A short story of images

When I was in the Navy I had the privilege of knowing Larry Seligman. Besides being my scuba diving and hiking buddy he was my best friend. I will share a story he told me about a trip to the Big Island.

Larry was in a helicopter taking photographs of Kilauea’s incredible flows and eruption and noticed one of the passengers did not have a camera. Upon landing Larry stated to the stranger, “It’s a shame you didn’t have a camera to capture any of the dramatic sites.” To which the stranger responded, “Its okay man,” with a finger pointing to his temple area, “I got lots of images man.”

I have also captured many mental images of my experiences, and I have also captured many experiences on film and digitally. I often think of the story Larry told me and remember one of the most memorable conflicts of taking pictures, or just sitting back and enjoying an experience. It happened in a remote northern part of Western Australia called Katabataman Passage along the Ningaloo coast. I was walking on a very narrow beach with a large sand dune rising sharply upright, almost perpendicular to the water on my left lapping gently at my feet. Through my peripheral vision I noticed colors shifting on the almost vertical face of the sand dune. Turning to the right and staring at the sand my shadow was surrounded by rapidly shifting colors. Confused for a moment, I realized the scene was caused by the sunset behind me. Turning to the sunset I was stunned to see the most violent display of color I had ever seen.

Suddenly realizing I did not have my camera with me, which I carried everywhere, except now! I started to run toward camp to retrieve my camera and capture this extraordinary scene.  As I ran, the sunset continued its kaleidoscopic activity. I slowed to watch then sped up, slowed, sped up…then stopped. Realizing I would never reach the camera in time to capture this dynamic activity I sat down in the sand and like the passenger in the helicopter I watch the dramatic roiling and varied shades of gold, violet yellow, magenta, green; all of the rainbow colors violently shifting as the sun set behind the sheltered body of azure water inside the white surf line of the single barrier coral reef.

The gift of watercolor and photography, my father and so many friends have helped me with, has allowed me to express some of the images of my experiences. At times frustrated with my attempts, sometimes satisfied, and then there are times when I step back and say whoa, I got it…

I will share with you the latter.