Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The big hill that might as well have been a mountain

© Melissa Milligan Photography

I still laugh when I look at this photo, though not for the obvious reason.  This is Clifford's Tower in York, England. I took the photo while in Europe and the UK, during the summer of 1991. 

Having once been a travel agent, I used those crackerjack skills to create for myself a month-long whirlwind tour of the UK the likes of which hadn't been seen since "If it's Tuesday, this Must be Belgium."  In my case, I was sadly lacking a young Ian McShane to accompany me.  I travelled solo.

As is the case with most whirlwind tours, some places got glossed over, sped up, or were left unresearched prior to arrival.  Clifford's Tower was one such place.

I remember walking towards it trying desperately to talk myself out of my unrealistic fear of hills (second only to my fear of heights.)  So, I grabbed my camera bag and made it about ten steps up the hill before deciding that photos from the ground would do just fine. 

Once I finished shooting, I crossed the road and took a boat tour that required no hill climbing whatsoever.  It was a lovely ride, but all the while I marvelled at the staggering number of people on the top of the tower that managed to climb that hill.  How on earth did they do it?

Years later I was watching a television show about York, and there was the tower looking just as I left it.  And what did I see to my astonishment?  Stairs.  On either side of the hill just out of sight. The cameraman did what I did not - he walked around the hill.  Had I done the same I'd have seen those stairs, climbed them and the tower, and undoubtedly gotten some really lovely photos.

Photography lesson learned: look at your subject from all sides because if you don't, you could be missing something great.

Life lesson learned: try thinking.

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