With a visit from my friend Dale and a trip to the local pub, we couldn’t help but to reminisce of our month traveling around Alaska last summer, and the evening of the Green Comet. It was my second evening in Alaska and we were at the heart of America’s largest National Park, Wrangell St. Elias National park, where the end of the road meets the beginning of the wilderness. We had made camp just shy of the footbridge that crosses over to the old town of McCarthy and the old copper mine of Kennicott.
The following day we would explore McCarthy and Kennicott, but after a long day’s drive and a cozy camp setup in the woods with a warm fire, we found reward in some cold adult beverages. After a number of hours of enjoying these refreshing drinks, we found the sky above us finally dark. In Alaska, at this time of year, I’d suspect that meant it was midnight or later. Dale excitedly went to retrieve his “new favorite toy” from the car and returned with a little case. He opened it and took out what appeared to be a pen, but what I soon found out to be a laser pointer. Unlike most pointers that simply leave a red dot on the aimed target, this was far superior in that you could literally see the green beam of light. He’d point out stars and constellations, in-between waving it all around the smoke and trees and in our “happy” state, we found much laughter from all of this. Of course, my mind is never far from all-things-photography, so it wasn’t long before I disappeared to get my favorite toy.
With my camera setup on the tripod, we began to experiment with the laser. The first attempts were jumbled messes of trees and fluorescent green streaks that were not visually interesting at all. Yes, even in this blurred state of mind, I could see what would work or not, and so we left the cover of the trees and began to experiment looking up to the sky. This is where it gets interesting. On our first attempt, Dale tried to hold the pointer steady on a agreed star for several minutes. We both were looking to the sky when, at the same time, we took notice of a moving streak of light that was not a shooting star, plane, or any other recognizable object. ”What is that?” we expressed in unison, and as we said that it disappeared. What followed was quite amusing with hootin’ and hollerin’ and all kinds of speculation. Dale’s mind is very “scientific” (for lack of a better description), and I kept trying to convince him that we not only had just seen a UFO, but that we had captured it with a camera!
Of course, these attempts all failed and I am sure that had aliens come down and took us away that he’d still think there was a perfectly logical (and earthly) explanation. And me, I found just a few days ago on TV there was some talk of “satellite flares” of some sort that sounded to perhaps meet the description to what we saw, but I quickly changed the channel, because for me, some things are more enjoyable when they remain unidentified.
So, about a week ago, I received an email that began with:
“Congratulations. We are proud to announce that your work has placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in one or more of the subcategories in the 2008 International Photography Awards competition. 22,872 photographs were submitted spanning across 124 countries!”
and then I did a little dance. Not a big I-won-10-million-dollars-and-never-have-to-work-again dance, but a dance. And of course I had to read it several times to make sure I was reading everything correctly before doing any kind of dance because how bad would that be to jump up and shake my booty in front of my sweetheart only to have her read the fine print saying “and if you could send a cashiers check in the amount of $10,000 to this Nairobi bank, we’ll release your award”…or some such nonsense.
It was fun, but torturous too, having all week to think about what may or may not be. Definitely cool to think back a year when I thought that this was the one photography competition that I would look to enter every year and hope to have some work recognized at some point, and now, just a year later…
The ’08 winners were announced on Friday ending the speculation. I was awarded 2nd place in the Nature category of Sunset for this series of La Jolla images that I’ve been working on, and 5 Honorable Mentions for other works.
It’s definitely rewarding to have been acknowledged for any of the work, but especially sweet that it’s the series of images that I’ve taken in my backyard over the last year. As photographers, I suspect most of us want to travel the globe to new and exotic locations, photographing on our own time-line. (I know it’s my goal!!) But, I’m not at that place yet and this year I’ve really had to focus in on my surroundings…my home.
So, although photography competitions are not a main focus for me, the IPA awards are one I’m proud to have my name attached to. And by coming in 2nd, I left room to do better next year!
Check out the IPA site: Photoawards