By the time I have pressed the shutter to take the first image on a trip, I have done countless hours of research and studying for the particular area or areas in which I will travel. I have studied locations and looked at numerous images shot from the locations I intend on traveling to. I want to be as prepared as I can once I arrive so I can just drive and/or hike out to the location and not have to think too much about the technical aspects of the camera or try to imagine what I want the image to look like. However, a lot of times, when I sit in awe and wonder of all that God has Created and the incredible beauty and detail in which He has done so, my emotions tend to take over and I find myself totally changing what emotions and feelings I want to convey. You see, my goal is not to sell countless numbers of prints to people who love my work. My goal is to bring an awareness to all of the beauty around us; beauty that was made by the very Hand of God. I want people to feel some of the same emotions I feel when I am standing before scenes like this, as if they were actually there. To bring an awareness to Him who Created the Heavens and the earth and all that inhabit them. Being out in places like this all alone, really puts things in perspective, and that I believe is one of the main reasons I love photography.
Levi and myself arrived at 4am this thursday morning to shoot the stars first, and then to be there for sunrise. After spending quite sometime around this area, we moved down to the area that I thought would be our “sunrise spot”. But about 30 minutes before the sun came up, about a dozen other photographers arrived on the scene from a camera club in California. So after talking with them for about 20 minutes and deciding that there weren’t going to be any clouds in the sky, I put on my waders and headed out into the water working my way downstream to shoot some other areas I had scouted the day before. So these are two images I came away with. One from the wee hours, and the other from the previous day after a storm. Enjoy! “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Fall is such a beautiful time to be out in the woods. So much color and beauty as the trees put on a symphony of color that covers the forest, and the air is cool and crisp letting us know that Winter is just around the corner. For this particular image taken in the Tremont area of GSMNP, I parked my car at the bridge and dropped down to the river’s edge with my camera bag and tripod in tow, in hope of finding some scenes to capture. I had been walking for an hour when I came upon this scene and hopped up onto a large boulder so that I could get a bird’s eye view of the area. Upon dropping my bag and tripod off, I took the camera in hand and began to look through the viewfinder from every angle and spot I could find until I found the place I liked best. I have found from my experience that it is always best to do this as soon as you get to a particular place before setting up the tripod and camera. In most cases, if you set up first, then that is where you will shoot most if not all of your images from. Just as it is wise to bracket exposures, it is also wise to shoot from different heights, angles, and switching from horizontal to vertical to make sure you capture what you want. You would be amazed at how a scene changes just by the simple change of the angle or placement of the camera. So once I decided on my first setup, I looked through the viewfinder to make sure that I included all that I wanted in the image, and left out anything that in my opinion would be a distraction or take away from the scene. In a place like this, it is near impossible to exclude all of the distractions and include all that I want because there are simply just too many branches, rocks, and fallen limbs to do so. What I wanted to do here was to get your eyes to move through the scene from corner to corner, taking in all that there is here and making you feel as if you were right there. The stream is the leading line in the image as it moves from mid to upper left of the image down and out of the scene at the bottom right. And the canopy of the trees above does well to keep you in the image as it forms a boundary covering the entire top of the image and scene. So once I found the composition I think worked well, then I looked for any really distracting limbs that protruded into the image at weird angles or would cover up part of the stream. Once that was complete, I simply shot a test shot to check my exposure and make sure it was dead on. In this case, I underexposed by 2/3 of a stop to retain detail in the water and not blow it out, and simply opened up the shadows in LR upon import. I shot at an aperture of f/16 to make sure that everything was tack sharp. Canon 5DSR – Canon 11-24mm @11mm – 2 seconds @ f/16 – Really Right Stuff Tripod and Ballhead
“Learning to see” applies to so many areas of life. As babies, we are born with blurry vision at best and must use our eye muscles (instincively) to train our eyes to be able to focus both near and far. I often get asked when people look at my images online or in my gallery, “How did you see that”? I must admit that it has taken years of studying and practicing and applying what I have learned in order to achieve that vision. I was once told as a young photographer that if I couldn’t “see” creatively now, that I would never amount to much in terms of being an “artist”. And unfortunately, I actually believed that for a short time, though soon after that I vowed to disprove that theory (not to prove anyone wrong, but only for my own good). I believe that there are those that “seeing” comes much easier, but coming from someone who never really had an artistic bone in my body until I picked up a camera, I can tell you that you can learn to see. But you must be willing to invest the time and effort into studying images of other photographers, & applying what you see and learn to your own images. Eventually it does get much easier and you begin to develop your own vision. And don’t feel like when you don’t see what someone else sees, that your (or their) “vision”is wrong. That is how we as artists develop our vision; the light, shape, patterns, & forms that interest us. So how do you “learn to see”. It is much easier now with the digital & internet age. For me, I picked up books with images from such artists as John Shaw, Galen Rowell, & Art Wolf and read them cover to cover many times over and studied what I liked and found interesting about their images. I would then go into the field and try to recreate what they did to some degree. You learn to see patterns in nature and begin to understand what feelings the different patterns, combined with light and shape, & form, begin to evoke in you and hopefully in others. In the image at the top for instance, what I saw in the river were two things: the first being a diagonal line formed by the stream stone that leads the viewer’s eye deeper into the image, and secondly I saw an “C” curve at the very end of the stream that led your eye even deeper. The more you look for and practice these sorts of techniques, the easier it becomes to spot them. It really does become almost “second nature”!
