This past weekend has been glorious, here, in the San Francisco Bay area! We’ve had quite a bit of rain in California this winter, which is excellent news. We are now drought-free and that’s fantastic! All of the rain has brought back the stunning emerald green hills and super blooms up and down the state. Everywhere you look you see poppies and mustard blossoms and lupine and every wildflower you can imagine. It is truly heaven on earth. By far, the season of spring is my favorite time of year to photograph California. The wonderful comic, Robin Williams, once said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘let’s party!'” and that is incredibly true in this beautiful state.
By the end of the week, the rain finally let up enough for the clouds to open up and give way to that beautiful azure blue sky that we all love and adore. As soon as I saw the big, white, puffy clouds amidst a backdrop of that glorious blue sky, I knew I had to get in my SUV and hit the road with gear in tow! The town I live in has so many interesting roads to venture on giving one amazing scenery along the way. Over the past 17 years, I’ve driven all of them, more than once, and have found my secret little ‘niches’ or ‘spots’ that I know photograph beautifully, depending on weather, of course. A couple of days ago, I experienced exactly that – one of my secret places with perfect weather conditions. I drove slowly down this very rural road surrounded by the most beautiful green hills on either side of me with cows grazing peacefully and flocked starlings flying in unison against that azure sky with clouds – heaven! How anyone could NOT be inspired to be a photographer after witnessing such landscape perfection is beyond me.
As I slowly made my way down this road, a small body of water caught my eye immediately. I saw the reflection of that amazing sky in the water, setting up a perfect vista of repetitive beauty; green, blue, white, green, blue, white…aaahhh! It just doesn’t get any better than this! Sadly, I wasn’t able to pull over because there were drop-off’s on either side of this one lane road, with no place to park. I would have to keep driving a good 50 yards or more before I could park and that would mean taking a chance that the cloud formation I was currently seeing in the sky could change and that scene would lose that perfection. Nope. No good. I would have to park right in the middle of the road, right where I was. Since this was a rural road with very little, if any traffic, I decided to go for it! I couldn’t let that scene past me by! I figured I’d keep an eye out for oncoming vehicles and quickly jump back into my car and drive that 50 yards, but, hopefully, I wouldn’t have to do that. Fingers crossed!
I put my SUV in Park in the middle of the road, grabbed my gear, and left the vehicle, approaching the side of the road in front of that body of water with that glorious reflection. Everything was perfect! Everything was coming together – sort of. As soon as I got into position and looked through my viewfinder, I saw it. I lost my reflection! I was too short to capture that stunning scene in the water! But, how come I saw it behind the wheel of my SUV? Because I was given a little extra HEIGHT in the SUV! Being short in photography is great for macro work, and awful for landscapes. What to do? What to do? Sadly, I didn’t have a step ladder or stool with me ( I have used one in the past to great success!). Let this be a lesson to ME in the future – always carry your step stool with you, Kerry! Sheesh! If only I had that step stool! This would have been totally perfect!! Oh, I was just getting sick over this as I stood there. I had to think quickly because my sky was moving, as it was a windy day. Often, in times of photography trouble, I will ask myself the question, “What would Ansel (Adams) do?” And, I had this immediate flashback to a picture I’ve seen many times over the years of the famous landscape photographer, Ansel Adams, standing on his Woodie with his large format camera and tripod. He would use his vehicle for that extra height! Of course! So brilliant!
Oh! How I wish I had his Woodie right about now! And, as much as I thought about climbing on top of my SUV, I knew that would be a bad idea because I would have nothing to stabilize me once I was up there and I might just dent the front hood climbing up – nope, not a good idea. Well, there was only one other thing I could do, and so I did it. I handheld my camera, turned my rear screen down on my Sony so I could see what I was pointing my lens at, and held my camera high above my head, held my breath and took the shot. I prayed it would be sharp with good composition. I did this just a couple of times and I liked what I saw on the camera! I was able to capture that gorgeous reflection now, with my added height of holding my camera high above my head. It was only about a foot and a half extra height, but it was all I needed! It wouldn’t be until I got back to my studio and brought the raw images into my Lightroom software to see that my idea worked very well, indeed. What do you think?
What extra lengths have you gone to in your own photography to get that special shot? And, did it work? I’d love to hear about YOUR creative choices in your photos! Please comment underneath this post and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. Just scroll all the way down and you will see a place to type in your email to subscribe. Thanks, friends and wishing you creative fun in your shooting – always!