I wake and sigh,
And sleep to dream till day
Of the truth that gold can never buy
Of the bawbles that it may.
I sometimes have a camera with me when I am out for a bike ride, sometime I don't, depending on my mood. Sometimes I just want to ride, sometimes I want to shoot. Most of the places I can reach by bike from my house in one day's ride I can easily return to later at some point. If I am, in fact, being a tourist in some place that I do not get to frequently or may not get to again, I'm more likely to want to have a camera within easy reach. I try not to get too hung up on which way is "better" and just go with the circumstance.
"People get bumped off." -- Weegee
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Last Saturday morning, it was cloudy and gray in the morning. By noon it was starting to clear. I drove up to Mount Baker in the afternoon. It would have been a crime to not have a camera with me. It's really beautiful there.
"She's always out making pictures, She's always out making scenes.
She's always out the window, When it comes to making Dreams.
It's all mixed up, It's all mixed up, It's all mixed up."
From It's All Mixed Up by The Cars
have a camera with you
Henri Cartier-Bresson said "I always have a camera with me unless I am shaving in the morning".
Went to do street photography for four days now this week in Europe. All the time I had camera with me except for 10 minutes the last morning when I was just going out to pick up some breakfast. And guess when THE moment of moments happend, yap you guessed right, during those 10 minutes without camera!
That beeing said, bringing camera does not mean you are obligated to shoot. Many times I come back without shooting any pictures.
I keep cameras in my car. digital and B&W film.
I throw a camera over my shoulder when I go for a walk. Usually if it's dim light which it is a lot this time of year, I take my D300 with 50 1.4. I can continue to take handheld photos after the sun is long gone with it's variable ISO. If it's average or brighter, I might take my Yashica-C with some tmax film in it.
Often I take no photos with either camera choice, even though digital is essentially "free" being that it's already paid for up front. Other times, I get some really nice photos. I don't hide it, but it doesn't get in the way either. If you complain about lugging a 2 lb camera, you need some exercise. I've been on canoe paddles too where the cameras just sit in their case and never get used because I didn't have the right opportunities.
It's like being a "live to fish" fisherman and taking your boat out for a cruise without taking your fishing pole(s). It's neurotic and wrong.
Another analogy perhaps more suitable to the OP would be a hunter who goes for a hike on a non-hunting day without his/her gun. It's nice to just enjoy the outdoors and not worry about how you are going to get that deer/bear/moose out of the woods if it were a hunting day.
I prefer to "be prepared"; learned that and knot tying in scouts. I do prefer to keep a camera close by AND keep my eyes open. I like to go back too, often. Light, shadows, colors, atmosphere, clouds, snow cover, everything is different every time you repeat a route.
There are many situations where photographic considerations could very well get in the way of fully appreciating a place or event. For those, it's best not to be tempted by a camera immediately at hand.
Sometimes it is just best not to make a visual record.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2