Lost Maples State Park is a popular destination for landscape photographers and painters. Late October through early November, the shifting shades of reds and oranges form a collage of fall colors. A clear, cold stream twists and turns through the rocky riverbed. Brightly colored Maple leaves float as tiny boats drawn towards countless small waterfalls. Encompassed by rock-faced, rolling hills and endless sunsets Lost Maples is a nature-lovers playground only a two hour drive North West of San Antonio.
At least that’s what countless publications, postcards, and websites seem to express. Our fall schedule, as it always does, is filled with festivals, weddings, and family commitments. So there we were in late December, being pursued by strong winds and freezing rain. The story of my life is being in the right place at the wrong time. Always the optimist, Lauren pointed to a single maple leaf buffeted by the wind, “look one waited for us.” Only moments later, it too fell to the ground.
Stuck in our camper van comforted only by a hot cup of coffee, I gazed out the window. Lauren, always upbeat, sat crocheting another beanie for a kid fighting cancer at MD Anderson.
That night, no amount of clothing could withstand the harsh cold of the unrelenting wind. If only I could get a few decent images of a star trail, a good night sky silhouette to soak in the light of another galaxy, the backdrop of a cosmos. Yet, the night sky and all its splendor remained hidden behind the clouds. As a last ditch effort I resorted to halfhearted light painting.
The following morning, to our surprise, the sun tired to push though the clouds. Hiking toward “Monkey Rock”, still frustrated, I wondered would Monkey Rock even look like a monkey. How often have you hiked miles to see a famous formation which looked nothing like its name or navigated through the back-country to capture images of a magical waterfall only to find a trickle of water flowing down a slime-covered rock face. Yes, I was a bit bitter.
However, Monkey Rock did not disappoint, nor did any aspect of these trails and park system. With each photo my mood improved. The light wasn’t perfect but, it would have to do. Upon making adjustments to the aperture and shutter speed, I began to realize there was something wrong with my perspective. But not a perspective related to the composition, focal distance, or lighting, just my personal perspective. I don’t leave the suburbs and hike into the woods for the sake of a picture, a Go-Pro video, or a story.
If taking photos, writing articles, or blogging become more important than actually seeing, experiencing, and learning, then I’ve lost my way. True discovery is no more about conquest than real art is about recognition.