Prepared for Luck
Spotlight on SpringAfternoon storms forming over the Teton Range create quickly changeable - and dramatic - skies. A few rays of light break through, highlighting the lush springtime foliage.
Preparation stacks the deck in your favor.
Turns out the boy scout motto applies to photographers, too: "Be Prepared!"
Improve your chances of being in the right place at the right time
If you're not already, become a student of the weather - and not just broadly. You'll also need to understand microclimates specific to various locations at which you'll be working. Pay attention to the activity of fronts. Be able to identify various types of clouds and know how to interpret them. Monitor cloud cover forecasts. Consult radar. Keep an eye on things like wind speed and the dew point.
Have situational awareness
Know your equipment
Know which camera settings to select. Understand how to deal with challenging conditions such as extreme contrast. Develop good habits (like bracketing or checking the ISO before you begin). Practice until these things are second nature.
Remove as much uncertainty as possible.
Opportunities can be missed if you're unable to get where you need to be. Don't forget the headlamp, or your microspikes, or muck boots, or snowshoes, etc.
Planning ahead also means making sure to have backup batteries and extra memory cards.
Preparation - combined with persistence - will often coax luck out of the shadows. It's not a guarantee (Mother Nature is in charge, after all) but you can dramatically improve the odds.
Curtain RisingRecipe for an idyllic scene: take some early morning lake fog, add a dash of brilliant autumn color, and finish with an iconic New England church.
About the Photographs
"Spotlight on Spring" - Grand Teton National Park
My main objective on this day was to capture what I refer to as "green season" so I was working in the north end of the park where aspens are plentiful. The storm was unexpected. I'd been watching it develop but up to that point hadn't found a photograph - until a little crack in the clouds appeared. It looked like a few rays of light might be able to break through. I had to wait and see which direction the light was going to shine before I could compose the shot but speed was the name of the game since the conditions were fleeting. The trees were lit only briefly, but it was long enough.
"Curtain Rising" - Eaton, New Hampshire
With low overnight temperatures forecast, I expected fog over the lake on this early October morning and got it in spades. More than I bargained for. Extremely dense, it lasted for hours - well past sunrise. Who knew how harsh the light would be when the scene finally became a little more clear? That's the thing about fog: it's unpredictable, and once it begins to lift it often does so very quickly. I'd planned on making a wider shot to include colorful foliage on the hillside behind the church. Given the conditions, I had to abandon that idea. The scene revealed itself in a magnificent way and made possible something much better than the photograph I originally had in mind.
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