I thought I would post something a little different … and perhaps surprising today. Despite having a number of fairly ”epic” photos in my queue I wanted to touch on a topic that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. All too often I find that we landscape photographers get numbed by the amazing beauty we see every day. We see so many beautiful sunrises, amazing landscapes and stunning vistas that we forget about the lesser but still beautiful scenes. In our search to find the ”perfect” scene we tune out all the other beautiful things we see. What may be a beautiful sunrise to most we consider ”boring” if there wasn’t a burn with huge textured pinks, reds, oranges, and yellows in the sky. If the fog is too high we call it ”skunked”. If the clouds only have color in one part of the sky we say that it’s dull. Sometimes we get so caught up in capturing the ”perfect” photo that we end up focusing solely on the bad parts of the image. So what if the lower right of the image is boring, as long as the remaining 3/4 of the photo is still beautiful? So what if the fog was a bit high today? And so what if the photographer super saturated the sky to make it more colorful, left the bridge colorless, or chose the wrong white balance? Perfection in landscape photography is rare — if it ever occurs. We are not studio photographers – there are forces we cannot control and we should not overly criticize photos because Mama Nature didn’t answer our phone call (but please, feel free to provide constructive criticism on my photos)!
On this particular morning there could have been a number of things ”more perfect”. The fog was higher than I would have liked. Cars only drove up to Marin Headlands; none drove down to give me beautiful red taillights in my photos. The deck of the Golden Gate Bridge wasn’t visible and the glow of the lights in the fog was minimal. San Francisco could barely be seen and a huge dark black hill sat in the middle of my photo wasting tons and tons of pixels. But there were high clouds and high hopes.
What I came home with wasn’t perfect but it *was* a great morning. I shared the beautiful sunrise with a number of photographers, several of which I call my friends even though we only hang out for an hour when we randomly show up at the same spot. I witnessed the fog roll up and down. I avoided work. I had a nice hike. I enjoyed a wonderful pink and purple sunrise. And I came home with so many photos I was excited about that I didn’t even know where to start!
At one point I looked to my right and saw the fog shrouding one of our other favorite spots to photograph the fog, Hawk Hill. The pink clouds had started streaking towards it. I temporary gave up on shooting the Golden Gate Bridge and took a couple photos of the fogged in hill. Sure, the right portion of the sky is boring and there’s a big empty spot in the lower right that has no subject, but it’s the *rest* of the photo that I wanted to show you all. And it’s the feeling that I felt while up here that I hope you get when you look at this hill, isolated in a sea of fog. And sure enough, a couple minutes later the other photographers thought I was onto something because before I knew it everyone was running with tripods to take a few snaps of their own! I know that Joe Azure, Jim Patterson, Alan Chan, Jared Ropelato, and all the other photographers who I’m forgetting all enjoyed this morning!
Nikon D800 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S:
38mm, f/5, 0.5 sec, ISO 100