Lately, because of a lack of rain recently, nearby Jordan Lake’s water level had dropped to a point lower than I had ever seen in the 7+ years in the area, and I took an opportunity to go out late one afternoon to visit this “new” landscape. It was a completely cloudless afternoon, and as the sun was approaching the horizon, I took several meaningless…very meaningless images. And I began to question why I had even gone out that afternoon with such uninspiring conditions and leaving myself almost no time to acquaint myself with the conditions before the sun went down.
It has been my experience that it seems to take quite a while to get fully immersed into a landscape, and to immediately take “portfolio worthy” images right after mounting the camera to the tripod, is the exception rather than the rule. For that to happen, the conditions usually dictate that result. That is why it is vitally important to arrive early, or pre-scout a location beforehand, to get a sense of the spot, to see how the light will lay across the scene. On long photo trips to unfamiliar places, I have often felt that it actually takes a few days to really get into the photography, to begin to “see” more possibilities. It is for that reason that, for a distant trip, two weeks seems to be the minimum necessary to allow those few days to get fully engaged, to do nothing but photography, to think of nothing but what to put in front of the lens, and have a decent amount of time during the trip to be in that frame of mind, before returning home.
Large format (8X10 film) landscape photographer, Ben Horne explains it very well on one of his many, many video/blogs that you can see here.