Recently there was a thread about where to get inspiration which reminded me of a couple of situations that occurred out shooting. Because landscapes are challenging for me and due to limited time on site, when we travel I typically research the iconic locations in the area we'll be visiting and work them into our plan. Essentially I plan to go out and shoot scenes I've seen in books, calendars, etc. I'm not proud of it but those are the unvarnished facts. Interestingly, however, the most successful landscapes that I've produced over the years (heavens knows there have been few enough) have resulted when the plans break down and I'm forced to.... well to get creative
This first example occurred during a trip to Acadia NP in Maine. We showed up at Bass Harbor Light an hour or so before sunset on a very promising evening. Much to my disappointment there were literally photogs lined up shoulder to shoulder from the woods down to the waters' edge. Everyone was set up ready to shoot the sun setting behind the lighthouse with what was shaping up to be a flaming sky. Somewhat disheartened, I decided to try some long exposures where the waves broke on the rocks, something I had always wanted to try and never had the opportunity to do. So there I was all alone, looking like an idiot set up in the opposite direction of three or four dozen people who knew what the heck they were about. The sunset turned out to be a dud and the lighthouse shot was a bust. All those folks ended up disappointed. I came away with a shot that I call "Consolation Sunset".
NIKON D300, 16-85mm DX, f/22 @ 30 mm, 30s, ND filter (3-stop I think)
Then a couple of years ago we took a trip to Yellowstone/Tetons for wildlife and fall colors. I had my list of iconic spots at the Tetons for fall color shots one of which was Schwabacher Landing. This time we did show up in time to get a prime spot for a perfect reflection of the mountains as soon as the alpenglow started. People continued to show up including a couple of workshop groups led by prominent pro photogs one of whom had the gall to ask me to move because "these people paid a lot of money to be here". I don't recall specifics but I seem to remember making some suggestions on how he and his clients could spend the morning. Even had they been inclined to follow my suggestions I donít think it would have been physically possible given the size of most of their tripods. Anyway, the sun finally approached the horizon and as it began to get light it became obvious that there was a smoke haze filling the valley and any hopes of really good alpenglow shots of the Tetons were out the window (as it turned out, the forest service was doing a controlled burn a few miles away and the entire time we were visiting the valley sky was laden with smoke haze).
We loaded up and left the landing. Between the shooting conditions and the disappointing interaction with the other photographers I was pretty bummed out. But having travelled so far I wasnít about to just pack up the gear and give up so began looking for opportunities that didnít involve long distance shooting so the haze wouldnít be an issue. A few miles from the landing we came upon some lovely stands of aspen in full fall colors. My bride made a comment about how well a pano of the scene would work for a specific spot in our house. The following image is the result. Another one born of necessity/desperation when the plan fell apart. This is one of the few images that Iíve converted with one of the photoshop ďartisticĒ filters and ironically one of my most popular with the general public (I guess there's a message there). Iíve sold several large canvas copies of this one. I've printed it as both a triptych (per below) and as a slightly different single panel pano.
I guess the moral of the story is to just open your eyes AND your mind.
NIKON D7000, 16-85mm DX, f/22 @ 85 mm, 1/25, ISO 400
Five vertical frames stitched together in PSE6, palette knife filter applied