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My mental diary of places where I have made, or hope to someday make, a good photograph has long included an entry for the Victory Trinity Lutheran Church in Victory Township, Mason County. In all of the decades I have looked for a picture there during my travels, I have only made two photographs I knew before ever getting the camera and tripod out had all the elements needed for a good picture. This 1980s day was one of those rare times. Sadly, I was heading back toward Ludington on Victory Drive from photographing a horrible fatal car crash on US 31 north of Scottville. As a newspaper reporter and photographer for the Ludington Daily News, covering hard news came with the job, but it was the hardest, most painful part of the job. I was overwhelmed by what I had seen and photographed at that crash site. The last thing on my mind was taking more pictures on this depressing day. But as a visual person, I couldn’t help but see the tremendous clouds overhead blowing toward my favorite country church. As I approached the church, I calculated that I might be able to line the cloud up over the church if I could quickly get to a high spot near a small barn several hundred yards west of the church where the Ruba family had given me permission to go. Thirty seconds later, when I jumped out of my Jeep Cherokee and started running to the peak of a hill overlooking the church and surrounding countryside, I could hardly believe my eyes. I saw a “Jesus Cloud” headed right over the church. I had visions of the Ascension as I worked feverishly to set up the tripod, mount my camera, set the manual exposure and shoot. The incredible view I was privileged to be witnessing and documenting was so uplifting that my spirits were lifted as well. This was a day of extremes in the life of one photojournalist. There were other days with highs and lows but none that stick with me the way this one does.
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