Photography can be an exercise in frustration. Making the time, finding great locations, planning, looking at weather forecasts, only for the light to fade as the clouds roll in. If all you wanted from a trip was great images then you could be bitterly disappointed. Of course there is a whole lot of other benefits that go along with photography trips like this, the people you venture out with, time in nature seeing the beauty, and the chance to get out of the work to home home to work patterns.
In truth, great light doesn't happen all the time. It's rarity is part of it's allure. It's the reason we go back time and time again. Great light doesn't often happen in perfect weather, more often than not it happens when the weather is marginal or worse. We look for those situations where good conditions might occur, and then learn from watching, but in the end, there is always going to be an element of luck.
There is no doubt that with landscape photography, a little planning can help you get luckier. But even the best planning in the world does not guarantee you the perfect results. In the end you still need a little luck on your side. Maybe there is a lesson there, it's not always down to us, luck will always play a role.
When someone says something like "wow, you were lucky to get that image!". It is tempting to think of the planning and effort that went into it and feel that putting it all down to luck is somehow wrong. But on some level it is true and they have a point. On the other hand, when we come back from a day out and the images lack that wow factor, secretly which do we blame?
I must admit when I heard this phrase earlier in the week, it caught my attention. With all of the one click, attention grabbing, cliche filters out there, it would seem hard to believe. But even with these, despite the briefness of the exchange, the content of the image does plays some role in the final choice of settings.
Some images take longer to process than others, longer to find the right balance and mood. To bring out the qualities in the image that first attracted you. To show the viewer of the image what you saw. That is no surprise, each image brings its own unique qualities, and challenges. Part of learning how to post process images is learning to recognise the issues and the techniques that can best take advantage of them.
Cameras are great at capturing what is in front of them, technically the challenge is getting easier and easier. But a photo can be much more than that. I don't know if you have heard the expression, "Shoot what you feel, not just what you see", but it is great advice if you want your images to be more interesting. But I think the expression continues into the phases after you press the shutter release. "Process what you feel", bring out what you felt, the mood, the emotion, the drama. But how do you do that? Sometimes I know what I want but can't quite get there, that is when I use this method.