In The Air
Great storytelling isn’t always about what you leave in — it’s also about what you leave out.
Many years ago my late, great Aunt Joan told me a story about a flight to the Galapagos Islands she shared, quite by coincidence, with a National Geographic crew. Why my itinerant, enigmatic aunt was on that flight is another story for another day but the NatGeo folks were, of course, going there to snap photos for an article planned for an upcoming issue. In the course of the in-flight conversation with them, dear Aunt Joan managed to glean how many rolls of film they were taking on their expedition — yes, this was back in ‘those days’. Their answer? Jaw-droppingly, the number was 325. Which is to say well over 11,000 frames from which a handful — maybe ten — would eventually wind up on the pages of the venerated magazine.
Clearly the job of those NatGeo folks was less about what good photos to keep, but rather the 99.91% of them they were going to throw away. Setting aside the whole monkeys/typewriters/Shakespeare thing for a moment, while they were clearly pretty good photographers, their real gift was patient and loving curation. In their world, the carefully pruned and sequenced collection of still photos was the primary means of telling the story and, wow, were they great storytellers. Amongst the best. They still are.
Although Mike Shellim will likely blush at the comparison, it was my aunt’s serendipitous Galapagos trip which popped to mind when I looked at his F3F-related photo albums on SmugMug, links to which he sent me recently. Why the story of her trip popped to mind was that Mike seems to have a real knack for curation — storytelling through pictures accompanied by the briefest of eloquent captions. Without actually being at the events Mike had photographed, his albums provided the next best thing: a sense of being there that not even raw video would have done as well. He makes it look easy. It’s not.
Just one sample of Mike’s work is the key photo above the title for this story. Click on it if you want to see the panoramic image in all of its original, glorious detail. Mike also provided the great picture for our cover this month as well as the intriguing photo which headlined this month’s Lift over Drag newsletter. But don’t stop there, check out all of Mike’s albums at the link I have provided in the Resources section below.
Also, if Mike’s name seems familiar, it’s because he is also a talented educator and writer — his I’ve Got the Power: OpenTX is amongst the most popular stories ever published in the New RCSD. I’ve linked it below, too. Don’t tell anybody else, but a little bird told me that he might also be working on some new articles for RCSD, so pleased stay tuned for that, as well. My fingers and toes are crossed and yours should be too.
However, the bigger concept which Mike’s amazing photos brings to light is the yawning chasm that lies between his work and the raw photo and video dumps which proliferate on Facebook, for example. I’m not sure exactly how they do it, but it seems that some posters must ask the spouse to grab the wheel and put a foot on the accelerator on the drive home from the field, just so they can upload their 179 pictures and 68 minutes of unedited video to Facebook — without a word of accompanying explanation — before anybody else, heaven forbid, uploads theirs first. For reasons I am totally unable to fathom, the premium seems to be on immediacy rather than the illusive and ephemeral goal of, say, immortality?
My best guess is it’s a weird by-product of our collectively and pathologically shortened attention spans resulting from endless scrolling on the same social media apps. By the way that, too, is entirely intentional behaviour and designed in from the outset by les enfants terrible of social media. Get a death grip on those eyeballs and don’t let go. With apologies to Jerry Seinfeld and his bit about men’s endless TV channel surfing, it’s not about what’s on Facebook, but rather what else is on Facebook.
Which, in my very ‘around the houses’ kind of way, is my pitch for asking you to take a moment — a split second is all I ask — before you hit the
Post button and ask yourself “can I tell a better story with this stuff?” If the answer is ‘no’, then by all means post away. On the other hand, if the answer is ‘well…maybe’ trending toward ‘yes’ with a hint of ‘hell yes!’ then why not give it a go? And while you’re pondering that, think about what might be a good platform on which to publish that story. It’s about now I hope you might consider the New RCSD for that and join the very talented group of dedicated storytellers already here.
As always, thanks to all of our contributors to this month’s issue and my deepest thanks to you, the reader, for choosing to spend at least a bit of your valuable time with the New RCSD.
Fair winds and blue skies,
©2022 Terence C. Gannon
- Mike Shellim Photography — The collected works of this very talented photographer (and curator!) who is mentioned in this story.
- Lift over Drag for October 2022 — This is the monthly email newsletter we send out prior to each issue. It always contains a few tantalising hints as to what to expect. You really should subscribe.
- I’ve Got the Power: OpenTX — “Few topics generate more noise and hot air than OpenTX, the popular open source operating system. Some love it. Others hate it…”
Cover photo: Simply captioned “Andy launching” and captured by Mike Shellim, this photo was taken at the F3F North of England Open at the Hole of Horcum, North Yorkshire, England on July 1st through 3rd, 2022. You are welcome to download the October 2022 cover in a resolution suitable for computer monitor wallpaper. (2560x1440).
Disclaimer: While all reasonable care is taken in the preparation of the contents of the New RC Soaring Digest, the publishers are not legally responsible for errors in its contents or for any loss arising from such errors, including loss resulting from the negligence of our staff. Reliance placed upon the contents of the New RC Soaring Digest is solely at the readers’ own risk.
Here’s the first article in the October, 2022 issue. Or go to the table of contents for all the other great articles. A PDF version of this edition of In The Air, or the entire issue, is available upon request.