May 18 2014

Color–A Foretaste of Glory Divine

eCES3465A friend of mine from here in Henderson texted me a few days ago and told me he was at an art museum in Indianapolis viewing an Ansel Adams exhibit.  I told him that he could have just stayed home and looked at my pictures.  I indicated to him that my pictures were certainly more colorful than that Adams guy.  Needless to say I was joking.  Ansel Adams is one of my photographic heroes, but it is true that my images are more colorful than his since he primarily did black and white work.  I enjoy looking at good black and white photography but am so very thankful to live in a world filled with color.

I took time this past Friday to go do some photography with a couple of friends in the nearby Henderson Sloughs Wildlife Management Area.  What a beautiful day it was!  The sky was a glorious blue and the spring greens were putting on a show.  The fields of yellow flowers we saw were so bright you almost needed sunglasses to view them without pain.  After I posted some pictures from the trip on Facebook a number of people commented on how beautiful the colors were.  It was that kind of day.

eCES3423The last couple of nights I’ve been working on a new digital slide show to share with a group on Tuesday.  Since I recently celebrated my one year anniversary in Henderson I decided I would put together a program that highlighted the natural beauty I had captured with my camera the past twelve months here.  When I looked at the folder of images I had worked on for the presentation I was taken aback by the amazing palette of color before me.  In my journey through spring, summer, autumn and winter I must have seen almost every color imaginable.  Seeing all those colors thrilled my soul.

It also reminded me of something I had read just a week before.  The movie Heaven is for Real is playing locally and I mentioned to someone I’d like to see it.  I was told I should read the book first.  I happened to have a copy so one day I sat down and read it.  I found the whole story quite fascinating but one of the things that really stood out for me was the young boy’s physical description of heaven.  After his near death experience Colton told his father that in heaven there are lots of colors—“rainbow colors.”  Numerous times in the book attention is given to the colors Colton saw in heaven.  This intrigued me.

eDSC5410Interestingly enough, the picture the Bible paints of the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation is one filled with lots of beautiful colors.  We’re told the walls are made of jasper and the city of pure gold.  John adds, “The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone.” (21:19)  Among the stones identified are sapphire, emerald, topaz, chalcedony, sardonyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, chrysoprase, jacinth and amethyst.  I know what some of these stones look like but for others I haven’t a clue.  I doubt that we are supposed to understand any of this literally; it is more likely that these are just glimpses of the indescribable.  I have no doubt, however, that heaven will be beautiful.  It will not surprise me at all if it is more colorful than anything we have witnessed here on earth.  In fact, I suspect the colors we so enjoy are—in the words the song—only “a foretaste of glory divine.”  If God put so many wonderful colors into our temporary home, I can only imagine what colors await us in our eternal one.  That leads me to believe that there will be no black and white photography in heaven.  Sorry, Ansel!

–Chuck

(I took the three pictures shown above at Henderson Sloughs WMA this past Friday.)


Jun 24 2012

Ansel Adams’ Problem & Ours

Like countless other photographers, one of my early sources of inspiration was the work of Ansel Adams.  Even when I knew nothing about photography it was obvious that this man’s work was phenomenal.  I continue to this very day to be inspired by his photographs.

A couple of days ago a friend sent me a link to a website that focuses on Ansel Adams work in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I have most of Adams’ books and there are very few images from this park in them.  The website I went to indicated why.  Ansel Adams found it difficult to photograph in the Smokies.  In a letter he wrote from these mountains he told a friend, “they are going to be devilish hard to photograph…”  Considering the fact that I have spent more time photographing in this park than any other I found his comment to be quite amusing.  The Smokies are filled with extraordinary beauty; how could the great Ansel Adams find them so difficult to photograph?

I forwarded the link to my blogging partner, Rob Sheppard.  I pointed out to him how I was intrigued by Adams’ comment about photographing the Smokies.  Rob responded to my message by saying,I think Adams definitely was attuned to the West because he grew up there and spent most of his time there.”   If you are familiar with Ansel Adams’ work you know that most of his famous images were, indeed, made in the West.  Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevadas are featured prominently in his work.  That was the landscape he knew best and his familiarity with it helped enable him to capture the spirit or essence of that region.

In my note from Rob he went on to talk about how familiarity with a landscape affected his own work.  He wrote, “I think I am only beginning to really ‘see’ the chaparral because I have been photographing it for a few years now.  Georgia O’Keeffe once said “seeing takes time.”  She was no doubt right.  I remember how frustrating it was when I first started traveling out West to photograph.  I was rarely satisfied with the results.  Now, after dozens of trips out West I feel more comfortable and familiar with the environment and it shows in the photographs I take.  The more time you spend in a location truly does make a difference.

I suspect that what is true in photography is also true when it comes to seeing God in Creation.  Here, too, it takes time.  There are not a lot of “burning bushes” out there (see Exodus 3); God seems to make Himself known in much more subtle ways.  This means that we will likely have to spend a good bit of time becoming familiar with our surroundings to see and hear all that God longs to reveal to us.  Certainly God can speak to us anywhere, and we should always be open to that possibility, but it is likely that we will see and hear Him best in our home environment or the places we are most familiar with.  Has that been your experience?

–Chuck

*The link to the website on Ansel Adams and the Smokies can be found at http://knoxart.org/exhibitions/higherground/ansel.html.  You’ll find several rare and unpublished images here.

(I took the top image at Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the middle image of Yosemite Falls at Yosemite National Park, and the bottom image  of Mesquite Dunes at Death Valley National Park.)