Some images are the product of elaborate plans, others are fortuitous convergences of location and time. I can't believe there was ever a time when I didn't know the position and phase of the moon on a photo trip, but this one from a few years ago caught me by surprise. As a direct result of this sunrise-moonrise experience I started tracking of the moon's status and incorporating it into most of my workshops and personal photo trips.
My brother and I had ventured to Mono Lake in early October to photograph the fall color in the Eastern Sierra. Rising early enough to be in place for our sunrise destination, we exited our room and were (pleasantly) startled by this graceful crescent dangling above Mono Lake. With little time to spare we darted across the highway and set up hour tripods on the shoulder. I don't think I took more than six frames of this scene before we hopped in the car and motored off to our planned destination. I'm afraid we were so concerned about making our sunrise location on time that we failed to appreciate the opportunity right before my eyes.
Of course now I have irrefutable evidence (the images captured that morning) that we left the real show behind. Our planned sunrise shoot turned out to be a disappointment, and as I reviewed my images from that morning it was quite clear that we'd made a mistake by giving up on the moonrise so quickly.
Fortunately I did capture this one frame; it has turned out to be one of my personal favorites. Though I have no memory of my decision process that morning, I know things happened so quickly that I sometimes wonder if for this composition I unconsciously relied on my intuition rather than the photography "truths" (such as "use the rule of thirds" and "don't center subjects") that sometimes constrain me when I'm too deliberate. (The reality is, intuition almost always trumps rules.)
It's experiences like this morning at Mono Lake that remind me not to become so focused on my own agenda that I fail to recognize the serendipitous gifts Mother Nature frequently delivers. I'm convinced that the opportunities are everywhere, all the time. Sometimes they're obvious like this, other times they're far more subtle, limited only by my ability to see them.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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