LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY > MT. FIELD NATIONAL PARK – TASMANIA > Lake Fenton Fagus Stream (Mt. Field National Park)
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Nothofagus gunii, more commonly known as “fagus”, is Tasmania’s only native deciduous tree. It flanks the sides of Tasmania’s mountains at higher elevations and generally turns yellow around ANZAC Day (April 25). The turning of the fagus has become so popular among locals that Mt. Field National Park hosts a “Fagus Festival” every year around ANZAC Day. Lake Fenton and the ‘tarn shelf’ feature very condensed areas of fagus, making them the most popularly visited areas of the park during autumn.
“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your [God’s] decrees…in faithfulness you have afflicted me. May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.” (Psalm 119:71,75-77)
I joke with people that my “computer IQ” is two points above an eggplant (which is not far off the truth).
I also tell them that they would want me to be in the cockpit of their plane before they would want me behind their computer because there’s a much greater chance I would crash their computer than their plane.
To cut a very long and painful story short, when I was trying to perform a back up of my entire hard drive I accidentally erased my entire hard drive.
ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING was completely lost: ALL my artwork, ALL my photos, ALL my print files, ALL my documents, ALL my family photos and videos, every archive of EVERYTHING that had ever been on my computer and its predecessors was GONE!
When I finally realized what I had done (about 3-4 days later, due to having the computer IQ of an eggplant, or perhaps in this case, lower…), I freaked out and contacted my friend who was the IT guy for the brass buttons in the Australian Navy up in Canberra. He kindly performed four different recoveries for me, utilizing his best high tech equipment and software. His prognosis? Congratulations, I had destroyed my files better than he could have if he had tried. He also told me that if he ever needed to completely obliterate something from the face of the planet he would bring it to me.
It wasn’t all bad news, though. Thankfully my friend was able to recover all my documents, most of my family photos and videos and nearly all of my artwork and artwork printing files.
But my photography? Well…it wasn’t such good news…In fact, it was completely devastating.
My entire archive of final photos and photo printing files were completely and irrevocably lost. Even more devastating was the loss of the majority of my entire archive of 17,000+ RAW (undeveloped) photos, including an exceptionally high percentage of the ‘keeper’ photos I had flagged with the intent to later develop into final photos. Unfortunately, most of the RAW photos that were recovered were ones I was intending to delete anyway. I had dragged a pack weighing up to 30 kg up and down mountain ranges for months to capture these thousands of photos, and now all my hard efforts were lost.
I was completely stunned…for weeks.
Where was God in all of this?
Though my photography was completely lost, I was very thankful to God for graciously saving all of my artwork and artwork printing files in one way or another. However, I struggled to make sense of it all.
Was this a sign from God that he no longer wanted me to continue with my photography?
Amidst my uncertainty, one thing definitely was for certain, and that was if I decided to continue with photography, I would have to start completely over from scratch.
I was deeply saddened and confused by this entire situation. Why had my art survived but not my photography?
I spent the next month deep in prayer, and as the Holy Spirit began to search out my heart, he pointed out areas within me that were not right in regards to my photography. I began to realize just how sinful my attitude had been and how far away my intentions for my photography were from God’s desire for it. Perhaps God was disciplining me by ending my photography. I was teetering over the precipice of quitting for good and considered selling all my gear.
Still deeply saddened over both my sin and my loss, I headed up to Mt. Field National Park to contemplate everything. I hadn’t touched my camera in a month because I had felt so bad, but for some unknown reason I decided to put it into my backpack anyway.
I wandered around the entire day watching the droves of fagus celebrators taking selfies among the golden groves. It was prime time photography season at Mt. Field National Park. As I watched the more serious photographers at work, carrying their tripods over their shoulders and carefully setting up their shots I wondered if I was still among them. I was too sad to ponder the question. I found nothing that day that moved me to take my camera out of my bag.
When the sun began going down and the crowds started heading home, I found myself walking alone among the fagus. As I walked along I could hear the sound of running water, and out of curiosity the adventurer in me decided to go on a bush bash and check it out.
I found a beautiful little stream graced by the overhanging boughs of yellow fagus. Its beauty immediately struck me and awakened the spirit of the photographer within me. Artistically, the lighting, the scene, the composition—everything—was perfect.
This was it. I had a big decision to make.
Would I turn my back on this inspiring shot, thus ratifying my decision to quit photography?
Or would this be the first photograph to rise out of the ashes?
I deliberated for several moments over the significance of my next decision and my motives before God.
So I made my choice and pulled my camera out of my bag and took my first shot, shot number 0001.
As I continued in prayer and repentance in the coming weeks and months, the Lord was very gracious to me:
One day, while sorting through a quarter million files stripped of file name and folder structure, I mysteriously found my ENTIRE ARCHIVE of final photos in top quality, high resolution JPG format sitting altogether!
But where on earth did these photos come from???
I certainly NEVER created them.
Although they were not the original TIF printing files I had lost, these JPGs–wherever they had come from–were certainly big enough to salvage for small printing files!
To this day, the perplexing mystery remains.
Neither my photography teacher nor my IT friend can explain where these high resolution JPG files came from. None of us know how they came into existence, but one thing I know for sure, it is by the complete grace and miracle of God that they exist!
As I prayed more in the coming months, God clearly confirmed that he wanted me to continue with my photography, and more importantly, he showed me how he wanted me to continue with my photography.
And as I came into line with his purpose for my photography, he responded by pouring out his blessing upon it.
Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to lose all my files (and then restoring some of them to me) because this was the catalyst for the repentance I needed and, ultimately, your blessing upon my photography.
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.
‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:6-9)