Missed and Unexpected Opportunities. Time to Look Back and Forward

July 01, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Missed and Unexpected Opportunities. Time to Look Back and Forward

This week I have missed a couple of opportunities. I have checked the weather forecast, seen that the forecast is for clear skies, and decided not to go out. Only to then discover the weather forecast got it completely wrong and there would have been some nice clouds and the potential for some interesting images.

I have also had a couple of unexpected opportunities when the weather has done something unexpected and I have managed to do something about it.

The first of these unexpected opportunities was one evening. A look out of the window showed some lovely cloud formations over the sea. The sun would be setting over the town but, because there were clear skies that way I knew that there would be a good chance of something nice happening with the colours out to sea as the clouds there reflected the sunset.

I didn’t have a lot of time before the sun went down and I quickly grabbed my gear and headed down to the beach.

I started off on one side of the breakwater that’s closest to where we live. The sea was pretty calm and the sand was nice and smooth. There were only very small waves coming in and I set up to try to capture the tones in the sky and some reflections in the water. I would have liked to capture some nice water trails on the sand but the waves were really too small for that to work so I played around with some compositions and noticed that there was a section of the beach that seemed to get some nice gentle wave patterns on it. I set up and waited and finally captured this shot which came out pretty well:

I decided, while the colour was still in the sky, to quickly move around to the other side of the breakwater. The waves were coming from this side and I was hoping that they would be enough to get those water trails.

When I got there the waves were certainly larger and they were making some splashes against the rocks but the frequency of the waves was all wrong for what I had in mind. The waves were small but coming in very quickly. This meant that, when a wave rolled up the beach, before it had a chance to recede properly and create the trails, another wave would roll in on top of it.

So, instead I decided to try a slightly longer focal length and try to capture the waves and some of the splashes on the rocks. I finally found an image that I liked:

Having missed those couple of opportunities this week I decided to take a chance on Friday morning and headed up to Busot before sunrise. The weather forecast was for little to no cloud and, if that was the case, I had a plan.

Busot is a village about 20 minutes drive away and there is a place there that offers a nice vantage point from which to view Cabezon del Oro mountain and some of the nearby hills. It also offers the rare opportunity to basically work out of the back of the car rather than lugging cameras and tripods up mountains. along hiking trails or over rocks.

I had reviewed the position of the sunrise and estimated that, although the sun itself wouldn’t appear over the hills until 20 to 25 minutes after official sunrise, the light might be able to sneak through some gaps in the hills and could create some interesting light on the main part of the mountain. I intended to shoot with a longer focal length and make it quite a wide panorama focused on the mountains and hills, with very little sky and foreground.

On the drive up it became pretty clear that the forecast was wrong. There was actually quite a lot of cloud in the sky and, especially, in the direction where the sun would be rising.

I set up and waited to see what was going to happen. Official sunrise came and there was no light on the mountain. The sky was looking really nice with some lovely colours and textures but the mountain was just a dark shape and it all looked really unappealing. I don't know if I misjudged the terrain and the light was being blocked by a hill I hadn't considered or if the light was being blocked by low cloud. Either way it wasn’t working.

I almost gave up but decided to stick it out for a while and see what happened. About 20 minutes or so after official sunrise I could see the first evidence that the sun would soon crest the hill that was currently blocking it, and the cloud there was looking thin enough for the light to be able to break through. I decided to drop the idea of a panorama and go for a wide view that would make more of a feature of the sky. This would give me some challenges as the foreground is not that great but I was hoping to get some nice light on the middle ground and on the mountain once the sun cleared the hill enough. I composed with the idea of cropping the image to a 16:9 ratio later.

The colour was fading from the sky and I wasn’t sure if the scene would lose it’s appeal by the time the sun got high enough to put some light on the mountains and mid ground. 

Finally, about 25 minutes after official sunrise there was a blaze of light from the top of one of the nearby hills. light rays picked out against the clouds and light fell across the mountains, on the tops of some nearby trees and on an area in the mid ground. A slight adjustment to the composition and I got the shot. The sky had lost some of it’s colour but it was still looking pretty good. A few seconds later and it was all over. The mid ground and the mountain were too uniformly lit to be of much interest and the colour disappeared from the sky. It all came down to those few seconds. In the end the 16:9 crop wasn’t quite enough and I ended up going to 2:1 which I think works better:

During the course of this week I have been thinking about my photography, considering how it has developed and where I want to take it to in the future.

What’s triggered this you may ask?

Of course the feeling this week that I have missed some opportunities may have something to do with it.

Also, I suppose a birthday coming up in a couple of  weeks might have something to do with it. It does seem that marking off another year can start me thinking about these things.

It could also be that it’s a bit over two years since we moved out to Spain and I put myself in the happy position of being able to commit as much time as I wanted to photography.

So, I guess, the question I’m asking myself is… Am I really making the most of the opportunity?

I have spent some time this week looking back over the last two years worth of images, and there are a lot of them.

Not all of them are landscapes of course. There are images from events that take place around here, like the Hogueras that I posted last week

or like the parades that I posted a few weeks ago

and I sometimes do street scenes and architecture 

and, of course, the occasional wildlife shot

However, landscapes is what I really feel I want to do and there are a lot of landscape images in my portfolio from the last two years.

Some of those images are really good (in my opinion)….. And that’s kind of them problem.

You see, while I have a lot of ‘good’ images, that’s not really what I’m aiming for. I’m aiming for GREAT images.

Just to be clear when I say good or great this is my own opinion of the images based on my taste and my aspirations of what I would like to be producing.

Now, don't get me wrong. There is a place for the ‘good’ images. They often prove popular on products that I sell via Redbubble, and there a lot of people that seem to like them. In fact there are some people who will prefer these images to the ones that I aspire to take. beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.

For example, here is an image that I took a few weeks ago. It’s a good image and it’s had very positive feedback from a lot of people:

The problem is that, if I already have some ‘good’ images in the bag in any given week then I am much less likely to get out there and seek the really GREAT images. 

What do I mean by a GREAT image?

Let’s take this one. I think it is one of the best images I have taken in a long time. I was lucky with the conditions but I put in the work to scout the location, to check the weather forecast and sun direction, To get up early and arrive there well before sunrise:

Or this one

 

So, what I want to do is take more images like this, and that means putting the work in, maybe not getting any images some weeks and having to go back and try again on multiple occasions. It means not taking so much notice of the weather forecast and just taking the chance.

I have no excuse. I have the time to do it. I believe I have the capability to do it, it’s just that sometimes I settle for the fact that I’ve already managed to get some ‘good’ images. The daft thing is I actually enjoy getting out there. I love being out at sunrise and sunset, seeing views that most people don’t get to. It’s just that sometimes, when I think about getting up early, or staying out late,  it’s easier to stay at home and be happy with the ‘good’ shots.

So what does all of this mean?

To be honest I’m still working that out. It will certainly mean some more early mornings and later evenings ‘in the field’ working to get GREAT images.

Will it mean that I stop producing the ‘good’ images? Probably not. I may do less of them but I think there is always going to be a place for them but I think I will treat them separately to the GREAT images.

The chances are that there will be some changes to my website. I may choose to reduce the number of images that I display here (although they all will still be available to view, and of course buy, on Redbubble).

There may be some changes to the blog, perhaps the frequency will change, I don't know yet.

Whatever happens I’m committing to myself to make the very most of the opportunity that I have to devote time to a hobby I have become ever more passionate about.

I may have more thoughts in the next post so, until then, have a great week.
 


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