Plate 1 - Sunset Grasses

I’m always exploring Nauvoo for emotional scenes—pictures that capture the pathos of those trying and wonderful years that were the glory of Nauvoo.

I was there in winter, shooting those kinds of pictures. I’d read scores of pioneer journals and was especially moved by the writing of Bathsheba Smith, who recounted her feelings about leaving Nauvoo:

“My last act in that precious spot was to tidy the rooms, sweep up the floor, and set the broom in its accustomed place behind the door. Then with emotions in my heart which I could not now pen and which I then strove with success to conceal, I gently closed the door and faced an unknown future, faced a new life, a greater destiny as I well knew, but I faced it with faith in God…”

How do you capture that emotion? I could feel a lump welling up in my throat as I thought about Bathsheba’s words.

It was cold and a bit windy as the sun began to set. I saw some tall grasses that began to be filled with the backlight of the setting sun (you can see those same grasses in Plate 2, Bootshop Sunset Winter). I took the Bootshop image then ran for the grasses before I lost the light. It was my last shot of the day.

I set the camera up on its accustomed spot on the tripod, carefully composed the grasses with that last remaining light and I took the shot. I walked away with Bathsheba Smith on my mind.

I think she would have been pleased.
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