Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dry run

So anyone who has been following this blog knows I am planing my photo journey through the National Parks. To this end I spent yesterday with my wife on a short ride to Mt. Rainier, to test the equipment and get an early start on the upcoming journey. I brought along the checklist of things to do and a mental list of necessary images to round out the experience. I am so glad I did this quick little day trip. Often we forget that we live so close to Washington's wonderful National Parks and that they are so easy to get to.

I picked up my lifetime pass at the gate for 10 dollars what a great deal. You can get this pass if you are an American citizen and over 63 years old and have proof of your age. One of the perks of getting old along with the 4 O'clock special priced dinners at restaurants and cheaper movie tickets. Buying the pass allowed me to check off the first thing on my long list of things to do.

Soon we were driving up into the heights of the mountain, my excitement welled up as my eyes filled with the spectacle of this majestic wonder of a place. Around every turn was a vision of natural beauty, each stop of the car to gaze at into beauty and take a picture of the mountain slowly stripped away my city mindset, opening my limited vision to the vastness of an ever expanding horizon of nature. So much to see and take in, where do I begin? How do I start? What is my focus here? I am surrounded, I am immersed in the event of a living poem! This is a high spiritual place. What image do I record and why is it the one that I need to shoot?

This is all too much to take in so quickly. My thoughts were racing. It wasn't long before I came to the conclusion that the plan I was making was flawed, it would not give me enough time in each National Park to do what I needed to do. I would have to stay longer to experience each place for the spirit it contained. To sit in it an soak it up to see it and let it see me... to reveal to me it's hidden qualities. I have come to understand from this dry run that I am not just taking pictures. I am not a tourist here to grab an overview and say "bin there done that"!

There is just so much to take in of these great National Parks. For me, it is about more then just seeing and photographing the sight. If I am to truly express what I get from my experience I will need to be relaxed in a place, to sense it, take time to listen and become aware of what each location is offering to more then just my eyes.

I now understand that this journey has no time limitation or end. The time spent in each of the National Parks is the reward of the trip. There will be no finish... I will go as far as I go in this time slot of my sabbatical and then continue on as time and life permits. The photographs I take will evidence a deeper experience of what I have found valuable and transcending. Yes the images must be technically fine, yes they must be born of an experience of vision, this is the nature of art.

But in this instance a collection of photographs are not the only result of the trip. I am the result of the trip. I will be evolved, I will be broadened, I will hopfully be a much better person for the experience.  Nature has a way of reaching into our soul and reminding us of the bigger picture, we can become small again, let go our egos and find our child. You know the place where wonder supersedes reason.  Look for me there and you will see me, the small boy with the big camera.