It was a perfect moment.
I think it happens to all of us sometimes, when the experience of making the picture is far better than the picture itself. I think this is one of those pictures. It was a gorgeous night in 2011. A full lunar eclipse. I spent about 45 minutes making this exposure (shivering for each and every minute), standing under a canopy of the richest light. The color of the sky was unspeakable, with the light of the moon and the eclipse, and the lights of the city below reflecting off of the winter clouds. For about 15 minutes (so it seemed), I stood completely still making direct eye contact with two deer, both as still as me. I was surprised and disappointed the deer didn’t register on the film.
Writing this now, I am reminded of one of my favorite passages written by Robert Adams in Why People Photograph, in the essay “Two Landscapes:”
Were you and I to drive the plains together, and the day turned out to be a good one, we might not say much. We might get out of the truck at a crossroads, stretch, walk a little ways, and then walk back. Maybe the lark would sing, all roads interesting. We might find there a balance of form and openness, even of community and freedom. It would be the world as we had hoped, we would recognize it together.
This night – under the remarkable canopy of light, the cold, the deer – was sublime, even mystical.