There’s a wonderful blog post by my friend Miriam Louisa Simons on how disappointment is her greatest teacher. Here is a link to it. Here in the US, we don’t like to spend time on disappointment, unless it’s to feel sorry for ourselves. We’re a very success oriented culture. However, giving in to disappointment and not fighting it stops us in our automatic tracks and allows us to see more clearly. This can be a great opening. As artists it is opening that allows us to be inspired to greater expression and joy.
I try not to have any goals in mind when I go out hiking with my camera because the more I’m looking for a certain kind of image, the more I’m missing what’s in front of me.
However I’m human, and I usually pick a hiking location based on the morning sky, the weather and what kinds of photographs I might be able to make there.
This morning I was going up to Red Rock Lake in the Colorado high country. We’ve had alternating spring days and snow storms here in Boulder and I had no idea what I would find there. I figured being at this beautiful lake framed by snow-capped peaks would be enough.
It was 46 degrees and dry when I left this morning. Three quarters into my trip it was 28 degrees and snowing. I was dressed warmly enough, but as the snow was sticking to the road I was uncomfortable taking my two-wheel drive car into the mountains in a snowstorm. I finally turned around. Driving back down to Boulder I tried to think of alternate places to hike, but nothing appealed to me. With a storm in the west to the back of me, I witnessed a beautiful sunrise as I drove east down the mountain. I looked for a place I could pull off the road and make a photograph with it, but found nothing.
I finally decided to stop at a local park on St. Vrain Creek that had been seriously damaged from last fall’s flooding. I’d been there before and didn’t find much to photograph, but at least I could get out of the car and walk around. I missed the sunrise, but as I turned the corner the approaching storm and the rising sun made a more compelling photo than most sunrises. I stopped at a pullout and captured the photo at the top.
I got to my local park and got out of the car. It’s amazing how these little creeks cut such wide swaths of damage with their flooding. I walked through the storm debris and started to notice these patterns in the sand made by the flooding. This is something that would never have caught my eye before. Normally, I’d see it and just walk on it as I made my way. However this time the patterns and color changes caught my attention. There was nothing else to grab it.
I started to try a photograph of some interesting lines and in a short time I was obsessed going from pattern to pattern and seeing more and more. Miriam’s blog about disappointment being her greatest teacher came to mind. If I had made it up to Red Rock Lake, I don’t expect I would have gotten any images as exciting as these.