Where: In a microlight at dawn, near Christon Bank, Harare. How: Nikon D3 with 28-300mm lens @90mm, ISO 1600, f8 @ 3200/second
As professional photographers we are constantly reminding ourselves that luck plays a big part in getting 'the right shot'. Whether you are shooting wildlife, travel, landscape or corporate pictures being at the right place at the right time can often make or break the shoot.
However, some photographers are consistently better at capitilising on this luck by ensuring that they are well organised, have knowledge of their area/subject and are in the field a lot. The rest is out of your hand, this doesn't stop us fretting about it though.
However, sometimes just bungling along or being in the right place at the wrong time can also result in some amazing results. Example; I was commissioned to do a professional aerial photography shoot for a client in Christon bank, just outside Harare, Zimbabwe where I live. Being the height of the rainy season the weather hadn't been ideal for a flight for a few weeks and I was growing more and more anxious to get this done before the client starting getting restless.
Many early mornings of weather checking where unfruitful until one day it seemed we may have a break in the weather. On the day in question some scattered clouds lay low in the sky and all looked like it would be possible, if not ideal, to fly. However, meeting the pilot at the airstrip just as the sun was rising heralded the arrival of a low, thick bank of clouds, and the wind.
Now having done quite a lot of aerial photography from a microlight even I knew that the conditions weren't ideal, but we were there and ready to roll and a small gap in the clouds inspired us to hasten our decision and get on with it.
As the thick bank of clouds continued their march towards the sun we hastily flew to our destination, which thankfully wasn't far away. The encroaching clouds softened the already warm blush of dawn considerably and the accompanying band of clouds provided a wonderfully moody and contrasty blue to the mist-strewn scene. Needless to say I was ecstatic with the conditions, up until we finally reached our destination just in time for the cloud bank to envelop the sun and kill the light, just when I needed it. Despite this setback I managed to get some decent shots of our target and we hastened back to the airstrip as the wind started to howl.
On the way back I carried on snapping away, the rolling valleys to our east were swathed in mist and the partially masked sun allowed me to capitalise on the lack of contrast between the sun and the foreground and snap a few hurried pictures. They didnt look like anything noteable on the back screen until I got back to the office and could have a better look.
So what have I been banging on about here, essentially ignoring our best intuition we did a flight in less than ideal condition so where in the wrong place but at the right time. The low, patchy bank of clouds effectively filtered and softened the rising sun even more, allowing me to capture a fantastic image that would have been tricky to do in clearer conditions. So essentially, at 300 feet and 90 miles an hour I made lemon juice out of lemons...