of Luck and Preparation

Writer and motivational speaker Brian Tracy tells us that “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.  Perfect performance comes from painstaking preparation, often for weeks, months and years in advance.”

Truer words could not be spoken about the art of landscape photography. As landscape photographers, we have no control over lighting, weather or the scenic layout of our subjects. That’s where preparation becomes important. We prepare when we go out with our cameras, even though the weather doesn’t look promising, or when we would rather be sleeping in.

Following on from my last blog post, after following the Murray River to its outlet into the sea, I then followed the southern coastline in Victoria, an area known as the “Great Ocean Road" towards the city of Melbourne. Late in the evening, having just passed through the sea side town of Lorne, I was running quite low on fuel and being afraid of running out in the middle of the night, with no place open to refuel, I decided to pull over for the night.

As sunrise approached I recognized the potential for great light. It was dark when I had arrived the previous evening, leaving me unable to scout for a suitable foreground location in advance. This is where previous experience and preparation came into play; they gave me the edge in understanding the relationship between sea and land. Guided by a flashlight I found a great place to setup. This photograph is the result.

Blazing Sunrise, Great Ocean Road

In addition to helping pick the right location, preparation helped me to setup the large format camera, a bulky and exacting camera to setup even in the best of lighting conditions, well in advance of sunrise. Without an understanding of the camera, based upon years of experience, I could not have gotten the depth of field, while balancing the light and dark areas of the scene (by use of a split neutral density filter) that I desired for the final photograph.

The luck was in the sunrise itself, preparation allowed it to be captured on film in a pleasing manner.

Photo details: Sunrise, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. Toyo 45AII camera (4×5), Nikkor 90mm f8, .6 Split Neutral Density Filter, on Fuji Velvia 100.

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of Favorites

Photographers each have their favorite photograph, which isn’t surprising. Quite often these photographs haven’t received as much acclaim or success as the photographer would like. The photographer is then left wondering why. Forgotten is that often it is the story behind the photograph which makes it a favorite.

Several years ago, I made a trip to Australia, the purpose being to follow the Murray River, from Albury, New South Wales, to the point where the Murray River flows into the sea in South Australia. After arriving in Echuca, my first stop of the day, I had just enough time to check into my hotel, before I needed to scout for a location from which to photograph the sunset.

Driving along a backroad I came across a bend in the river with a small nearby dock that looked promising. I setup for the camera for the shot, and then waited for the light to get “just right” – a rich, warm tone on the surrounding trees and river – before tripping the shutter.

AU4034AA

What makes this photograph memorable, for me, is not just the photograph itself, but what happened after it was taken. The sun began setting, and a calm, quietness extended over the landscape, presenting a serene landscape. Soon afterwards, came the glorious Australian night sky, with its multitude of stars – a serene ending for such a productive day. I knew then that I had experienced a scene that would remain in my memory for some time to come.

Photo Details: Echuca, Victoria, Australia. Toyo 45AII camera (4×5), Schneider 135mm f5.6 lens, on Fuji Velvia 100, Tiffen Warm Polarizer.