Had an experience this morning I wanted to share. Now, first you have to understand Texans love to talk about the weather, so please bear with me. A Texas Blue Norther seems to be blowing in (from our friends up in Canada) this morning, the sky was dark (around zone III), but I could see some Cottonwood trees, with the lighter bark, picking up just a little sunlight. What a great image - did I get a shot, NO! The image was gone in less than 5 minutes. The sky turned a muddy gray, the light left the trees..I realized that if I had grabbed a camera, jumped in the car so I could get a better composition, that I would have missed the best part of the whole scene.
How often do we chase the light, only to miss the best part? For me, it was better to just watch the scene unfold and not capture it. With any luck, it will teach me to be prepared next time - will the light be the same? No way, it may be blaugh (is that really a word) or it may be the 'Best' light ever.
So, I was wondering - does everyone else chase the light at times like these or do most of you just kick back and enjoy and hope that Next time...?
Thanks for the input....
I've spent many years talking a good game about "chasing the light," - it all sounds so romantic and almost dangerous, like "storm chaser." But in the end I always opt for the "serendipity factor." When good light happens while I happen to be prepared, I accept it as a gift. I will do what I can to be in the places where I have seen good light happen, in the hopes of a repeat performance. But some of my favorite images I have made came about from noticing that good light was there, even though the subject it fell upon was not my intended one. On the other hand, I have stayed away from the camera when the light didn't look very promising, and who knows what wonderful images I denied myself discovering?
Why does chasing the light and missing the shot have to be disappointing?
At lest you got to see a wonderful scene and record it in your mind. On ocasion I think we need to leave the camera in the car or the backpack and just enjoy the light and scene before us. I can't remember who the photographer was, but he was well known and said basically sometimes it is good to let one get away.
John Mayer's song "No More 3x5's" comes to mind....
One line, "Today I finally overcame/ Trying to fit the world inside a picture frame"
During the recent Lunar eclipse, I first scrambled to find information and equipment on how to photograph it. Then it occurred that millions of images of every phase of the event are going to be recorded by people who possess the knowledge and equipment to do it better than I could ever hope.
So I made myself a mug of hot, mulled cider, chose some appropriate music and just sat back and enjoyed watching it.
Slightly off topic, but,
I was once listening to a lecture by a Canadian photographer named Sherman Hines who did a ton of books on Canadian and American landscapes, cities etc.
His work was real good and he was asked if he parked like Ansel Adams did and waited for the the scene to present itself. Things like the clouds, moon, etc to wander into his frame much like a duck hunter hiding in his blind.
He said no way, in that amount of time I could travel around and get maybe ten good images. He constantly moved and captured what he saw.
I thought the two different approaches were interesting.
watching light is a full time occupation. Even the light at night has it's wonders. I've had two occasions where I've missed the shot of a lifetime (probably not, But it was a really big fish) once both my wife and I saw it I stood there with 2 cameras around my neck and watched the scene happen and forgot to shoot! We still laugh about it and I've never seen it a again. The second The model and I had spent 2 hours setting up at the beach a styrofoam clock I had built creating the illusion of a clock hovering over the tide within which the model was to pose. We were set as I was reviewing the last polaroid a caravan of marines in humvee's came from behind me and drove right through the set crushing my roman numerals and hanging out of their vehicles waving at the model. I was standing there mad as hell, The left side of the set was floating destroyed at the edge of the tide. The model jumped up saying "did you get it those guys hanging out of the trucks waving? I stayed in my pose, What a great shot!" I was so mad I didn't see a shot that will never happen again.
I know exactly what you mean about chasing the light in Texas. I've rephotographed some scenes many times trying to capture that elusive and fleeting quality of light.
I've grown tired of tearing around the countryside, filing all the tread off my tyres, trying (unsuccessfully) to put a half-decent foreground in front of a beautiful sky. I'm also trying (again unsuccessfully!) to give up chewing my teeth as I watch beautiful light form and fade on the other side of my office window!
I keep an eye on the forecasts and try to build and maintain a list of venues suitable for shoots in a variety of weathers (overcast = waterfalls, sun with light cloud = rural landscape, etc). Not ideal, but the best I've managed so far.