"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes."
- Oscar Wilde
Sometimes I come up with a good idea for a photograph. Unfortunately, I don't always turn those good ideas into good photos.
We were at Walnut Log Road on Reelfoot Lake for sunset on Friday and Sunday night last weekend. It's a great place for sunset with plenty of Cypress trees in the water with the sun setting behind them making dramatic silhouettes. The wind that had blown strong all weekend calmed down at sunset making the surface of the lake look like a mirror. God blessed us with a beautiful painting across the sky and I came home with 115 shots from Walnut Log Road on Friday night alone! Some of my favorites from this trip are available viewing and purchase in the Reelfoot Lake Gallery.
I had both my cameras with me - the Canon 7D had a 300mm prime lens with a 1.4 teleconverter. With the 7D's cropped sensor this is equivalent to a 672mm telephoto lens. I also had a 17-40mm wide angle zoom on the Canon 5D. In compact camera terms this is a 40x zoom range between the two camera/lens combinations.
Almost all the shots from Friday night were with the 5D/17-40 combination on a tripod to capture as much of the landscape and sunset as possible. Here's one of those shots
This is was shot with a 32mm focal length. It took 1.6 seconds at f/13, ISO 200. I was hand holding a 2-stop graduated neutral density filter to darken the top half of the photo. Normally hand holding a graduated neutral density filter (Grad) is not all that difficult. This night I had to do it with gloves on and my had was still shaking from the cold. This shot is what I came for and am pretty happy with the results.
However, an idea popped into my head to use the that long lens to isolate some of the tree branches with the sunset reflected in the lake behind it. I picked the area on the left side of the cypress tree where the color went from yellow to rich dark orange. In my mind I saw a very dramatic shot. What I got was not what I envisioned.
I picked the wrong composition and ended up with an image that is too cluttered.
I think it was a good idea but I rushed and didn't think through it. The good news is I see what I should have done and if I get a similar opportunity and can remember what I learned I might come away with a good picture and not just a good idea.