Catch Up Post #5: Austria Trip

The wonders of the internet. Back in good old 1998 I was the web site admin for my college fraternity. Yes, fifteen years ago. I kept it simple, used only 640×480 photographs to allow all browsers and screen resolutions to render the page appropriately and in short order as I needed to cater to 56k modem connections. The web page had a guest book and one of the signers was the Panhellenic President (Each sorority appoints 1-2 people to represent their chapter in a council and she was the president of that council) at a school in a small town in the southern part of Georgia, about 1800 miles away. Being the steward of the web site, I sent an e-mail back for courtesy asking about her town and her unique name. We became pen pals, actually mostly keyboard pals for a couple of years. One year we sent each other Valentine cards as we mutually didn’t have anyone to spend Valentine’s Day with. We also talked to each other on the phone when we could. Back then it was pricy to talk on the phone long distance so we only did so when we could use calling cards or didn’t care about the cost.

Long story short, we both kept in contact and in late 2000 after she graduated from the school in the small Georgia town she got a job good enough to buy me a plane ticket to come visit. It was before 9/11 when people greeting arriving visitors at the airport could greet them at the gate. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I knew. I got hit by the Thunderbolt as they say in The Godfather. We were married only a year after and have been ever since.

SLT-A99V, 85mm f/1.4 ZA @ f/2.2, ISO 500, 1/100s

So yes, I met my wife on the internet. And yes, I am a lucky man.

This blog is what I do in my sparest of spare time. I hope someone out there is in the same situation I was a couple of years ago and maybe will learn something from one of my mistakes or discoveries. I’ve also made a couple of contacts over the internet and gotten some good advice and criticism from those people. One of those people is Christian who lives in Austria and also shoots using Sony equipment on the A-mount. Christian has posted a few comments to some of the posts I’ve made. He gave me an open invitation to see some of the places he has photographed in Austria. I spent a few months figuring out the logistics and once the pieces started to come together I figured I would accept the invitation and I worked it out to book the travel.

I am pretty excited about the whole thing. Christian has an array of lenses I can try out and a knowledge of the area only a person local to the region would know. I usually gravitate toward tourist attractions which sometimes is cool and sometimes I’m trying to shoot a shot others have shot before or are even concurrently shooting. When I was in Malaysia, I stood in line for a specific spot to mount my tripod to capture the Petronas towers. Everyone before me was using a zoom lens, I was using a 35mm prime but effectively we got the same shot. Theirs may have been a bit wider or maybe in landscape orientation instead of portrait, but we shot the same thing from the same spot. Don’t get me wrong, I hope to see some of the important attractions in that part of Austria, however I am absolutely thrilled to get the advice and guidance from a local. Christian has been a great mentor to me and has given me very constructive criticism of my photography. He notices things I just don’t think about.

I don’t know if it is a difference in culture between how I was raised in Colorado or how I currently live in North Carolina, I am certainly not used to the kindness Christian has shown me and his offers for accommodation. What impresses me the most, other than some of his photographs, is the tact he has used in delivering messages to me when I may not be doing something the right way. When there is a better way to do something; whether it is framing or coloring a photo, or choosing a hotel in Vienna, Christian has figured out a very effective way of delivering the message to me. This is a skill I fail to achieve.

All I know is, I am going to Austria. I actually fly into Germany and I will likely be taking a train to Austria and staying outside of Vienna. I haven’t worked out those logistics yet as some of the web sites won’t let me make reservations more than 90 days in advance, so I have some time to make those plans. I did order the Rosetta Stone German Language software as I hope to be able to effectively ask where the restroom is. I know most Austrians are very well versed in English, I figure I would at least give German the college try in the few months between now and the time I visit.

My biggest worry right is bringing enough memory cards or ensuring I have enough storage to take all the shots I want to take. That is a wonderful place to be, in my humble opinion!

And yes, I am going to hang out and shoot photos with someone I met using the internet.   🙂

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