Thursday, September 3, 2009

You have to be there

The photographic forums that I participate in are chock full of people asking questions about camera technique, gadgetry, lighting techniques, etc. Invariably , the discussion will lead to an example photo that illustrates the point of discussion, and suddenly you start seeing the lights turn on that the tools should never be the point in photography. Photography is literally “painting with light”. If you are not following the light, or shaping the light, or using the light to paint a particular scene in a specific locale…then there will be no image for you to discuss, share or improve upon. In other words…you have to be “there”. You have to put yourself in position to pursue a particular scene that has captured your imagination.

My means of being there usually involves a road trip. Not just any road trip mind you, but a road trip specifically designed as a photographic expedition. My family supports me in this pursuit, because we have come to realize that the circadian rhythms necessary for serious landscape photography do not mix well with the needs of my two favorite traveling companions. I can cover a lot of ground by myself in a week’s time – a lot more than when I am escorting the girls. On my last photo road trip I covered 2500 miles and seven separate destinations in a week. You might be thinking that this was nuts, but my camera and I saw:

A thunderstorm over the VLA near Socorro, NM

A moonrise in White Sands, NM

A sunset through the remnants of a hurricane from a mountaintop observatory near Cloudcroft, NM

I shared a lunar eclipse with a whitetail doe at the McDonnell Observatory visitors center outside of Fort Davis , TX.

I live for the opportunity to see these beautiful places through my mind’s eye. And for the chance to share the stories through my pictures. As a friend of mine once told me, these are the things that make our life worth living. Carpe Diem.

I made the decision earlier this week to saddle up for the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival next month. I am taking along a friend who is wanting to try out some new equipment and who wants a “target rich environment” for his emerging photographic skills. There isn’t a better event for that purpose. If you are looking for a similar opportunity, come on out.

We will be there.

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