Photography is a lot like a bad relationship sometimes

Last month the family and I went on a trip to Maine to attend a friends wedding and make a little vacation out of it.  It was a great time to just hang out with the family with very limited internet connection and enjoy life in Maine.  From the Lobster (we aren’t huge fans) to the amazing other seafood options and the beach… oh the beach! We were so close to the Portland Head lighthouse that I just had to make a trip out to it for a photo session.

My options were very limited as the first few days were rainy with very little clouds.  I checked all my weather and photo apps and saw my only real option was to go on this one particular morning.  There was no rain in the forecast, it was cloudy the night before, and sunrise was at 5:10 AM, or so I thought…  These are typically great indicators for an epic sunrise.  I packed up all my gear the night before, headed on to bed and set the alarm to wake up at 4:30, that would give me plenty of time to get up, shower and head out the door with a protein bar and a bottle of water.

As it turns out.  I had my sunrise app set for the sunrise at home, in Missouri.  The actual sunrise was at 4:53.  By the time I got to the Lighthouse, the sun was already coming up and there were only a couple small clouds in sight.  I failed…

Portland Head Lighthouse (4)

So how is photography like a bad relationship you ask?

I have had my fair share of bad relationships.  They seem great at first, everything is new and exciting for the first few months.  Then you get comfortable, comfort leads to complacency, complacency leads to expectation, expectation leads to entitlement and then it all just starts to fall apart.  However, before it crumbles before you there is this yearning to hang onto every last shred of hope that it can still survive, that you can make it work…  We all know how this story ends.

That’s exactly what happened here with my Portland Head photographs:

1.  Everything was new and exciting:  A new location a new place to shoot!

2.  I got comfortable and complacent:  I was comfortable with my apps that would tell me the correct time to be out for sunrise, but my complacency led to the lack of awareness to check my app’s location.

3.  My expectations led to entitlements:  I expected that if I woke up early enough I would be entitled to a gorgeous ground breaking sunrise.

4.  I hung onto any shred of hope:  The whole way to the Lighthouse I was hanging on to the thought of this gorgeous sunset that was literally falling apart in front of me on the way out as the sun burned away the clouds.  However, I went so far that I still drove all the way out to the lighthouse to shoot pictures and, even worse, I am sitting here editing the pictures still lingering onto that missed sunset.

Portland Head Lighthouse (2)

Am I crazy for thinking this way?

I edited one of these shots in a recent Topaz Labs webinar.  The webinar went well, the final product even turned out alright.  So much so, my Dad asked if he could print out the photo somewhere to hang in his house.  I should be honored by remarks like that, but I am still lingering on that missed sunset.  The problem is I saw what the sunset looked like while I was driving out there.  There was a thick band of red, orange and yellow clouds just above the water.  As I drove out to the lighthouse (30 minute drive) I watched it all burn away.

By the time I got to the Lighthouse the epic sunset I was hoping for was gone.  It was like I was shooting at 2 o’ clock in the afternoon with how harsh the sun was cutting through my lenses, but it was just after 5 AM.  Take a look at the example below.

Portland Head Lighthouse (3)

We post our highlights

In the grand scheme of things these shots are less than desirable, but much like any relationship, good or bad, we only post our highlights.  These are the highlights from the Portland Head trip, but I am still not sold on them.  They are the remnants of what could have been a great morning sunrise shoot.

I recently posted the picture below on 500 px and it did awesome!  I thought maybe I should stop being so hard on myself about it, but I still keep lingering on what could have been.

Portland Head Lighthouse (1)

At what point do we just let go of a bad photo shoot and call it a day?  

At what point do we just stop editing them and realize they will never be what you want them to be?  

When do we stop lingering on the missed sunrise?

Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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