“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.