99% of the time I get skunked when shooting landscapes. This isn't for the lack of trying though. I do my research, monitor weather reports, drag my ass out of bed at 4 in the morning, and sometimes sit on a spot for 3 or 4 hours. I can't complain though, I've been rewarded with some wonderful moments and witnessed some displays of light that I'll never forget. Sometimes trying to capture these moments in a photograph has proven difficult. When my wife and I left in 2012 for our trip around the country, I was so ill prepared for what was ahead of me that I didn't even realize it until it was all over. I look back now and think about what I would have done differently and how I would have handled some situations much better now than I did on our trip.

The most important thing that I learned it to just slow down and think. I was in full 24/7 photo mode on our trip and was just overwhelmed a bit. I had never left the east coast so seeing all of these different areas just blew my mind. On our trips now, trying to get a photograph at every place is not a top priority on my list. That's not to say I'm not always keeping my eyes peeled or not glancing at the sky every hour or so. If things look they are going to get crazy, I will make an effort to go out and photograph something. I just make it a point to not put so much pressure on myself that it negatively effects my ability to do so.

This last July, we had headed out for a 3 week road trip and our first location was Great Sand Dunes National Park. We arrived later in the day and we were both pretty exhausted from the drive. After we grabbed a camping spot we decided to drive into the park despite the sore bodies and tired eyes. We hiked for a while, even though it was drizzling and there were cold gusty winds. I had been keeping an eye on the sky and it looked like there was a possibility that a bit later, the sun might get low enough that it would dip under the storm clouds. Usually when this happens, some pretty insane lighting conditions happen. I learned this the hard way and refuse to ever talk about it again :)

I had a feeling like something pretty great was going to happen so we decided to hustle back to the car and drive into the park a little further where I knew that we could get a nice view of the dunes. No sooner than we arrived to that area, the sun dipped under the clouds and created one hell of a scene. It also started to rain and I was drenched by the time I had even set up my gear. I took 5 photos in about 3 minutes, and then the light was gone. Just that fast and it was all over. My hands were shaking, partly from the cold and partly from the adrenaline. I saw the potential for something to happen, used my best judgement for a location, and stayed calm while shooting. I would have totally botched this if it was 3 years prior. Instead, I managed to take a photo that was probably one of my favorite from the trip. Plus, I did get to see a sweet ass double rainbow that lingered for a bit when I got back to the car. Add on top of that some nice hot noodles and warm fire back at camp and it turned out be be a pretty terrific start to our trip.


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