I was on my way to a special river access in Maine for mist rising off the river one Autumn, and, running a little late, rushed past this pond along the way. Nothing was happening at that moment, except mist rising off it – no color. By the time I got to the river, and saw that there wasn’t enough mist on it, I had so little time to race back to work this pond! I parked the car and ran down to the edge, cameras flapping along my side, tripod dangling from one hand…you get the picture, and it was a messy view of a pro! But things happen like that at times, when the conditions don’t give you enough at your planned destination, but you realize ”wait! I just drove past my picture” – and have to race to get in to position. So there I was, with dawn’s color burning into the canvas above the hill, reflecting off the still waters with mist rising. The picture below was the first one I made, working to capture some of the magic, but as pretty as it was, I wasn’t satisfied with the ‘flatness’ of the depth in it. So I quickly looked around for something to put in my foreground, to give the viewer some way to enter into that lovely scene and create some visual depth. I found this rock, just off shore, with the grasses lining the edge of the pond. It was a better picture. I had to work quickly to capture dawn’s colors, at this point, and it was all over too quickly that morning, but I was happy. I had found two different approaches to interpret a beautiful scene.
When you’re out there, you want to ask yourself questions to find the most creative viewpoint of your scene. It helps to make different compositions, to work the scene, – only practicable when you’re not racing against the dawn light! But the more you practice this approach, the more prepared you are with ideas when time’s critical. This is the kind of thing that I’ll be teaching in my Iceland workshop, in July 2011, when we’re working with large, dramatic landscapes with changing light.