A Personal Anecdote
As a photographer, there are two less-than-desirable scenarios in which I find myself quite often; being in a picture-perfect moment without my camera and the alternative being that I lug my gear around and never have a reason to use it. More often than not, I default to bringing my gear with me for fear of being in a scenario where I regret not having it.
This weekend, I thought I’d take my girlfriend up Mt. St. Helena for the first time. It’s a hike that I’ve done dozens of times throughout my childhood and teenage years. I packed my gear, just in case. The sky showed heavy clouds which made for a pretty dramatic scene. However, once we got to the top, the sun was hidden, turning the dynamic sky sort of flat. Not only that, but it was probably low forties and windy as can be and our hands were thoroughly frozen. We got so cold that we started jogging down in order to warm up our bodies. Jogging with a DSLR, three lenses, a drone, and spare batteries on your back isn’t super great but I was motivated by the thought of being warm. I glanced left and stopped dead in my tracks and immediately whipped out my camera with a 100mm lens. Evleena was confused and then she followed my lens east over Hidden Valley and saw the beam of sunlight that had pierced the sky to light up a strip of the landscape. This was the first of two moments where I was thankful for my gear.
The sun retreated quickly and we got cold again so we continued our jog. Several switchbacks later, I saw an outcropping of rocks that was nicely framed by the valley behind it. I had Evleena scramble out to the highest point while I stayed behind her to grab a few shots. As she was stepping up to the point, the sun, again, started to sneak its way through the cloud cover and outline the hills in the valley. A few moments later the light came in full force, skimming over the coastal mountains and giving us a magnificent show of the beauty and power that balance each other every time the sun falls below the horizon.
Just as soon as it came, the sun retreated back behind the next layer of clouds and we kept on our way down the mountain…in awe of the display we had just witnessed.
Friday reminded me that carrying my gear on a day with no views is worth it just in case nature puts on a stunning show. There’s only a certain amount of predicting and planning that can be part of an outdoor photographers regimen. The rest is a combination of chance and preparation. I don’t make pictures like this because I know when and where to be. That only amounts to a small part of what goes into a piece like this. The rest is being flexible, being quick, and being in the right place at the right time with the right gear and the right people.
Let’s consider a few variables in this case. Had I not brought my camera, no picture. Had the wind not been so cold at the top, we wouldn’t have felt the need to run down the mountain and we would’ve missed this 5 minute window altogether, no picture. Had I gone hiking alone, hoping for a good view, I wouldn’t have the human element which adds so much to this scene, no picture. I could go on with a list of variables that had to be absolutely perfect in order for this moment to happen. Fate, chance, luck, whatever you might want to call it, I think God uses those sort of opportunities to remind us how powerful He is. I’m reminded of God’s glory when I am able to be part of a scene like this. It makes me feel so small and so insignificant, yet God put me in that space because, to Him, I am valuable.
What I’m trying to say is that none of the works that I create could even be remotely possible without Him who made such an incredible earth which we inhabit. We all owe it to Him to get outside and humble ourselves before the complexity of creation and realize that we, although immensely valuable, are but a small part of the masterful puzzle so carefully assembled by our Creator.
Get outside this week, breath some real air, and don’t forget your camera.