As landscape photographers we often have preconceptions of what things are going to look like, what images we are going to see, and even what the weather is going to do. A little bit of this can be helpful by allowing proper planning and preparation, but locking yourself in to a previsualized outcome can often lead to disaster. Let's explore the last case. If possible, I try to see what the weather is supposed to do. I check sunset, sunrise, moonset, moonrise times and directions. I look at maps and if possible previous images of a site before going. Sometimes I have help from someone who has been to a particular location. That was the case on the recent Yosemite Valley workshop with Steve. After digesting all the information I could get, we arrived at the location for our last sunset, Valley View. I had ideas of what I thought would happen and what shot I wanted to take. Unfortunately the skies were overcast, with no hint of color and nothing to make me think things would change before dark. I took several photographs of the overcast scene, but I was disappointed because it didn't look like the shot I had preconceived would happen.
I'm sure most of us have sat through many sunsets and sunrises when, for many reasons, the shot didn't happen. Usually it's weather. Either too much or not enough. I've done the opposite also as I'm sure many have; giving up too early and then having something spectacular happen. The worst of these I can remember was sitting for a couple of hours on the Grand View overlook at Canyonlands with dense clouds and no hint that the sun could peek through on the horizon. I packed up and drove away, only to be surprised by a red glow in the rear view mirror. It was gone before I could get my camera out again, and I missed a great sunset. This time, I was going to stick it out till there was no chance for something good to happen. As the time for sunset came, people were yelling, "Stick a fork in it. It's done!" Then, just at the time of official sunset, a slight red glow appeared on El Capitan. It deepened and brightened. It was one of those rare moments when things all fall into place. One of those times when the scene is so beautiful and so surprising (especially after my negative preconception of what the weather would do) that I almost forgot to open the shutter. Fortunately I did, and got the image I wanted. As others have said, "If you don't open the shutter, you won't get the shot." You surely won't get the shot if you give up too soon. F8 and be there!