Never Be Afraid

long exposure, church, fineart, fine art, black and white, landscape, Alberta, low key, clouds, sky,, religion, Dan Jurak,

It was scorching hot sitting on the dry grass this afternoon. The lack of rain has made the grass around this old church brown and brittle. It crunched underfoot as I had earlier opened the chain link gate and made my way towards the solitary building.

I quickly framed the shot. Figured out the exposure. Screwed the 16 stop neutral density filter onto the lens and waited. In five minutes I would get to see what kind of motion the clouds behind the church would make. Clouds are everything in these kinds of photos and because the exposures are so long you can’t always or at least I can’t predict the outcome.

During the five minutes as the timer counted down I had the opportunity to get up and look for better, more interesting angles.

Photography like this is very contemplative. Alone on the open prairie the mind wanders from photography to other things. Family. Hockey, yes I am Canadian. Life and death. How long will remain on this earth? How will I pass? Will it be a quiet passing in my sleep? What will my wife and children do when I go?

From those thoughts to watching the clouds move overhead. How white are the clouds? What a dark blue the sky is.  Butterflies flitting in pairs across the dry grass. Where are they going? How long do they have on this planet?

I see the cemetery behind me. It is old. What kinds of stories would be told by the people whose bodies rest there?

Did they attend this church? Were they christened here? Were they married here? Was their funeral service here?

The mind wanders and then the five minutes is up. Time to compose another shot.

I sit down on the dry grass. A bunch of wilted clover is next to me. It is so dry. We had lots of rain two days ago but June is normally torrential and it wasn’t this year. It’s the driest on the Alberta prairies in ten years I hear on the radio driving out here.

It sure is hot.

In all of my thoughts I think about this different direction in photography for me. It is strange and a little uncomfortable. It isn’t flashy and glitzy like color. It too is more contemplative than the color.

What happens if we are afraid to take chances? This is a happy road I am traveling down. It is new. Exciting. A little scary.

I don’t get anywhere near the views and comments that I normally do on photo sharing websites like I did with color. Is it not as good? Do people not like it? I know deep inside that it matters not what people say or think. Do from the heart. Never be afraid to be unpopular.

Never be afraid.

Happy shooting,



~ by Dan Jurak on July 2, 2015.

20 Responses to “Never Be Afraid”

  1. You’re on to something cool, Dan. Keep going…

  2. Thank you Steve. It is interesting not knowing where this will lead.

  3. Incredible image! Keep on keepin’ on!

  4. Thank you Sandra. There’s a breeze filling my sails.


  5. Dan, I like your outlook and your approach to life as it is very similar to mine in my retirement. When I go, I want them to have to tear the camera from my cold, cold hands.

    I love this shot of the church. The clouds almost look like the devil is coming down on it as you can see the “horns” on its head in the cloud outline.

    If you ever find out where this leads, don’t tell me – I want to be surprised!

    I look forward to each new posting to see how you are interpreting your images in black and white. Please don’t stop.


  6. Dan, this is such an amazing shot. Just unbelievable. This is what I aspire to. People are so geared towards super saturated color that I don’t think they can appreciate black and white like this. But please don’t give up. I sometimes find myself getting upset when I post a photo- color or black and white- that I think is great and I get maybe two comments and a few dozen likes, if that. I have to remember that I am getting pleasure out of the creation. I shouldn’t care about what others think. Glad to know you have that same concern. But I guess it’s true. We just have to keep doing what we enjoy and maybe one day others will catch up,:)

  7. Ron, first of all thank you for taking the time to write such lovely thought.

    One of my brothers was recently diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. His doctors said that he might have a year and a half at the outside. That was from this past Christmas. He is my younger brother. He SHOUDLN’T be passing before me. It’s not fair but you play the hand that you’re dealt. What I don’t write about is how this affects me. What is there afterward? Was what we were taught in Sunday school right? Is there a God? Is there a heaven? Do we disappear forever like the flame on a candle when it is snuffed out?

    Whatever the answers are, my little brother’s condition has made me more introspective. Perhaps there is some unconscious motivation behind photographing churches and skies? Is it about getting closer to whatever it is that happens to us when we die? I don’t know but your post is very much appreciated.


  8. Emilio, I have often told my kids when they were growing up that if they felt strongly about something the chances were that many, many others felt the same way.

    Don’t be discouraged by the lack of comments and views. Many famous artists only became popular after they passed. I don’t mean that in a funny or mean way but sometimes it takes a different way of thinking for new things to be seen for what they are.

    Thank you for following my blog. It is appreciated.


  9. very nice photo. JIm

  10. Amazing photo – thanks for explaining how it was produced

  11. Once again beautiful and captivating image Dan. Don’t try to overthink what others may think or dislike or whatever; it is a waste of energy. It is about being creative, seeing and feeling and often intense quality time with oneself. I am really sorry about your younger brother and I wish you all strength and love. I can understand and relate to your thoughts and contemplations but we cannot change the course of our history but we can learn of it.

  12. Thank you for your thoughts Stephan.


  13. You are very welcome Betty.

  14. Thank you Jim.

  15. This is a great photograph- art is about expressing yourself- opinions are important but not the sole criteria one should use to judge a work of art. Just looking at this photograph I can imagine why you were on the train of thought that you have described. It’s great!

  16. Thank you Sukanya.


  17. Enjoyed the message and Wow-this photo has an appocalyptic feel to it. I remember being out in the fields alone and they did invite introspection-I felt so small in that vast space but came alive to what was around me. Having to wait 5 minutes for an exposure would do this too. Reading the comments about your brother and express my sympathy I am always grateful for reminders like yours that I can push the envelope in my work-nice to see when people like you do.

  18. Hi Jane, thank you for the kind words. There is something therapeutic to being outdoors alone and contemplating the world, life, nature, etc. I am glad that you have experienced that too. It’s too easy to get caught up in everyday life and ignore that side of it.

    My brother serves as inspiration to push forward and to make the most of life. It is only when we see an end to something that we start to appreciate how important it is to us.

    All the best,

  19. wow, I really love the emotional feel of this shot…its haunted…and your words. Contemplation is good for our souls soI would carry on and ignore the silence of the masses…listen instead to your own breath 🙂

  20. Thank you Seonaid.


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