Sunday, November 6, 2011

Watching Paint Dry

The Burning Sea
Canon EOS 5Dmk2, EF 24mm F/1.4L USM II
F/14 Shutter 4s, ISO 50, Black Card Technique, 
 It has been written that Ansel Adams not only shot amazing landscapes because he was a fantastic photographer, but that he lived and studied his environment and knew his settings and how the weather patterns would unfold in his scenes.

All of last week I watched clouds go by and the inevitable missed opportunities (mostly because I had other obligations to meet), but this is one of those things I really try to do by studying those patterns in the sky to find out if I would have a great opportunity.

The other thing is timing. Just because I can see an amazing opportunity, doesn't mean that by the time that I get to my vantage point the same kind of situation will remain.

One could sit and wait for hours for the perfect opportunity to come along, but unless you have that luxury of time, it's back to predicting what will happen.

For me, predicting the best time to do my black card landscape shots is a little bit like divining for water with two coat hangers, but using a little bit of science, watching weather patterns, calculating travel time (including hiking down to your vantage point), set-up time, and of course ensuring you have everything with you are all important things to factor in getting the right shot at the right time.

Also knowing the area and scouting appropriate locations is also another thing to account for. I maintain a series of applications on my iPhone to predict tide tables, sunrise and sunset times, shadow locations and weather reports. Setting up for a an image to me is a lot of science and when it all comes together, I love the results I get.

However sometimes it more about just getting out there and not knowing what you might get, but in those cases I really make an effort to keep my standard things ready to get up and go. I have my standby locations that I know that are minutes away, and even if the opportunity doesn't present itself, I take the time to practice or just to enjoy the environment.

In my youth, I wasn't really a patient person but as I've gotten older I certainly have appreciated taking the time to watch the world change around me.

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