December 17, 2012

Chasing the Light

It is comforting beyond words that my post from Saturday has resonated with so many people. And it seems that my linked photo, taken of an Alaska scene at daybreak, has touched the hearts of several photographers on flickr too. 

It’s not always a pretty picture when I pull back the curtain and reveal some of the clutter that inhabits my wee brain. It's also not an easy task. So please indulge me, once again, and consider it your kind deed of the day.

My tale begins with the small boat cruise of Alaska we took this summer. It did not fully meet our expectations. The negative nelly in me, that insolent little girl, was disappointed in several departments. The food was not always the best. The accommodations were below average. There was a camera club on board and the members were not inclined to mingle with others. I didn’t sleep well, which further aggravated my usual state of exhaustion this year. My aches and pains were nagging me. It rained a lot, true to the nature of southeast Alaska in the summertime. Though it was marketed as a photo tour, the captain did not take the time to stop for some spectacular photo opportunities. I could go on, but you get the picture. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

However, it was a spectacular journey. There were some unbelievable moments of joy and unexpected lessons that I will hold dear for the rest of my days. My husband and I were able to spend valuable time together, share the rich experience of raw nature, and see some parts of this world that very few people get to witness. We met some people with beautiful spirits. And I found a deeper understanding about the incredible power of contrasts.

It should be no secret that devoted photographers chase the light. In photography, the contrast between light and dark grips a viewer’s attention and heart. Contrast is an essential ingredient to a stunning image. The photo on this post is a sister to the one on Saturday’s post and taken a mere 21 seconds later. It shows the full reflection of the shoreline. You can also see the dark clouds are receding and light is rising further above the adjacent hillside. Similar to our lives, ripples from the boat are extending outward, touching the shoreline and creating a pattern. The ridgeline in the distance is becoming clearer. It was another day to chase the light. And the gratitude for another day was suddenly there, in the moment.

If you have been following my blog since July, you have seen several photographic examples of dramatic skies, light, clouds, mountain, and mist. You will see several more in the weeks ahead. An image like that has not been a part of my usual style, and it is a challenge to do an adequate job in post processing. But the circumstances of that journey compelled me break out of the mold. The first time I saw some beams of light streaming through angry looking rainclouds, the message came through, loud and clear.

I found solace on the bow in the early morning, when our sailing vessel was anchored in sheltered coves. The incredible stillness was haunting. The sound of silence was deafening. Mountains and hillsides surrounded the vessel, with dark swirls of fog enveloping the trees on the shore. I leaned against the railing, sipping a comforting cup of hot coffee, and held my camera close. I patiently waited for the first signs of daybreak, when the light would peek over the ridgelines and then dance across the rugged landscape. 

It was astonishing to witness how quickly the scene changed. In only a few short minutes, it looked like I was transported to a completely different place. It was mesmerizing. It was powerful. The memory of it will always be with me. And I hope that you can look at my photos, such as the one above, and place yourself in that boat, deep in the wild Alaskan wilderness, and also imagine the transformations.

So what was the message on that summer day, heard within? 

When you are surrounded by darkness, look for the light.
It will rise up and you will find it.


  1. Amen. "If we walk in the light..."

    Beautiful photography!

  2. Beautiful words, Donna and a message that rings true.

  3. Really beautiful and so true for this particular time.

  4. Your photo is spectacular!!! I was in Alaska last year in September and loved all of the light and dark contrasts in the various locations. So much beauty there to be captured both by photo and in our hearts!

    I found you through Betsy from TN..
    Your blog post on Saturday was so very true!


  5. Another great post Donna. Thanks for sharing, your wonderful photos, and your words.
    I too enjoy the silence pf the early morning, and watching the light of the dawn. Quite early here at about 4.30 am these days!
    And yes, such a metaphor for life...and faith.

  6. Donna
    Such a beautiful photo you have captured.
    I can only imagine how magical your trip was.

  7. Thanks again for Saturday's post. I think personal feelings on blogs are so important --and can help so many folks. Thanks again.

    I love the photo on this post. The reflection is PERFECT...


  8. A beautiful message and lesson we all should remember. That photo is absolutely breathtaking. I meant to comment on it in your last post but I suppose I was too caught up in the tragic events.

  9. Very beautifully written post and thought provoking. I appreciated the previous post, too and mentioned you in my comments on Vee's blog today. I haven't commented much the past few days but I value your thoughtful posts and your friendship. Sweet hugs, Diane

  10. May I just say something?

    I love you for many different reasons. You are a very special lady!


  11. May God heal our hearts and minds...


  12. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Oh, how I wish I could have stood on the bow of the boat with you. I would have cherished the sounds of silence - and I would have loved the photo ops with you, my friend.

  13. Wow this is so pretty even if the boat was not so great

  14. 21 seconds can change everything, almost. We always need to be open to letting the light in, and letting it change us for the better. :) Merry Christmas, sweet Donna.


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