Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. 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 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.

The Pilot

The Pilot
The Pilot

Saturday, October 22, 2011

To be Alone with Nature

A cloudless sky greeted me that morning...there was a chill in the air though, but no wind so the surface of Shanty Hollow Lake was mirror smooth...once again.  I arrived well before sunrise just in time to witness the first glow that indicated a new day was soon to arrive.  A near full moon hovered in the west an hour or so from setting...its reflection shimmering on the calm waters.  The west bank began to show signs of color as the morning light slowly progressed...illuminating the tree line against the still dark ebony sky.  I pulled off on the opposite bank and setup my tripod and spent the next thirty minutes photographing the morning from a different perspective than I normally do.  Some of the best images I've ever taken resulted.  (Sorry...saving their debut to coincide with the debut of the Shanty Hollow year long project next summer).

My story is less about photography than about spending time alone with nature.  Collectively over the years I've managed to spend many hours afield away from work...away from the routine.  In recent years, I've been unable to do as much...so I relish more those few times I do find.  Oddly enough it seems I relish them more once I returned home and begin to relive the day in my thoughts.

As the morning progressed, a front blew in shifting the day from gentle light breezes into a hard blow.  By mid-morning I pulled out and spent the next several hours simply hiking around and enjoying the blustery day.  A few clouds blew in with the front, but for the most part the sun was bright and caused the early fall colors to glow in its presence. Eventually, I found a large flat rock that was surrounded by yellow leaves set ablaze by sunbeams that filtered through the trees.  Listening to the sounds of the wind as it caused the leaves to shimmer and quake...well, it was quite relaxing.  Too often I get in a hurry and think I must move on...pictures to take...something new to see...when in reality, just sitting there in one spot for a while may be the best thing to do.

Finding time alone in nature helps to purge the soul of the anxieties of life.  Time spent doing so is well served as I am always more relaxed once I do return home.  I love to hear the sound of the wind rustling the leaves...observe the glow of the colors...feel the warmth of the sun on a fall day.  The area around Shanty Hollow lake is like a large arena surrounded by moss covered escarpments, filled with tall trees, divided by clear creeks, softened by a marvelous body of water, and anchored by ancient rock outcroppings that line the hills. Accented by a variety of wildlife still wild...still true to their instincts...the area is complete and purposeful for time discovered alone with nature.

Keith

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