“Morning brings back the heroic ages” – H.D. Thoreau

“Morning brings back the heroic ages” – H.D. Thoreau

When I’m honest with myself, I can admit that, as a photographer, mornings are my Achilles heel.  I can just never seem to drag myself out of bed early enough to take advantage of these prime hours.  I’ve always been aware of that, even before I could really consider it a hobby.  I remember so many times as a kid when I was along for the trip on one of my dad’s photography workshops that I was more than happy to catch some shuteye in the truck while my dad and his clients were catching an unforgettable sunrise or working with a bugling bull elk in rut in the early morning mist of dawn.  I’m just not a morning person, never have been. I have generally accepted this fact with nonchalant resignation, reasoning with myself that the light at dusk isn’t bad either.

But really, it’s not the same is it.  There is something uniquely inspiring about the morning compared to the rest of the day, regardless of what you see through the viewfinder in these few short hours.  That’s become more apparent to me the last few years.  There is, however, one antidote to my chronic laziness during these early morning hours: Jetlag.  About once a year I return home to Colorado from my current residence here in Poland and for the following 4 or 5 days when I arrive, I wake up a few hours before dawn without any problems at all.  So I usually grab my camera, jump in the car and speed off to nowhere in particular to catch one of the few sun rises I can while wide awake.  And to be honest, there is something completely different not about only the world from a photographer’s point of view, the light, the stillness in the air, the dew on the grass or mist hanging in a meadow, but also about ourselves.  A passage from Thoreau’s “Walden” reminded me of this and I think is best left for him to explain:

The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night. Little is to be expected of that day, if it can be called a day, to which we are not awakened by our Genius, but by the mechanical nudgings of some servitor, are not awakened by our own newly acquired force and aspirations from within, accompanied by the undulations of celestial music, instead of factory bells, and a fragrance filling the air—to a higher life than we fell asleep from; and thus the darkness bear its fruit, and prove itself to be good, no less than the light.

Despite my general and regrettable aversion to early morning hours, I can understand this.  It’s sound wisdom as well as motivation for those of us who need a little extra nudge out of bed in the morning.  Not a nudge to once again start the endless cyclic routine we all have to deal with on a daily basis, but rather to reconnect with this part of our Genius, that as Thoreau put it, “…slumbers all the rest of the day and night.”

And so here are a few shots from a few of these jetlag inspired early-morning outings – this one with my dad in Teton National Park, in Northwestern Wyoming.  Most of the images are not particularly great, but as I remember, these hours were a greater inspiration for my soul than what was actually recorded in my camera.  And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it.


This is the view that greeted me as I left the tent where we slept the night before, on a ridge overlooking the Snake River Valley and the always amazing Teton Range.


We weren’t the only ones awake, a small herd of cow elk ran past us on our way down the National Forest road


Our plan was to make our way to these beaver ponds at the foot of the Tetons.  A great blue heron was patrolling the shallows and was the only thing moving that still and cold morning.

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