I can remember years and years ago when my dear friend and phenomenal photographer Duane "Cap" Davis told me about all the work that went into a coffee-table book filled with his photographs around the state of Washington.
Catching the photos was a lot more difficult and time-consuming than one could ever imagine. At least, it seemed so at the time.
He traveled to places around the state at different seasons and captured images at different times of the day, often sacrificing sleep for arriving at a designated point to catch the morning sunrise or working late in the day to capture images in the early evening light.
Cap, who'd settled in North Idaho after a childhood in Kansas, was a conversational sort of guy, laid back and folksy, but those conversations were often laced with great lessons about photography.
I took it all in and truly loved Cap and his stories, especially those associated with his efforts to be there at the right time and capture images of the impending eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.
Through the years, along his photographic way, Cap met many folksy people just like himself, and that made his tales just as colorful as his photography.
My visits with Cap helped me learn that there's a lot more to catching a good photographic image than simply pointing and shooting. Ironically, sometimes even the quick point-and-shoots taken at precisely the right second for action, lighting and subject matter turn into great photos, even when we least expect it.
That phenomenon called luck adds all the more to the magic of photography, but knowledge of a few basics and, of course, some great lenses certainly aid in the overall success of our time spent with a camera.
I think I was subconsciously thinking about Cap's wisdom gained through years and years of experience last night as I drove around the countryside with dogs and my two cameras.
It was just after 6 p.m., and the intermittent evening sun was casting some lovely light on many of the subjects I saw along dirt roads and even a municipal east-west route through downtown Kootenai on the south side of the tracks.
Yup, it was truly the magical/golden hour as I came to the bridge over Boyer Slough.
As Liam did his usual whimpering which emanates through the car any time I stop and especially when I step out of the car with my camera, I was practically jumping for joy for my moment with the artistry of evening nature along that slough.
Adding to the picture, it was as if I'd ordered up some props as two gorgeous ducks, more than likely well-domesticated, suddenly appeared and began to swim my way.
Thank you to whoever let them know that a lady with a camera was standing near the bridge ready to shoot. This is the kind of duck hunting I love.
The pair of white beauties did not mind one bit having their pictures taken. And, this lady behind the camera was downright ecstatic that they had appeared the minute I showed up.
I was figuring that if I hung around long enough, they might even find a way to come up the hillside and ask for some handouts.
Other photographers out hunting for beautiful scenes like the one I found last night will concur that one of the usual obstacles interfering with getting those magical shots is those darn cars that come rolling up behind just as it's time to stop and pull out the camera.
Well, again in that department last night's experience was magical---no cars or any other distractions, not even Liam's whimpering.
My stop at the bridge lasted only five minutes, and then I drove on down the road to grab some shots of the aspen and daisies and some pretty yellow flowers adding a lovely enhancement to a pile of old logs.
By the time I drove over the bridge on my way home, magical hour had ended. The slough looked blah, the ducks were gone and the scene appeared so-so in comparison to the brilliance that had thrilled my eyes just moments before.
So, Cap Davis, this one's for you. You may have left us years ago, leaving behind thousands of remarkable images of the beautiful paths you followed over the years, but your wisdom and your guidance live on.
Thanks for introducing me to the golden hours with a camera.