“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure, without a loss of enthusiasm”
– Sir Winston Churchill
Only a few months after buying my first full-frame DSLR I ventured off to Utah to see Zion National Park in the winter of 2012 after having fallen in love with Utah, I had been there just 4 weeks before shooting the fall colors. Completely overwhelmed by the landscapes but in a good way. Utterly overwhelmed as a newbie photographer having never even shot a sunset.
I didn't fully understand exposure and didn't even own a ND filter of any kind. I quickly learned that the simple act of taking a photo of a sunset wasn't so simple. I kept blowing out my sky but I wanted so badly to get this shot as I loved the subtle colors I was seeing as a result of the beautiful fading light.
To complicate things even more, I was flanked by dozens of other photographers as we all crowded on the bridge here. To the left and the right of me were two men who had the latest and most sophisticated camera set ups I'd ever seen ( having brand new Nikon D800's) and they were comparing notes, boasting of their gear and in general bored me to tears.
At one point, I stepped back and looked at my little Canon 5D Mark II mounted on some spindly tripod and it didn't look so fantastical all of the sudden. Small, banged up and out-ranked among giants.
All I could do was expose for the sky and hope that I could recover the rest in Lightroom. The raw image is completely black except for the sky. To me (and that was all the mattered) I brought home a masterpiece that although was very noisy from having to lift my shadow areas and a bit crudely exposed. There are some really great lessons in our perceived failures. I loved this image because It carried a much deeper meaning to me.
I still shoot with the same camera, my tripod isn't so spindly and I'm a bit more prepared for the challenges of difficult lighting. My camera is still a bit fantastical to me…still in love.
I head back to Utah in about 11 days and I'm already in a Utah state of mind!
**PS Do you see the 3 photographers in the shot?