Photography is Like Jazz

Sunset, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California

Sunset, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California

I typically like to spend my New Years Eve doing landscape photography. That was the plan for this past NYE as well so it began with a hike to Solstice Canyon Falls but things were not going according to plan almost from the beginning. It began with me realizing that I had forgotten my backpack that I usually use to carry my camera gear when out in the field. I was not about to leave my camera gear in the car at a trailhead nor carry a 20 pound camera backpack around the hike so I took one of the Walmart cloth bags that Samantha had in her car and stuffed my gear into that and wore it like a backpack. That was about as uncomfortable as I had ever felt on a hike before since the straps were not meant to be worn on the shoulders. As for the actual photography, I think I took a total of two pictures on the hike because the light was way too harsh. Not really a big deal as I just wanted to do the hike to see what the area was like.

Then the plan was spend the rest of the day between El Matador State Beach and Leo Carrillo State Beach depending on which offered the best conditions at sunset. That was the plan but naturally the fog never burned off. El Matador SB was completely socked in and Leo Carrillo was partly clear but very hazy. We ended up leaving about 30 minutes before sunset because I just wasn’t feeling it, more of the same old been there, done that feeling, so we wanted to get a head start on dinner.

Almost as soon as we left PCH, the air quality magically cleared up. As we headed further up over the Santa Monica Mountains I saw these lenticular clouds in the distance and how they were starting to warm as the sun dipped so we decided to stop and look for the most interesting scene I could find along the road to match it with. The clouds had spread further apart by the time the sun had set losing some of the initial shape that attracted me to this scene but I thought it was cool that the only serious photos I had taken on this day were at some place that I just happened to be driving past.

So often do we as photographers have preconceived notions of what we want to photograph and a certain way of doing it so we try imposing ourselves into a photo rather than letting the moment speak to us. If I had taken the former approach and fight against the sub-par conditions down at the beach, I’d probably have a bunch of run-of-the-mill beach sunset photos at Leo Carrillo SB that looks like other stuff I’ve done, but instead I came away with pictures of a place that I had never seen before.

5 thoughts

  1. Amen, Richard. It’s so easy to forget to just go with the flow and let your creativity run wild. Instead we stick to some strange rules and (mis)conceived ideas. Glad you took the road less travelled, this is a gorgeous rendition of this place.

  2. I like the photograph and your well told story complete with a solid lesson learned. Your diverse photography experience provides a rich source from which to share information useful to fellow photographers.

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