There is a saying that you cannot go back. Well you actually can go back to a place, but that doesn’t mean it will be the same. The place, and the experience are a series of brief moments.
No matter where you are at any given moment in life, you can never live that moment of time over again. I’ve always tried (and sometimes failed) to make moments count, in so far as where I was, and who I was with, if I was indeed with somebody.
I consumed places like the ones below. I looked, felt, listened and even smelled what was around me. I always knew that even if I returned, it would never be like this again. Moments are all too brief.
Below we find two of America’s greatest sand dunes parks. Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, and White Sands, New Mexico. On all four occasions below, I was traveling alone..
These images of Great Sand Dunes were made in 1986 (top) and 2007.
On my first trip it was very cold and climbing the dunes first required a very, very cold hike across the snow melt river you see in the first picture. I made my pictures in the afternoon and worked until almost sunset. Most of the afternoon, the skies were cloudy. I treasured my time here. This was my first time photographing dunes and I wondered why I never visited this place when I lived in Denver.
Times change and so does the light, your subject, and you. In this visit in 2007 I arrived just before sunrise. During the night before, there were torrential storms in the area. At midnight, I waded through knee-deep water in order to drive my rental car out of the lake that had formed in the motel parking lot, and up to the top of a gravel landscaping hill of the business next door. The next morning it took me three tries to get the car safely off the hill and through the water and out of the parking lot. I spotted much damage to businesses and homes on my way to Great Sand Dunes.
On my way in on the park road, I stopped twice to removed debris that had accumulated. I finally made it to the edge of the wash that I hiked 11 years earlier, and I realized that no mere mortal, could make it to the other side. Especially with lots of camera equipment. Because of the torrential storms the water was fairly deep, and was rushing with amazing power and speed. I often took chances on my trips, but I was never stupid.
My perspective (from outside the dunes), the light, and the photographer (me), had changed from my initial visit and so did my resulting pictures. The moments were not the same this time.
I first photographed White Sands, New Mexico with medium format and 35mm transparency film in 1992. I had been back briefly in the late 1990s, but in 2006 I returned to make some serious images. White Sands was the same. I was not.
On my first trip (top three pictures), I was mesmerized at the fact that there were plants that grew through the sand. The relationship between those plants, the white gypsum sand, and the blue sky captured my imagination and my time. Much of that day was spent fulfilling my vision of that symbiotic existence between those elements. Most of my work, was done in the brightness of day.
When I walked onto the dunes in 2006, I was a different person, or at least a different photographer. Even in the glare of midday my vision was of patterns and designs.
I stayed and shot until after dark this time.
A couple of hours before I made this final shot, when I was well back among the dunes, another photographer, a 40ish lady crossed my path. We nodded as we continued on our journeys.
Long after I finally succumbed to the darkness, I was next to my car drinking in the atmosphere provided by the quiet of the evening. I was having a moment. Then over the dune came the lady with her camera. I nodded and began to get into my car. I was considered that she might be worried about what kind of man she was seeing in the darkness and loneliness of the nighttime dunes. I decided I couldn’t let the moment pass so I simply asked how her day creating images on the sand went for her. She spoke back and said great. She had an accent which turned out to be Australian. She said she had been in “the states” for three years and lived and worked in Santa Fe. She was a part-time painter and today she had been making pictures that she could paint from. Before we left she gave me a web address of a site where a few of her paintings were being displayed. When I got back home I viewed her art and shared with her a few of my White Sands photos of patterns and such. She asked if she could use two of them to paint from. I gave her permission and she indeed painted two fine works of art. My point is, that I almost let the moment slip away. I spoke up, seized the moment, and got to experience my pictures become paintings. Don’t let the moment pass you by!
I had changed as a photographer and a person between my visits to these places. The light of course also changed. Each visit was equally as important to me as the others. I tried and I believe I succeeded, to live in the moment, and make each of those moments significant.
If we can have moments, well so can our subjects.
I would imagine the moment that this Sandhill Crane and its baby were having, was quite different from mine. They were considerate enough to have their moment in the golden light of sunrise, and whatever the moment meant to them, I made sure to experience my moment to the fullest. It occurred at Horicon Marsh NWR in Wisconsin.
I only wish I could make every moment in every part of my life as special as I did with travel and photography. Just the same, I recognized other moments enough to have benefited from and learned from each occurrence. I guess that’s all any of us can ask.
Today’s post was originally a 20 or so paragraph article about politics and social issues. With it I managed to achieve mostly confusion, so I trashed the whole thing. I will be rewriting it in the future. I have gotten a bit more militant on some issues, so hold on to your hat.
In the mean time……….
Some of you might have thought that my recent lack of social/political commentary might have meant that I changed what I believe in or who I am. I never change what I believe to suit the world around me. I take my opinions seriously, and they come from a lifetime of experience and thought. Remember, I did not change my political affiliations many years ago because I myself changed my beliefs. I did so because those who I was affiliated with, both political parties and other groups, changed and forced me to seek sanity. To search for those who believed as I did, that America should be a place of dreams created through personal accomplishments. With no limits!
There is nothing more pointless than a society that encourages excellence, and the fulfilling of dreams, but does not understand that success, also means there will be many, many failures. Life in a righteous society that believes you should succeed or fail through freedom, operates very much the same way that God, (the Christian God), operates. With free will and a right to win, lose, try, or try not, as you choose.
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
I am always bothered by those who twist the Bible to say what they want it to say. There are many entire Bibles that are twisted to say other than what God actually expressed in the great Book.
There are times when a verse can say what God wanted it to, but also be used for another similar and positive use. My feeling about that is the one using the verse for their own purposes, should at least tell you so, if they even know it.
The above verse has the specific meaning of letting us know that we are both brief and inadequate without God, but certainly helps to explain that while we are here, “the moment” should be embraced by all.
May God Bless,