In one of his magazine columns Galen Rowell talks
of The Rat, a term used by English mountain climbers to
describe whatever it is inside that drives them to climb mountains.
The bigger the rat the bigger the gnawing desire to climb another mountain.
I like the analogy and thought I would follow this train of thought
for a while.
We all have a rat inside. The only question is, "How
big is yours?"
Some people only have an itty bitty field mouse with
just enough gnawing ability to get them out of the arm chair during an
ad break on the TV, while others have a bloody great bush rat capable
of chewing through an aluminium camera case. My personal rodent is of
the second variety. Its constantly gnawing at my guts, saying things
like "Get up before the fog lifts" and "You need to see
whats on the other side of that hill". I dont always
take heed mind you, but let me tell you about one time I did.
I was camped near Strzelecki Creek with fellow photographers.
The area overlooks The Sentinel and has views clear into Victoriaa
beautiful spot. We had been driven to the tents early the previous night
by the arrival of low damp cloud. As usual I slept well but I only need
a few hours sleep and the early night meant that I was awake by about
2am. It was below freezing outside the tent and not much warmer inside
so I had little incentive to leave my sleeping bag. But the rat would
give me no peace. He was gnawing away, saying "You know theres
going to be a great sunrise over Blue Lake".
Eventually the discomfort caused by my rodent became
larger than that of leaving my sleeping bag. I dressed quickly, grabbed
my camera equipment and walked through the chill air of Mt Twynhams
shadow towards the ridge overlooking Blue Lake. Despite the rat I missed
the sunrise but was still rewarded with a marvellous vista upon reaching
the ridge. Setting up the camera I immediately exposed one sheet of film
and was content with the photo.
Standing on top of the ridge I spread my arms and bathed
in the suns warmth. Looking toward Charlottes Pass I was struck
by the beauty of the scene and began daydreaming. I wondered what the
people below the clouds were thinking. They were probably deciding not
to go up into the mountains because it was overcast. I wondered why I
would want to be anywhere else at this time, and I marvelled at the mist
writhing on the surface of the lake Whoa! look at that mist.
The lake has a totally different appearance; much better
than the photo Id just made. Mt Little Twynham had become a large
dark mass to the north so I panned the camera to the right, inserted a
double-dark and made an exposure using the same settings as the previous
photo. The mist was changing too fast to be concerned with the finer aspects
of exposure and composition, although I did verify all settings immediately
after taking the photo.
Later in the yearEarly Cloud, Misty Lake
won the Kosciuszko Nikon Photographer of the Year competition. Contacts
made from winning this competition led to an exhibition and the placing
of my photos in the National Park shop. Since then this photo has earned
me thousands of dollars in direct and indirect sales. It has been used
on my greeting cards and has been made into a poster. Worth getting up
early for, dont you think?