Planning or Luck?

Ansel Adams is known for his pre-visualization approach to photography.

“The term [pre]visualization refers to the entire emotional-mental process of creating a photograph”

“It’s not what you see, it’s what you want me to see”

Ansel Adams

Having deliberate control of all parts of the photo capture and printing processes allowed him to create wonderful images. We can’t be Ansel Adams, but we can continue learning so that we gain as much control as possible in our own photography.

Embrace your craft.  Study it.  Understand it.  Practice it.  Select a subject. Compose and expose. Process and print. Use all your skills to control the light you capture. It’s a life long activity that you’ll never completely master.

But sometimes the subject and light find you. When this happens, be ready. If you are, you can use all of your acquired skills to make a photo showing what you want people to see. Ansel also said:

“Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter”

Ansel Adams

A while back over in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I saw this scene developing and really liked the way the sun was shining through the backlit clouds. I quickly searched for some foreground and found a pool of water reflecting the sky. I made a set of four frames that I could stitch into a vertical panorama.

Wetland Weather Wetland Weather

Later on the computer, I had to solve issues with stitching, exposure, and focus but luckily I knew what to try and had the tools to do so. Of course, it’s not Ansel Adams level photography – but I’m very pleased with the result.

What kind of photographer are you? Do you pre-plan / visualize all of your photos? Or do you wander around and photograph what nature presents? Which approach gives you the best results? Which gives you the most pleasure:  A carefully controlled composition that comes out exactly like your vision?  Or a serendipitous image that came out well when you tried something new?

Luck is good.  Preparation is good.  Being prepared when you get lucky is better.

“Chance favors the prepared mind.”

Louis Pasteur

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, be ready – and make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

2 thoughts on “Planning or Luck?

  1. I really enjoyed your post, Ed, and can certainly relate to it.

    As my photography has progressed (very slowly), I seem to have fallen into two methodologies. Most of my efforts are geared toward showcasing nature and the majority of my subject material is fauna and flora, primarily birds (as I initially obtained a camera to record birding activities).

    “Birding” trips typically result in snapping quick photographs of a bird suddenly appearing in an open spot or sneaking up on wading birds or attempting a flight shot of a swiftly moving raptor. The “planning” part of this type of photography is learning what settings are best for my equipment in the prevailing conditions and being able to change those settings “on the fly” without stopping to look at the camera.

    Over the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to “evolve” into a more rounded photographer and have been seeking out landscape opportunities. This is where more detailed planning pays off. Learning about the position of the sun/moon, reading tidal charts, understanding how seasons affect certain locations, seeking out new venues, mapping out how to get somewhere in time to properly set up.

    And, of course, that all-important factor which cannot be planned for – luck.

    Sorry for the long post, but you hit on a theme I’ve been thinking about lately and it is very important for anyone wishing to improve their photographic skills.

    Lower humidity and temperature this morning! Fall migration is underway! The forest, swamp and coast are filled with wonderful things to experience!

    Have a great week!

    1. What a thoughtful comment, Wally.

      I’ve come at photography from the opposite direction. My early efforts were primarily landscape (and family / travel). I became interested in birds / wildlife a while ago and now enjoy photographing them too. But my animal and nature ID skills are not well developed – especially compared with yours. Which is why I enjoy reading your blog so much. I always learn something new from you. Thank you!

      I think we’ve detected slightly lower humidity and temperatures over here too, at least in the morning. I hope the trend continues soon!

      You and Gini have a great week too.


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