A Different Light

Last Sunday morning at 0530, I found myself next to an empty field on the outskirts of Concrete, Washington.  No, I was not deposited there after an alien abduction.  Also I am too old to pull an all-nighter (debauchery-filled or otherwise) so I was not in the clothes I wore the day before, if you know what I mean.  No, I was there intentionally.  In fact, I had intended to be there in late September or early October but life, as it sometimes does, got away from me.  I was hoping to photograph one of the elk herds in the area.  My research said that this was the spot.  So there I was, standing outside in the dark setting up my gear.  It was a little cold but mostly it felt crisp and clean in a way you never feel in the city.  The sky was glorious.  Millions of stars blanketed the heavens in a way you never see in the city.  Silence, like the fog, hung blissfully in the air.  Not even early in the morning is it silent in the city.

As I waited for the sun to come up, I decided to take some test shots of the field. I was hoping to have everything dialed in just right for that big moment when those majestic beasts swaggered out of the treeline, air billowing from their nostrils, hooves pounding the frosty ground.  After a couple of hours, it became apparent that the elk were not going to make an appearance.  This was disappointing.  The truth is you can’t really change what is.  You can, however, change the way you see what is.  In the light of morning, I did not feel that disappointed really.  I had seen the sun rise through a starlit night over a fog-dusted field.  Seeing that field in a different light was a thing of beauty.  It wasn’t what I set out to photograph but life seldom unfolds exactly as we thought it was going to unfold.  It unfolds in the only way it can. We can choose to see it through the lens of disappointment over what we hoped might be.  We can also choose to see it in a different light.  I would have liked to have seen the elk.  I am glad I adjusted my settings so that I did not miss capturing these incredible moments. As a bonus, I had an amazing breakfast with my husband at the 5 B’s Bakery in Concrete where the nicest woman served delicious food and gave us some great tips for our next trip up there.  I’m glad I didn’t miss any of it.

These photographs were taken in the span of about 10 minutes varying the shutter speed and ISO.  Notice how the landscape becomes defined and colors change in the different light.


(30 sec., f/5.6, 1000 ISO, 18mm)



(15 sec., f/5.6, 1000 ISO, 18mm)


(10 sec., f/5.6, 800 ISO, 18mm)


(5 sec., f/5.6, 800 ISO, 18mm)


(2 sec., f/5.6, 800 ISO, 18mm)

Copyright Catherine Matthews 2017.

3 thoughts on “A Different Light

  1. Beautiful, Catherine. The 10 second one is my favorite!! A young mom friend of mine was just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, it’s been a real struggle for friends of hers this week to wrap our heads around this shocking, completely unexpected news. I was thinking of her, and her bravery to adjust to live unfolding, as I read your entry. Amazing how it applies across all facets of life, these moments we all experience….

    Liked by 1 person

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