To uncover something new is a glorious enterprise, even if it is only new to you. Now I am not an explorer or even an adventurous type when it comes right down to it. Not once do I remember having a restful night in a sleeping bag and tent, so I tend not to get too far from home. Fortunately, I live on the edge of a wilderness that is vast and breathtaking. Discovery is just around the corner, and this summer was full of it.
Corey and I did not get an early start on the day I made this photograph, nor did we take a direct path to this spot. I was hoping that the summer sun would linger on the horizon long enough to cast its light on these waterfalls as we approached, but Mt. McGinnis looms large to the west and casts its shadow early. Not sure we would find a route to the base of the falls at all, we stopped to admire and photograph many of the glacier’s grand displays. Finally Corey determined a course, and we made it to a spot I had seen from a great distance on so many occasions. To witness the water pouring over these cliffs and burrowing back under the ice from mere feet away brought almost uncontainable excitement. I could have held me head under the water, but I was content enough to feel the spray on my face.
Though it seems it would have been a day of satisfaction and completion, the descent to the lake was instead steeped with mystery and intrigue. A cave under the side of the glacier was growing, new and dark, over a mountain stream. In the waning light, I could only dream at what I might find deeper inside.
On special mornings like the one when this photo was made, some people feel a strong connection to nature. As I leaned over these young lupine plants bathed in light that was just beginning to make its way through the mist of morning, I felt a strong connection to God. It was almost as if I were catching a glimpse of heaven; at least witnessing this world’s perfect design. I thought it was fitting that this piece is up for auction today at a fundraiser to support Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquakes that happened earlier this month. The photo shows a time of newness for a fragile subject. I pray that God’s blessings and protection will bring comfort to the people of Haiti as they try to begin anew.
Well the snow never quite came hard enough to keep a day of work at bay, but I still had time to go through some of the year’s RAW files and finish processing a photo to accent this installment of the “Highlights” series. We’re jumping from a break in work that allows photographing around town to one that almost always involves traveling of some kind. While photography is never more than a secondary aspect of my spring break trips, I worked hard this past spring to squeeze some really exciting excursions in. On three different mornings, I rose long before dawn and drove for hours from my base at the family farm in the Mojave Desert of southern California. Each morning had some similarities (mostly in how hard it was to get out of bed on those chilly windy mornings), but they were also unique from a photographic perspective.
My first trip in the Alabama Hills was to a location I had never visited, and it proved challenging just to know where to turn, where to stop, which direction to walk, or even what my subject should be. Spring growth and flowers turned out to be the surprise highlight in a place well known for its rock formations and mountain backdrop. My second drive was the only one that took me to a spot that I had visited in the past, Joshua Tree National Park. I’m quite fond of what the park has to offer and the way it contrasts so dramatically with my Alaskan home. My previous visits both happened during the second half of the day, so I was almost as lost for direction as I had been the morning prior. Fortunately, that left me open to respond to ideas and subjects as the light presented itself, which is my preferred way of photographing. The best part about my final trip was having some company at last. I had picked up my parents on the way back from JTNP, and my dad agreed to accompany me on a drive up to Death Valley, a place we would both be experiencing for the first time. The Mesquite Dunes, more than any other place I’ve traveled, emphasized to me the importance of keeping an open mind while photographing and responding quickly to the light. The patterns accentuated in the sand seemed to change by the second, but at the end of a fleeting dawn, I was really pleased with my results.
In my mind, nothing compares to the place I call home, but without some escapes from Juneau, I’m pretty sure I would go totally nuts. The change of pace also contributes to a fresh perspective for photography, and I return to the temperate northern coast with a new appreciation after having time to contrast it with other regions. I’m already looking forward to the possibilities of the next spring break trip I have planned. Flights are booked, and I can’t wait.
I’ve decided to follow the model of countless other “blogging photographers” and put together a list of the photographic highlights from the last year. I have no plans to rank them, and instead of the norm, which is to include a list in a single post, I’ll be adding photographs separately so that I can take some time to talk about each one. I may choose to showcase a favorite image, a personal experience, a new style, or whatever else comes to me. I’m not sure yet, but I’m sure it’s going to be fun for me, and I hope you enjoy it as well.
While I already stated there would be no particular order, Della (my 18-month old daughter) has been without a doubt the premier highlight of my year. The smiles never stop, and she continues to surprise me with her new fun traits and ideas. One of God’s greatest blessings is the opportunity to be a parent, especially Della’s dad. While we can have a good time almost anywhere, I treasure the time my little family spends in the wild, beautiful places around our home. Most of the time, photography takes a back seat, but on this trip to the Brotherhood Bridge Trail, I set out intending to get pictures of my own tiny Patagonia gear model. Photographing a young child has proven to be great practice for if I ever decide to get seriously into the wildlife genre. Della definitely tested the limits of my experience, but it was always a blast.
…anyway, I could probably go on about this subject indefinitely, but I’ll wrap things up. Hopefully I’ll have a second installment of this “highlights” series up in the not too distant future. If the snow keeps up tonight, it could even be tomorrow.
It’s been far too long since my last entry, and I have a back-log of things I was planning to share. I still don’t quite feel like I have time to put together a thoughtful post, so it will just have to be images for now. I had a fabulous time photographing at the glacier on New Year’s Day (really mostly post-sunset). I actually set up the camera very few times during my outing because of the cold, but I ended up being very happy with almost every outcome. I hope your 2010 is filled with God’s blessing.