As we drifted towards the summer solstice, the long days began to bask Central Oregon in warm sun.  Finally, the snow storms in the mountains have given way to crisp, dry air and gentle breezes. 

Shortly after the storms of early June passed, I decided to make the most of the start of summer with a frighteningly early 3am start.  With sunrise coming around 5:15am, this time of the year offers little rest for a photographer like me who simply cannot resist the urge to get outside and capture the most peaceful part of the day.  Many months ago while pouring over maps of the Cascade Lakes Highway area of Deschutes National Forest, I found a spot  along the shore of Crane Prairie Reservoir that I thought might yield expansive views of the Sisters, Broken Top, and Mount Bachelor to the North.  

After some bush whacking towards the lake, I found myself in a trance.  Lulled by the lapping waves on the rocky southern shoreline, I was almost instantly able to find a nearly meditative state... even while setting my camera gear up.  The picture taking did not even seem necessary in the moment.  So much of my work recently has been behind the computer, that I was just relieved to be outside again, witnessing the majesty of mother earth.

Drip Coffee Sunrise

Crane Prairie Reservoir, Deschutes National Forest, Oregon

While my desire to simply absorb the moment without the distraction of my camera was strong, as ever it was usurped by the need to process and capture my own emotions in a moment in time.  This was such a necessary reminder of the introspectiveness of my art.  While I do obsess over the natural world, the moments that I look for are often a reflection of what is going on in my heart and mind behind the camera.

Over the next couple of months while I continue to work on my upcoming book (more details on that soon), these lessons will be important to remember.  Just because I cannot get out and create new work quite as often, that does not mean I cannot find new ways and moments to connect with nature.  Once I do find that connection, I need to remind myself how to express that through my images so that my photography is no longer a distraction of my relationship with nature, but rather an expression of that relationship.

'Drip Coffee Sunrise' was captured with a Nikon Z7 and a Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens at 34mm, 1/8th second shutter speed, f/10 aperture, and ISO 100.

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