What do you look for?

April 20 , 2007

The day after my nephew came here for his visit he and I went out hiking in the Sandias for his first excursion into the mountains in our neighborhood.

As we were walking and talking he asked me about the things I look for when I go out and hike. I thought it was an interesting question, especially coming from another photographer.

In fact, back in Norway, he even teaches photography.

While it's true, I do look out and look for the big picture, the panorama, the drama and the vista, I also try and look for the things not seen, or the things that would be overlooked.

I think it was only a minute or two after he asked that I spotted this recently cut tree, and although the sun was obscured by a large cloud, I stopped and changed to a close up lens. I figured that when the sun came out, it just might play on the sap that was dripping from this fresh cut.

Unfortunately, although the light did not reflect in the sap the way I had hoped, I still like this image.

Or this one, shot just a few minutes later.

Although I have one big paper looming over my head (due Wed), I also have taken a lot of time lately to get out and hike. In fact, just last Saturday I grabbed my camera and my tripod and went up into the mountains to try and record some of the "snowy drama" that was left behind by the storm that eventually became the great "NorEaster" that slammed New England.

The storm blew through here on Friday and I would have liked to have been on the mountain early on Saturday morning but I had a special class that chewed up the entire morning. I was on the mountain by 2:30 or so and did a four and half mile round trip.

Sunday, Mrs in tow, was a repeat, done in part to record the changes in the mountain and partly to re-record my path with the gps, since I had done a sloppy job the day before.

Yesterday on my way to the pool after class I decided that being indoors would be a shame on such a beautiful day so I headed on out to the same trail and got in a 6 mile hike.

About 6:30 I sat on the pinnacle of an outcrop and had a protein bar in the late evening light. I was basking in the sunshine and looking out over the city some 3,000 feet below. But, one can only enjoy that kind of thing so long before a little voice starts to say... Uh... NSR, you are 3 and a half miles away from your car, and the sun sets in about 45 minutes.

Isn't it time to head on down?

So, yes I did, and along the way I did shoot an image or two, arriving at the parking lot just before dark. And yes, this time I did have a headlamp along, tucked safely away in my backpack.

I suppose it is what light does that I most frequently "look for," whether it be the interplay of light and shadow, or how the colors change in the golden hour.

The colors shift as the light changes, but that's not always what catches my eye. In this next photo, taken the earlier in the day on Saturday, you see the same type of flower in a different light, but also in a different setting.

Here I saw the bright splash of color against a monochromatic arid landscape.

Although not as sharp as I would prefer (blame it on the strong wind), I still like the contrast which is another thing that catches my eye.

Just about any time you hike at sunset in this neck of the woods you can see the light change an ordinary looking cactus into a glowing plant.

Or perhaps we should get really close, just so we an see the "point" as it were.

It's the out of place, the play of light, the splash of color, or the contrast that often catches my eye, sometimes I'm looking for it, moreoften I just happen to be there.

But I do pay attention to the little things, like this wildflower that I found yesterday, a bit larger than dime, but found only along a 20 to thirty foot section of the six miles I walked.

The colors were subdued, the size was miniature, and this little plant did not shout out "look at me." But there it was, and down into the dirt I went, camera in hand.

Curiously, that's frequently where you will find me, one moment standing and shooting the panorama and in the next on the ground finding the remnants of a big snow reduced to a few melting crystals. . .

and a large solitary drop of water.