Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Difficult Way

How many photographers go out in subzero temperatures to capture snowscapes? Not many. Cold-weather photography is extremely difficult: you must wear warm snow gear, which is heavy and bulky; you must trudge through mountains of snow while gasping burning lungfuls of frigid air; and you must be extremely careful not to touch your own camera equipment with bare hands, lest your skin stick to the freezing metal. How can you take pictures if you can't readily handle your cameras or lenses or tripod? It's an excruciatingly slow process, and you must wear several layers of gloves, stripping down to the thinnest (but never to bare skin) only briefly and only when absolutely necessary.

A decade ago, after a heavy snowfall, I decided to take an early morning hike through Shaw Arboretum, outside of St. Louis. Of course, I arose early to take advantage of the dawn light, but it was beastly cold--so frigid that I used chemical hand-warmers to try to keep my feet from freezing. Even the effort of moving around in the heavy snow was not enough to keep me warm, so I spent only a short time outside. But the light was so brilliant and the air so clear that the scenery was truly spectacular. If only I had had enough stamina and patience to capture it as it was!

Sometimes it seems that Nature reserves its most splendid sights for those who are able to overcome the most difficult obstacles. Think of high mountain scenery, undersea vistas, or even desert panoramas--all of these are not easily accessible, but the view makes the effort so worthwhile. I hope I remember this the next time I'm tempted to sleep through dawn or avoid that rugged path.

Reading the Signs

A number of years ago, I spent many evenings along the shores where the Severn River meets the Chesapeake Bay. My intention was to photograph the evening sailboat races, which proceeded out into the bay and finished in Annapolis. I managed to capture a few decent shots of the sailing vessels, but the boats were generally too far offshore during the bulk of the races, and the light had generally failed by the time the sailboats returned to harbor.

One evening, the boats were particularly slow getting to the finish, for the wind had been very light and erratic. I was trying to be patient as the sun set and the light diminished, but after a time I realized there was no use waiting any longer. As I was beginning to pack up, I happened to look overhead--and there I saw a small wisp of a cloud, with a beautiful rainbow illuminated by the final rays of the sun. All of a sudden, I was snapping pictures of the most amazing cloud formations! The colors were brilliant, and the shapes were fascinating--nature was painting some of the most breathtaking abstracts I have ever seen that evening.

That experience taught me to be more flexible in my photographic endeavors, that it's important to remain open to the images that are present, even if they're not the ones I was hoping for or expecting, and to allow myself to see what's actually there in front of me. It's an ongoing lesson, and one that applies to my spiritual life as well. If my expectations or preconceptions limit what I might allow the Divine to reveal to me, what breathtaking revelations might I end up missing?

Monday, December 3, 2007

My First Solo Photo Show

Here is some information about my first solo photography show. For anyone who lives locally, I'd be happy to give you directions and additional information.

The LOFT Artist Guild presents

Intimate Views: Photography of Flowers & Nudes
by Anthony F. Chiffolo

December 2nd – January 13th

The LOFT Artist Gallery
@ The LOFT: LGBT Community Center
180 East Post Road, White Plains, NY 10601
914-948-2932 /