Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Prairie Sunrise

Prairie Sunrise
Prairie Sunrise

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kentucky Morning

A photographer longs for moments like the one that came to life above the Kentucky landscape on that day.  Too much time had filtered away since I last witnessed a morning like this one.  I suppose I needed to witness that exhibition of light as much as I've needed anything in recent years.  Hunting, fishing, canoeing...all historically important  elements in my life were fundamentally nonexistent that year, save for a few random outings.  Although I managed from time to time to break away from my doldrums with camera in hand, nothing of consequence resulted.  It had been a rather dry spell activity wise...what I needed was that one special day, that one defining moment where time, place, and light converged to create an extraordinary exhibit of radiance.

On a mid October dawn, the rustic natural beauty that is Kentucky displayed herself in front of my lens, and for a brief magnificent moment, I was granted the opportunity to witness part of creations most wonderful choreography.

A month before the hot dry remnant of the end of summer still permeated the region.  While driving the back roads of Barren County not far from my home, I turned down a narrow crumbling old road that eventually narrowed to a dead end at the top of a shallow rise.  I stopped for a while and meandered along the road simply enjoying being out and taking in the scenery, breathing the country air.  Falling away from the road to the south lay a quaint little farm with a cornfield growing in the bottoms separated from the rest of the land by a split of trees and a series of rolling pastures.  Cattle bellowed and song birds flittered here and there.  Beyond the cornfield stood a wooded strip backed by a sharply rising ridge.  Between the line of woods and the ridge ran Barren River.

Something spoke to me that day, bidding a return visit when the conditions were right...perhaps in another month as the fall colors started to appear.

That month passed...fall was stirring and the colors of the season were just beginning to adorn the hills.  I rose well before daylight one crisp Saturday morning and arrived at the top of the rise a few minutes before sunup.  The sky was already aglow and the sounds of country living were adding their music to the morning symphony.  A light fog drifted across the valley and hovered lightly above the now partially harvested cornfield.  The morning progressed rapidly toward daylight and I struggled to keep up...shooting photos in rapid succession needing to be in three places at once.  I rushed further up the rise and noticed how the first beams of the morning sun were just beginning to touch the tops of that spit of trees that separated the two fields.

Time passes quickly at first light, and I knew something special was about to happen, so I quickly setup my tripod and camera...checked the exposure...framed the shot...and waited for that defining moment I knew was sure to come.

As the sun climbed higher and peaked over the ridge to the east, a beam of light broke through and cast a radiance that burst into a flame of color as it was captured by the front edge of the trees.  The fog that drifted below began to lightly glow...I almost missed the moment as it lasted but a few seconds...but when I released the shutter, I knew that one of natures most cherished gifts...a brilliant new dawn...a new Kentucky Morning...was mine.

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