Having photographed northern New England's spectacular autumn "show" for 20 years, I decided this year - my first based in the interior west - to focus on my new backyard (Grand Teton National Park and the Palisades in Idaho's Teton Valley), before flying to Virginia for a week to work in and around Shenandoah National Park.
Now that we're on the doorstep of the foliage season back East, I'm having some serious pangs of regret about my choice. I checked flights - and my schedule - last week to see if I could somehow squeeze some time to go back to my beloved New Hampshire. It's not going to happen....
Refocus on the original strategy.
I spent a few days last week in and around Grand Teton National Park. The conditions were pretty tough. Cloudless skies at daybreak. Sunny days with harsh light. No frost overnight. No fog.
Clearly, I wasn't going to make the images I had in mind.
When Mother Nature isn't cooperating, I often think about something I've had posted on my desk for many years now. It's a line from a long ago article in Outdoor Photographer magazine: What kind of photograph can you make given particular conditions?
More often than not, the situation is far from ideal. There aren't any clouds. Or there are too many. Or it's pouring. Maybe it's windy. Or it's warmer - or colder - than it should be. No amount of advance planning can trump the weather! If you're on location, you have to learn to improvise.
Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.
I was reminded of this the other day, as the stars shone brightly on yet another perfectly cloudless morning. It didn't look good as I set out in the darkness to drive to Oxbow Bend for a daybreak session.
The shot I wanted to make, indeed, never materialized. Not even close. It looked like I'd go home empty-handed.
For just a few minutes prior to sunrise, though, the twilight wedge became faintly visible, then more pronounced - creating a band of pink in the cloudless sky. I snapped away...
Though I stayed and continued to work in the changing light for another 40 minutes or so, the image which was the keeper was the one I made before the sun showed up.
You never know.