Welcome to my first blog. I attempted to write about what I experienced as well as tips and techniques I used along the way. I do not consider myself a writer so be nice.
For best viewing experience, please use a desktop or laptop. Some of the slides have raw video running in the background so please be patient for it to load.
Welp. After being a photographer for 12 years, this is officially my first blog. Allow me to take you along my great experience in Tibet while giving you an insight of how I work and what runs through my mind as I'm trying to capture the perfect shot. So here we go.
I'm on my way to Tibet. I've always wanted to go but never knew the logistics it took to get there. It's not like going to Hawaii. First things first, as an American, we have to get special permits to go with local Chinese nationals to get there. Westerners aren't allowed to travel alone without a local basically. Second, we had to get a Chinese visa (which is usually a pain in the butt because normally you’d have to get a visa for every visit but now they changed their policy so that visas last for 10 years.) Not too shabby. I flew to Shanghai to meet my best friend Mark, one of my favorite traveling companions. He got us first class tickets for an additional 20 dollars vs. regular price.
Best 20 dollars ever spent in the history of all time. We had our own private check point, security pass, golf cart ride to a lounge, all you can eat Chinese buffet voucher and beer. Jackpot! We finally board the plane and are ready for take off. We had a quick lay over in Xi-An. As we began our descent, I noticed these pretty cool hazy patterns within the clouds. It kinda looked like a scene from Avatar. I had to inspect my drink there for a second to make sure that Mark didn’t spike it with something. False alarm, it was just pollution filling the sky. Word on the streets is that Xi-An apparently has a lot of pollution because they don’t use subways anymore because of the numerous burial grounds filled with fallen soldiers, such as the Terracata. Imagine a subway going full steam through undiscovered tombs? They apparently didn’t want that to happen and decided to eliminate subways. Good call.
catch a train for time
As we got to Xiong, we found out that our talented booking agent booked us train tickets leaving the station exactly 1 hour after we land and said train station is 45 minutes away. Are we gonna make it? What would you do? We decided that we would sprint to the taxi line as soon as we disembarked. I thought to myself, um... Wait a second... what altitude are we at because I have a back pack filled with gear that feels like a 100 pounds. No time to think, run!!!! As I'm running, I was trying to turn on my video camera but for some reason it wouldn’t connect to my phone, damnit! (Still running) Uh oh... My lungs, they’re starting to cramp.... Um... Where is the dumb taxi line... Ooh there it is!!! No line?! Yayyy!! We all came to a gasping stop only to find out that they refused to give us a ride for whatever made up reason. Fail.
Good ole Mark with his brilliant idea, pulls out his phone to see if Didi (China's Uber) is available. Mind you, we are in some random airport, in some random province, trying to get to some random train station
I would imagine it's like looking for an Uber in some small town in Montana. Luck would have it, there was a car available! So as we’re all audibly wheezing, we piled into the car and promptly gave the driver the wrong address. Awesome. We just lost another 15 minutes. askjfdfeir!!
Elevation is no joke. After hearing so many gnarly stories, we were prepared and took medicine a week leading up to this trip. The 20 hour train ride was part of the plan so we figured that we’d get acclimated. Even as I sat in the cabin, I tried to take small breaths and moved as little as possible. Reaching down to grab something out of my bag had me winded. I thought it wouldn't be that bad since I have been working on my cardio these past months. #dunhamjiujitsu what?! Yet still, must-get-air.
We somehow managed to get to the train station 8 minutes before take off and got through customs with 2 minutes to spare. We also celebrated for a measly 2 minutes because we quickly found out that the train was delayed an hour. Well, at least we made it and now we're psyched for the 21 hour journey to Lhasa which climbs from 6,000 to 25,000 feet. To put that into perspective, Tahoe ski resorts starts at around 3,000 feet and goes up to about 4,500 feet or 1,000 meters to 1,500. Mexico City is at 4,000 feet. If you saw the UFC card that took place in Mexico City in 2015, most of the fighters threw up after their match.
THERE WILL BE STAIRS...
They’re like a hybrid of a ladder and stairs. Basically, I’d easily tip over if someone looked at me while wearing my inspector gadget backpack. It made traversing the stairs quite the challenge. Our tour group had predetermined check points that were set for safety checks and required an hourly check in. There seemed to always be dogs lying everywhere taking naps. I noticed they never seem to bother anyone or begging for treats. I forgot to ask who feeds them.
