Too Easy?

December 01, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Mist and Fog Over the PemigewassetMist Meets FogPersistent drizzle and rain made the autumn colors pop and created this moody scene over the Pemigewasset River

Near Lincoln, New Hampshire
A few years ago I went to see a photography exhibit featuring the work of Alfred Stieglitz at the Art Institute of Chicago. In one of the galleries, I overheard snippets of conversation between two visitors - both of whom clearly enjoyed what they were seeing; they were effusive in praising Stieglitz's images.

Then came this: "It must be so nice to be a photographer. All you have to do is click the shutter."

This comment wasn't meant to be derogatory. Remember, these folks liked the exhibit! Clearly, though, there was an assumption that it doesn't require much to make a good photograph.

Many probably share this view. After all, thanks to smartphones, cameras are ubiquitous. Snap, snap. One wonders how many millions of snapshots are taken every day. 

Those who are serious about photography know there's a lot more to the process than simply showing up and releasing the shutter.

Preliminary planning is often involved. Then you must get to and from the location, which isn't always simple (there might be a long flight, a long drive, a challenging hike before dawn - or maybe it's all three). Once on site, time is spent scouting. You find an interesting subject and compose the shot. Yay! Not so fast, though - the conditions could force you to wait. And after all of that time and effort, it's still possible to walk away empty-handed. 

While making a photo isn't always this complex, it's safe to assume there's more to it than a casual click.   

That said, there are times when - out of the blue - everything just falls into place. Something great happens: the conditions are unexpectedly amazing - or maybe you spot a phenomenal subject only a few yards from where you've parked the car. Making the photograph is surprisingly uncomplicated. Whatever the scenario might be, you get the shot and feel like you should pinch yourself. Did that just happen? 

When the stars align and you're able to create a good photo without sacrificing a massive amount of blood, sweat and tears, you might wonder if it was too easy.

Is a photograph that was captured with relative ease somehow substandard? Absolutely not. If it's a good image, it's a good image.   

Consider the occasional gift of an "easy" photograph a little reward for all the time you've spent slogging out there in the field on challenging shoots. Appreciate your good fortune!

“It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get.”
Timothy Allen

About the Photo

This is the Pemigewasset River near Lincoln, New Hampshire in the White Mountains - and it's an example of an "easy" shoot. This location wasn't on my radar. Actually, I make a point of avoiding it. Never before (or since) have I stopped there during foliage season. Adjacent to the river is a very popular trailhead into the Lincoln Woods along the also very popular Kancamagus Highway. 

On this drizzly early Saturday morning with the color nearing its peak, I'd decided to take the Kanc up to Bear Notch. The conditions were superb: precipitation enhanced the vibrance of the foliage and the rain kept the tourists inside. It couldn't have been better. As I drove over the river, I glanced in the direction of this footbridge and saw beautiful mist hovering over the water, with a very low ceiling and fog overhead. Pulling into the large parking area, I was stunned to find - nothing. There wasn't a single vehicle; the place was deserted. If you've never been in the White Mountains for peak autumn color let me assure you this is very unusual. Unheard of, actually.

Grabbing rain gear for both the camera and myself, I walked back to the overpass and set up on the side of the road. I don't think I worked for more than 30 minutes. In that time, nobody came by.

Whenever I look at this image, I recall the unusual circumstances that morning at the Pemi. It doesn't have to be difficult every time!


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