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  • Writer's picturePaul Cotter

Unexpected Beauty

Sometimes good things present themselves in unexpected ways.

One morning last fall, my wife and I got up before sunrise and drove to DuPont State Recreational Forest in the western part of North Carolina. This 12,500-acre nature preserve is where The Last of the Mohicans was filmed, and I was looking to photograph some of its six major waterfalls.

Unfortunately, the lighting was harsh that day – an unflattering mix of deep shadows and bright sunlight filtering through the trees onto the falls – making it hard to get the beautiful wide shot I had in mind.

But then I found a most welcome surprise.

As we hiked the trail leading between falls, we came across a small lake surrounded by trees in their full fall splendor. The dappled reflections in the lake were an impressionistic wonder, changing every second with the slightest breeze. I marveled at the fragmented colors dancing on the water’s surface. This is not at all what I was planning to shoot that day – it was, in a way, even better because it was totally unexpected. And there was not a single other photographer there to capture it.

I shot a large number of images at this magical spot. And I remembered once again the lesson that photography has tried its best to teach my impatient soul: What presents itself in life can be much, much better than what we had planned for ourselves.

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