Planning and adapting
The great 19th century general Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke had a theory of war that is often summed up in his statement "no plan survives contact with the enemy". (Wikipedia, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder (as of February 12, 2013).) I think the theory can also be applied to landscape photography.
They say all great landscape photographers plan out their shots. They visit a location, they visualize the shot they want, and they study the weather, the seasons, and the trajectories of the sun and the moon. I do all of these things as well, but it seems that no matter how hard I try, things never turn out the way I plan. So, I plan, and when things don't turn out, I adapt.
Last Sunday, weather.com predicted partly cloudy conditions at Great Falls. The Photographer's Ephemeris told me where and how the sun would set in relation to the falls. I planned and visualized my shot. I gathered my gear and set out to capture a glorious sunset.
When I arrived at Great Falls, clouds were gathering. Conditions looked good, but when the sun started to set, the clouds blanketed the sky and a sunset failed to materialize—a definite disappointment. So, like a general who adapts upon engaging an enemy, I adapted to the changing weather conditions. I experimented by contrasting the texture of the water with the texture of the overcast sky. The result was definitely a success.
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