I awoke early (as always) this particular morning and noticed the fog rising up from the lake. I grabbed my gear and headed over to pick up my uncle to head down to the creek to capture an image I had seen the day before while riding mountain bikes. As it turned out, that particular image was a bust and so we headed back up to the fields to try and capture this big oak tree with the fog and the light. And this is the result of that capture!
In this image above of “The Tree of Light”, the beams of light bursting through caught my eye. Beams of light that radiated from a center source that happened to be right in the center of the tree. Again, because I have looked for and practiced these techniques for so long, I almost don’t have to think about it anymore. So search the web from some of your favorite photographers, and begin to pour over their work and put into practice what you learn and before you know it, you will be capturing images that amaze you and others.
In our walk with Christ, we must also learn to see with “Spiritual eyes”. It is not merely enough to see what we think we see. It is much deeper than that. In John 20:29, Jesus said “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” What I believe Jesus meant here was that it is one thing to believe when you see something with your own eyes, but for those that see with their “spirituals eyes”, now that is something totally different. That is Faith. Trusting in something greater than ourselves! Something that we cannot see! When Jesus walked the earth, He saw with spiritual eyes. He saw the greater need and the effects of not just those around Him, but on those that would be touched and changed by the ones on which He witnessed to and performed miracles for. That is what He wants for us. To trust in Him! To see the greater need & good in circumstances and situations of which we may not understand. To trust that He will work in and through us to change hearts, situations, & circumstances. Even when we don’t see how or understand why. For His Glory! And almost every time, He is working things out in our hearts as well. He is teaching us Faith. That we can trust Him to lead, guide and direct us in every moment & every situation. In Psalms, it says that “if we prove ourselves faithful to Him, He will prove Himself faithful to us”. Go to Psalms and count how many times David talks about God’s faithfulness. Too many times to count, right? I believe that the more times we practice seeing in a spiritual sense, the easier it becomes to see those needs. It becomes second nature. God does not want us to over analyze or try and rationalize situations and circumstances. He wants us to follow His lead! Most of the time, we will not be able to humanly understand unless we have a Heavenly perspective. Understand that God chose us! He chased us down! He never gives up on us! In Church, when we sing songs of our love for Him, I think “Of course I love Him! He rescued me from myself and an eternity in Hell”. But when I sing songs of His great love for me, I can’t even get through the words without becoming emotional. How can the Creator of the Universe love a wretch like me in that way? It literally brings me to my knees. You see, God saw that we were condemned and destined for Hell because of our sin and so He sent Jesus on a rescue mission down to Earth to show us “the way” to Heaven. To Him! He created us for His pleasure! We are His children. Just like when we as parents call our children’s names and they answer us. God is calling our names, and all we have to do is answer Him. And when we answer and call on Him, it is a life changing experience. Not from the outside in, but from the inside out. God performs a heart transplant. He takes our cold heart of stone and replaces it with a heart like His. He teaches us to see with a Heavenly perspective! It is not our job to call people to Christ! It is for our lives to be an arrow pointing the way to Him. Eternity in Hell in exchange for eternity with Him. Not because of who we are or what we have done. But because of who He is and what He has done and continues to do in and through us. So draw near to Him, and He will draw near to us. Find situations today where you can make a differnce and do it. Being confident of this, “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Until He calls us Home, for eternity with Him!
