All Washed Up


TicketBoothNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

One of the things you may not notice, right off the bat, about photography is that it’s very much impacted by the weather. (It always seems to be happy and sunny in our memories, right?)

As a beginner, or even a serious amateur, taking on photography as a hobby, you tend to sometimes avoid inclement weather. If it’s raining, snowing, cold, miserable outside, you just neatly tuck the camera away and wait for sunny skies or magical light to strike. Sometimes, as a professional, or more serious photographer, you can do this too.

But, sometimes, you cannot. This weekend I had one of those times. I needed to take a picture of a train, for a project I’ve been tapped to work on, and, well, as you might guess the trouble with trains, boats, planes, and other outdated modes of transport (hey, it ain’t teleporting, right?) is that they like to stick to these arcane things we call schedules. They like to leave at certain times, from certain designated places and, if you’re not there when they leave, well, you just kind of miss the boat, so to speak (or the train, as the case may be.)

This weekend, my selected train left promptly at 10:00 on Saturday. It left promptly-in the pouring rain. Ok, so forfeiting opportunity number one to shoot the train, I’m thinking, “let me try for the return trip.”

The Hill Country Flyer runs from Austin to Burnett and back, every Saturday, leaving at 10 and returning at 4:30 (actually 4:15 as I’ve come to find out.) It leaves from, and returns to, the Cedar Park depot, which is highlighted in this image.

So, I’m sitting around, it’s a sunny afternoon, and I’m thinking, “great, I’ll waylay the train at 4 or so, finally shoot it in the sunshine, and then come back and post process. I’ll be done by Monday.” Or, so I thought. The rain showers started promptly at 4:10 and ended sometime last night, around 5 pm. So much for shooting the train from the high and dry.

Now, normally, I would complain about this. You would find me bellyaching about how I got all wet and all, about how it was horrible, about how I hated the Texas weather, and how I resented the skies opening up just as I was about to make my great photographic masterpiece. Not this time.

This time, I’m going to tell you how lucky I was. I was forced to take some pictures when I normally wouldn’t have, and they came out great, mostly on account of the rain. I’m happy with the results-I had forgotten what raindrops can do to light-I now have a series of happy prismatic locomotive headlights, captured in soft light. I didn’t get exactly what I wanted when I started, but I love what I ended up getting, out there in the rain.

If you want to be a “real” photographer, sometimes, you have to shoot things when you don’t want to. When it’s cold, or damp, or wet, or you’re tired or your feet ache. You run out of gas, you get rained on, and your equipment breaks, but you keep going because, well, that’s just what you do. Pictures don’t come from themselves. Nobody ever made a masterpiece sitting on their duff, hand to chin, saying, “I’ll do that tomorrow, when the sun’s shining.”

I’m going to mark this untimely rain storm down as a “happy accident.” This doesn’t make me a great photographer, it doesn’t make me brave, a hero of any kind, or even, really, a true professional.

It’s just what I do and who I am that’s all.

Until next time…

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