on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Bearing Witness

Experiencing Moments Without the Camera

Chris Murray

Chris Murray is a full-time photographer, instructor, and writer from New York State. His photographs are not meant to be a literal document of the woods, mountains, and rivers of his home state, but rather a creative expression of his relationship with the places that ceaselessly inspire him.


By temperament, I am not unduly excitable and certainly not trigger-happy. I think twice before I shoot and very often do not shoot at all. By professional standards I do not waste a lot of film; but by the standards of many of my colleagues I probably miss quite a few of my opportunities. Still, the things I am after are not in a hurry as a rule.~ Bill Brandt

The late November sun poked through the clouds as it slipped closer to the horizon, bathing the river and islands in the warm evening light. As I was commenting to my wife on the beauty of the light, I noticed a half-rainbow opposite the setting sun, its one end disappearing below the water’s surface. Rainbows are not uncommon where I live, but the combination of the late afternoon light and the rainbow dipping into the river made it particularly beautiful. My wife said I should get a photo of it, so I pointed my two index fingers at each temple and said, “click.” She gave me a look that only wives can give an idiot husband. I had no desire to photograph the scene, content to witness and revel in the beauty unfolding before me. After several minutes it disappeared, but the memory of it is forever seared into my brain. What more could a photo of it have offered me? What would my motivation have been had I photographed it?

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