Your Favorite Photos… in a Coffee Table Book

Asking a professional photographer to choose their favorite photo ranks up there with asking an astronomer what their favorite galaxy or nebula is. Having taken literally hundreds of thousands of images throughout my career, my answer could change with every tick from the second hand of a clock. Good thing Lori only asked me to choose an image from my six coffee table books.

My quartz analog watch just ticked 12:00:01. I’ve made a decision. At least, I think I have…

As I recall, it was a very hot afternoon in June. If you’ve ever been to San Antonio, TX, every afternoon from April through October falls into that category. I was working on my first coffee table book, “San Antonio, Portrait of the Fiesta City,” and trying to shoot the last of any green foliage before our annual “brown and charbroiled” season kicked in. The year was 1990 and I was shooting Kodachrome 64 with my Nikon 35mm SLR camera. I had captured some cute catches of ducks playing in a fountain and some beautiful blooming flowers at our local botanical gardens. Feeling good about what I’d shot, I decided to call it a day at the gardens and started the long trek back to my air-conditioned oasis, commonly known as my van.

While wiping the sweat off my brow and cleaning my glasses, I noticed a primitive looking structure that could have easily been transported off the set of any western film. Hoping for a little relief in the shade, I walked over to the wooden porch and noticed that the front door was open. I walked in, set my camera bag down on the floor, and looked for a chair to sit on for a few minutes while I cooled off. Before I sat down, though, something odd began happening on the wall, about 10 feet away from where I was standing.

In a matter of moments, a bright light began illuminating the wall. It was as if the sun were shining through the window, forming pane patterns on the rough, stucco wall. Was I hallucinating from the heat? It couldn’t be the sun…it was too low of an angle and it had been baking my face just a few minutes earlier as I walked the opposite direction.

I quickly walked back out the front door to investigate. I was amazed at what I found. The sun was shining on the glass conservatory, approximately 150 yards away, then bouncing a beam of light into the window of the cabin! As I contemplated the odds of that happening while I happened to be inside, I noticed that the illumination was quickly moving along the wall and lining up behind a rustic table with an antique coffee pot resting on the surface. My photo brain was yelling at me to grab my camera and shoot this phenomenon before it drifted away. Almost tripping over myself, I ran back into the cabin and practically slid to my camera case on the floor, swiftly unzipping the bag and grabbing the camera and telephoto lens. Fortunately, there was still some film left on the roll as I clicked about three frames before the wall illumination moved into another spot on the wall, then dimmed to nothing in a matter of moments.

Twenty years later, that image still hangs above our hearth in the family room. I never tire of looking at it and thinking how fantastic it was to be there at the right time and place.

In case you’re ever in San Antonio, here is a Google Link:

Some interesting trivia about the cabin…Built in 1849, it was the home of Friedrich Wilhelm Schumacher and was originally located in Fredericksburg, TX (about 70 miles from San Antonio). It was disassembled, indexed, and then re-assembled at its present site at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.

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[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]