Despite the abruptly warm temperatures today following two snowstorms, there’s still a bit of snow cover around, and a full moon out there. We don’t get conditions like that very often, and I had planned on taking a short hike out to someplace scenic to do some long-exposure night shots. I waited for the moon to get nice and high, but that meant the clouds had time to roll in, and I stepped out laden with camera bag and tripod to find the moon completely hidden. Nertz.
There’s still a chance it will clear some, so I’ll keep an eye out, but it’s likely that this is one of those goals that remains on my mental list for the right conditions. There are a lot of things on that list: an Outer Banks trip in moonless (new moon) conditions, to take advantage of the greatest distance I can achieve ‘locally’ from light pollution. Some decent waterfall in freezing weather. A good electrical storm over an open field with a decent foreground subject. A tornado or waterspout.
Obviously, some of these are pretty hard to plan. Even the waterfalls tend to be in parks or require long hikes on steep trails, both of which get ruled out by icing conditions. The darkest skies within several hundred kilometers are in a valley in the mountains of Virginia, about four hours away; to get darker I’d have to get way out west. Better than two decades ago I went out for a walk under a full moon in heavy fog, cutting through some fields I knew well. The effect was wonderfully spooky and surreal, since the fog only extended about eight meters up and didn’t obscure the moon above at all – everything was lit up wonderfully while still limiting visibility to four meters or so. I would have thought I’d see such conditions several times in the intervening years, but if they occurred I missed them entirely.
It’s easy to think that, without certain subjects in my image stock, I’ve ‘missed out’ or am somehow incomplete – occasionally I do think this, and have heard the same lament from several other photographers. This is ignoring plenty of images that I do have though, some not even imagined as possible, much less as a goal. It presents an interesting balance in mental outlook: planning for compelling, unique shots is very important, because just waiting for all of the conditions to come together by chance isn’t a fraction as useful as knowing when the light, sky, or foliage is ideal. But judging success or self-value on whether these plans come together or not can be pretty discouraging; we don’t have perfect control over everything and shouldn’t expect to. Focusing on the misses while ignoring the successes isn’t being very objective. To me, it seems best to view it this way: the glass is indeed half-full, but it could be more full, too.
So for now, a couple of shots from the snowy yard, which aren’t going to win any awards. Better will be along soon enough.