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recently i was at a conference in aspen, colorado.  for those who don't know, aspen is at roughly 8K elevation and is a small ski town with a pretty affluent lifestyle.  my commercial flight was the only commercial plane on the strip :-).  it is also one of the most photographed mountain ranges in the united states (utah actually used the scenic maroon bells in one of their ad campaigns!).

during this conference, one of the sponsors provided an outdoor activity.  we traveled to maroon bells for what we were told was going to be a photo scavenger hunt.  on the bus ride up we were told to break into teams and begin looking at the list.  the list had things like: act out a scene to a movie, take a picture of your team from a different perspective, make your team look small, etc. -- different things.  i quickly picked the team members with the most photographic talent :-) -- cheating?  sure, but survival of the fittest!  my team was jonathan z and mike palermo.  i didn't bring my photog equipment, but jonathan did, and all the good stuff, high end lenses, etc.  we were in.

until we got there.

the sponsor handed us the trick.  all the contest photos were to be taken with disposable digital cameras...and she started passing them out (about 15 of them...each team had 2).  we open them up to learn they are keychain digicams...WITH NO VIEWFINDERS!  our pictures would be guesses, completely.  the camera (you can get it here) actually had different modes, etc.  there was a popup piece of clear plastic that was labeled viewfinder, but it was essentially useless. 

being the geeks my team was, we spelunked through the directions.  we paid attention to details: max resolution and focul length.  we also learned there was to modes "hd" and "ld" and we opted for "hd" immediately...thinking of course it was cooler.  we began our quest.  while others maxed out their cameras (there was a counter that you could see being decremented), we didn't, only taking pictures that were a part of the contest.  at the end of the trip we turned in our cameras...the next day we'd be presented with the winners.

the next day came and our esteemed sponsor melissa was upset...turns out only 3 of the cameras actually had pictures on them!!!  we all had a good chuckle and although she was disappointed, it was truly a fun event.  luckily, OUR TEAM was one of the cameras that worked!  our knowledge of the geekiness of the instructions and choosing "hd" mode paid off...here's some of the set.  granted they are 100K resolution, but in some regard, our shots look like monet paintings!

(our team from a different perspective)

(me trying to make jonathan look small)

(c'mon, that's art baby -- random that it turned out that way, but art)

we had a lot of fun doing this.  i highly recommend it for your team's next ice-breaker activity...get cameras that you can't see what you are shooting...brilliant.  it really, really was a fun few hours in a beautiful area.  for some perspective, here's a better show that jonathan took at sunrise...i love how the mountains look gold as the sun hits them:


have fun the next time you use this idea...and read the directions!

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