Just another rambling fool at WordPress.com

Another Lesson (or two) Learned

The learning curve for photography is sometimes a bit daunting. It’s not just learning about the camera and the software, but it’s also the realization that good pictures don’t always just “happen.” Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time with the right equipment, but more often than not, you’re in the wrong place with the wrong stuff when you see something really fantastic happening …. over …. there!

This happened to me a few days ago. I’d somehow managed to get myself out the door about thirty minutes before the sun was due to appear. I was barreling up a deserted highway toward a spot that I thought would prove to be perfect for a pretty sunrise, when someone pulled out in front of me and proceeded to drive fifteen miles an hour under the speed limit. Note to self: Add twenty minutes to your travel time to account for old farts and morons. Needless to say, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize I wasn’t going to have a minute to spare!

I tried to stay off the old man’s bumper as we chugged up a long winding incline. I slurped my coffee and tried to catch a glimpse of the sky through the trees. To my relief, pokyman turned into a gas station at the top of the hill. I hit the gas, shot through the empty intersection and careened down the highway, hoping a deer wouldn’t pick this as their moment to cross the road. When I finally reached my destination I slid into the gravel parking lot sideways on two wheels. Well, not really, but almost.

I grabbed my bag, tripod, coffee and keys and lit out across the parking lot at a jog. The preserve was deserted so I had my choice of places to pick. Or so I thought. Problem was, there really wasn’t a choice. Drat! Another note to self: Scout your actual shooting site BEFORE you arrive to shoot! It’s not enough to drive by and think you’ll have the right vantage point, you have to get out there and really check things out. Case point, above you can see one of the first pictures I took when I arrived at the place where I planned to shoot. Nice, but not great. I thought there was a path around the pond where I could get a better shot of the sunrise, but I was wrong. As I turned and glanced over my left shoulder, this is what I saw:





ARGHHHHH! I was trapped and had no way to reach any sort of a clearing that would give me a clean shot at the beautiful sunrise! I wanted to kick myself, but I grabbed my gear and made a mad dash for my car. I knew I didn’t have a prayer in hell of finding a place where I could catch what was happening in the sky  … if you’re seeing it now, it’s too late to get it on film unless you’re already set up and waiting for it to unfold. Ug. As luck would have it there was a small clearing almost directly across the street. It wasn’t visible from the road and I didn’t even know it was there, but I took a gamble and it worked out. Unfortunately, by the time I parked my car and regrouped, the sky wasn’t nearly as pretty, but I did get some nice shots. Alas, the morning wasn’t a total waste. And I did learn some vital lessons, the most important being: always scout your sites and give yourself more time than you think you’ll need to get there!


4 responses

  1. h

    Still pretty anyway! Keep up the good work!

    October 20, 2010 at 7:38 AM

  2. Thanks! You could probably hear me groaning from your house! If nothing else, photography is all about precision, even when it comes to making sure the place you plan to shoot from is going to give you what you think it will. You can’t guess … or at least I can’t. Not at this point anyhow. Maybe some day I’ll be able to look at a map or the landscape and know if a spot will be just right or not, but for now I have to get out there and see for myself.

    Thanks for the encouragement! It helps! 😉

    October 20, 2010 at 8:10 AM

  3. Rule number 1 – be there.

    The rule before Rule number 1, have some idea of where you need to be. We’ve all had moments like this, watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset while still trying to get to ‘that’ spot. Keep trying, you have some skills, and I look forward to seeing more of your photos.

    October 20, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    • Van, you are so right! Here is the rub: Today, anybody can buy a good digital camera and take nice pictures. It really isn’t rocket science and besides, some of the newest cameras are pretty forgiving. But if your goal is to explore an artistic approach and consistently get good photos (read as: addicted), then that’s a whole ‘nuther story. There are “rules” and guidelines and there is so much to learn, especially for someone who is starting this hobby with minimal technical skill. Not to mention that like the poor fellow in my story, I’m an old fart myself ….

      Most of this stuff you either know intuitively or have to learn through reading, talking with other photo enthusiasts or my favorite method of madness, by getting out there and screwing it up in spades!

      Your photos have been an inspiration and motivation for me. Heck, I didn’t even know what HDR was until a few months ago. Now it’s something I’d like to eventually explore myself. If I posted a comment in your blog every time I liked one of your photos you’d start to think I was stalking you or something. Your work is that amazing, and your wife’s too! It challenges me to keep learning and shooting.

      Thanks for dropping by. You might have to take a ticket and stand in line, but don’t ever be afraid to remind me of something I should already know! 🙂

      October 20, 2010 at 11:37 AM

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