We’ve all done it, set out for the perfect photo, get to the perfect spot, get the light we wanted, make some great images and then head home to process. It is there where we usually see what we did wrong or what we would do differently if given another chance with everything just right. This is sometimes painful but if we use it as a tool for growth, chances are the next photo will be better.
I set out to shoot the photo above on an early Spring morning knowing there would be little wind but some moody clouds left over from the weather system that had worked it’s way through the previous day. I wanted to get there at first light and get the colors from a post storm sunrise reflecting on the smooth surface of the lake. I also know I wanted to incorporate the pier on the left as something to anchor the middle of photo where I felt the interest was. When I arrived, there was man fishing on that pier wearing a red jacket, how lucky could I be.
“…I was kicking myself for not shooting what was in front of me just a few minutes before.”
The light wasn’t up yet however so I took my time setting up my tripod, changing lenses and tending to my coffee while waiting for the light to be just right. I watched as the fisherman reeled in his empty line and then proceeded to pack his gear and leave the pier. Five minutes later the light was great but I was kicking myself for not shooting what was in front of me just a few minutes before. The resulting photo is just so so in my opinion. Having a silent figure fishing from the pier in a red jacket would have made this photo something with far more interest.
When I arrived at the lake I was gifted with a near perfect setting, calm water, moody sky, fisherman on a pier in a contrasting colored jacket no less. I waited however for a perfect setting where the light was exactly what I wanted instead of shooting what was there when I arrived.
“…there’s no penalty for shooting a few extra photos…”
Sometimes when we wait for things to be just right in a composition, the things that are already good change before the things that are not so good. I remind myself of this when I’m waiting on a scene and then I snap a few photos just in case things get less appealing instead of more appealing. In the age of digital photography, there’s no penalty for shooting a few extra photos (unless of course you’re nursing the last few milliamps from your only battery) so shoot that scene as it is and have something for effort. If you’re lucky, the photographic gods will smile on you and bring you that perfect element afterwards. If not, you can rest in the knowledge that you didn’t miss your opportunity.