The Sony NEX-7 Takes Flight by Bob Towery

The Sony NEX-7 Takes Flight

by Bob Towery –

For the past three years, I have been taking my family to Ixtapa/Zihautanejo, Mexico, for a January vacation. We stay in a beautiful condo right on the beach, and for two weeks life could not get any more idyllic.

The first year we went, I did get out one day to attempt some serious photography. I hired a taxi driver and said “take me out to the country, where there aren’t any tourists!” I did enjoy this, and got some interesting local people shots, but after doing so realized this was probably sort of a dangerous thing to do.

So the last two years I just took my most basic kit, a Sony NEX-7 and the 18-200mm zoom. This lens is obviously slow and a real compromise, but realistically I’m just looking to get some vacation snaps, right?

Sun Splash


This is the kind of “postcard” sort of shots that I would get. Nothing wrong with that. Except that I got frustrated. Here I was in this beautiful place, and I’m making post cards? Isn’t there something more? That night I went to bed (after a few rum “painkillers”) trying to imagine what I could put together photographically.

The next morning, as is my custom, I went for a walk on the beach. The entire round trip is four miles, so it’s pretty nice. As I was turning the door handle to leave, I realized I didn’t have my camera. “Why bother?” was my first thought. More postcards? But something told me I should grab it anyway and I did. (My grandmother always said: play your hunches.)

I walked along and tried to quiet my busy mind. Although on vacation, my thoughts turn to work, the other various things that occupy my life. I had the Sony on a shoulder strap, and my hand on the body to keep it from flailing around as I trudged through the morning’s wet sand.

All of a sudden a pelican appeared to my left, in my peripheral vision. As I swung the camera up to my face, I depressed the shutter to awaken it. I kept my left eye on the pelican and moving the camera quickly to try to get the bird framed I was totally startled. The EVF had this smeared image that lasted for a little over a second. My brain was totally confused as I still had both eyes opened, but I had seen this completely strange and unreal view in my right eye.

And at that second I recalled my dream, sometime during the previous night. Flight. I often dream of flying. Sometimes, it’s like a Superman thing. I take two steps downhill and I’m airborne. Most often though I’m in some kind of wacky flying craft. A platform, something like out of the land based Star Wars crafts. It’s nearly always semi-dark and I float along over a lit up city, small forests, that kind of thing. I have done a lot of private flying, and a private pilot’s nemesis, power lines, often appear in my dreams.

But not last night. No, I was a bird. Not just any bird, evidently, as the images from the dream began to appear in my brain. They were such a mess that I just sat down on the sand, closed my eyes, listened to the crashing Pacific Ocean waves and marveled at the dream replay. This was perhaps a jungle bird, a flying sasquatch. From another time. Slow, maybe just having one eye, as the colors and lack of acuity were so surreal. I considered that this bird every so often emerges from the jungle, only early or late, to briefly reconnect with the Ocean and the creatures along the shore.

This bird would take in the modern birds, faster, more refined, able to see right through the water to catch fish. And those strange upright creatures without wings. Unbelievably fast and loud creatures which carry the upright beings on their back. Once in a while, even a creature that had not changed that much from the prehistoric times, something I could recognize.

These images from my dream were different from I had ever dreamt before, and as I picked myself up from the sand I determined to attempt to make images that week that would represent these strange visions.

Over the course of the next few miles along the beach I developed the idea that I would use a slow shutter, early and late in the day, and create my version of this ancient being’s vision. Processing in Lightroom 5 completed the recreation.











In closing, I’d like to make a brief point. To the extent I was successful, I believe it was mainly because after the dream, I was shooting with a real purpose. I intended to make certain types of images. I find I create much more compelling images when I shoot with a purpose, as opposed to “seeing what I can find.” This particular theme was pretty complex, but it doesn’t have to be. You can say “today I’m going to shoot yellow!” Or shadows, or only looking down or up. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but having a purpose orients our brain to find subject matter in a more interesting way.

Bob Towery –



  1. These wonderful photos could have been shot with any camera Bob, it’s never the camera but how each of us to interpret what we ‘see’. Thank you for sharing, it’s very inspiring.

  2. Your story gives the images even more meaning. I agree, that these are wonderful and dreamy. Well done. Thank you.

  3. Many thanks to each of you for your kind comments. I didn’t really no what to expect, and am pleased that so many of you enjoyed my work. And of course to Steve for this great site, and showing my work.

  4. Nice. These images look like they were made for a magazine article. I went Zihua a few years ago and loved it. How is together safety there now?

    • Thanks Thomas! Safety there is great right now. Better than ever. There is an important/wealthy Mexican that lives there. Evidently he had a gang from Morelia put a lid on crime there. Shortly before this trip, a thief had shaken down two Americans riding bikes. Just took a wallet. The local policia picked him up. The next day the gang arrived and he was handed over. Never to be seen again. There are no more police walking the beach with machine guns, riding around town in the backs of trucks (etc) anymore, like four years ago.

  5. A wonderful story and I just love the images… specially the last image and the two bodies in the surf (no’s 3 and 7) . You have captured a sense of poetic mystery.

  6. Thanks Bob – very nice thoughts and strong execution – except for the fourth picture which looks a bit bland to me – is that a turtle? It is really important trying at least to create what you feel at that vital moment and not copy postcards as so many do.

  7. Hi Bob, I like how each image causes me to think and figure out what they are and the action involved. Great series and well written. I hope your doing well. The Palouse is freezing right now. Ry

  8. I love going to museums and looking through the photography sections. You rarely find sharp gallery quality prints, you usually find photos very similar to the series above. Great job!

  9. Beautiful, and proof that the latest and greatest of 2011 (NEX7) loses nothing with the passing of two years. With all of the new gear announced and reviewed, it is easy to lose to track of how good the technology of 2011, or 2009 was and remains.

  10. Cań´t tell why but some of your images really make me feel “lighter”. Colors ? Poetry ? Simpleness ? Speed ? All of that combined… Many thanks for sharing.

  11. Love the images. And I can totally relate to “seeing what I can find” to shoot. Your seemingly simple little idea of shooting with a purpose is a good one, and one I’ll try to remember next time I go out. Nice work!

  12. These images are lovely! And your point about determining a purpose before you shoot is very instructive. I’ve wanted to make images like these, but never actually tried, probably because I’m stuck on pristine focus and rigid comosition. I think seeing your results gives me the motivation to find out whether it’s 1/30 or 1/15 or slower that gives these moving subjects their magic. Thanks for posting these. The pictures of the big wave and the single bird flying across the water were absolutely wonderful!

  13. These are absolutely gorgeous images, and definitely convey the dreamy, golden effect you were seeking. Quite possibly the most inspirational Daily Inspiration I have seen on this site. Just beautiful.

  14. I like that fact this stuff was shot with purpose and intent to be the way it is. Very nice. I’m sure you’ll get a fair share saying it’s crap, but I like it. Nice approach and well done, and in the name of an artistic approach!

  15. Very nice, Bob! I like these impressionistic images ! Thanks for sharing. but its a bit disappointing to hear about the EVF smearing.

Comments are closed.