A few months ago I went out to Dulles Airport to shoot some photos for use in Whelen Aviation’s 2011 Lighting Catalog, which is now available online as a PDF. This shot (one of my favorites) ended up on page 9, along with a few more of my images on pages 41, 54, and 55. I have some other photos from this shoot that I’ll post later on, most likely to my other photoblog on Tumblr. Overall the project was a fun creative challenge, and many thanks to Whelen for featuring my work!
Photo walks can be frustrating. The problem is that I generally know when I’ve gotten something good, but can’t be sure that I haven’t gotten anything usable until after I look through the photos at home. Hence my typical response to the mid-walk question of “Did you get anything?” is “I don’t know yet.” It’s hard to feel productive when you’ve walked around for hours and aren’t sure you’ve even got a single frame you want to show the world. And besides, walking is such a slow way to cover ground when you’re just out randomly looking for things to shoot. I much prefer biking.
As you can see from the beginning of this post by Trey Ratcliff, things often don’t work out despite perfect preparation. But as photographers, we can’t control the world, only where we are in it and when. We just have to show up, know how to use our gear, and hope for the best. It’s the process that’s important; probability will take care of the rest. Or so I like to think.
This was taken at the end of a photo walk around a few lakes in Reston. I remember walking into this scene and saying something to the effect of “Ohhhhh yeah… this’ll work.” The air was very still and the water was reflecting perfectly. A very peaceful and serene moment, and I was glad to be there for it with my camera.
(Click the photo to view it large on black)
I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time at this incredible place over the past 14 years, but I’ve only seen a sunset like this happen two or three times. You’ll be gazing out at the sun going over the horizon, and then you turn around and suddenly realize the last light of the day is illuminating massive clouds right over the roof of the house. It’s rare, but this time I was ready for it.
All of life is ephemeral, but by photographing these moments we capture them and make them ours. I may never see this scene again, but I’ve made a photo of it, and now it can be preserved and shared with the rest of the world. Scott Bourne at Photofocus recently wrote a great post on the subject, and it’s definitely worth a read.
I don’t think I’ve set foot in this yacht club in over a decade, but I walk along the docks to check out the boats all the time. It’s a pretty big space and there’s always dozens of watercraft of all sizes, from small jet boats to the large yachts you see here. Walking past these ships I imagine being out to sea off some distant shore, up on the flying bridge with binoculars, scanning the horizon. I’m sure the freedom and adventure of having one of these things is tempered by the reality of their considerable upkeep and maintenance, but that’s seldom part of the reverie as you walk past them during a beautiful sunset.
There’s still at least 20 minutes of light left in this photo. Time enough to walk down to the dock, push the kayak halfway off, sit down in it and lean back until you slide right into the water. The air is still and the current hasn’t picked up, so the paddling should be easy. And with the water this high you can glide right over the marshes. At low tide they become a maze of greenery and you have to stand up on the kayak to see over the top and find your way out, but tonight the kayak will just part the top of the marsh aside until you slip back into deeper water. Look down under the surface as you pass over it and you’ll see dozens of tiny gray snails each climbing their own blade of grass. Drift along slowly while the sun recedes, blue fades to black, and the first stars appear. Then turn back toward the island, with the houselights all strung out across the horizon, and head for home.