Lemons & Lemonade - I

Other essays in this series

"I wish the sun would shine on it" Butte

I often say that bad weather equals good photographs. In doing so I quote David Muench for whom this is a given. For workshop participants this is often something to be learned and often learned the "hard" way, meaning getting wet and sometimes discouraged, learned before being able see the light literally -- the light that comes after the storm that is-- and realize that bad weather is really the bearer of good news, eventually, to photographers.

This photograph is a case in point. Created during our April Antelope Canyon Workshop it came at the end of a rainy day, a day that had us forced indoors for 6 hours waiting for a surprise storm to pass over Northern Arizona on its way towards the Rockies. The stars got progressively obscured by clouds that night, a change I closely monitored from the darkness of my camp, and the rain started minutes after we completed our sunrise shoot at Horseshoe Bend. It went on to last nearly all day. After breakfast we conducted our planned print reviews and tutorial presentations indoors. We were finally able to go out in the late afternoon to photograph, once the rain had abated somewhat. By then it was still sprinkling, cold and windy but the sun showed promises of coming out. I waited, knowing that all I wanted was a single image, as usual. If you have photographed with me you know that I have no interest in quantity. Quality is all I care about.

At our last stop for the day the sun played hide and seek, illuminating the cliffs in the distance alternatively to the right and to the left of Tower Butte, the tallest rock formation in the photograph above. Several participants told me they were hoping that the sun would eventually light the Tower itself while leaving everything else in the shade. I personally know that when dealing with Nature personal desires are futile and that it is best to sit back and enjoy the show, so to speak. So I left desire aside and concentrated on capturing what was offered to me. This image came just before the sun left for good on that day. After I captured it the cliffs behind Tower Butte started loosing direct light until, progressively, everything was but a shade of dusty gray.

For several minutes the world in front of me was ablaze with light and color. For a brief moment the landscape took hold of a stunning physical presence that no sunny day can ever deliver. Nature was giving us a lesson, a lesson better than any lecture I can ever deliver. I was there, a student of photography, and I listened. But even better I photographed, unconcerned by the rain, the wind or my personal desires. When it comes to Nature I know that I am but a passenger and that the final destination is directly related to my understanding, and appreciation, of the journey.

All images are copyright © Alain Briot 2005
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