I’ve been obsessed with nighttime photography for years, ever since I accidentally caught the milky way on film camping out on The Buffalo River in Arkansas. Only this year have I started following the cycles of the moon to try to be outdoors when the moon isn’t visible. I took this photo in the foot hills of the Columbia river gorge this past week.
The new moon is my very favorite time to spend the night outdoors. I feel like there is some sub-conscience switch in a lot of folks that keeps them indoor during the new moon, maybe because it’s so dark out side. I find life to be so peaceful when I’m out in the woods by myself in the dark. After wandering around in the dark looking for the outlines of the landscape that I want in the frame, I crank my camera up to an extremely high ASA and take a few 30 second exposures to see what the scene looks like and to check if any beasts lurking in my viewfinder.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to reset the list of preferences that defined me through my younger years. Everything from my taste for spicy foods to how I treat the people that I encounter. One of the things that always bothered me was my fear of the woods alone at night and the unknown in general. It’s super easy to let my mind wander down a dark path when I’m alone in the woods at night. I try to rationalize that feeling with the thought that I know what’s out there and it is mostly not dangerous. Sure, there’s mountain lions and Black bears, but the chance of being attacked by either is pretty astronomical. Having had a couple of unprotected real close encounters with black bears, it seems that they are more scared of you then the other way around. Grizzly bears on the other hand rightfully don’t seem to be scared of anything… I am terrified of them. Fortunately, Grizzlies are only found in two parks in America. I’ve spent a lot of time just sitting in the woods alone at night this year, it is a truly peaceful experience, and If I happen to get snatched up by the Yeti of some zombies I guess I will have died a warrior’s death.
I’ve received a couple of notes over the last few weeks congratulating me on my courage to do what I’m doing. Most have been from friends who have their own dreams of transient life. I always tell these folks the truth, this is one of the most amazing things that I’ve ever done for myself.
Being a traveling photographer has always been the dream for me. I never knew if it would ever become anything more than that, but a series of grand triumphs and epic failures seems to have led me exactly where I want to be.
I was asked the other day from an acquaintance if I’d “monetized” my lifestyle yet or if living the life of a traveling photographer had positively effected my love life. I politely as possible asked this person to mind their own business, but it did bring up an internal dialog as to what my intentions are.
It has always been my dream to make a life and a living out of doing what I love the most, being outdoors and making photographs that make me proud. When I opened The Invisible Hand Gallery in Lawrence, Kansas I thought it would be a wonderful way to live in the element that I loved the most. I was more than right, curating that space gave me the opportunity experience so much amazing art and surround myself with the very best that town had to offer.
When given a new chance to define myself and my life nine months ago, I knew that I would forever regret not taking the chance to try to become the person and the artist that I’ve always yearned to be.
I make no claims to be a master of my trade, I sincerely hope to spend the rest of my life learning about photography. I learn new things about myself and photography every day. Taking a chance to live the life that I want, spending most of my life out doors and dedicating a big part of my life to finding amazing images and learning to be a better artist is by far the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done for myself.
Please remember to reach out! I would love to hear from you. If there’s a spot you think I should check out, you’d like to spend an afternoon shooting photos or just want to chat, post a comment here or send me a message on Facebook. Oh, and please follow me on Twitter and Instagram @roadlyfe to stay in the loop! You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All words and images © Adam Smith 2015.