Two of three isn’t bad, but the missing part made this event special. In the early morning of the last day in January, the second full moon of the month was setting. The eclipse – well, that was for other people to see. This is a composite image of two different images. The first image exposed for the clouds, the second image exposed for the moon. This combination was then converted to a black and white image.
It did it its way.
I was driving to northern New Jersey for a Christening. I figured, what the heck, wake up early, try to get to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge by sunrise, and watch the sun rise. The sun and the clouds and the sky cooperated.
I came for the birds, and ended up with the sun.
On the first few days of our trip to Nova Scotia, the sun bid adieu and the clouds rolled into view. A drizzle here and there reminded us that the Atlantic Coast can be unforgiving. And yet, in the dank grey skies, you saw the beauty of the land that the hardy Nova Scotians call their home. The jagged coastline, the waves crashing incessantly on the rock strewn shores, the wind occasionally blowing in your face. Autumn’s colors had not yet come. The mostly monochromatic views accentuated the ruggedness of the land. When the skies are grey and the wind howls, I sometimes think of those days in Nova Scotia. And I smile.
It was a cloudy day in the D.C. suburbs. We are getting some badly needed rain. And, I had to make a short trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia. So I drive westward on Interstate 66. The clouds were hanging low as I approached the highlands of Shenandoah National Park. A little past the exit to the park, the sun peeked through the clouds. The low lying clouds, the fall colors highlighted by diffused sunlight – it was beautiful. So what kind of photography can you come up with while taking pictures from the side of a highway?
There’s only one way to find out. Slowing down from seventy miles per hour, I stopped by the roadside and glanced across the lanes of the interstate. Nestled in what looked like a small nook by the mountain was a house surrounded by saturated trees sporting saturated autumn colors. Out came the camera. One click. Another click. Another click.
It was time to go back to the highway and head westward towards Interstate 81. The traffic remained relatively light as I reached the junction to I81. Heading south towards Harrisonburg, the sun was beginning to set towards a horizon barely clear of clouds. In some spots. I saw a silo, the sun was setting behind some clouds, and I slowed down again to take more pictures from the highway.
After ten minutes in Harrisonburg, it was time to go back towards the D.C. suburbs. It was getting dark rather rapidly, but in the rear view mirror I spied upon a bright red sunset. The sun was nearly gone as I headed towards an exit at I81 and stopped by a gas station. Through some barren trees, towards Interstate 81, I saw the last vestiges of light.
Who knew that a gas station would be a good place to be to watch the sun set? Photography is incredibly rewarding. Images are waiting to be taken at almost every moment. Just keep your eyes open and your mind free. The pictures will be there for the taking.
Sometimes, when the light is right, you don’t even have to see the sun to see a beautiful sunrise. With the dust scattering the morning light towards the mid autumn sky, how can one not stop and just wonder at the beauty that is around us. We forget, sometimes, that every day can be special. Each day is a gift. Our mind knows this, but our heart must feel it. In the midst of life’s trials, there is always something that can bring love into our lives. And in truth, as long as love prevails, beauty will always be there.
When you think of Maui, you think of warm days at the beach. The warm waters of the Pacific lapping gently over your feet while walking, unhurriedly, in the early hours of the day, eagerly watching the sun rise over an ocean as boundless as your dreams. You think of the Polynesian food, so delicious, that any ideas of dieting seems like a silly concern. You think of the hikes through the pristine forests, butterflies fluttering, birds singing with joy, happy to spend another day in paradise. You hear the occasional rooster crowing, heralding the coming of a new day, even as the first hints of sunlight begin to bathe the land with its life giving warmth.
Beyond the beaches, on a winding road that zigs and zags its way to the peak of Haleakala, is a national park that simply takes your breathe away. Probably because at its altitude, there is less oxygen going inside your lungs with each deep breathe that you take. You wake up shortly after midnight and in the darkness drive for hours, in the quest to see the sun blaze through the clouds, to marvel at a natural light show that no amount of fireworks can hope to match. You look out towards the ocean and see eternity, bathed in light so sublime that in that joyous moment, heaven and earth are one.
On top of the summit, in the hours before daybreak, in the midst of August, I was reminded that altitude has an attitude. A cold one. It was freezing. It was wonderful.
It snows in Haleakala. The wind howls at Haleakala. It gets dark in Haleakala. So dark that some of the world’s great telescopes are on the summit of the great mountain, mirrors trained unflinchingly at the star strewn night sky, partaking in the greatest quest humanity has ever taken. The exploration of our universe. We who live near the great cities forget that above our heads, perpetually moving in the celestial sphere, are the stars that the sun calls its brothers and sisters, the collection of gases, condensed and yet to condense, the filaments of light that we collectively call the Milky Way. And at Haleakala, when the sun hides in the other side of the world, you explore. You wonder. You dream.
And I almost forgot. Haleakala is a volcano. Dormant, beautiful, imposing, surprising. The beaches may beckon, but at Haleakala, in the ethereal grandeur of cinder cones juxtaposed with grass covered slits of rock, you can imagine, with a sense of wonder, the alien worlds that awaits us as we explore the universe. And marvel at the delicacy of the planet that we call our own.
In the cold morning air, with twilight still approaching, I gazed upwards upon countless points of light and smiled. For at that moment, I have touched the sky.