The image above is a happy accident. It was not the image I went out to photography last evening, but it’s the one I came home with. And while I am fairly pleased with the result, it falls in the category that we as photographers cannot seem to drill into our own heads: Be prepared.
Here is what happened. Driving home from running errands yesterday evening, I saw the cloud formations to the east looking particularly dramatic. The sun was setting, its rays slowly melting from golden to fuchsia, the clouds were gaining structure and contrast in a way that simply guaranteed I’d have an award-winning shot without breaking a sweat. That attitude should have been my first clue. Ahem. So confident was I about my intention and subject, I quickly stopped by my house and in the blink of an eye, grabbed my tripod and camera–already armed with the perfect wide-angle zoom for my landscape, and within 5 minutes was in position and on location. Didn’t
Only… wait. One problem. The sun died… right in front of my eyes. The cloud formation, which should by all rights should have exploded with color, simply…. fizzled. The cloud went dark. And there I sat looking at a dark blue cloud on a quickly darkening sky. Hmm…. Any light, anywhere??? Oh, yes… of course… the light BEHIND me was spectacular and the local radio tower was perfectly framed in color. Except, I was standing there with a wide-angle lens and the beautiful tower was far, far away. I tried framing, reframing and finally had to settle for an image I knew I would have to severely crop later. The result is what you see above. OK, so maybe somehow, someway, I made lemons out of lemonade (you all can be the judge) but once again, I had to humbly admit that I let my excitement over getting “the shot” get in the way of my clear thinking about what I should have come prepared for. Yes, a longer telephoto should have been in my bag (I didn’t even grab a bag!) so that if the shot I thought I was going to get didn’t pan out, I might have had some options.
I tell this story because 1) I think it’s important to constantly remind oneself that the road to becoming a great photographer is fraught with humbling lessons and 2) the joy of the chase is actually the true joy of photography. If you end up with an award-winning image, it’s icing on the cake. Just keep enjoying the journey. Til next time…