It’s been about 5 months since I completed my three-week trip out to California, yet I still find hidden gems that had slipped my mind since then. It was the glorious pastel sky in the fading light just after sunset that caught my eye as I drove past the huge area of a recent burn and skeleton trees. There wasn’t any place to park the car nearby, so I ended up having to hoof it quite a way, lugging my gear and trying my best to get there as quickly as possible before the light was gone for good, yet not so fast as to bring on a coronary event. At the time, there was a slight breeze causing these blackened, slender snags to sway a bit, so a rather high ISO was needed (800 instead of the usual 100) just to be sure there would be no movement, yet a small enough aperture (f/11) to assure sharpness in these foreground trees, the hillsides in the middle ground and mountain in the distance. Luckily, the 50mm that is attached to the camera when it’s in the bag was all that was needed to get the right composition, so no time was lost changing lenses. If I hadn’t boosted the ISO, the shutter speed would have been 1-second, much too slow to stop any movement and maintain the sharpness in all the branches, without which, the image just wouldn’t be useable later on. There were so many spots along the road I could have placed the tripod, but it was the singular drooping branch toward the center that stands apart from all the other branches which caused me to finally settle on this location. And I made sure that it didn’t intersect with the trunk just to its right. The tripod placement here also allowed that each tree had almost complete separation so there were no “clumps” of branches to compete with that singular drooping branch. For those of you who have followed this trip last fall, it was later on during this night that I acquired my traveling companion in the car: Micky (or Minnie) Mouse.
There are many, many times when out searching for photographs, that I am stopped dead in my tracks at seeing something extraordinary, whether a grand vista, an intimate view or a tiny bit of beauty patiently waiting to be discovered and recorded for the first time. Locations need not be exotic, far away places that are meccas for tourists and photographers, but can easily be found literally in our own yard. A few years ago in late summer, when working in the yard, I noticed that some hens and chicks plants we had in our garden had been adorned from above with the falling pink/raspberry flowers of a crepe myrtle. The color and the patterns of the hens and chicks with these flowers made me grab my camera and focus in on the details of what inspired me then.