November 26, 2012
Justin Soderquist, Utah: “Soaring Osprey”
On this particular morning I was at a family reunion near a reservoir where three years prior (at the last reunion) I had also seen a couple of osprey. I was hoping that they were still there and was not disappointed. In fact, there were three of them this time. I woke up early and hopped out of my tent while almost everyone else was still asleep. I walked over to where I remembered to have seen their nest, and there they were.
The last time I had photographed these birds, I was quite new to photography, and the pictures I had taken then left much to be desired. Luckily, this time I had a little more experience under my belt and was able to capture more detail, better gesture, and better light. The early morning light was perfect, with the sun low enough to illuminate the underside of the birds, bringing out the detail, color, and patterns in the feathers. It also gave some nice rim light to the wings and tail.
I also love how when you zoom in you can see the birds' bright yellow eyes. If I had tried to photograph them in the later morning or afternoon, the sun would have been on their backs, obscuring the details in shadow. Additionally, the light itself would have been a less-appealing white instead of the rich gold that can only be found at the edges of the day.
The best part was just being out there in the quiet and beautiful morning. After I had been shooting a while, I saw my wife and little four-year-old daughter walking up to join me. I showed them the birds and several other little critters I had seen, and,after walking around a bit with them, we headed back to camp for a big yummy breakfast. It was a good morning.
November 19, 2012
Rebecca Maness, Idaho: “Nature”
I love nature. I love the grandeur, the beauty, and the little things that make life enjoyable. Last fall, I suggested to my family and some good friends that we should go hike Targhee, Wyoming. We left early one Saturday morning. We started on the trail, but a quarter of the way up we couldn't find the trail anymore. We debated about going on a path that looked to be a dead end. In the end we kept going on our invisible trail. This took us up the incredibly steep side of the mountain. We had to stop and rest several times before making it to the top. We finally hooked back up to the trail that gave us a beautiful view of the Tetons. I looked down and noticed this ladybug on a leaf.
When we accomplish hard things—like this hike or a trial—we are blessed with the love of our Heavenly Father. He may grant that in the tiniest of things or something much bigger. I love that Heavenly Father created beauty in the big things and in the tiniest of things. This is one of my favorite photos from the whole hike. It’s simple and beautiful.
November 12, 2012
David Winters, Georgia: “Simple Joys”
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World” states that part of making a family successful is to have “wholesome recreational activities.” One of the great traditions in our family is to go to Aspen Grove for a week every other year. For those who may not know, Aspen Grove is a family camp that is run by BYU. It is a great place to unwind and strengthen family ties. It is a true vacation for moms and dads since all of the meals are prepared by the camp staff members. For us, it has been one of our most treasured traditions as a family.
The photo depicted here shows my wife and I having a fun time on the swing sets at Aspen Grove. Simple joys are all around us. We just need to carve out a little time and space to find them.
November 5, 2012
Cheryl Rickert, Wisconsin: “Ready … Set … Fly!!!”
Sometimes our Heavenly Father places those special moments right in our path. There are other times when he gives us the tools or supplies to be creative with so that we might help ourselves a little while learning as we go.
I was over at my parent’s dairy farm helping out with the evening chores on this beautiful mid-October day in 2010. While I was going about the chores, I happened to pass by the big sliding doors at the back of the barn that were wide open toward the fields and woods to the west. The sun still had about another hour before it would set.
My eyes caught sight of a fairly good-sized flock of geese on the freshly harvested corn field. When the geese migrate south, they stop to rest and glean the fields for an evening meal. I have learned to carry my camera with me for moments like this that don’t often repeat themselves. I hurried to where I had set my camera and headed out the side door of the barn knowing that I would have to be very stealthy to pull off this idea that was building in my mind. I had lots of chores to do, so I didn’t have a lot of time to invest in this photo moment as I walked along carefully toward the flock. I was hoping to get a photo of this flock of geese flying into the sunset.
My first challenge was that the sun was still too high in the sky. I really wanted it to be down in the trees so that the sunlight would show the silhouette of the woods. The second challenge was that there are always “lookouts” in the flock to warn the others if anything suspicious shows up. I was definitely suspicious.
I knew that I needed to walk toward the woods to get the sun to drop into the trees faster. That also meant that I would be walking toward the flock as well. I could only hope that the geese were all really hungry and focused on eating so that they wouldn’t pay me any attention. I tried to maximize my success by walking close to the corn that was still standing on an adjacent field, hoping that it would help to hide me.
I wanted to hurry and rush to the spot I needed before they spotted me. My mind kept telling me to be patient and to go slow. I opted for the choice of patience and continued working my way closer to the flock trying to stay parallel to them. I had finally gotten close enough, and the sun was now behind the trees. I could see the outline of the branches. They looked so neat with the sun glowing behind them. I was feeling good about the odds of the photo idea when six more geese were flying in to land and join the flock for rest and food.
How could I startle that whole flock into the air for this photo knowing that the six geese that had just landed were probably tired?
I quickly looked at the sun’s position to see how much time I had left before the sun would drop too far down. I decided that I could be patient a bit longer—at least until the geese could catch their breath. After what seemed like a very long time, which was probably only 4-5 minutes, I set off toward the geese. I had taken several steps toward the east edge of the flock when the “lookouts” spotted me. They started to make their warning noises, and the entire flock raised their heads. It took only seconds until the air was filled with the sound of beating wings. The honking and squawking were so very loud. The entire flock had lifted from the field, and, to my great happiness, the geese flew west into the setting sun.
As I quickly walked back to the barn to finish my chores, I had a prayer of gratitude in my heart for the beauty which I was able to see personally with my eyes and for the photo that preserved my memory of that moment.