Dave Williams on Monday Motivation
Right here at Layers Magazine, Monday Motivation is a series of posts from the absolute cream of the crop in the photography industry, taking you through their creative process from planing to the final image. Hopefully it’ll fire you up and inspire you to take your photography to another level! This week it’s the turn of the editor, Dave Williams, to take us behind the scenes!
Last week I was over in Kapadokya, Turkey, and it was my second ‘special moon’ of the year. This time round, it was a Lunar Eclipse, and it was pretty spectacular. The first ‘special moon’ I’d seen this year, however, was considerably farther North in Iceland, where I was treated to a moonrise from the first full moon of the summer: –
Completely honestly, I wasn’t expecting it! I’d driven mile after mile in beautiful East Iceland, taking a look at some stunning waterfalls in the highlands inland of the Eastern Fjords, and I clocked this moon on my way back to the cabin at around midnight. The latitude here is such that in summer, it doesn’t really get dark and, in fact, the sun doesn’t even set for some time during June. But somehow, I’m already off topic! The moon in question for this post is Turkish!
To get the images I get, it’s often down to meticulous and stringent planning, and sometimes down to dumb luck! The moon above was dumb luck, I just happened to turn a corner and there it was above the straight section of road within a gradient sky. Turkey wasn’t dumb luck, though. Turkey was the result of proper planning.
I’d had a little explore around the town and, as is often the case, I was planning over coffee. Turkish coffee. I was scoping out the area the whole time I was there looking for sunrise and sunset locations as always, but this time I needed to plan a little harder because I had to get the west facing sunset shot, then I had about 90 minutes to burn until the moon rose and I had to be in a new location facing East-South-East. I knew that just as I did for sunset, I needed a foreground. I mean, a shot of the Blood Moon would be cool, but it needs to be relative, right? It needs to have a foreground. Perhaps a juxtaposition. That’s where my usual tactic of interrogating Google Maps came into play. I use a combination of tools, but Google Maps tends to be the headliner, followed closely by Instagram (locations) in the hunt for both inspiration and places. What tends to happen for me is I’ll find a shot I like, and I’ll find a location I like, and I’ll try to combine the two somehow to get a new angle on a popular location.
It’s with that little bit of planning that I was able to find myself a great spot for sunset, where there were some awesome cave houses nearby, and a nearby location for that moonrise.
I knew exactly where the moon was due to rise, and from that I knew exactly what direction my foreground needed to be in. Once again turning to my map, I found an awesome little range which had a cave house in it. Totally synonymous with the region and basically asking to be my foreground, that’s exactly where I set up. I found a fencepost, sat my Nikon D810 with Tamron 70-200 f2.8 on my Platypod Ultra, composed, and sat in wait! I felt like a hunter waiting patiently for the prey, the moon, to appear and be caught off guard!
One thing I hadn’t counted on, but I loved, was that there was a show going on nearby at a ranch of some kind and they were lighting up the hills for me. It was perfect! Do excuse the iPhone shot, please. It’s pretty terrible, but you get the gist! So, having prepared properly and scouted my location, being aware of the position of the moon and having the gear I needed, I was able to capture the Blood Moon whilst on my latest mission in Turkey. And that, ladies and gents, is why they say ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail.’
They also say, ‘give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first hour sharpening the axe.’ You see, if you put in the homework and prepare properly then ‘lucky’ shots shift somewhat. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, so if you prepare more, you’ll have far more ‘lucky’ shots.