Adam Stevens Photography

March 29, 2010

Missed it…

Filed under: For Photograpers, Personal — photobby @ 9:54 pm

Missed it…

I missed capturing a great photo a few days ago. Actually it’s pretty typical for me. Really. It seems like I always spot great moments when my camera is either still in it’s bag, at home, or I am zipping along some local road at about 60. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy and am more visually wired. Or because I’m a photographer. Or because I love watching people interact. It kills me too, because I am always looking for the decisive moment… This time, because light was perfect!

Really most of the time when I miss a photo, it’s landscape. I have loads of respect for people like John Cornforth, Lee Mann, Art Wolf, Galen Rowell, Paul Saunders and Ansel Adams. They truly are a different breed. I often see my “missed shots” as I am zipping off to somewhere else at some early hour. These guys would have been up at least two hour before, on site, set up with their tripods and filters all ready to go. And if they know that there is the chance for a moment where the light makes it just perfect, they will come back day after day for weeks until they are there for “the moment”. And they will plan! Plan like you had no idea people would plan for a 1/20th of a second at f11. One of the best examples of this is the famous shot by Galen Rowell of Horsetail Falls at Yosemite lit by the setting sun (Click on this link, then click on page 2 then on “Last Light on Horsetail Fall”). It looks like they are on fire! (For the lazy: My understanding is this only happens for a few days in February, when the water is flowing (normally it’s frozen solid), during like a 20min window of time, very late in the day.)   It’s not that I don’t plan ahead, it’s just these folks really plan.  Landscape photographers truly are just a different breed.

This time, light light was perfect. The scene- Twisty two lane road, early morning (very soft light), light mist or fog. Lots of old maples covered in moss. No leaves out yet so they look like contorted wire sculptures. As I came around a corner there was one large tree in particular, the patriarch of the forest, just off the road and the sun had just burned through the cloud cover in the valley to back light it very gently. The sunlight that was getting past the tree was lighting the fog with shafts of light, and there was enough light bouncing around that I knew that it would all have been capture-able on a single frame (usually strong back light ends up blowing out to white, or being a silhouette).

I kept driving. I have tried in the past when I see this kind of thing, to pull over, grab my camera and “catch” it. It’s almost impossible. I got lucky a year or so ago (see post here) but that was because of
flooding, bad traffic and the fact that I knew it would be the same all week. Usually when I try to stop for a quick grab, it’s a dud. And somehow it’s easier or better for me to have it perfect in my memory, than frustratingly not quite right on the computer….



  1. Jodi and I both watch for these magic scenes, and I try not to crash figuring out how to stop, park, get out, and get a shot. Most of the time we fail. No place to pull over, too much traffic, no time, etc. Sometimes the magic is so fleeting that it is gone in seconds. Sometimes it is too much for the camera, sometimes the magic just has to live in memory. Although, I sure would like a chance to snap a shot.

    Comment by Tim — April 6, 2010 @ 6:32 am

    • Thanks Tim! Yea about the only time I ever get to grab a roadside landscape is when Jossi’s driving!

      Comment by photobby — April 6, 2010 @ 8:28 am

  2. I feel like this happens to me all the time. And, believe it or not, I won’t usually because I don’t want people to think I’m some dorky photographer. I have stopped every-now-and-then but, like you, most of the time the pictures don’t turn out like I thought they would. But I remember reading something from DuChemin (which is how I found your site) about using those moments to make photographs in your mind so you’re ready the next time with your camera. Don’t think of them as losses but as times that inspire your creativity.

    Comment by Tyler Wainright — April 19, 2010 @ 12:57 pm

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