"The Photographers Breakfast"
by Tommy Dykes
Landscape photographers tend to be early risers because of their quest to capture the early morning light. That light might explain why I have enjoyed landscape photography so much. The earliest light, as well as the latest light, both which landscape photographers love, requires that one be at their location, set-up and ready to shoot, sometimes hours before most people are having their coffee.
For a lot of my day trips I am out the door as early as 230 am with some destination in mind such as Rocky Mountain National Park or the Sangre de Christo mountains, either easily reached in two and a half hours. After another hour or more on foot, through the last of the night, a place to photograph in the expanding light can be reached, allowing one, sole possession of the first light of a new day, called the Golden Hour.
Now I have to make my disclaimer. The Photographer’s Breakfast is not a healthy breakfast! It is meant to be good too you, not necessarily good for you. After spending three to four hours high in the mountains where the late summer and early fall morning temperatures can drop into the teens, one’s body needs a charge of calories, particularly if the photographer plans to continue working throughout the morning.
I have a so-called “kitchen kit” that travels with me to most destinations. It contains a two burner stove as well as a single burner pack stove, pots, pans, cutlery and a coffee pot. For a solo day trip the pack stove is best since it is powered by bottled gas, making it quick and easy to use. This kit provides the nice hot breakfast that makes the morning hike complete. After returning to the truck, the kitchen is laid out on the tail gate of my truck.
The evening before my shoots, I pack my Photographer’s Breakfast and store it in the refrigerator, so that I can grab it and go the next morning. Typically, I pack six strips of bacon, two eggs, shredded cheese and two packages of instant grits. (Yes, yes I know that the witness in the film, My Cousin Vinny, said that, “no self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits”, but know that on the tail gate on an F-150, after a four hour hike, they are quite good). This is a great combination that is easily and quickly prepared on the single burner stove. I start by heating water to boiling for the instant grits. I use a small skillet and cook the bacon which provides the grease to cook the eggs. Before the eggs go in I remove any extra grease with a paper towel, then the eggs are lightly whipped while in the skillet making them scrambled, and just before the eggs are done (I like mine scrambled soft) I add the cheese and return the bacon and grits to the hot skillet to get the entire meal hot again. Eaten right out the skillet, it’s perfect.
While bananas, apples and granola works well, it’s just hard to beat the Photographer’s Breakfast. So out on your next adventure, throw away caution and cook the Photographers Breakfast. I never leave home without it.