After 30 minutes of participating in our preset tour, I wanted to go fly my drone and get a better view of the monastery. I noticed that there were military guards in civilian clothing. How did this inspector gadget figure that out? Well maybe it was because they were two twenty year old guys with buzz cuts wearing cargo pants and boots or maybe it's because the guide told me they were military. Either way, I didn't want to find out.
It's 10AM and here we are, sitting in Lhasa traffic which kinda reminds me of the 405 parking lot. We’re in a bus with a handful of tourists from Germany and the US. I unloaded half my bag and kept the bare essentials: Hasselblad, 2 lenses, zen muse, drone, tripod and a bunch of batteries. I recently got a carbon fiber tripod to replace my old one which lasted a good 10 years. R.I.P. It was a standard aluminum Manfrotto tripod with a ball head. I hated it. It was heavy and somehow never did what I wanted it to do. This new one is super light and has a tripod, I really like it. It uses a big ball so I can adjust the tension and then angle pretty easily. Although, I think that the tripod in itself has a clunky design for the most part. I'm trying to figure out a design that will make it easier to set up an carry. Time management is essential.
So we arrived after some arbitrary traffic stops and started walking with the view of lots of fun stairs ahead of us. These aren’t your typical stairs.
If Jason Bourne has taught me anything: When in a new surrounding, always look for exits. So that's what I did. I found an area that would protect a line of sight of my launch so know one could see where I launched my drone. I also had plenty of options to run and hide within that location.
We continued through thin, freshly painted white hallways and weathered stone walkways. Mark and I wandered through this city-like monastery for what seemed like days. The hallways kept going and going and we felt like we were walking through a maze until we finally reached the edge of the mini hillside city. As uncomfortable as I was, I knew that if I could just get this drone up to 60 feet real quick it would be hard to spot and hear, which is the ideal goal here. So we threw on the propellers and did the DJI double tap (all the DJI drones require a double tap to turn them on) Remember, I was previously warned that electronics would have some issues.
As I turned it on, a bunch of warnings popped up. Update this, update that, GPS not working, reset this or that. Shut up drone! You're not the boss of me! A pro tip that I learned from getting so many random gadgets and encountering many infuriating situations is: When you're out on the field shooting something or working with whatever equipment, NEVER ever, ever, ever update your gear! You're just begging for something to stall and you'll be out of commission. So I proceeded to press all the cancel buttons and launched my little flying friend. I captured the video on 4K which is super high resolution that allows me to either crop or move around if needed. I shot at 24 p, which means 24 frames per second, 23.97 frames per, to be precise. Thanks for the confusion whoever set that up. The frames per second basically is a big reason why something looks like a movie or a t.v. sitcom. On top of that, you have your actual camera settings such as aperture and shutter speed.
You'll notice in the raw drone footage playing in the background of this slide the drone struggled to take off. I blame the altitude.
When shooting a video with a drone, the automatic setting will typically set according to the light meter. All cameras have a light meter, including your iPhone as well as your grandpa's camera he used in the 60's. It lets the photographer know how much ambient light is available so you know what settings to use. In the case of the drone when it's really bright outside it'll use the lowest iso setting which is 100. Turn up the aperture and shutter speed. Like f22 and 1/3000. Now this is all well and good if you're trying to shoot a surfer and want the most crisp image as possible but if you want to make your footage look more like a film which has a milky, smoother finish, then you have to use an ND filter which is basically like sunglasses for your camera. So with my non updated drone and sunglasses filter, I was ready for take off just as a curious local walked up and watched me from a distance. I imagined drones weren't the most common thing in Tibet. In fact, I later found out that drones in Tibet aren't welcome at all. Apparently people would survey government buildings and
would use the imagery for their own agendas. Talk about putting a target on my back. Drones aside, getting around Tibet for an American was super annoying, There were limitations and policies. We had to have a permit to tie our shoe. It was a super bummer because I couldn't even go out into random fields to take simple pictures of stars whenever I wanted. I think we went through at least 50 check points during our entire stay.
Ok back to the drone. I was in the air. I was nervous. I hadn't flown it in about 4 months. I did a couple horizontal passes but didn't want to go too far because I was afraid to lose connectivity to the drone. I'd die if that happened. I also needed to get a bird's eye view so I went vertical and pointed the camera down. I'd normally use a digital fence for my drone which puts a restriction on how far I can fly the drone. I wouldn't be able unlimited distance.
