A Different Light

Field recently plowed in Skagit County Washington

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.

Posted by

Catherine Matthews is an educator and author living north of Seattle with her husband and two boxers, Delta the Destroyer and Buttercup the Bored. She is currently querying her debut novel, Becoming Benny. Her essay, Deeper Than Social Connections, is featured in the eBook and audiobook editions of the anthology Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19. After a lifetime of academic writing, Catherine discovered her passion for creative writing when she dove into writing her blog, Life Through My Lens. In contrast to her dissertation, which should not be read while operating heavy machinery, her stories will make you laugh and cry as she recollects the follies of her youth, and her adventures in parenting, teaching, and leading schools. A learner at heart, she is an active member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Hugo House. She is up before dawn to start her day with her two favorite things: riding her bike and working on her latest novel. You can connect with her on Twitter (@cmatthewsauthor) or Instagram (@catherinematthewsauthor), or visit her webpage www.catherinematthewsauthor.com.

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s