The sound of my alarm going off was evidently louder than the pitter patter of water dripping off the trees onto the rainfly. Everything inside the tent was still pretty damp from the previous evening’s rain, but outside, the moon was making it’s appearance through broken clouds. Our group of four slowly piled into the van and headed out to our morning photo destination.

It was 4:45am. A Friday. The morning of the Photography Field Day along the Buffalo River in Arkansas!

Though it was still quite dark, there was a promising hint of pink on some distant clouds when we arrived at a wide open overlook over what is known as the Arkansas Grand Canyon. The sky was full of clouds, but it was surprisingly clear on the eastern horizon. A good sign. We climbed to the top of the lookout tower for as unobstructed a view as possible, and prepared for what we hoped would be an epic sunrise!

200807_James Staddon_8885 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 22 mm, 1-10 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 200

There’s something just so energizing feeling about watching the sun making it’s first appearance on the horizon!

200807_James Staddon_8908 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 200 mm, 1-50 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 200

200807_James Staddon_8942 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 200 mm, 1-80 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 100

200807_James Staddon_8953 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16 mm, 1-10 sec at f - 16, ISO 200

200807_James Staddon_8977 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 144 mm, 1-30 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 50

Getting up early is never an easy thing to do. But what constrained us to do so? Why were we the first ones up in the entire campground? Why did we stumble around half asleep in the dark, and then just wait around shivering in the wind on an exposed ridge top? For the love of photographing a beautiful sunrise, of course!

Later that day, we found ourselves by the edge of the river photographing a bridge and the sheer rock wall cliffs that are so unique to the area. We were discussing how to take an artistic approach to documenting geologic oddities when it started to sprinkle. Again. So back to the car we went. We had learned by now that a sprinkle meant something more voluminous was on its way.

This time, it was for the love of properly functioning photography equipment that constrained us to take action!

200807_James Staddon_9013 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 70 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 320

And there were many things like that, that happened that day.

The desire to not have a sunburned head constrained me to put a hat on when the sun finally decided to come out.

The desire to avoid falling into chasms constrained me from getting too close to the edge for perfect perspectives.

200807_James Staddon_9042 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 23 mm, 13.0 sec at f - 22, ISO 50

The desire to keep in good relationship with the locals constrained all of us to stay on the correct side of the fence.

200807_James Staddon_9053 Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 127 mm, 1-200 sec at f - 4.0, ISO 100

For just about everything we do, there’s a constraining factor that motivates us to take the action we take!

It’s a good thing when we are constrained from coveting our neighbor’s photography equipment because the law says “thou shalt not covet.” But is that as deep as it gets? If our commitment to keeping the law is the sole, driving, controlling force for making the decisions that we make to “not covet”, then what happens if we stumble onto a convenient exception to the rule? What about timely loopholes? or sensible excuses?

Is it the law that constrains us? Or is it “the love of Christ that constraineth us” (II Corinthians 5:14)?

Law, love, shame . . . there are many God-created constraining forces. But there is nothing more powerful than the love of Christ to constrain us to do what is right or eschew what is evil!

Does the love of Christ constrain you?

200807_James Staddon_8909 W

Burning Mist

Arkansas Grand Canyon, Buffalo National River, Arkansas

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