The light beams that radiate in the canyons are amazing. It is a surreal scene and feeling of experiencing them first hand.
As we approach our projected opening date of mid-July, I am ever aware of several things: 1) I am not, by my own might or power, qualified to do what He has called me to do,(but He qualifies the called) 2) His Grace is sufficient,and lastly 3) He is Faithful. Though this is a very busy time for me right now, it is a “good” busy. From the very beginning, it has been the most peaceful process thus far & I believe that is because 1) we know this is what He has called us to do, & 2) He has taken the lead in this & we have simply been obedient to what He has revealed to us & moved on that. I believe it has been an opportunity for us first & foremost to trust in Him, & secondly it has given us the opportunity to love on others & share the love of Christ to believers as well as unbelievers. It most assuredly has been a blessing for all of us involved.
I must say that one of the things that I have struggled with most during my adult life, is finding God’s purpose for me. I know that we have many purposes in life i.e……living for Him, raising Godly seed, providing for our families etc…. but, I want to know that when I get to Heaven one day that I have fulfilled His purpose for me while I walked this earth. Unfortunately, I think we sometimes get caught up in what our purpose is and forget to just live daily before Him. We forget whose we are. I told a friend one day that I was struggling with finding purpose with my life. What did God want me to do? And the friend replied “it is not “what” but “who” that is important. I realized that I had fallen into that trap of trying to figure it all out on my own. I was so afraid that I would miss His will for me. Can I tell you that is not a good place to be. I think we begin to doubt ourselves, our abilities, & even our relationship with Christ. We begin to say things like “well if I truly loved God and was walking with Him, He would have already revealed His plan for me.” Looking back now, I understand that He must take us to some places and teach us some things about ourselves that sometimes are not very pretty. It is a very humbling experience, but He has to show us that we can not do this on our own. We have to surrender our plans & dreams to Him that He may begin to birth in us His dreams & plans over our life. And that is what He has done for us. We always thought that if the Lord allowed us to open a coffee shop/gallery, it was always be somewhere else. As a matter of fact we even prayed, “Lord, anywhere but here.” But within 6 months of surrendering it to God and telling Him wherever He wanted to plant us, He opened the doors to dream over us right here in Macon Ga. So when He opened those doors, we simply had to be obedient to what He told us. We want to make a difference in our children, our community, & throughout the nations for the sake of His name. We by no means believe that we have it all together or that God has chosen us because we are special. On the contrary! I don’t believe that I have in me what He is calling me to do, but I do believe that where He leads us, He equips us. “God is not looking for ability, but availability”. (JF) “If we will decide to make a difference, then God will make up the difference. We have to believe in ourselves, if only because God believes in us.” I read an alarming statistic the other day about how many teens commit suicide every year. One of the most common reasons was because they felt they had no purpose. That they were somehow a mistake. If you are still here on this earth, it is because God has a purpose and a plan for your life. And God does not make mistakes.
I know that when we surrendered this dream of ours over to God, He began giving me visions of what this place would look like months before we even had a building. I began sketching in my journal all of the details from the layout all the way down to the materials we would use. I know, most people would say I was putting the cart before the horse. But I knew that it was God revealing to me parts of His plan for this place. And when we walked into the building the first time that we were to later buy, I could see everything the Lord had revealed to me. I was speechless! And now that we are only a month away from opening, it has been incredible to see all of the details of His plan take shape and come together. God’s timing is perfect. God does not push; He leads. We can not jeopardize God’s best by becoming impatient trying to make something happen that only He can release. God has a perfect time and a correct way for everything. So, can I encourage you to exchange your dreams & plans over your life for His. Praise Him right where you are now. Pastor Franklin says “When you praise Him, you invite the presence, the calmness, & the serenity of God into your life. With praise comes prophecy. With praise comes direction. With praise comes God’s plan for your life. You have a call of God upon your life; you have an appointment with destiny.” So,cast all your cares upon Him, & lay it all at His feet. Oh yeah, and buckle your seatbelt, because you will experience the most exhilarating ride of your life. Will you be scared sometimes? Absolutely! Will you sometimes question why you are doing this? No doubt! But it’s okay! God has this. He is in the driver’s seat! He knows what He is doing! Just hold on tight!
