Robert Oliver, photographer
Photographer / Educator

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PHOTOGRAPHY – IT’S ABOUT BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME!

 

PHOTOGRAPHY – IT’S ABOUT BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME!

Posted on July 16, 2012

www.robertoliver.com

Whether you photograph sports, wildlife or landscapes… Chances are the most important thing for a successful photograph is being in the right place at the right time. It doesn’t matter whether you are shooting Nikon or Canon… film or digital… 35mm or Large Format…

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” -Ansel Adams

And sometimes the right time is in less than ideal conditions. So many photographers put their gear away on days when the weather isn’t ‘perfect’… those are usually the days when my camera is just starting to come out. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen photographers pack up and leave before the light even starts to get good or because the weather isn’t perfect. 

Clearing Spring Storm - Yosemite National Park

Clearing Spring Storm - Yosemite National Park

 

This is a great example of being in the right place at the right time. I stood in front of this scene for hours, making many different images of the changing scene. It was very cold and very drizzly. I watched numerous ‘photographers’ drive up, roll down the window half-way and take a snap shot, then roll up the window and quickly drive away. This is still one of my favorite landscape images and it shocks me that over the course of a couple of hours of shooting, NO other photographers were near me in one of the most photographed spots in the world. A spring storm lifts from Yosemite Valley. Photographed by Robert Oliver with a 4×5 view camera on B&W film.

 

On a recent trip to Death Valley, my father-in-law Frank and his brother-in-law Wally were making fun of me for wishing for some weather. When we arrived it was blue skies and sunny… not to mention extremely windy. Of course when we were out exploring the area the following day and it started to rain, I didn’t hear the end of it. But I was sure happy! Clouds and weather add drama to many scenes that would normally make only make an average shot. Look at the work of any of the master landscape photographers and you will notice the weather is a huge part of many of their photos. Ansel Adams considered himself more of a weather photographer, than a landscape photographer. 

Rainbow over Shoshone - Shoshone, CA

Rainbow over Shoshone - Shoshone, CA

 

After a couple of days hanging out around Death Valley, everything came together. This brief ‘storm’ brought drama to an otherwise fairly boring scene over Dublin Gulch in Shoshone, CA on the western border of Death Valley National Park.

There have been numerous time where I won’t make any pictures when visiting a scenic location. Not because the location isn’t photogenic, but because the timing is not right. Sometimes it’s the angle of the light, sometimes it’s the lack of clouds. It’s frustrating to travel somewhere and not make any pictures, but sometimes I can just feel that it would be a waste of time and energy to simply document a scene. I simply add all the information to my ‘notebook’ and plan on coming back again… hopefully when the timing is right.

Ibex Dunes - Death Valley National Park

Ibex Dunes - Death Valley National Park

To me, the best time to photograph sand dunes is when the sun is very low in the sky…. meaning sunrise or sunset. Capturing this shot at the right time meant a LONG walk back in the dark across a VERY big dark desert. But it was worth it to me!

 

Robert Oliver