When Persistence Pays Off

April 13, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Landscape photography is fraught with variables. While the photographer does everything possible to increase the odds of walking away with a successful image - he or she is still at the mercy of conditions. 

A few days ago, the sky here in Eastern Idaho was fantastic. It was filled with cumulus clouds in all directions as far as the eye could see, with the added dimension of rain moving in and out. 

I decided to hit the road and try to make a photo. But.....where to go?

Spring has come early this year, so most of the snow is gone. It's still too early for any of the landscape to have greened up, though - so things look rather "blah." There is a marshy wildlife refuge about 45 minutes from my home which I thought might have some potential, so I headed in that direction. Upon arrival, though, I discovered very low water levels and therefore not much in the way of interesting compositions.

I wasn't willing to give up. The sky looked too interesting. Where to head next? 

That question was actually a challenge to answer. I've done a lot of research about Southeastern Idaho and have scouted locations since I arrived here last summer, but I have zero springtime experience under my belt. Where to go, indeed? I thought about trying another wildlife refuge, a state park through which Henry's Fork of the Snake River runs. Though it would take a little more than an hour to get there, I guessed it might be worth it as the river could provide me with something interesting to anchor the shot - even though the landscape would be rather drab. On the way, I drove through quite a bit of rain. In spite of what was happening directly overhead, however, it appeared the clouds were dissipating in the direction I'd need to shoot if I continued on.

I abandoned that plan and took another road which I knew would deposit me in the Teton Valley. Roughly 30 minutes later, I'd put 122 miles on the odometer and still had nothing to show for my effort. 

Thunderstorms were now beginning to roll through the Valley; sheets of rain were visible in the distance. I found a farm field with an interesting looking fence. That was as good a spot as I'd seen: I opted to photograph the storm using a wide lens. After having spent an hour there, and with that particular storm moving on, I figured that was going to be about it for the day. I pointed the car west for the 45 minute drive back to my house.

Keeping my eyes open along the way, I taken by how beautiful the skies remained. The conditions were still very changeable; the fact that I was on the move only magnified this fact. It seemed a pity that I only had the one chance to make a picture after having spent so much time in search of viable locations. 

That's when a little bit of serendipity came my way. In the middle of nothing but farm fields, some trees caught my eye. They were oriented in such a way that the amazing sky was behind them. Could that be the photo I had been chasing all afternoon? STOP! I pulled over, turned around, and found - to my amazement - a crossroad conveniently located nearby. Somewhere to safely park my vehicle! I climbed out, walked around to peruse the situation, and knew I'd found something.

I spent the next hour capturing the scene in a variety of ways and watching as the skies continued to quickly change. 

The photo below was the result. Sometimes you go home with nothing. Other times, persistence pays off.

Winterscape Teton Valley IdahoWhitewashRain moving in and out of the area created spectacular cloudscapes; fantastic conditions persisted all afternoon and into the evening. Snow still clinging to the early spring landscape nicely complements the beautiful cloudscape overhead. (Teton/Madison County Line, Eastern Idaho)


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