I put a limit on it so generally if anything goes wrong, I'd be close enough to fly it by a line of sight. I happened to be working with 12,000 feet in elevation so I knew something weird was gonna happen. As I was going up directly above me on a clear crisp day with a perfect line of sight, the drone gave me a warning, it's losing connectivity. Something's wrong with the GPS and it won't fly any higher. Oh jeez. Of course. I immediately brought it down just in case something crazy happens.
I previously told Mark that we needed to be able to do the fastest landings possible if anything were to happen and we would have to run. So the plan was that I would fly and try to descend the drone quickly to about 6 feet off the ground, then he would snatch it out of the sky as skillfully as a frog catching a fly with its tongue. Later that day we had an awkward moment when one of our tour mates had to inform Mark that Enrique Iglesias almost lost his hand for trying to do the same thing.
Did I know about this story? Maybe. Did I think that it would happen to Mark? Probably not. Either way, it didn't make Mark feel too comfortable or confident about the idea. We had a successful flight without incident and no one bothered us. Win!!! I was now a lot more comfortable with what I really intended to do: Fly my drone in downtown Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. But that wasn't going to happen 'til later because it just wasn't the right location and I wasn't 100% confident about flying it just yet.
After that we wandered around the monastery taking random pictures. I found a neat little hallway that would be great for a fun portrait of Mark and I. I set up my tripod and dialed in the settings and activated the countdown timer.
You'll be fine
When I don't have a remote I'll just count down the time from ten seconds out loud and will usually get pretty close to the actual time it captures. We did 4 shots and started to get a crowd. I noticed that any time I would set up a shot no matter where we were, there would always be a couple of tourists that would walk up next to me and shoot whatever they thought I was shooting. Copying is the highest form of flattery. As long as they don't knock over my gear, they can do whatever they want. When it comes to photography, the person behind the lens has a big influence on the photo that's captured. We all see differently and this world is filled with endless moments and scenery to share with others so snap away!
Luckily for us, some monks poked their heads out of the door to see what the commotion was all about. Bam!! Perfect timing. We got the shot. We continued to run around shooting for the next hour or so and then moved onto the next monastery.
Images from Netfilx House of Cards
Each monastery we visited had a unique feature to see. The next place had monks doing their daily debate in the garden. I was very curious to see what that was about. I had seen a video of a monk ritual once in Thailand and in that video, they were chanting and moving like a single wave oscillating back and forth. As we walked towards the garden, we walked into this darkly lit room that seemed to be a storage room with boxes stacked to the ceiling. I didn't actually know why there were even boxes in there before I realized what I was really looking at. If you have seen House of Cards on Netflix, you would know exactly what it was. (Season 3 Episode 7. 16:15) In the show with Kevin Spacey and Mrs. Forrest Gump, monks came to the White House to make a temporary sand sculpture called a Sand Mandala. This has got to be the most intense temporary piece of art I've ever seen! It requires several monks who will load up a tiny spoon at the end of a what looks like a chop stick. Then they tap it and drop in very small amounts of colorful dust onto their canvas, creating an intricate sand painting.
the sand mandala
It could take several weeks to complete it. After a short period of time, with a simple swipe of their hand, they would wash the entire image away. You could imagine how excited I got when I saw this in the glass case. So you guessed it. I pulled out my tripod and got to work. It was a little tricky because I had to deal with the glass's reflection, borders of the case and the crappy lighting that was inside the case that was placed to illuminate this meticulous work of art. Apparently I was the only one that really appreciated what was going in there because the rest of the group checked it out for about 5 minutes and went to go buy souvenirs instead. Good. It gave me more room to work with. The trick to shooting stuff in a glass case is to be very aware of the light source and reflections. It takes a little patience and sometimes you can miss the reflection of yourself in the shot. So the key is to keep moving the camera and chimp (preview the screen of your pictures) to see if you can see any unwanted reflections.
The debating monks is an ancient tradition and definitely was an interesting sight. I even saw an old painting on the wall that consisted of monks debating in a courtyard. The debate requires monks to gather on a daily basis to test each other's knowledge on Buddhist teachings. Whomever is sitting down with their legs crossed is the one who is being tested or berated, it's all perspective and interpretation at this point. The other monk launches question after question and each ending with a thunderous clap which looked like he was going to hit his fellow monk with some sort of superior knowledge. If you did that to me, I'd probably freak out and forget all of the answers.
