Early summer in Idaho is stunning as the snow melt gives way to hot days and cool nights. In late June I made my semi annual trek to the Sun Valley area to teach some private photography lessons and had the luxury to spend a day with friends kind enough to invite me to their cabin at Petit lake. A short walk, slow shutter speeds and seven exposures capturing all the detail from highlights to shadows allowed the above image to come to life.
There is nothing is quite as delicious as a day off after working 12 hour days for more than a week. This evening, Dewitt and I headed down to the west end of the island where he has been photographing a beautiful series of wave images. As we set up on the beach, we discussed plans for our October photography workshop on Molokai, and chatted about some wonderful ideas Rikki had for the upcoming class. Soon the conversation drifted off into reverie of the musical scene that was before us, and the meditation of photography began.
Dewitt filmed this short video of me moments before the above frame happened.
Rikki often says it not about me taking the picture, but about the picture taking me. The phrase what will I be taken by today? regularly enters my mind when I am shooting. Its simplicity disarming the inner critic that tells me that I have to go make a good picture. Its a phrase that gives me the freedom to wait.
This evening the banyan trees near the Hui took me. Below are two of the results.
Click on the player below to listen to a short clip of some beautiful ukulele’s music and singing in the lodge before dinner.
Driving the red dirt road to Kamakou preserve on Molokai, one could easily mistake the landscape for western Tanzania. Grassy plains surrounded by wind sculpted trees make my eye look for the giraffe that will never walk into my frame. Today we found ourselves bouncing down this road in spite of the rain that insists on clinging to the hills in a shroud of ever changing gray. It has been at least two years since I last wandered into the preserve and I am excited. Dewitt speaks often about beginning ones day with a full cup, and as the four wheel drive vehicle I am piloting crawls through the mud into the cloud bank, I feel my cup filling with excitement. The road is a canyon surrounded by cliffs of moss covered trees reaching to the sky. When the caravan of cars stops, I feel that tingle of excitement travel from my right index finger, up my arm and around my body. The light is gorgeous. A giant soft box in the sky. So much biodiversity I can’t find the words other than to quote what one workshop participant said — this is what eden must have been like. My cup overflows.
This morning it was not the usual cacophony of birds and subtle song of wind chimes that woke me, but rather the melodic drumming of rain on the tin roof above my head. Before I was fully conscious I knew our plans of a field trip to the mesmerizing ancient rainforest had washed away and by the time I sat up, I knew that the torrential downpour would make it hard to go anywhere but the computer lab.
“OK Jonathan” I thinking to myself, “how do I ride this thermal of change rather than flapping my wings in frustration?” The answer arrived moments later when I nearly destroyed a rain laden spider web on my walk to the lab. Something usually invisible had been transformed into jeweled strings of translucent pearls. As I took my camera out of its bag, I could feel the thermal of excitement lifting my wings.
By the end of the day, the worst of the storm had blown over Molokai, and I headed down the hill to catch the sweet evening light. The day didn’t turn out like my agenda had planned, but thanks to keeping my heart and mind open to change, I didn’t flap my wings in frustration all day long, and managed a few good frames in the process.
As a special treat Glenna Garramone performed some of her new songs at the Hui this evening. Click below to listen.
A comment by Mr. Miroslaw Swietek in response to these stunning insect photos refused to leave my mind today. Mr. Swietek said Its not the camera which takes pictures but the mind and the heart – and in mantra like fasion his comment repeated itself over and over in my mind during the photography workshop today. What is turning my head? What is pulling my heart? What is engaging my mind? Here are a few of my answers from the day.
Ten minutes after I hit the publish button on “nothing endures but change…”, I wandered over to the front porch of the lodge at the Hui for morning check in. Check in is a time for my fellow instructors and I to set the compass for the days workshop and offer a open forum for thoughts and questions. During todays check in, Dewitt made a wonderful analogy between birds riding the thermals off the sea cliffs of Molokai, and us flapping away our energy on tasks that take us in the wrong direction – rather than catching the thermals in our own lives. It is a beautiful metaphor.
What causes thermals? Change. Change in temperature, change in pressure. This change powers glider pilots down their cloud streets and lifts frigate birds across the Au Au channel with nary a flap of their wings. So why are we so often afraid of change in our lives? Does not this very change provide the thermals we need to soar to new heights?