I went up to Estes Park last weekend. I’ve always considered it my home.
I’ve been really distraught lately. I think I’ve got a case of the existentialism. It seems like I’m in this limbo of progress and regression and nothingness. Now isn’t a time for that, though, it’s just something that’s weighed on me as of late. I think a lot about life and purpose and all of those other insightful things, but sometimes it’s healthier not to. Every once in a while I like to take a break from looking inward to see what’s outside of my thoughts and troubles and worries. If I don’t, I’ll get stuck.
When I’m in and around Estes, my soul breathes. It’s like that point when you can’t hold your breath any longer. Returning to that area is the first deep breath. That little city and its surrounds are my reset button. It’s such an extensive part of who I am.
At one point, a herd of big horn sheep crossed the road in front of me. I hadn’t seen a big horn in years, so there was much excitement. I pulled over and watched them for a bit, taking a couple pictures as they scurried up the snow-covered granite.
I love spending time in the Park. Especially at sunset. The gentle winds, the pastels, the dramatic skylines, the silence. There is something fulfilling about seeing clouds form and dissolve over a landscape.
Longs Peak is in the center of this frame. It’s obscured, but it’s there. I waited for the clouds to open up just enough for its silhouette to peek through. It was while I was waiting that I ran into another photographer; actually many passed through this lookout, but one in particular stood out.
He parked, propped his tripod and several thousand dollar Nikon rig, bundled himself up in his North Face, and stood silent for a minute or two. I looked over and told him about my hopes of the clouds opening up for us despite them taunting me for the last hour. It was just small talk, but he wasn’t amused.
In the few minutes his face was pressed to his viewfinder, he took one picture then began to disassemble, in a curt manner, with one remark.
“They’re not going to open. You’re just wasting your time.”
He was right, they didn’t open and I didn’t get a dramatic shot of Longs at sunset. But I didn’t waste my time. Maybe I’m wrong, but part of photography (and life for that matter) is making the most of what you have. There are times you have to be patient and wait for the light to hit just right. There are times when that won’t happen. You can hope, but you also have to accept that things won’t always work out how you want them to. You never quit. You do what you can. It’s more than getting that “perfect” image. It’s appreciating the land and pursuing a passion. As a photographer, you take thousands of images and if you’re lucky, you’re able to count the good ones on one hand. If you try to set an image up without just letting it happen, you’re often seeking the archetype.
I waited there until the sun descended and the land fell monochrome. I captured springtime in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Good things come to those who wait. The high point on the right is Longs Peak.
I’m new to this. I’ve been taking pictures for years, but landscapes and night photography have always been my adversaries. Combining the two is such a challenge for me. I’ve read lessons on astrophotography and watched videos about how to do certain things. Even after all of that, I still have a hard time getting halfway-decent night photos. I look at all of these outstanding images on Instagram and Trekearth and I think, “why don’t mine come out like that?”
Then I realize I’m not them. Duh. My photos will come out how they come out. I have my own style. I’m just going to do my own thing. And I stop caring.
Mr. Nikon-North Face Photographer from earlier was going for the same shot every one else wanted. Yeah, there’s some good points to that argument. For one, they’re more profitable. But at the end of the day they’re all the same pictures. I don’t want to take the same picture everyone else takes. I don’t want my name on that. It’s vexing. Even if you’re not going to get the shot, enjoy the experience. I know all of this is just an inference, but I found that guy irksome.
Then I realized that I was just there. Some guy adjusting little dials on a camera and pressing a button. I just wanted to reset, relax, watch the sunset, and enjoy the night. The moon was so bright, I didn’t even need a headlamp. It was beautiful. Photos were just a bonus. They’re always just a bonus. And even then, who’s to say what makes a good image? I think the stories behind them and the way they’re interpreted are what make them great. Not their resale.
With a canopy of starlight overhead, I drove around taking pictures here and there. I didn’t see another car in the Park past 10 p.m. It was a good break from the monotony of work. To me, this is the most meaningful image from my trip. It’s a reflection of my phone in my windshield. This song is incredibly pertinent to where I’m at right now in life. Sing For the Wind by Roo Panes.
For those I’m not as close to, I’ve been fervent in trying to relocate to Estes for the better part of a year. I had a job opportunity, but finding housing over the past few months has been a struggle. It’s not behind me, it’s just not my primary focus anymore. Sometimes you just have to wait for the sky to open up.
The time I spent up there put some things into perspective.
© Jordan Poole Photography