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Visualization: The Hunt for the Light

In my recent essay on visualization, I discussed the historical and modern day significance of this concept in photography as well as the role that a composition card serves in bridging the vision in the mind to its tangible realization into an image. In this follow-up essay, I will discuss the interplay of other critical aspects of visualization that accompany, if not transcend, the tangible aspects.

In my first essay, I postulated that artistic vision, the light, and skill of the photographer are three integral components that form the basis for the construction of a photograph. Light, in particular natural light, is a powerful and cherished tool for the photographer. Many photographers may be blessed with the desired light from the outset to get their shot. Others must be patient and await the moment. Then there are those passionate photographers and artists who choose to approach the hunt for the light as a challenge and journey.

To further examine the integral roles that artistic vision and the light play in this process, I will share with you the chronicle behind the making of one salient photograph. It is a story of a dream, an obsession, and perseverance that led to this photographer’s consummation of visualization. What is unusual is that the chain of events started 2½ years before I even made the exposure. Yes, it took that long for me to fulfill process. First, some background.

In May 2009, four months before I had relocated to San Diego, CA, USA, to start a new job, little did I realize that I had begun both a conscious and subconscious journey that would change my life. In the months leading up to the relocation, I enjoyed visiting San Diego to relish the beauty and recreation. At the time, I was already an outdoorsy person and very active with physical fitness and hiking. I had not yet discovered the world of photography, although in retrospect the first seeds of that passion were already starting to sprout.

It was during one particular weekend get-away to San Diego that I discovered the beauty of Torrey Pines State Reserve. For those who are not familiar with this reserve, it is a California state park that is situated between the beach communities of La Jolla and Del Mar. This nature reserve is one of two homes to a rare pine species, the Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana), which is indigenous to this small strip of coastal California and to Santa Rosa Island, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA. In addition to its botanical and conservational significance, Torrey Pines is replete with hiking trails and beautiful sandstone coastal bluffs that offer spectacular views of the coast. In my humble opinion, this is one of the most beautiful places in the US. On my first visit to this park, I instantly fell in love with it and spent the entire weekend hiking and taking snap shots with my point and shoot camera. If there was one spot that captured my imagination here, it was most surely a delightful trail named Broken Hill.