The big day is here. We're going to the main monastery in the capital. Let's see if I can fly my drone without winding up in jail. At this point I don't know what the exact rules are. What I do know is that Tibet is on a short leash from China. I know that the US government is super touchy about drones flying around their buildings. I can assume it's even more sensitive in Tibet. When we arrived at the monastery first thing in the morning, we had to go through multiple check points just to get into then property. It's too early for this.
They were right too. So to people who think that a model's career has an expiration date, they clearly haven't been to Tibet. These elderly people had so much character in their faces. Props to them. Last but not least, the super annoying kids that would swarm you if you looked like a sucker. Which apparently was always me and not Mark. I eventually figured out how to combat them though. The key is if you are gonna give them money, you have to do it discreetly or you will get ambushed by their little friends. I had to dip, duck, and dodge this super persistent kid. I ran out of singles and he refused to believe me. After some fancy jukes I was able to get away from him. He was definitely entertained as he walked away while his buddies slyly counted their money that they hustled from me.
The X-ray bag stations were just like the ones at the airport. I examined a couple of them and discovered that they don't even work. It's all for show. While we waited in line, pan handlers of all sorts approached us with the attempt of getting some money. Today there were 3 types: First, the service workers.
They would break large bills into singles for you so that you could make donations inside the temple, with a charge of 20 percent per convenience fee of course.
Secondly, the models. There were elderly folks that knew people loved taking their picture. So if they saw you with a camera, they would wave and ask for money in exchange for allowing you to take a picture.
As we made our way into the monastery, I couldn't help but think about how much history had gone through this place. The Dali Lama literally walked on the same walkways as I was walking on right now for a hundred years or so ago. This monastery was pretty much the only untouched major Buddhist landmark that survived during the cultural revolution. During that time Mao ze dong basically said, "... if it wasn't Communist, it had to go." Gone. Burnt to the ground. So the fact that I was walking through a time portal into history was surreal. You don't have to be religious to appreciate the historical components. It was an amazing experience.
As we exited the place I noticed a really nice walkway with a great view of the mountains. Yes, I set up my tripod and got to work. As I began to set up, more and more tourists approached me and stood near me to emulate my shot except this time, what they would see would be either a nice
mountain range and dark under exposed walk way or well exposed walk way and a blown out mountain range. Both, a terrible picture. The reason I chose that specific location was because I had a graduated filter that allowed me to basically put sunglasses on the mountain range so that I could expose both parts of the frame evenly. It took a couple tries but I nailed it on the third shot. Third time's a charm.
After leaving the monastery I only had the afternoon to figure out how to fly my drone in downtown Lhasa and avoid imprisonment. I don’t know much about the jails in Tibet nor did I want to intimately find out in person. I asked a lot of questions about flying drones in Lhasa before I went on my mission. I found out that people used to fly drones around to film the jails in Lhasa and they didn’t allow drones anymore. My reasoning for flying my drone wasn’t political but Lhasa is a gorgeous city and when was I ever going to come back to Tibet?
Eff it I'm gonna go for it. I asked for permission to fly my drone from the inside of the monastery and got a big no for that. Then I was told to go fly it across the street in a park. So I headed to the park but not before going through an X-ray machine and check point. My Chinese is terrible but the gist of it was. No drones allowed, don’t come in here, and go away.
I decided to find a place to launch, away from prying eyes. I pulled out my phone and opened up google maps to see if I could find something. I was looking for a courtyard or something similar off the main street but not too far from the monastery. The elevation was so high my drone was bound to act funny. I didn’t want fly it too far and needed a line of sight so that I could retreat if need be. After poking around some potential buildings, I finally came across an older apartment building perfectly tucked away. Why is there a basketball court in the middle of this structure? Strange.
I left the group to scout locations and I wanted to wait for Mark to come meet me so that he could be my look out and my translator.
What are best friends for? He was on his way. I perched on a ledge in the courtyard trying to calculate potential problems if any. Ha, it was all a problem. I thought to myself: I’m in a country that requires me to check in every half a mile and I’m about to fly my drone in the capital. I was starting to get really nervous. When Mark arrived I told him my plan. He's down. I would only fly for about 3 or 4 minutes, land, and then book it out of there. So we sat on a bench at the basketball court and took my drone out, placed it on the props and turned it on. As I sat down, an old Tibetan woman came to investigate. I don’t think she's seen a drone before so she was curious. I launched it and she was unsurprisingly intrigued. I tried to show her the view from the drone through my iPad. She took 2 steps towards me then immediately started to yell at me in Tibetan.
