Ready for the Unexpected

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Hummingbird visiting Arbutus menziesii - Pacific madrona, madrone or Arbutus tree flowering

“If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.” Jay Maisel.

Hummingbird visiting Arbutus menziesii - Pacific madrona, madrone or Arbutus tree flowering

Photos don’t just happen. You have to go make them, and be ready for the unexpected.

Every morning I walk Cherry Hill with my dog Kona. I usually have my cell phone camera and take photos of her romping and exploring so that I can post to my Instagram account (@saxonphoto #cherryhillwalk), but I find the photography unsatisfactory. It is quick, convenient, and fun; but I don’ take it very seriously.

For me to truly enjoy the creativity of photography, I need to see slowly and allow images to appear as I look and frame with my camera. So, some days I haul my tripod and “real” camera up the hill.

I have learned to recognize seasonal patterns, and when a morning mist is on the hill, magic light swirls through the trees and across the gentle ridges. On just such a morning I decided to have some fun and take my camera. As the great Jay Maisel has said, “things will happen”.

Misty morning path under oaks on Cherry Hill, Novato

I found some wonderful light as I walked up into the low clouds, asking Kona to wait. She has no idea she is a star model.

I hoped the light would be this wonderful, but I knew the oaks were flowering, which was the other reason to carry the gear up the hill. The oak trees are blooming and I wanted to study them and hopefully add to my Extraction series of plant illustrations. Once the mist cleared I photographed both the Coast Live Oak and the Black Oak and was headed back down the hill when I noticed a Madrone in full flower. What luck to have all my gear, ready for the unexpected.

But what was truly unexpected was the hummingbird. I had carefully set up the tripod to compose a nice silhouette of the flowers against the sky. I had taken one photo and recomposed for a better composition and at the very moment I was about to release the shutter the hummingbird darted in.

Before and After Slider

Ready for the unexpected.

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