Years of leading photo workshops and reviewing the work of others (during workshops and online) has convinced me that to have consistently drop-dead great images, you need to decide whether you're a tourist or a photographer. I say that completely without judgement--there are times when I opt for tourist mode myself (on a recent trip to Mexico I didn't even take my camera).
I see many well composed images taken at the wrong times--harsh shadows, cloudless skies, and poorly located light are all signs that the photographer was sightseeing with his or her camera. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as long as your priority is simply to record the scene, and you won't later lament the quality of your captures (and of course, there are those lucky moments when location and conditions converge). On the other hand, many family vacations and intimate getaways have been ruined by the photographer who thinks there's time to sneak away before breakfast, or wait "just a little longer" after sunset.
When I'm a tourist, my goal is to relax and and enjoy the sights--I leave my camera home and simply take in nature's splendor. My sleep and rise times are based on my comfort and enjoyment, and my trips are timed to coincide with the most pleasant weather for being outside. This approach keeps my body and mind fresh, and gives me a perspective that I think ultimately benefits my photography (try it sometime).
But when I'm a photographer, my decisions put me outside when the conditions are most conducive to the images I want without concern for comfort or convenience: Sunrise, sunset, overcast skies, wild weather, and after dark are all great times for photography, but not necessarily the most comfortable times to be in the elements.
For today's image I pretty much hung out in miserable snow and wind waiting for the storm to break. On this stormy evening I chose the bridge just east of El Capitan Meadow. Though there were no guarantees, I knew if I went inside to warm up, I'd be out of position if something special happened. Shortly before sunset the snow stopped and soon thereafter I was treated to about 20 minutes of beautiful warm light dancing with the thinning clouds that swirled atop El Capitan. Of course there are many times when nothing happens and all I get is soggy clothes and frigid limbs for my trouble, but those times only make the successes like this that much more special.
Next post: September 5 (please view my previous posts by clicking the arrow in the upper left of today's image)
* Website: Eloquent Images
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