Picture this: You wake up before sunrise and head out the door with your camera in one hand and a half eaten breakfast burrito (with avocado, of course) in the other. You’re heading for an unexplored destination that you’ve googled the night before. As the dark blue and black hues of night give way to a morning sky, your adrenaline rushes you toward your destination. Upon arrival you grab your belongings, find the perfect spot to set up your shot, and wait. You wait for the “golden hour” when the rising sun gently illuminates the landscape and paints the world in those vivid, breathtaking colors only nature can produce.
Landscape photographers, does this “hurry up and wait” drill sound familiar to you?
This begs the question, why do photographers do this? Is the opportunity to capture a beautiful photograph really worth waking up early, traveling long distances, and enduring the cold, rain, snow, or wind?
By no means do I consider myself a professional photographer, but I’ve learned over time that the best photographers have mastered the virtue of patience. In other words, it’s worth waiting for the right shot regardless of the elements.
On the first day of my high school Black and White Photography course, my teacher showed the class an iconic photograph of Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome and the Merced River taken by outdoor landscape photography guru Ansel Adams. After a quick critique of the photograph, she then asked us to describe how it would feel to be Adams the moment he took the picture.
I initially thought about how cold it must have been, yet peacefully quiet. The river was still. The reflections, perfect. The warm winter sun peering through the snow-covered trees must have been a welcoming sensation. Ultimately, to me, this setting looked like heaven on earth — a place worth protecting and preserving for future generations to enjoy. Of course this image is now synonymous with Yosemite National Park, but here in the Bay Area we have our share of iconic images as well.
Even in the midst of today’s highly urbanized setting, it is still possible to take a picture of a raw, wild San Francisco Bay. However, this may not be the case in the near future with looming climate change impacts and more immediate threats including stormwater pollution and reckless shoreline development. The truth is, the beauty of our Bay is in jeopardy each day.
I always feel a deeper connection and appreciation for our home region when shooting photographs outside or scrolling through a series of beautiful bay images online. And I know that your photographs can elicit that reaction too.
The still images — documented moments frozen in time — we all capture help preserve memories and tell inspirational stories. Like Yosemite, the Bay is another slice of heaven on earth that needs to be protected and preserved for generations to enjoy. Allow your photographs to live on in Save The Bay’s website, social media platforms, and future campaigns.
Who knows, your work may inspire someone else to think about what you felt, smelled, heard, and saw the moment you snapped your photograph. And this may be just the motivation they need to take on the environmental issues we face.
Even if its just for a moment. That’s all it takes.