Oct 25 2009

Remaining Flexible

Smokies-Abstract-2-crPrior to his death, John Netherton was one of America’s most popular nature photographers.  Shortly before he died I ran into him on a photo trip to the Smokies.  I was driving down from Newfound Gap when I saw John shooting off the side of the road.  I pulled over to talk to him.  That year the fall colors were not particularly good and I made a comment to him about there not being much to shoot.  He looked at me kind of funny and then with his hand motioned to the whole forest in front of him.  For John there was plenty to shoot. 

This encounter was a teaching moment for me.  When you get out in nature as a photographer there is always plenty to photograph.  It may not be what you hoped for or planned on shooting but there are still countless wonders in God’s Creation waiting to be viewed and photographed.  Since that time I’ve discovered it pays to not be so focused on one or two subjects when I go out into nature.  It helps to be more flexible and open minded to the possibilities around me.  Doing so adds to my enjoyment of the experience outdoors and has led to a number of wonderful photographs I would not have captured had I remained focused on just one image or scene. 

If we’re not careful we can make the same mistake when it comes to finding God in nature.  For example, we may conclude that God is to be found only in places of outstanding beauty.  That is not true.  John Muir once wrote in his journal, “No wilderness in the world is so desolate as to be without divine ministers.  God’s love covers all the earth as the sky covers it, and also fills it in every pore.  And this love has voices heard by all who have ears to hear.” 

We’re acting foolishly when we think we know where God can be found.  He truly is a God who delights in surprising us.  For that reason we must remain alert at all times and in all places.  We never know just when or where He will make Himself known to us.  Be prepared. 


I discovered the reflections photographed above in the Smokies as I was making my way to photograph something totally different.