IT's go time
Uh oh. This isn’t good what else can go wrong? A dog ran up to me and started barking like crazy. Yea thats's another way attract attention. Anything else? Crap. I lost connection to my drone. So now I have a local yelling at me, a dog barking at me and my drone controller voice telling me it needs to land now. Awesome! I ran around the building hoping to get some sort of line of sight so that I could get the connection back as well as cancel the auto land. 10 seconds later it comes back on line. Phew! There are a couple ways to operate a drone. You can fly it like a you would in a video game, look here, look there, turn on a dime and go the other way. But when you fly a drone to get video imagery it's a whole different ball game. The movement of the camera is sensitive to touch. You can’t just smack the controller and look wherever.
The footage will be unusable. I also don’t have one of the newer models where you just push a button and it executes programmed movements. I had to manually fly it to get every single shot that I wanted. So here I am, running around a courtyard getting chased by a barking dog trying to keep my hands steady as I circled the drone around the monastery. The total flight time was about 3 minutes 30 seconds. I was able to get 2 small passes and flew back to the courtyard. I flew it as fast as I could, descending to 6 feet off the ground so that Mark could snatch it out of the air. We packed up and took off. My heart was pounding and my adrenaline was flowing. Oh I missed this feeling. Good times, good times.
Off to the countryside
We had to wake up at dawn to finally explore the countryside of a Tibet. I've been waiting for this day. Our tour guides reminded us 20 times too many, that we needed to bring our passport. When traveling throughout the country side, passports and permits were always required and checked periodically through the day. I sat shotgun in the bus so that I could hang out the window and take pictures without being hampered by panes of glass. The air was so crisp and I wanted to really stick my head out of the window and bite the wind but that probably wasn't the best idea.
As we're traveling through the countryside, a big tourist attraction with scores of buses driving in caravans was spotted. In recent years, there had been a handful of fatal accidents of buses falling off the cliffs. Driving on a sketchy thin road along a cliff is obviously dangerous so I'm not surprised one bit.
They recently put up cement barriers that weren't attached enough to be called a wall but they were approximately 3 feet by 6 foot cement blocks every 15 feet or so. I'm not sold on its safety and effectiveness.
Another solution that they came up with was that each vehicle had to check in before going between each city. The vehicle was then tagged and was given a minimum time in which it could go to the next check point. So before each check point, there were lots of buses pulled over because they had arrived too early. I guess that works…
My primary goal of the day was to get a shot of the Khata flags on some sort of mountain top. I kept asking the driver to pull over in order to take some pictures but for some reason he would only want to pull over at an arbitrary spot where I didn’t want to shoot. It became very frustrating. We passed many cool locations but I wasn’t able to shoot any of them. Eventually we came to this big parking lot at the peak of the pass. There was a big parking lot filled with tons of people taking pictures of the flags that were within 100 feet of the parking lot. I wanted nothing to do with that. We were told we had 20 minutes. I chuckled to myself. I didn’t come all the way to Tibet to shoot these flags for 20 minutes. I’ll come back when i get the job done in a relatively quick manner. So I grabbed my gear and started walking towards the hillside that was tourist-free. We heard some barking and looked to up to see that a pack of dogs were fighting. I shouldn't even call it a fight. It was more like a pack of dogs attacking one dog. These weren’t little chihuahuas or golden retrievers. These were big mastiffs. It appeared that the alpha mastiff dragged this poor massive dog down the hillside and well,
I was too far to do anything about it and ignorance is bliss right? I’m pretty sure they hugged it out. So we finally got up to the top of the hill. Look at all of those flags everywhere! The origin of these Khata flags were from the nomads that would travel through the area, who hung them up for good luck and fortune. There were thousands of these flags. Some were fresh while others seemed like they had been there forever. First thought, I need to get an epic drone shot. I decided to fly the drone underneath a section of the flags. It seemed pretty risky but worth it. I set up my tripod for my camera then went off to fly the drone. Two passes later I was confident and got what I wanted. I spent the next 5 minutes taking some pictures while getting yelled at from afar from the tour guide who was telling us to come back. Working under pressure is fun for me so I got the shots and ran back to hop on the bus. Where to next?
