Giveaway Alert: Read on for your chance to win a personalized e-Book of one of my books—you pick the book!
We all know that every picture tells a story. But sometimes, there’s a story behind the story. That’s certainly true in this image—a lot of mine, actually. And while good photographers know that patience is part of the game, this one tested the limits of mine.
I was driving somewhere near Toronto (for the life of me, I can’t remember where), when I spotted a pond and a waterfall from the road. I was going pretty fast, but I hit the brakes and pulled over. I doubled back as quickly as I could and discovered that the pond was in a cemetery.
Honestly, when I got out and walked up to the pond for a closer look, I was rather disappointed. The light wasn’t great, and the random gusts of wind weren’t helping. Not a good start.
When you look at this image, it looks as if the waterfalls are mere inches behind the wooden bridge in front of it. Nothing could be further from the truth. The pond was quite large, with the waterfalls on the opposite side—I’m guessing 40 to 50 feet away from where I was standing. And the bridge was probably 10 to 15 feet in front of the waterfalls as well. From my vantage point, the scene was rather bland. If I’d just snapped a picture of the scene, it would have looked like, well, a snapshot. A real snoozer.
As I waited for the light to change, the wind to settle, I got busy trying to envision what I wanted. Since the scene wasn’t what I had initially seen from the highway, I had to get creative. I wanted that bridge and that pond close together, and the only way to do that was to use a telephoto lens. Zooming in on the bridge, the telephoto brought the two elements—the bridge and background waterfalls—together, as if they really were. Now all I had to do was wait.
And wait I did. The wind kept gusting. The trees and bushes surrounding the waterfalls kept blowing all willy nilly. The problem was, this image wasn’t a shot I could take with a fast shutter speed. I needed to blur the falls to get that “silky water” effect, and that takes time. In this case, given the bright light of the sky, that meant a thirty-second exposure. Problem: While the water would have come out great, the damn wind would have made those trees and bushes nothing but a distracting green blur. Yuck.
So I waited. And waited. And waited.
For over an hour.
I literally stood in place, unmoving, a cable release in my hand, waiting to open the shutter. But the wind, while finally subsiding, kept gusting here and there. Just enough to make those bushes flutter ever so slightly. I needed them to stay put for at least half a minute. Even a half-second would blur some of the leaves, ruining the shot. The only blur I wanted was the water—any other blur would be distracting to the eye.
So I waited. And waited. And waited.
And then a voice from behind scared the shit out of me.
An elderly woman called out, “What’s the matter with you?”
I turned around, startled. I didn’t know what to say or do. I just stood there, stiff as a board. I’m sure I had this strange look on my face. Probably a little Norman Bates in the eyes.
Finally, I could feel my brain engaging—it had been falling asleep while I stood motionless for so long—and my lips began to move. “Suh, suh … sorry?”
“What’s wrong with you?” she said again. “You’ve been standing there for an hour! You haven’t even moved!” She had the demeanor of someone fearful she was talking to a total nutjob. I couldn’t blame her. Who stands like a statue for that long, waiting to take a bloody photograph? Oh, right. A total nutjob.
“I’m, uh … taking a picture,” I mumbled. Maybe I asked for a slice of pizza. Who knows.
The woman looked at me. "Well, take it!"
I tried to explain why I was doing what I was doing, babbling like said nutjob. When I was finished explaining how I was waiting for the wind to settle and the need for a long exposure using neutral density filters, she just shook her head and left. Before I started going on about how I see ghosts, or something.
So I waited. And waited. And waited—
Finally, the wind settled. I opened the shutter. Waited, waited, waited, for the shutter to close. I squinted the whole time, staring at the bushes and the trees to see if they moved a hair. Twenty, nineteen, eighteen … five, four, three … crap.
It took about ten tries at this. The wind just wouldn’t cooperate for the time I needed.
And then it did.
The lesson? Patience is a virtue … and it’s okay to be a total nutjob.
How to enter the giveaway:
1. Read the post above.
2. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Patience as the subject line.
3. In your email, answer the following question:
What's the lesson to be learned here?
Entry deadline: Friday, April 10, 2020, 6:00 pm EST
I'll announce the winner on (or around) Saturday, April 11, 2020. A big thanks goes out to all entrants, and good luck!
Stuff I need to clarify: (you know, that legal crap)
* Only one e-Book will be given away to one winner. The winner will choose one of my books.
* Only correct answers are eligible to win.
* Only one entry per email address of each entrant is allowed. Duplicate email addresses will be disqualified.
* Only one winner from eligible entrants will be selected as the prize winner in a random drawing.
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