Fish, Friends, and Photography

SunsetSomeone told me years ago, “If you want to catch a lot of fish, you have to go fishing a lot.”  That’s true for the most part, unless you have friends that call to tell you when the fish are biting.  It’s also true for landscape photography.  It’s a good thing I have a few good friends.

The great landscape photographer, Galen Rowell, said, “There are only a certain number of sunrises and sunsets in a person’s life.  A good landscape photographer understands this.”  His words haunt me because there are too many I never see.  Now for real, not every sunrise or sunset contributes to the making of a good image.  Good ones don’t always happen just like fish aren’t always biting.  In truth, I miss too many of the good ones.  And my friends let me know when I do; “Oh, did you see the sunrise this morning?; Wow, I hope you got that sunset last night. It was fantastic!”  I love my friends!  They are few, but they are special!

Yesterday evening, I’m doing nothing in particular when one of these good friends calls me up.  The conversation begins like this:

“Hello”

“Well, I’m going to tell you right now, I can’t go.  I hate it, but I’m just not able to go.  I’m on my way to Elgin to meet family for supper.  But there are some clouds out here that look like they might make for a pretty good sunset.  You ought to go if you can.  If you get something good, send it to me.”

Well, what do you do?  Good friends hold you accountable.  I grabbed my bag, pulled a bottle of water out of the fridge and I’m out the door.  And, as it turned out it was pretty good and I had a great time just being out there.  Yes, the catch isn’t big enough for a company fish fry, but it’s big enough to keep.  I sent it to my friend earlier this morning.

Fish, Friends, and Photography?  I need all three, and sometimes, it takes all three.

Carl Ray

The Milky Way and a Juniper Tree

The Milky Way Galaxy
Sony A7r|Zeiss Loxia 21mm|f2.8|20s|ISO 3200

Last Chance Milky Way

It was going to be my last chance this season to capture the Milky Way in a prime location of the sky.  I’d been tied up with other things until just a few days ago so it was either do it now or wait until next June.  I chose to do it now!

Here in southwest Oklahoma there aren’t any large urban areas that completely wash out the night sky with light pollution, but it only takes a few street lights to do the damage.  It’s a two hour drive to the most remote and darkest spot I know of in these parts:  a spot only ten miles from the Texas panhandle; A spot dominated more by red berry juniper trees than mesquite trees.

As the sun sank low on the western horizon, I became the object of curiosity for several free ranging cows and their calves.  I was relieved once the curious calves’ were satisfied and their moms decided the grass must be greener someplace else.  A half-dozen “bull bats” (nighthawks) swooped through the sky chasing insects scared into flight by the cattle.  Occasionally their swooping and diving created the loud bull-like sound from whence they get their nickname.  A lone coyote trotted down the road, briefly glanced in my direction, then continued on its way unconcerned by my presence.

Shadows grew longer and darkness began to fall across the landscape.  The cattle had gathered for the night and gentle lowing could be heard in the distance.  The lone coyote had joined the pack and their yelps were filling the night.  First one star, then another, began to pop out from its celestial hiding place.  Excitement began to build from somewhere deep within.  My pulse quickened with anticipation of the scene about to unfold.  Before long the heavens had opened opened to reveal the sparkling treasures above.

Alone with GOD and His creation, I was at peace, feeling content, and truly blessed!