This week’s shot is a self portrait that comes from the same Chasm Lake sunrise adventure as last week’s shot. The more I take landscape shots, the more I enjoy adding a human element to my photographs. When you’re in the mountains and experiencing the vastness of the valleys and the soaring mammoth peaks, you often take pictures thinking they’re capturing the magnitude of the scene only to realize when you load them onto your computer later that they’re just…bleh. Adding a human element can really help combat this by creating a contrast between the tiny human(s) and the massive Mother Nature. In this case, though, I thought it would be fun to break that “rule” of making the human element small in comparison to the vastness of the landscape, and this is what I came up with. :)
p.s. I’m actually not the only person in this shot…check out the full size version and see if you can spot the others!
I like the stars. It’s the illusion of permanence, I think. I mean, they’re always flaring up and caving in and going out. But from here, I can pretend…I can pretend that things last. I can pretend that lives last longer than moments. Gods come, and gods go. Mortals flicker and flash and fade. Worlds don’t last; and stars and galaxies are transient, fleeting things that twinkle like fireflies and vanish into cold and dust. But I can pretend…
— Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol.7: Brief Lives
i took a night hike up to Chasm Lake on the Longs Peak trail last weekend. the goal was to see the sunrise at the 12k foot lake, and with hike to the lake being a touch over 4 miles with an elevation gain of 2400 feet, i had to start early. the night was absolutely beautiful, though, so starting early really wasn’t a nuisance at all. i set up my gorillapod (tiny tripod) shortly after reaching the alpine tundra and snapped a few star shots. i didn’t really have the gear or the ability to produce anything spectacular, but i still found the scene worthy of photographing:
if you squint really hard, you can see the headlamps of some climbers ascending the face of the Longs Peak diamond on the left
the Milky Way is the hazy cluster of stars that’s leaning off to the right in what looks like a half-hearted attempt to avoid duck out of the frame
all the lights in the foreground are hikers who are making their way to the summit. see, i’m not the only madman who starts hikes at 2:45am!
the rest of the hike and the sunrise at Chasm didn’t disappoint either, and i’m sure i’ll throw up a few more shots from that trip in the next week or two…so stay tuned!
i felt like dipping back into the archives a bit for this week, so i skimmed through some shots from my bulging iceland and faroe islands library and found this one. after seeing the eclipse that morning, we drove around the islands and soaked up what turned out to be the only partly sunny day during our week’s visit to the faroe islands. the fog was rolling in over the top of the hill (mountain?) we had just descended, and i parked the car to snap some shots. the movement of the fog was really magical, and i remember wishing i had a timelapse setup to capture the motion of the scene. even so, i enjoy this shot quite a bit (if for no other reason than it brings me back to that time and place).
The mountain photographer is interpreting the face of nature — that mysterious infinity, eternally a refuge, a reservoir, an amplifier of the spirit; a mother of dreams; a positive though elusive voice in whose depth lies its subtlety. They will interpret best who are never so content as when under the influence of situations where silence is rich in the mute assurance and beauty of mountain surroundings. The quality of emotional knowing has a finer integration with our spirit than anything that comes from barren intellectual processes. This point of view only accumulates slowly, out of long experience and contact with wordless influences. Under the spell of solitude and of natural beauty the root system of this kind of awareness establishes itself.
— Galen Rowell
in short, this is why i moved back to Colorado. the massive vistas, the solitude to calm (or perhaps facilitate?) my existential angst, the face of nature, the mountain light…
one of my first orders of business after moving back to CO was to embark on a photo adventure with Keegan. i drove down to meet him for a sunrise at City Park in Denver, and we proceeded to wander around the city and nearby Lookout Mountain. enjoy the shots!
consider this my first proper photo of the week post as a resident of colorado. it’s been a long time since i lived in this state, and it’s been almost as long since i thought of this state as my home. now that i’m back, i’m butting against a strange realization that this place that i grew up isn’t quite my home. colorado has certainly changed in the last seven years, but suspect it’s my own metamorphosis during that time that’s the true catalyst for my vague lack of comfort here.
i spent four years in nebraska, but for me the rigid conservatism and anti-intellectualism that permeated the culture there was never quite offset by the quiet unconditional benefit-of-the-doubt attitude that is so characteristic of “the good life.” colorado doesn’t quite feel like home, but nebraska certainly never will.
i spent three years in chicago, and despite growing comfortable in that enigmatic broken nose of a city, i never felt at home there. people littered EVERYWHERE. Nelson Algren said that “loving chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose — you may well find lovelier lovelies, but never a lovely so real.” perhaps, but i sure wish this lovely would have some more respect for herself.
i suppose this lack of a home is more of an internal problem than it is an external one. on the path of the psyche that is kyle, i started in a warm, loving environment that was, without a doubt, home. as the black blacks and the white whites revealed themselves as nothing more than bolder shades of grey, however, home became less obvious. it was no longer defined by the world around me as it was by my reaction to that world. home is another name for the environment where you’re you. and as you move from one place to the next, from one set of cultures to another, it takes an interesting breed of courage to be at home in a culture that grinds with that youness that you are.
i don’t have that courage yet, and i’m not sure constantly throwing myself in new environments is the best way to develop it. the self-preservation instinct is strong, after all. but while the immersion technique is not often comfortable, it is generally effective. i’m just making this life up as i go along, and i suppose i don’t have any other option than to try new things and see what happens.
so i’m going to give this thing a shot and see what happens.