I blame Netflix. My attention was so focused on the latest developments of one of my favourite character’s life that it was only at the end of the episode that the red blaze of bright ruby sun rays lighting up the hills and cloud underbellies just outside my window became jaw-dropping-ly obvious.
Springing from the settee like a starving ocelot pouncing on the first juicy prey in weeks produced two things:
It took me no more than 15 seconds from sitting to shooting (via sprinting up dangerous metal stairs, switching on the Sony, removing the Otus 85’s front lid and framing. Battery full, card empty, so atypical of happy-go-lucky me). Still too late.
This shabby rendering of one of the most spectacular sunsets I have seen, in fifteen of looking through those window at those hills, may evoke The remains of the day, but certainly not the startling King Crimson Epitath visible just three warbler trills earlier. Bugger.
Which brings three thoughts to mind.
First among which is deep respect for those who do manage to be there when things get spectacular. Highest on my list is Galen Rowell. The Marathonian slash visionary artist slash master of the craft wrote an interesting article on a similar topic: Expect the unexpected. Before his death in a small plane accident, he would spare no effort to get the shot he had imagined. Among the most iconic of those is his portrayal of the Potala Palace, for which he sprinted a mile at an altitude of 13 000 feet. Galen cites this proverb from the Old Testament, which is central to my personal and professional life : “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. He and others have the ability and will power to apply this to their photography. Kudos.
Secondly, grab things while you can.
This poppy field was taken in the afternoon, with the sun setting behind my back. In the morning, backlit, it was a riot of colour and contrast that this completely fails to convey. I drove pas it in the morning and could have chosen to go back home and pick up the camera for a quick shoot but didn’t return until the evening. No cigar and not even close. The next day, all had been mown down.
This photo by Philippe shows the exact opposite. It depicts street art painted on paper. A few days later the paper had been torn off and the art was partly gone. Another good reason not to hesitate to photograph someone else’s art, particularly ephemeral art.
Thirdly, make the most of your immediate environment.
The local guy always wins. That’s what this blog is about. Travel photography puts you at an unfair advantage. You deal with available light, available sight, available time. Visiting a location alone with the sole purpose of returning to a set of pre-scouted locations again and again isn’t travel photography. It’s a photographic trip. Travel photography is about visiting places and documenting what you encounter. This blog tries to awaken creativity and share tools and techniques for doing a good job of that challenge.
But the local guy always wins. Being local means you get to view a scene hundreds of times, under different lights, different cloud formations, different seasons. It’s your opportunity (and your duty 😉 ) to create photographs of these events in a way that not available to others (except for the occasional fluke).
Our world changes faster than we think. I’ve been putting off a photo tour of the 16 old fountains of my village. Never enough time. Last week, one got taken down. I’ll never complete that project. So, don’t be like me 😉 Carpe photo, or you’ll regret it ! Right ?
What stuff have you photograph that’s no longer there to be seen, or failed to photograph in time ?
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