That “Oh shit!” Moment

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Pismo Beach Pier

Have you ever made a plan for sunrise/sunset where you have picked your location and time and you are all set up and ready to go and you realize you are in the wrong spot?  You see the first hints of pink in the sky and its not where you thought it would be.  Then you know how that moment feels, as you rush to try and still “get the shot.”

I was reminded of this on my final morning in Zion a few weeks back.  I had planned to photograph the Towers of the Virgin and set up behind the visitors’ center.  This is an easy no brainer photograph to make.  As night started to turn to morning, I realized that I had pinned myself into one shot with no options.

East Temple and Towers of the Virgin

I quickly jumped into my trusty red Jeep.  Headed to the south campground parking lot and ran towards the Pa’rus Trail where I knew I could photograph the Towers of the Virgin or the Watchman or the Virgin River depending on where the good light was going to be.  There were some nice clouds over the Watchman, but it was also cold and very windy and the clouds were moving quickly about.  When the good light finally hit, I did not know which direction I would be shooting.

So, it turned out that I made a wise decision and caught a good composition of the Towers of the Virgin with a nice pink cloud.


This has happened to Mary and I before, most spectacularly in Big Sur.  Because Big Sur faces west, we almost never get up for sunrise.  However, one morning I really wanted to get the Point Sur Light Station bathed in early morning light.  Again, I had a plan.  We are sitting in our car facing west just watching the Light Station and we finally get out of the car to grab our tripods and the entire sky behind us is pink.  We jump back in the car and scramble speedily, but “safely” to Hurricane Point which is one of the few places you can face east and see something interesting.  We missed the height of the show, but still made a few good ones.

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Point Sur
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Hurricane Point

Another time, we were at Pismo Beach and I was photographing the moon set over the Pismo Beach Pier.  Our hotel was tall enough to block my view east.  I think I went in the lobby to use the restroom and saw out the front door that the entire sky was pink and yellow.  My big camera was not even close to me.  Thank goodness I had my point and shoot in my pocket.  Disaster averted.

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Pismo Beach Pier and Moonbow

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So the upshot is always have a plan, but also ALWAYS LOOK BEHIND YOU.  The best scene might be sneaking up on you, and you might not know it.

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