Bad Cloud Karma

Landscape and nature photography is a lot about being in the right place at the right time (and then doing the right thing, ie. knowing how to compose an image and how to operate the camera to get that image). Sometimes, things start promising, like on the afternoon when I took Toni for a walk at our usual beach between Solana Beach and Cardiff By The Sea.

Minutes after I arrived and walked south towards the tide pools, the fluffy clouds reflected oh-so-beautifully in the wet sand. I am totally in love with this photo:

It’s rather symmetric. Minimalistic as well (at least to me), despite the amount of patterns and shapes and lines. Horizon almost dead center. Rule-breaker? I don’t know. To me, there are no rules. There are just images that work, and images that don’t work.

And sometimes, a promising development for sunset (like above) turns into something that just doesn’t work. As I reached the tide pools at Tabletop Reef, there were already three other photographers there – on a weekday in the evening. That was surprising. I managed to annoy the hell out of one of them immediately: camera in his hands and head down, he was fumbling with some settings, tripod fully collapsed by his feet – it looked like he didn’t do anything. I walked in front of him looking at the tide pools for possible compositions and he agitatedly shouted “Really?! Can’t you see I’m setting up here?” – well, I guess I couldn’t because it sure didn’t look like it. My bad. I apologized and kept looking.

That must have been instant bad karma, or something. A weird “hole” appeared in the otherwise wonderful looking sky, and a weird, solid diagonal stripe just above the horizon. Together with the chaotic array of the tide pool’s rocks at low tide, it created visual overload in each of the frames. And when the setting sun finally tinted the clouds in the sky, it was just in the center of the frame, like a red searchlight. Quite strange.

I played with the other images from this evening for hours. Obsessively. There must be a way to make them work, no? But so far, there hasn’t. While I haven’t given up on them, they probably need more time. And even if I find a way to develop and present them, they will be so very different from the photo above that it’s probably best to let this one stand alone (and garnish it with more words for a change;-). I hope you like it.


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