Make Your Own Luck; Keep Moving, And Be Prepared Page 2

There have been countless mornings that I would have been better off sleeping in, but every now and then all the natural elements come together in an extraordinary way to make all the lost sleep worth it. Frequently the best conditions exist immediately after the least interesting weather patterns. A sunny, humid day in the Midwest makes photographing during the middle of the day difficult at best, but thunderstorm clouds could appear over the western horizon at any moment on this kind of day. Or the sky may remain dull for days at a time, but persistence and patience usually pay off in the long run.

Outguessing the weather is predictably impossible, but I diligently try to put myself in the best location at what I hope is the best time. For example, last summer I needed to photograph Effigy Mounds National Monument, which is adjacent to the Mississippi River in northeast Iowa, and wanted fog to help give the photograph a sense of mystery. Humid August evenings are often followed by foggy mornings along the Mississippi so I traveled accordingly. Although the fog often remains low and close to the water, on my first morning there I was greeted with fog that came all the way up to the bluffs overlooking the river. Exactly the conditions for which I was hoping! In contrast a few years earlier I needed to photograph the Mississippi with a blue sky in the morning, but that particular photo took five predawn trips, so sometimes luck doesn't strike right away.

Flexibility, patience, persistence, and anticipation are vital in photography and are at least as important as film and camera choices. I've heard it said that "luck favors the prepared," and by watching for lucky breaks and being flexible we can all live more charmed lives.