Check out some of the details thus far! Can’t wait to see what God has in store for this place.
This gallery contains 4 photos.
As I have watched the progress of the Coffee Shop/Gallery for the last five months, I am reminded that I too am a “work in progress”. Sometimes when I look at all of the destruction & demolition, it is hard … Continue reading
Another incredible sunrise from Hunting Island. There is always something newhere because of the way the tides drag the trees back and forth creating a different foreground each and every time I come.
It is 5:15 in the morning as I sit here in the stillness with not a creature stirring in my house. I know for me, this is the time the Lord awakes me to start my day with Him when all is quiet and I don’t have anything else vying for my attention. I believe I have always been a morning person and almost never have to use an alarm clock to wake up because I am always up before 6am. I don’t think I really have a choice in the matter because even when I rarely stay up late, I am still up about the same time. So for me I know it is about putting God first and starting my day off right with Him. God first, that is the priority that should rule our lives!
And so it begins…………a new year, our families annual 21 day fast, and a new beginning. Well, if no one has told you yet, let me be the first to tell you Happy New Year! Yep, that’s right! Like it or not, it is 2013! Just like I told the lady at the bank the other day, “I just got used to putting 2012 as the year on everything”. Another year has zipped by too quickly! And so with the new year, my family has for the last 6 years participated in the annual 21 day fast with Jentezen Franklin’s church in Gainesville ga. I don’t think that it is coincidence that Jentezen has always done this fast at the beginning of the new year. If we want to start our day off right, we tend to spend the beginning of each day with the Lord to get our hearts and mind in the right place and to seek direction for our day. As Jentezen has said “Fasting is a discipline that helps to shift our priorities. It puts Him first and allows us to hear His plan, receive His direction and His blessings. If you want success in your life, in your marriage, in your work—putting God first is the key.” If Jesus could have come to this earth and done all He did without fasting & praying, why didn’t he? Jesus never did anything for show; there was always a purpose behind everything He did. And He knew the importance of prayer & fasting. And He is our example of how we should live, right? Can I encourage you to pray about fasting? Ask the Lord what He would want you to do & if you feel led to fast, figure out what it is He wants you to fast from(it is not always food) and what is your purpose for fasting. I will tell you, that it will be more difficult if it is your first time. I mean we are starving the flesh here and you WILL hear your flesh screaming loud and clear! But, can I tell you if you persevere, it will be some of the richest time you will spend with your Heavenly Father. If you decide to fast, check out www.jentezenfranklin.org for some incredible resources and insight to help you get started.
And lastly, this is a time for a new beginning! I know for my family and the other families involved, this is a time to carry out what I believe to be what He has called me to do. Namely, the opening of a Coffee Shop and Gallery. This is a new venture and new territory for all of us. “Taste and See Coffee Sop & Gallery” is the name of this venture and it will be in downtown Macon. We begin construction this week with a planned opening of mid to late spring. Sign up on my website at www.kevinreaves.com to stay updated on everything that is going on and pictures showing the progress of this new endeavor. And we appreciate all of your prayers in this matter.
So, as the new year rolls in, I pray that we are ready for what the Lord has in store for us in 2013. As I paraphrase what Pastor John said yesterday, we need to be ready for this year! For not only the blessings the Lord has for us, but also for the adversity some of us will surely face. (check out www.christchapelmaconga.org for sermon) And what better way to start off the new year with purpose and direction, than with fasting & prayer! It is not about “fasting & prayer”! It is about getting our hearts in the right place! It is about putting GOD FIRST! I promise you it will change your life! It changed mine! “And so it begins…….”
Kevin To God be the Glory!
Another tree that seems to somehow anchopr itself into the sand even though there is no life left in it. It will surely meet its fate very soon as the sea overpowers it and topples it to the ground sweeping it ‘out to sea’.