Preparation, Patience and Persistence
I spend a lot of time of shooting in areas that I teach workshops. I find that an increased familiarity with a place gives my students-and myself a better chance at getting great photographs. Its not that we can't all go out and get lucky from time to time. Its just that your odds of getting the right light at the right time increase with every visit to a location. How many times do you think Ansel photographed Half Dome?
Currently I am teaching in Sedona, Arizona. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the area, it is known for its mystical aura, peaceful surroundings, red rocks and incredibly beautiful light. Today it rained. It rained yesterday as well. Red Rocks that seemingly glow from within, have taken on the dull color of lead. Thats okay. Our workshop participants know a few of the important P's. Preparation, Patience and Persistence. This morning we went out before the rain and were not deterred by the flat light. Instead the group dug in and focused on the landscape below the overcast sky. Even after it began to rain, folks continued to take pictures. Instead of heading indoors, they were treated to a rare view of the wet, saturated rocks at Slide Rock State Park. They were prepared. Most of them had some of sort of rain gear (I forgot mine) and many had specific rain gear for their camera. Louis Pasteur said "Chance favors the prepared mind". I believe it favors the prepared photographer as well.
A considerably more comfortable meeting room provided us a location for an afternoon of lecture and critique. Our evening field shoot once again began with heavy overcast. But a small break in the clouds near the western horizon gave some promise. The sun could peek out from under the clouds near sunset giving us a warm glow on the red rocks while keeping the sky in deep blue shadow. The area we selected to photograph is popular and getting there somewhat early is always a good idea. Patience. Set up the tripods and wait. I often tell students that I would rather have 50 variations of one subject where one is really good instead of 50 different subjects where many are simply average. Persistence. Work the subject. By being there early we found our spots and where able to shoot variations while waiting for the perfect light. This allowed us time to perfect our compositions for the perfect light. We got skunked. The sun never did peek out from beneath the clouds. Profanity. The fourth P. It happens. We'll be back tomorrow, though. More persistence.
As it turned out, the clouds were thinner below the horizon and about 30 minutes after the sunset the sky began to glow. Even though the group had broken up for the evening, many kept their eyes to the sky, refusing to give up completely. For those, practicing the three P's, the day ended well.
If you'd like, you can read more at my website.