This is the story, in three parts, of how I created the image “Diptych, Touch the Earth, Touch the Sky,” currently appearing on my Home page.
It begins with the image in this blog post called, naturally enough, “Touch the Sky.” In general, I try not to have preconceived ideas about what I’m going to shoot. This image was an exception. For a long time, I had a mental picture of a bare, skeletal tree against a background of full, billowy clouds. I would keep an eye out for the right kinds of trees and the right kinds of clouds. Sometimes I would see great trees but no clouds, sometimes I would see great clouds but no trees.
Then one day, I was driving down the highway on my way to accomplish an errand, when I saw a thin line of clouds on the horizon, full and billowy, just like I had imagined. As luck would have it, I also happened to be driving by a location where I knew there was a tree, bare and skeletal, that I thought might make the composition I wanted.
I almost didn’t stop. When I have my mind set on something, I like to see it through. And I wanted to complete the errand I was on my way to do.
But of course I did stop. I did capture this image. I no longer have any idea what the errand was or why it seemed so important. But I do remember capturing this image. I remember thinking how I would use my long telephoto lens to compress the perspective, placing the tree right up against those clouds. I remember pacing the scene back and forth to get just the right perspective of the tree against the clouds. I remember how that line of clouds was so thin that I could fill the frame with them only so much, and no more, or else I would get the bright blue sky creeping in from above or below.
Photography has been a great teacher of many things for me. One of them is the synchronicity between opportunity and action. When the right opportunity comes along, you have to act on it. Moments are fleeting, and when they are gone, they are gone. When you see a moment coming together for you, an opportunity that demands your action, always stop for it.
Next time, Part 2 of the story behind my image, “Diptych, Touch the Earth, Touch the Sky.”
P.S. I learned the “Always Stop” lesson from one of my favorite photographers, Cole Thompson, who wrote a great blog about it here. Please check it out if you have the chance, with my apologies to Cole for appropriating the phrase he coined for my blog!