Gratitude Day 19: Lifetime Learning

"Miller's Sunrise"
Sunrise over East Miller's Cove and the western crest of the Great Smoky Mountains. Foothills Parkway West
© 2014 Kristina Plaas, All Rights Reserved
One of the things I love most about life is the never-ending opportunity to learn new things. I'm a naturally curious person and am interested in learning about a ridiculously diverse number of things. Yes, the kind of stuff one learns in school, but even better, the stuff one learns simply because it's there and you see it. In knitting it's about combining stitches and manipulating yarn to create something beautiful, or useful, or both! In nature it's about the earth, the critters, the sky, and the water.

For me its started when I was a kid and wanted to understand rock formations and geology. After college it was wildflowers, an obsession to this day. Not only do I want to know what the common name(s) of the wildflower is, I've learned that common names aren't precise or clear enough so I need to know the scientific names too. Yeah, strange Latin words for flowers -- I know a lot of them these days. If I couldn't figure it out from a basic book in the field, I would shoot a series of photographs that would help me figure it out later. My love for photographing rock formations and flowers grew over time, too. Now I'm a serious amateur photographer learning new stuff almost every day.

Today's image represents a lot of learning. First, I had to learn what time of day and in what location the sun rises in the morning. Then I had to figure out how early I had to get up in the morning to drive to the location in order to be there at least 30 minutes before the weather service said the "sunrise time" was. I learned that some of the best light and color in the sky happens before the sun breaks the horizon. Once there, in the right place at the right time, I needed to use the right camera settings to capture the image. That's much harder than it sounds and I rarely get it perfect. That means I need to edit my images using sophisticated software to achieve a finished image that accurately reflects what I experienced at the time I clicked the shutter. Editing is a skill that takes time to acquire and master, which is why I just now got it (almost) right on this image, two full years after I captured this sunrise. I can reflect on things and see how much I've learned in those 2 short years and I have much, much more to learn -- a whole lifetime worth of learning! I'm grateful for the limitless opportunity to learn new things and develop a greater appreciation for the amazing world God created for us.

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