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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The One Defining Moment


Here is a repost from a couple years ago. Sometimes I go back thru some of the blog posts for no other reason than to hopefully regain a bit of inspiration and to remind myself why I am doing this. This one I think is a good reminder....

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I've missed more great photographs than I've ever come close to making. Maybe one percent of what I take could be considered pretty good...the other 99 percent was practice. Even so, I am always on the look out for that one defining shot...the single moment in time where everything falls into place...when location, light, preparation, and opportunity all come together and I succeed in capturing that one defining moment. It hasn't happened yet...but I keep trying...keep looking.

Many years ago I witnessed such a moment...all the elements were there...except I wasn't prepared. On this occasion I was driving south along Oklahoma's I-75 and was a few miles south of Henryetta. A big spring storm was brewing...dark clouds...distant thunder. It was late in the afternoon not far from sundown. The dark cloud spread out above me and was threatening the entire region, but off to the west there was a break in the clouds low on the horizon.

There was plenty of lightning, but not the normal cloud to ground type...the lighting was spreading out across the sky from cloud to cloud in a web-like manner like electric fingers extending in all directions. There was very little flashing...just a slow expansion of electric tentacles that moved across the sky. As I topped a hill the view changed to where I could see a valley off to the west and at the same time the sun popped below that break in the clouds. Everything lit up in an expanding warm light...yet the lightning continued to flash across the clouds. For a few moments...that may have been one of the most remarkable sights I've ever witnessed....and I had not a camera of any type with me. That may have been the first time I've ever wished I had a quality camera and knew how to use it...but it wasn't to be. I've never seen anything that remotely came close to that moment.

Another time probably around summer, 1975, I found myself visiting Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. An absolutely remarkable place. I spent pretty much the entire day there making a couple loops around the rim drive, photographing ever nook and corner of the view I could find. I've never seen such blue water or blue sky. As I was leaving it was right at sundown and the entire region was enveloped in a red glow. The surrounding mountains were layered in purple and the sky was on fire and spread out from horizon to horizon. I was at the right place, at the right time, under the right circumstances...but I had no film left in my camera. All I could do was stop..get out of my vehicle...and watch one of the most spectacular endings to a day I've ever seen...and was unable to take a single photograph of the moment. All that remains of both of these moments are the memories stored in my mind.

That one defining moment is an elusive dream that maybe someday I'll be able to capture. My eye is always on that search...and as I mentioned before I still continue to miss great photo ops simply because of a lack of readiness. One of my favorite locations to photograph is Oklahoma's Tallgrass Prairie. If there is any location that will offer such a defining moment that is unique to photography, it must be this place. I can visualize what it must look like...that one moment...but time and circumstance has yet to provide it.

That one defining moment may never happen...but I'll continue to search for it and even though I'd rather be good than lucky...maybe a little luck will come my way and I'll stumble onto a magical moment of light and actually have my camera in hand.

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