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Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Light Chasing Year In Review

Happy New Year!

Hope your holidays were filled with cheer. As 2010 gets under way, I reflect upon 2009 as being a year unlike any other in my long and winding photographic journey.

Having long considered myself a "weekend warrior" in terms of my fine art photography pursuit, I took a leap of fate (and faith) by leaving the business suits in the armoire and setting out upon a twelve month odyssey across the Western United States with camera, tripod, backpack, and tent in tow. In actuality, it was a series of trips which at times were a week in duration while at other times as long as six weeks. Stringing them all together, I spent 204 days on the road and logged 36,193 miles on the Honda Pilot. Only my hiking shoes, mountain boots, crampons, and snowshoes know how many hundreds of trail miles were covered, including the times there was no trail beneath my feet to follow. Oh the wonders of GPS.

From the Pacific Ocean to the Mississippi River, Canada to Mexico, I felt at times I was going to travel every highway in the land before the sun set on New Year's Eve. Very much to my amazement, and delight, I was quite content spending this much time in solitude. Well, actually, that's true for the most part. I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to meet family, friends and relatives in various parts of the country while I moved with the wind. Sharing laughs over cuisine other than oatmeal, soup, and backpacking "astronaut food" was pure delight! Not to mention a fine martini from time to time. Having a BlackBerry and iPod in my possession were also valuable tools of the trade. Having the capacity to stay in touch via Facebook and Twitter cannot be understated. As long as I had a signal, I felt connected to the very people who motivate me to create photographs within these great wide open natural spaces. My heart-felt thanks to all who chimed in at one point or another. Interaction and feedback with you was very much appreciated!

I also felt quite obsessed at times when I found myself replaying certain songs from certain artists. And replaying them again. I thought at one point I was going to digitally wear out Keane. And Dave Matthews had to have known telepathically how often his 'Some Devil' tracks were filling the space between my car doors.

Back to chasing light. If it was a national park or national monument, there is a pretty good chance I touched and experienced the "open space of wonder" within the last twelve month period. And in some cases, again and again. And again. How utterly bizarre for me when I think back to mid-year when I found myself in 110 degree heat in southern Arizona and below freezing temperatures 10,000+ feet up Mount Rainier within a few short weeks of each other.

Did I come away from this grand experience with a favorite location? No. They were all delicately beautiful in their own way. Did I come away with a favorite composition? Maybe. Yet, it pales in comparison to the image I hope to make in the future. I cannot wait to see what's around that next corner. That's exactly what inspires me to drag a load of gear out into the wild and at times camp when the mercury dips below zero with the winds howling seventy-five plus miles per hour. How uncanny to think about the number of times I woke within ten minutes of my alarm clock setting. Wouldn't want to be late for work. In this field of study, the "good light" waits for no one.

Here are a few samples from the journey:

"Sun On Your Shoulders" - Ecola State Park, Oregon

"Fly Me To The Light" - Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Here is a list of all locations visited as drawn from the itineraries I posted throughout the year:

Mount Shasta, California
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
Madison County Historical Bridges, Iowa
Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
Salton Sea National Wildlife Reserve, California
Kartchner Caves State Park, Arizona
Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico
Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Great Basin National Park, Nevada
Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
Mount Washington Wilderness Area, Oregon
Mount Hood Wilderness Area, Oregon
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
North Cascades National Park, Washington
Palouse Falls State Park, Washington
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Canon Beach, Oregon
Ecola State Park, Oregon
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Redwood National Park, California
Salton Sea National Wildlife Reserve, California
Woods Lake, California
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Castle Crags State Park, California
Mount Shasta, California
Sierra Range, Mammoth, California

Locations not hyper-linked have imagery that is still being edited. My plan is to release a hand full of images on a quarterly basis or as time permits. These images can be found in the "New Releases" category on my dedicated Horizon Image Group website. All images created in 2009 are also being compiled for a coffee table style book which is currently in process. Stay tuned.

Here is one more sample:

"Lightchaser's Dream" - Alabama Hills BLM, California

In typing this posting and reviewing all the locations I visited, I cannot help but think, "Wow, that's quite a long list!" And quite a few oil changes! I feel blessed for having the opportunity to explore such beautiful protected natural spaces and offer my heart-felt thanks to my dear friends Sean Ness, Cammy Jordan, and Mikiko Yoshimura for the critical role each played in all this. I owe them a debt of gratitude I cannot ever fully repay.

I hope to have more to share with you in the coming months. Until then, be well.



~ Lorrie Sarafin ~ said...

Keep that dream alive Michael - your photographs are stunning not only from the light and the composition - but also from the perspective of where you are standing when you take them!

Misha said...

Amazing determination and creativity and passion. I admire your leap of fate and faith to do what you love. You posses a talent I will only dream of having. Keep chasing...

Lightchaser said...

Lorrie & Misha: Many thanks for your kind words. This shall further motivate me to climb higher and trek further. Very best to each of you for a prosperous new year. Cheers!

Dew said...

Hi Michael, I am looking forward to your coffee table style book. Every single photo you have taken and shown in Horizon website is inspiring! A Rembrandt in photography! :D - dew

Lightchaser said...

Thank you kindly, Dew. I'm very happy to know that the images have a voice with you. Cheers!

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Kusum said...

Wow! That is an amazing list. Stunning pictures and that is real light CHASE!