Lake Yamzho Yumco was gorgeous, the blue water was like nothing I have seen before. It looked crisp, clean, and clear. There was something off and unsettling to me. There were no wakeboard boats. I’m so used to seeing boats in lakes since they go hand in hand so to see this amazing lake without any boats was super weird. After driving for 30 minutes, we finally pulled over to check it out. We only had 15 minutes at this stop so Mark stepped up and he flew the drone for the first time. He has been a gamer since the age of 5 so he already knew the movements of the controller as if he was playing James Bond on the Nintendo 64. I wanted to do a time lapse of the water so it would appear smooth and capture the rocks below. It took me about 10 minutes to manage 5 shots. As I began to pack my stuff, I noticed that there was a yak in the water with what looked like a traditional saddle.
I ran over and asked how much it was to take a picture of this majestic creature. The man who looked like he was from downtown Lhasa opposed to a farmer with a yak in the middle of nowhere happily replied, "10 Rmb." Sold. So I began to set up my tripod but I needed to get closer. The guide said I wasn’t allowed in the water because it was holy water and was blessed. Refusing to step on the local tradition, I wasn’t planning on going in. But my new farmer friend encouraged me to go in and get a closer picture. Yes sir! The water was nice and frigid and I was also bare foot. Brisk baby!! I think he felt bad for me because he brought me some boots to put on so I could get closer. Success, I got my shot and I didn’t get frostbite. Fortunately for me Buddhist, believe in Karma so I just have to make up for it later.
Blessed by a Lake
Off to the glacier. Oh man, I didn’t know what to expect but I was floored by the sight. It was like walking onto a set of an epic movie, except that's where we were. When we were pulling up to the parking lot the tour guide told me that I had 30 minutes. Lol, I thought to myself. Before I left to Tibet I knew there would be situations like this where I would have to travel really, really light. Remember the holster i created for my awkwardly huge camera? This was the exact day to prove its usefulness. I holstered my camera and grabbed my carbon fiber tripod. I noticed that everyone had gravitated toward this walkway to get their tourist shot. I'll avoid that like the plague. Everyone walked towards the right out of the parking lot, of course I sprinted to the left. I wanted to do a time lapse of the water flowing out of the glacier. The problem was that I needed to get close. Of course the glacier wasn't close to the parking lot and I didn't have much time. So the only solution was to just run for it, so I did. At this point we were over 14,000 feet from sea level. Ouch. I was able to get to find a good spot about half a mile out. I quickly set up my camera, turned it on and heard a photographer's worst nightmare.
The battery indicator beeping. Yay! Battery was about to die. I had to make a decision. Do I risk the battery dying and keep going toward the glacier or do I run the mile trip back and forth to grab some more batteries? So I ran back to the bus. While running with my lungs on fire and simultaneously trying not to pass out, I kept thinking happy thoughts. About the birds and the bees... just kidding. Before I knew it, I was back in the parking lot. I guess Mark had spotted my little run from his vantage point and ran over to ask me what I wanted him to do. I asked him if he wanted to sprint out with me. He chuckled and said he would follow me with the drone. Great idea. So I took off again for the third time to go back to my spot. When I arrived 5 minutes later or so I thought to myself I want to get closer to this waterfall I noticed about a quarter mile away. I looked at my imaginary watch and thought to myself, sure, there is plenty of time. So I started to traverse as quickly as I could through the rocky terrain. As I got closer I realized I was on the wrong side of the stream.
Up for the challenge
Just get the shot already
I only brought one pair of shoes so I really didn’t want to get my shoes wet. It was about a 8 foot jump but more importantly I had a $20k Hasselblad camera on my hip, strapped into a holster that I designed myself. This was a big test to see if it worked as well as I had imagined. I guess the common thing that I think to myself while trying to get a shot and dealing with issues that arise is, F it. So I went for it. Success!!! I ran off to get my shot and as I was running, I heard a strange cracking sound that I could have sworn that I've heard before, not in person but in a movie. It was the cracking of the glacier. It was in a documentary about people who were stupid enough to get close to glaciers and get into trouble when the shelf cracks and falls down.
Great. I’m officially about to be a recipient of the Darwin award. I saw some of the ice come down but it wasn’t significant enough for me to be concerned… at least i didn’t think so at the time? So I went on my merry way to get the shot and ran back as fast as I could. Ooh there was that familiar feeling of exhilaration of getting an awesome shot.
Wait, no… that was my lungs and muscles on fire from running at this crazy altitude. Finally back on the bus, my shirt's off, I'm sweating, and no one aware of what I just did. I walked to my seat while getting funny looks from a couple from Berkeley and the college kids from Germany who were probably wondering why I was out of breath and had my shirt off.