The weekend finally came after a long work week. After cancelling a job I was going to do Saturday at work, I decided that I would take advantage of the free time to do some photography. I already had a destination in mind. The only issue was that I wanted to be at this location before sunrise and it is roughly a 50 minute drive one way. This meant I had to get up quiet early. The older I get, the tougher this becomes. If I did manage to get up and make the drive, I would then have to deal with a short, but steep hike to my final destination. This is usually not a problem, but this trail leads to a bluff and there are some narrow spots where one wrong step could be your last. I’m already afraid of heights, so when you add the element of darkness, this did not bode well for my psyche.
I am a reasonable person who takes reasonable risks. I don’t mean to make this trail seem very difficult or very dangerous. Many families come here all the time. I’ve seen kids and dogs on this trail almost each time I come here. The danger lies in carelessness. It’s not a place to play around. Because of this, I won’t bring my kids here at this point. With that said, I figured if I bring my flashlight, I would be ok.
After hitting the snooze button once, I crawled out of bed to begin my early morning venture. It was a cool and dark. The Winter constellations danced above reminding me that cold weather is on the way. I loved the crispness of the air. There is something about it that makes you feel alive. I timed my departure to arrive just as dawn started to break. That would give me a hint of illumination as I walked the trail. When I made it to the top, I caught my breath and took in the view as the sky gradually started to get brighter. At that moment, any prior complaint I had about this trip was forgotten.
After a few minutes of taking in the view, I setup my gear. It was not a minute after I had found my composition that I heard the laughter of girls coming up the trail. This never fails at this location. Every time I’ve come here someone always manages to get right in the middle of my shot. Some are respectful and let you get your photograph, but most don’t say anything and just linger in your frame. I was going to wait just a few more minutes, but I decided to get my shot before I had visitors.
I have been to this location numerous times. This by far, is my favorite shot to date. Since making this capture, I have looked at this photo over and over. It not only shows the beauty of Tennessee. There is something spiritual and inspirational about it. When I gaze at this photo, I see second chances, forgiveness, and new beginnings. As flawed and sinful humans, these are things that give us hope for a better tomorrow.
What’s the old saying? When you get lemons, make lemonade or something like that. Well, I did just that by using my visitors as models. I love street photography, so I know how the human element adds to the depth of a photograph. This human element can also add another dimension to landscapes as well. Adding people gives a photograph perspective. A gesture or facial expression can help emphasize your subject or it can become the subject. It all depends on how you compose the shot. In this case, I wanted my models to be the subject. I wanted to show the glow of the sun on their faces. I wanted to capture a moment showing humans appreciating the simple beauty of a sunrise.
I approached these ladies and ask if I could have their portrait. They smiled and agreed to let me photograph them. I used my Olympus OM1 and 50mm f1.8 loaded with Kodak Ektar 100 for the shot. At the time I asked for their picture, they were actually sitting much closer to each other than what is seen in the photograph above. Tabitha, the girl in the dark hat, was closest to me with her friend Jade just to the other side. I hope I had enough depth of field to get Jade in decent focus. I did not want to increase my f-stop to much as I was trying to maintain a decent shutter speed. Well, I will know in a few weeks. I have 14 more shots to go before I can send in the roll for processing.
After I took the shot, they asked me if I took pictures for people. I explained to them that this was my hobby and I gave them a business card. I then thanked them for the portrait and returned to my tripod. Tabitha and Jade hung out on the rock for several more minutes. I watch them photograph themselves with their phones. At one point, Jade got off the rock to photograph Tabitha. I saw an opportunity for another photograph.
The shot above is one of my favorites. I love how she has her eyes closed feeling the warmth of the sun. You can see the moment of Zen. I would be afraid that I would fall asleep and fall off the rock if I closed my eyes. After a few more minutes, I had two new models. I used them for the shot below.
After a while as the sun climbed higher in the sky, I was alone once again. I decided to mount my OM1 and take a couple of shots on Ektar. The light was still nice, but the best light had already faded. The contrast was increasing as the sun continued to rise. I took one frame with my 50mm and the next with my 28mm. After the film shots, I tore down my setup and headed back down the trail. As I was leaving, an open field caught my attention. I pulled over and setup my tripod once again. To get the perspective I wanted, I had to setup in the middle of the road. After two cars passed, I quickly moved my tripod into position and capture the shot below.
It’s usually a struggle to get up early on the weekends, but it’s worth it when you come back with some nice images. I was hoping for more Autumn colors, but with Summer like temperatures hanging around, the peak colors are not there yet in some areas. I will have to come back within the next couple of weeks. I hope you enjoyed the pictures, but most of all, I hope my message about new beginnings resonates, especially if you are down on your luck. Thanks for reading! Also, if you want to know more about the Harpeth River State Park, click here.
Images Best Viewed in Lightbox Below!