Chris and I were taking the long way home after having an early dinner at the White Horse Tavern* and I took the road that bisects Averill Farm**. The Averill family have operated the farm continuously since they purchased the land from Chief Waramaug 260 years ago. An ominous collection of storm clouds illuminated by the setting sun were moving and changing shape very quickly, with patches of sun and cloud-shade running across the orchard. I wanted to capture this image, but there wasn’t a moment to lose. Fortunately I knew what I wanted and how to get it.
I pulled the car off the road and onto the grass and grabbed my camera. I was lucky that the lens I would have picked was already on the camera. The drama was unfolding to fast to set up a tripod so I left it in the car thinking I’d come back for it if I had a chance. I hurriedly made a couple of trial exposures to be sure I wasn’t going to blow out the highlights then turned the camera to vertical and made a series of four exposures that I planned to stitch together later in Photoshop. I had time to make three such series before the clouds had moved on. There was no chance to use the tripod; the drama was over.
Non-photographers often fail to understand that photographing the static landscape can depend on a matter of seconds for success. It’s the light , the sun and clouds, that can change in a moment and completely alter the feeling of an image. Being prepared can mean the difference between getting the photograph or failure.
When Ansel Adams made his iconic photograph “Monnrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941″*** the timing was so critical that he only had time to expose two sheets of 8×10 film, and had no time to make an exposure reading. Fortunately he knew from past experience what the luminance of the moon was and based his exposure on that. I don’t think there was another photographer of his era, or any era for that matter, who could have pulled that off.
Success in photography, like in so many things, depends on being prepared to take advantage of opportunity. One of the things so many young people don’t seem to grasp is that it is possible to be at the right place at the right time for a big break and still not be able to profit by it because they were not prepared. Too many think that all the is needed is luck, but the older you get the more you realize that isn’t enough; you must be prepared.
Pentax K10D with 35mm macro lens. Processed in Photoshop CS4 and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.