In late 2003 I visited Chugchilán, Ecuador to hike parts of the Quilatoa Loop. I stayed at The Black Sheep Inn (no longer available for individuals) and used it as a base to explore the area on one of my most memorable hikes ever.
Part of what made this trip so special was the chance to see and interact with the residents of the area who, at least in 2003, were friendly and curious about the growing number of backpackers wandering through their forests and trails.
Sections of the trail passed through villages and near homes, as you can see in this photo:
Kids Near Chugchilan
On this trip I carried nothing more than my trusted Olympus Stylus Epic point & shoot camera and a couple rolls of Fuji consumer-grade 400 speed color print film. This camera has a fast (f2.8) fixed-length 35mm wide-angle lens. It is auto-focus and auto-exposure. There is no image stabilization, no adjustable ISO settings, no manual exposure controls and no zoom. All you can really do is control the flash and some basic exposure auto-settings. Simple stuff.
Given the soft, even lighting from the overcast sky and clouds rolling across the landscape I had no exposure issues to deal with. All I had to do was pull out the camera whenever I visualized an image, check the composition in the viewfinder and press the shutter. As I almost always do, I disabled the flash first.
Child on Rough Crutches
Would I have captured this candid moment if I’d pulled out a large SLR?
What made these images possible? Good light, photogenic subjects, visualizing the image in my head and the foresight to bring fast ISO 400 film. Had I been shooting a digital point & shoot, I would have risked noise at that ISO setting, depending on the camera.
Dreaded Dueña near the Black Sheep Inn.
I doubt she would have paid much attention to my camera either way, but for the other shots, it really paid off to have a simple, easily accessible camera. Remember, you don’t always need the most expensive equipment to shoot great photographs – just get out there and get shooting!