Thoughts From Discomfort
With big fat flakes floating down from the sky when I left the house, I dressed appropriately for a heavy snow. By the time I reached my chosen coastal location, I should have realized the wind and dipping temperatures would be the real nemesis to my photographic endeavors. I left my down jacket in the car, and was forced to expose my fingers to the biting cold on numerous occasions while I fumbled with knobs on my tilt/shift lens. Lenses that require precision manual focusing are difficult to employ effectively when your digits are numbed and you’re generally uncomfortable. Add some concern about freezing salt water spray, and I really only managed one composition where critical sharpness was reached in all the areas I intended. Praise God though; it was my final exposure that successfully told the story of this evening at the waters edge.
I passed glimpses of color as I drove to this location under infrequently broken clouds. I wanted to see more of that gentle or spectacular beauty, but I knew the alternative was far more likely. The scene I found was elegant in its own way, dark but not empty. It was cold but not entirely uninviting. The crashing waves were more persistent than frightening in their power, yet they hinted at the magnificent force that an ocean is capable of putting on display. And always the wind.
Beyond the scope of the camera and its lens, there was perhaps an even more remarkable occurrence. I was not at all alone while I worked to craft this image. There were a handful of sea birds, of what specific types I know not. There were numerous sea lions who often raised their heads high out of the water to get a good look at what I was doing on shore. They swam back and forth, and beyond them winter whales arched their backs amidst the waves. While I was clenching my fists inside my gloves and turning my back to the wind, these creatures were apparently perfectly suited to carry out their business along the wintery Alaska coast. I am struck by the fact that neither beauty nor living are relegated only to the moments of sunshine, to the places of tranquility. God equips us to live and love even in the bitter winds.