Some things you just can’t plan. But if you have experienced the disappointment that comes when preparation, sacrifice, and extreme discomfort end in complete failure, yet have still gone back out the next time and the next time and the next time, Mother Nature will sometimes reward you with gifts of exquisite beauty. More than the successful shot that was planned and executed to perfection, it’s the promise of these gifts that keeps me going back out with my camera when I’d so much rather be at the dinner table, curled in bed, or reading by the fire.
I’ve had a few of these unexpected blessings in my photographic career: a sunrise at Mono Lake that now graces the cover of my book; Half Dome emerging from a churning caldron of clouds, barely visible in the very last light of day; a persistent double rainbow arcing above the full breadth of Yosemite Valley; the Milky Way, framed by glowing clouds, pouring into Kilauea Caldera. And most recently, this magic morning at the Grand Canyon, when the lightning wouldn’t stop and the first rays of sunrise balanced a vivid rainbow on the canyon’s rim. I photographed many single lightning strikes that morning, a few double strikes, and this fortuitious capture of three simultaneous lighting bolts in a single 1/3 second exposure.
That I’ve been able photograph these moments is my great fortune. But with or without a camera, every detail of being there is permanently etched in my memory—not just the visual, but who I was with, where I might have been instead, and the joy of feeling like I’m witnessing the most beautiful thing happening on Earth at this moment. It’s these permanent, visceral memories that drive me from bed, warm my flesh, and calm my angry stomach when thoughts of comfort try to keep me home.
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Join Gary in a photo workshop in Yosemite, Maui, Hawaii's Big Island, Death Valley, California's Eastern Sierra, or the Grand Canyon. Not only will you return with great images, you'll be become a better photographer. And you'll have lots of fun.
©Gary Hart, 2013