ECLIPSEDECLIPSED  Joshua Tree National Park, California

At 7:01 pm, February 21, 2008, the shadow of the Earth covered the moon entirely, and the moon was in total eclipse.  An hour earlier, my sister Melissa and I realized we were lost in the rocky wilds of Joshua Tree National Park – with no food or water, in the dark, soaking wet from rain – on an evening that would dip to temperatures in the 30’s.

How did this happen?

Much easier than you might expect.

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If you were interested in learning about long exposure photography techniques and were to do a Google search: “how to long exposure photography”, you would find 32,300,000 search results giving you 1000 lives worth of information, tips, pointers, techniques and more.  Over 32 million!  Long exposure photography is obviously a very popular topic, and one you could study forever.  However, studying the topic of photography technique is not nearly as exciting as actually going out and photographing, so let’s tweak the question and ask “why”.  Why make long exposures?  Asking “how to” activates something in the thinking-mind that wants to research, study, and gain knowledge.  Curiously asking “why” is born out of a different part of our self and activates something else entirely – the inner creative.  When activated, the inner creative is more inclined to go out and photograph life and experiment with different techniques – not just sit at home and read about them.  When you understand the why, the how to comes quite naturally.

There are countless reasons why to make long exposure photographs.  Let’s look at some of them and you will begin to not only see the endless possibilities, but likely begin to feel sparks of inspiration that with some focused attention, will allow you to go out and make fire with your photographs.


You can create a hint of movement in the water, as seen here with a 1/15 second exposure of a wave exploding against the rocks.  Why?  Because you don’t want your photos to look like the guy who jumped off the tour bus and took a quick snap.  And, it lends itself more to the feeling that the wave is blowing up into the sky.

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When Bill came into the room and stood for his portrait, I took notice.  He’s not generally one to volunteer for a photograph like this, I thought.  We had finished some long-awaited family pictures in the backyard, and I continued indoors making simple high-key portraits of everyone into the evening.

My mother-in-law asked me more than once, “Why are you taking these?”  I didn’t know, really.  I suppose I was simply compelled.

This was the first of only two frames I made of Bill before he walked away.  The second was out-of-focus, but I knew the first one was strong, and focused – so I was pleased.

The next day, my wife Rebecca and I headed home.  It wasn’t but a few days later were we awaken to the sad news that her dad Bill had passed away in his sleep.

Back to California we all went to mourn his passing and to console each other in our grief.

This portrait, I believe the last picture made of Bill, was displayed at the memorial.  I think it’s a powerful image of a man who is at peace, and without fear.  He walked right over and offered this powerful message to the camera as if to say, I am fine.  All is well.  You be good, too.

I have reflected since on the power a photograph can hold.  Sometimes words are not sufficient.  Sometimes much more can be expressed in an image.  Bill didn’t use words to communicate in his final days, but I think he spoke volumes in his offering for this image.

As a photographer, I can’t help but to feel very thankful for this exchange, thankful that Bill trusted me enough to communicate so openly and honestly.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised – all who shared time with Bill will tell you that he was truly a great man.

You will be missed.

In Loving Memory – Bill Egbert – 1946-2013