The “experience” is ultimately more important than the “click” of a
Challenge #1 is to appreciate the experience, right then and there. To get out of my own way and allow the scene to be what it is.
When I finally "get it", I feel lighter, at ease, compassionate...elevated.
Challenge #2 is finding a way to share that
experience in a two-dimensional image.
I could photograph like song writers compose and novelists write.Compassion, chills down the spine, tingling skin and reawakening...
When an image has the power to convey such experiences, evoke similar emotions --- it is a testament of the artist’s ability to rise to those two challenges.
And so, I challenge myself.....again and again.
Listening with the trees... Out late with friends the last few weeks.
we photographers are lucky and grateful to have these experiences. ...at 2am and 10ºF there are no sounds of motors, tires humming on asphalt, or irreverent doors slamming. At night you hear the thermals before you see them. The coyote calls echo. A chunk falls from a 30ft pine bow -- it tinkles like a xylophone when it hits the hard crust of the snow covered ground. And I think you can even hear the sky move...
There is a time when it comes to mind that the scene I'm looking at is looking back at me. There is a communication of some sort that says the experience is what is important. Cherish it. Honor it. Close your eyes and feel it. More important than the capturing of it with a special camera, aperture, shutter-speed, etc...
It reminds me of my cross-country bicycling experience. I read, talked, studied bike gears, cogs, derailleurs, brands, on my own and with my buddies. We could tell you every gear combination and the importance of cadence for training, racing or cross-country touring. I new my bike(s) so well... I won races at the University, two year Champion of the State, and rode miles and miles (6,000) in my first University years. Then something dawned on me during a California to
Washington, DC. ride with a friend. Staring up at the sky as we fell asleep in the desert,
we talked about how small we were. Tiny specks from a small farm town in the middle of the country, in the middle of one Galaxy, in the middle of who knows what....
More important than the knowledge of our special bikes and gear ratios, we're just plain fortunate to have the ability, and the wherewithal to see, feel and ride through other towns... the experiences could and should be treasured more than the equipment...w0w, epiphany.
Everyday, I find it is easy to wait, look, feel and appreciate what is around me. With or without a camera. How fortunate I am to see, feel, be here... When I do use the camera I have in mind to make an image that
honors something about the scene's personality... a Zen
like experience some might say. I think it's gratitude really. I'm honored to be here. You might catch me smiling to myself, when I feel the scene say; "Hello there," looking back at me.
My family has a favorite Thanksgiving story of
me hiking six miles in the morning to meet Dad who went fishing at a
farm pond. I was seven. When asked how I could be so brave in the
dark, my answer was easy; "I was safe. The big dipper was with me the
It never fails to give comfort when I'm out at night to give a nod to the Big Dipper...
Childhood memories, dreams and imagination come flowing back when I make the time to look up and gaze. I encourage my fellow 'dusketeers' to find a similar experience when they're out there. Stare deeply and soak it in. Allow the Night Sky to envelop you. Let the 30 seconds add-up...and evolve into minutes,
an hour, or two...A form of meditation, I suppose,
Above all, I consider photography as a way to connect. More than the pleasure of connecting with the scene on my own,
I enjoy sharing the experience with others...to connect with people.
It is a little tougher to find partners who will brave the cold and late hours of high altitude Night Photography. So, it is extremely gratifying when an occasion comes to attract interested people and everything clicks. It's very similar to my guesthouse days when I'd walk into the common-room and start conversations with guests from a variety of nationalities or from other parts of the US.
I feel like the catalyst of 'understanding' that begins to grow. Tentative voices begin to speak up, eyes meet, smiles and stories are exchanged. Connections are made between the guests, understandings and friendships begin to grow.
And others, become catalysts...
19 crazy souls braved 19º F temperature to photographed the heavens, just after midnight. It was the start of the annual
Scott Kelby WorldWide PhotoWalk. Hosted by Bozeman’s F11 Photo. I began with a few Night Sky Landscape
tips and everyone set-up to photograph an Orb and at least a dozen
I could feel the smiles in the darkness, and hear the giggles and AhHas! when images appeared on the camera-backs. Voila! our cameras settings were ready for the
I was especially pleased to see so many Night Sky first-timers
give it a go and have success so quickly. There were beeeautiful Night
Sky images with tree silhouettes and light-painted snow covered pines. A
really fun time shivering and shooting together.
Connections with the Night Sky and new friends, too..