I have become obsessed. The dictionary says, “preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.” Yes, that has become me. I blame our daughter for it. She kept insisting I watch “Hamilton”. I also blame Lin-Manuel Miranda for writing it. Ever since Disney+ aired the show, I have been watching the show and listening to the music nearly non-stop. Furthermore, it has invaded another portion of my life, my photography.

Last weekend we were on a short trip to White Pocket (where I previously failed miserably at camping). It was an opportunity to hang and shoot with our fellow Phoenix Camera Club brethren. It was also an opportunity to improve on my hideous camping skills.

We arrive at White Pocket after two hours in a four-wheel drive vehicle, bumping and bouncing away. Describing my rear-end as pulverized is an understatement. How am I going to set up a tent when I can barely move? Sunny, our Dreamland Safari Tours host, says to me, “just relax and have some fruit and other snacks while I set up camp.” Now, this is my style of camping!

We have two shooting opportunities, one in the evening for sunset and one the next morning at sunrise. This evening’s golden hour is nice but not inspiring. I am laser-focussed on our Milky Way photo shoot with polygonal rock formations as the foreground. After searching aimlessly around, we finally find a reasonable setup. Blue hour is fast approaching, the time in which I photograph the foreground. I set up and fire away. Kathryn likes (wants) my exact position and tries to get close. I told her I was not giving up my shot. But, she then said, “I want to be at the spot where it’s happening!” How could I resist the Hamilton reference?

With the blue hour shot in camera, we settle in for the hour-long wait until the sky is completely dark and the Milky Way is arcing through the night sky. I check my watch, 55 minutes to go. Wait for it. We lay down for a rest. Wait for it. Another check of my watch, 45 minutes to go. Wait for it. I go for a walk that kills a few moments. Wait for it. I spend some time focusing on a star that readies my camera for the Milky Way shots. Wait for it. I check my watch again, 15 minutes to go. Wait for it. I read an article on my iPhone. Wait for it.  The time finally arrives, we fire off 15 star shots in succession. Then do it again for a backup. Success!

Milky Way Over White Pocket

I couldn’t resist the polygonal rocks. Must be the math major in me.

We get back to camp where Sunny is grilling a delicious steak. I didn’t even have to start the fire. There is even some wine courtesy of a camera club member. Camping is not so bad! Dreamland Safari Tours rock. It’s late and we need to get up early. We retire to our tent and fall asleep immediately to the gentle snoring of our neighbors.

Sunny wakes us up prior to sunrise, coffee brewing away. I think I am starting to like camping. The golden hour prior to sunrise is beautiful. We walk and we walk and walk, shooting everything in sight. Why do we shoot like its going out of style? Shooting everything before running out of time? This is the photographer’s credo, maximizing the precious few minutes of golden hour. I end up taking multiple shots of the same rock formation, each from a different angle, using a different foreground. No matter where we go it is beautiful.

White and red polygons, leading up a very interesting rock formation.

The same rock formation as above, this time with swirling rocks reminding me of a lava flow.

The same rock formation again with leading lines galore.

Finally a different rock formation. Everywhere we turn there is something fantastic for our eyes to ponder.

As the sun rises the best of light fades away. We head back to camp where a bagel and eggs breakfast awaits. Sunny asks how we did, did we get good shots. I pause for a second and reply, “I will never be satisfied.”

Our experience with Dreamland Safari Tours was great, they did all the dirty work while we did all the shooting. As we get into the four-wheel drive for the two hour ride out of White Pocket, all I could think was, what did I miss?

A special thank you to Lin-Manuel Maranda for writing the lyrics. And my deepest apology to him for tailoring them for my need. And, a big thank you to our daughter. She was right, Hamilton is an unbelievable show.