Has there ever been one defining moment in your life, when everything changes (for better or worse)?  I can clearly remember “the” moment when my photographic life changed.

It was May 29, 2007.  My husband and I were vacationing in Moab, enjoying some great hikes (and for him – mountain biking) on the awesome area trails.  I had for the very first time hired a local photo guide to show me some of the area’s “greatest” photo spots.  I thought I was prepared for what was about to happen to me.

After rising at oh dark thirty, we arrived at Dead Horse Point State Park in plenty of time to set up for sunrise.  I had no idea what was about to hit me.

I picked out a spot with a cool twisty juniper tree in the foreground and waited, setting up my modest little Canon Rebel on a cheap, flimsy little tripod.  I had no ND filters.  I had read about RAW but had never shot any images using it (and I certainly didn’t have the proper software to process the images with anyway).  I had read about reading/using the histogram, but had not tried it.

Even before the sun crossed the horizon on its daily journey across the sky, the canyon walls began to glow.

I was mesmerized.

The light kept moving, and small nuances of changing color slowly crept down the rock cliffs.

I was totally, completely hypnotized.  I had never seen anything like it before in my life.  The light crept (far too quickly I thought) and danced, illuminating and enlightening, down those incredible red sandstone walls.

It was at that moment that I realized the world was much bigger than I had imagined; there were so many things I had not yet witnessed, and now I knew I wanted to see those moments.

I also desperately wanted to be able to capture those timeless moments with my camera and share the images with those who were not fortunate enough to be able to see these moments for themself.

When I got back home, I reviewed my JPEG images and discovered a new-found desire to better my techniques.  It was then that I started getting “serious” about my photography.  I learned to shoot RAW, bought Lightroom then later Photoshop (though my skills in these programs remain basic to this day), learned how and when to use filters, how to read and use the histogram, joined an online photo critique forum, etc.  I eventually gained enough confidence to submit a few photos to some local photo contests and a local magazine.  To my surprise, I won some award ribbons and had a handful of photos published.  It also was motivation for me to think about moving away.  My husband and I had talked for years about moving to Colorado, but I had never seriously considered it – until “that moment.”  Suddenly, I wanted to explore, see and do!

Of course, today I look at the images I made that day and see a hundred things I wish I had done differently.  I wish I had been shooting RAW – I could pull so much more out of that image if I had!  I wish I would have tried a different composition in that spot.  Why didn’t I do “this” or “that”?  But I also see from “that moment” forward how much I’ve grown as a photographer since then.  It’s been quite a journey!

Can you remember “the” moment when you decided to become serious about your hobby, and made a commitment to better your skills?  Please share your experience with me – I’d love to hear it!