I drive past a railroad yard Monday through Friday on my way to and from work. As I pass by in the morning, the bright, greens and reds of the shipping containers stacked in the train yard catch my eye. So pretty.
On the other side of the road are the Malt-One Grain Elevators, towers of concrete, flagged by a shiny, corrugated-steel grain bin. One morning, the sun was rising behind the elevators and a group of geese were flying towards them. The silhouettes of the geese’s flight heading into the “Malt-One” lettering on the stacks were greeted by me with an “Oooohhh…” and a sigh.
If only I had my camera! If only there was a place to pull over! If only there would be a repeat performance! But, of course, there never has been.
When I decided I wanted to come to the site on a weekend to take photos, there were decisions to be made. Where could I park and where could I stand to get the angle and view I wanted? It needed to be high enough to overcome the fences and other obstructions blocking what I wanted to shoot.
And which time of day was best? The day I saw the geese, the sunrise created a nice effect, but usually it just washes everything out. Perhaps it would work if I got there just as the sun was just starting to rise, but I’d never seen that lighting so I wasn’t sure. Sunset? I’d never seen that lighting effect either. An overcast day would be best, but the weather wasn’t cooperating.
So much goes into trying to get things just right for a photo that you’ve imagined a million times in your head. Since I lack real photographic know-how, it’s rare to non-existent that I’m able to create what I see with my mind’s eye, and I’m usually disappointed with my results.
These imaginings, expectations, and disappointment don’t just apply to photography. Don’t we have similar experiences with all sorts of things? Don’t we imagine how it will be when we move into a new home, change jobs, or start a new adventure called “retirement”? Is it ever just like we imagined it? Do we end up disappointed? Or surprised and happy about having something different than what we imagined?
I’m getting better at doing the latter. A gentle prod of a reminder when disappointment threatens to spoil my day that I need to change my point of view. To climb up where the fences don’t block my sight or if that’s not possible, to carefully fit my lens through one of the fence slots. Perhaps the fence itself ads an interesting effect. Hmmm…
Yes, an amused curious approach to these challenges is best. Check the view from all angles — look down, look up, turn to the left or right a bit, adjust the camera settings — then take your best shot.
(You can see more views of my photo field trip on my blog post today)