Tick tock, tick tock. It was 4:30 a.m. and the class was ready. Some of us wore watches but for Keith Skelton, he didn’t rely on a wrist watch. In fact, he stopped wearing watches years ago.
Keith seems to be driven by an internal machine that guides him to the exact location and also pitch perfect timing of when things will happen. When I took the Los Angeles Street Photography workshop with him, the message was to anticipate when someone would walk into your frame to get the shot. For this nature-oriented workshop, some of the same principles applied. He knew and could position us exactly where we needed to be to catch the Mono sunrise.
We met at the parking lot at Murphy’s Motel (home base for the weekend) and greeted one another. Everyone was way more alert than I thought they would be. There was a distinct energy in the air…anticipation, excitement, curiosity…maybe it was a combination of all three, infused with delirium.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I have never watched the sunrise. Even while vacationing in Hawaii years ago, where the must-do activity is to climb a dormant volcano and watch the sunrise, I opted to sleep in. So what possessed me to forgo sleep this time? Well, I was catapulted out of bed at 3:45 a.m. with the intense desire to continue adding to my creative toolkit. This small sacrifice was proof that I am committed to pursuing a more creative life.
We headed to Mono Lake and waited. The last time we were there, we photographed the stars. This time we wanted to contain the yellow burst of sun…right before it got too bright. We positioned our cameras and took a few test shots.
The night before, Denise (one of the other students) mentioned in her mild South African accent, “When you take photos, you sometimes miss out on the moment…because you’re looking through the camera instead of really…being there.”
I thought about Denise’s observation as I looked through my viewfinder. I stepped back from the camera, stood up straight and hovered my right finger over the shutter button. Since Keith situated us in a prime location, I knew I was in an optimal spot and trusted that my lens was pointing in the right direction.
A flock of birds flew above the horizon. Keith said, “Get ready. It’s almost time. Birds will circle the air right before the sunrise.”
I held my breath and looked east. Once the first ray of sun shot through the mountain peak, I clicked away.
Finepix X100 catches the subtle changes. (Please click image for detail.)