Shoot for the Moon

Photo of Scarecrow by Janet Rebhan

Last Saturday morning I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and dragged myself downstairs for a drink of cold water. I had a busy day ahead, so I wasn’t getting up to stay up. I just needed to quench my thirst and go back to sleep. But once in the kitchen I looked out the window and noticed a beautiful night sky blanketed with sparkling stars and an awesome crescent moon. It was so clear, so bright, and so grand that I just couldn’t settle for a mental picture.

I had to take a photograph.

So a few minutes later I’m standing out on the back porch in my flimsy pink nightgown getting goose bumps from the cool morning air, clicking away with my new Nikon trying to capture in pixels what I see. And it’s just not translating. There were no clouds and no treetops to dress things up so that I could get away with an impressionistic, stylized photo.

Nope. This was a stark black sky with bright white lights. The kind of photo op that screamed for the use of a tripod, a more powerful zoom lens, and a more experienced photographer. I knew I was not equipped to capture what I wanted, but I kept clicking away like a madwoman on a mission anyway. That is until this tired, logical, slightly critical voice in my head said…

You are wasting your time. Be reasonable. Go back to bed and get some sleep.

So I came to my senses, put the camera away and went back to bed. My inner artist child who’d wanted to capture one particularly bright star in the same frame with the crescent moon was very frustrated. I had to promise her I would take a photography course and get more equipment before she let me go back to sleep.

The next day when I had a moment, I looked at the photos I’d taken. They looked nothing like what I remembered. Yet there was still something beautiful about them. Happy accidents, I call them.

I’ve learned by trial and error that when you shoot lights at night without a flash and a tripod, you can sometimes get colorful and interesting light designs. And as it is with many other happy accidents and synchronicities in life, you may not always get what you were originally shooting for (no pun intended), but you sometimes still get something unique that pleases you, perhaps even more.

Later that same day I returned home from a meeting to find my husband had decorated the walkway early for Halloween. I stopped to take a photo of one of the scarecrows we’d purchased a few years back at the local arts and crafts store. I liked the way the light was falling on him and I set my camera to soften the background slightly, focusing around his face.

That’s when I noticed for the first time the details of his design. All over his plaid shirt were crescent moons and stars. I looked closely at his eyes – even they appeared to be made of one crescent moon and one orb on a black background. And I smiled to myself, thinking about my earlier attempt to photograph the one bright star next to the crescent moon. My inner artist child was laughing and clapping her hands at the coincidence and the fact that I’d even noticed. And if the scarecrow could have spoken at that moment, she no doubt would have heard him say…

Never give up. Keep dreaming, keep trying, and keep learning. Most of all, believe.

And my logical, sometimes critical grown-up self who can get annoyed with my dreamy, imaginative side would have heard something more along the lines of…

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll at least end up with some pretty cool designs.

Or something like that. 😉

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