“ Look at the camera as a special window on the world.” Sam Abell
I’ve always loves that quote from Sam Abell. I took a class with him back in 1982, and have followed him for all these years. He’s a deep spirit, a thinker, and he expresses how he feels through his photographs so well. When I was processing the image above, I thought about him and this quote. I have been photographing since I was 9 years old. And even though back then I didn’t realize it, I used the camera to look at the world around me, to focus-no pun intended – on things that mattered to me. Nature, my sisters, our family travels, birds – those were the common subjects of my younger years. Later on, those still mattered, but as my world expanded, so did my photography. As I traveled more, I used my camera to share with others the awe and wonder that I felt and experienced where I traveled. Were the pictures always show-stoppers? Not likely! But what mattered was that I was seeing and sharing. Over time, my technique improved enough to go pro and the pictures I shared were much better. But again, what really mattered was the use of the camera to see the world around me and to create a way to share what I saw and felt.
I’ve been so fortunate to be able to lead photography tours and workshops to great locations. Yosemite is one of them, relatively close to home, but this Spring the Super moon and the promise of a good moonbow was really exciting. I had seen it once, but didn’t know how to photograph it and was using film back then. Never got back there to try it at the right time – until we decided to do this Spring tour. It was crowded, everyone was pretty intent on getting a picture whether they had a point-and-shoot camera or a 4×5! It was their ‘window’ on a special world that night. But there was a festive spirit to the group – and a friendly, helpful spirit. People next to you were willing to give you guidance if you were new to this experience. When the moonbow began to be visible to the naked eye, it was SO exciting for the group! At the same time, a certain ‘frenzy’ set in – as everyone worked to get a decent exposure. Even with suggested exposure settings, the first image was a ‘test’ – and then everyone had to make adjustments for their camera. If you went too long with your exposure, it looked too much like daylight instead of moonlight. This exposure was at f5.6 for 134 seconds, about 2.2 minutes, and was just the balance I was looking for.
Walking back to the cars, I reflected on just how special that experience was. The camera once again had given us an opportunity to view the world through a different window, one of night and moonbows and magic.