Do the quality of your photographs depend upon chance and luck or are you choosing to be in the right place at the right time? Yosemite is one of my favorite places to photograph. I am there usually 3 or 4 times a year. One of my favorite views is when there is fresh snow fallen down in the valley. So each winter I watch the weather and when a snow storm comes in and if my schedule is free, I am on the road heading to Yosemite!
It seems that often as beginning photographers, we are just so in love with our cameras that it doesn’t really matter when or where we shoot. The joy of capturing an image, any image is fulfilling. It’s a love I hope that none of us ever lose. But as we grow, there comes that point where we start to desire greater quality in our images. So we start to pick specific locations where we have seen beautiful photographs taken and head there to try our hand at capturing similar photographs.
As fun and as joy filled as those times are, there then comes that day when we realize that our photographs still seem to fall short except for the occasional shot that stands out. Hopefully at that point we realize that those fantastic photographs that we have seen from the likes of Galen Rowell or Ansel Adams are the result of being in the right place at the right time.
Those consistent great photographs come from learning whether a location is best shot at a certain time of day, a certain time of the year and with a certain type of weather. All 3 of those components come into play. As artists, we get to the point with our art that we learn whether a location is best photographed at sunrise, sunset, midday or some other time. Then we decide what’s the best season? Is this a Fall color shot? Perhaps a winter scene with fresh snow? Is it a spring time shot with flowers blooming? In the case of Yosemite, many of the locations are spectacular in all of the above seasons, but often with other locations that may not be the case.
Now when you have pin pointed the best season and best time of day for a photograph that you want, are you willing to be patient to wait for the right kind of weather? Sometimes our schedules limit us in this decision, but if you are able to at least get there in the right season, that is a big help. If you have the flexibility to wait for clouds, or to wait for a snow storm, that’s a huge bonus.
The photographers that consistently get the best photographs, are doing it because they research. They study, they observe, they ask questions, make phone calls, etc… All of this information is then used to determine when they go to a location to shoot. As you look to improve your photographs, I hope you don’t depend on circumstance, but decide for yourself when the best time to shoot is.