“The Best Laid Plans” – Will Give You the Best Chance at Capturing That Special Moment
In 2013 I took part in a mentorship Entitled Storytelling Landscape Photography and this was one of the photographs that resulted from one of the final weeks of that experience. The full experience is below, as I really want to remember all of the wonderful things I learned, but feel free to just enjoy the image for its own sake!
Original Post: July 25, 2013
I am now deep into the Storytelling Landscape Photography mentorship.
One of the things that I have learned in week #8 of this wonderful program is how to give myself the best chance possible of getting exactly the scene I have in mind. For example, I started planning (believe it or not) a month ago, on June 22nd to get this. We had no super moon that night in June as it was raining with low cloud. So I used a special app I have (Sun Surveyor) to determine when the next one would be and found it was to be on July 23rd.
Before the day I gave careful thought as to the type of scene I wanted to record as a setting for this moon and to what would be the story of my image. I had to check the time of the moon rise, of course and I used the same app to tell me what time and direction the sun would be setting.I knew from what I learned that if conditions were right, there was a chance that the sky might be tinged with pink from the sun which was about to set behind me. I needed to know if the tide would be high, low or exactly at what point it would be at that time of that day (Tides and Currents app) to plan for the foreground elements. I also needed to know what exact spot the moon would be rising at. I used the app in conjunction with Google maps to plot the course of the sun and moon and I used the weather apps to determine, as the day got nearer, what kind of a night it was likely to be.
On the day before this, we did a ‘dummy run’ and I scratched my first choice of location off the list, as the foreground was likely to be filled with cars and the middle ground to look rather dull. We drove further up the coast using the apps and map and found what we knew would be the perfect location for what I had decided I wanted to feature – rock formations of the NS coast, sand and sea – and of course the super moon! I took a few hand held photos to get the feel of the place. We needed to ask the permission of the landowner of the cliffs we were to walk along, which we got.. and all was in place.
As we were eating supper, the sky clouded over. The weather app said ‘clear’. I trusted the app. We set off. Properly attired (covered head to toe against the mosquitoes) we parked the car and pointed the app (camera mode) at the horizon, plotting the exact point in the scene where the moon would rise. We walked along the cliffs on to the spot where it would all unfold in front of us, chose the position of the supporting elements and …. waited for that moment.
We watched the sun behind us go behind the hills (as predicted) the clouds before us become tinged with pink (check) and at the precise moment (8:34) when the moon was to rise….. It didn’t! Well, it did, of course, because such things are set in stone and can be utterly relied upon. But the mist above the water obscured it for several moments, which was a little frustrating. However before long it did appear in exactly the predicted spot and we started to photograph.
Does this all sound rather clinical? Well don’t let it spoil the feeling you get from the image, but use that litany of preparation above to help you appreciate all the more the wonderful successful images that you see on G+ and know that most of them were not captured by serendipity. They involve careful and painstaking preparation in order to avoid as much of the frustration as possible. Yes, things can always be different from what you had planned. If the night had been overcast we might have simply not got the photographs. And had to try again. But we had a plan and knew what we wanted. And that was the best place to start!
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