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  • Writer's picturekpphoto25

The Art of the Unexpected

As a longtime photographer I can tell you that some of the best shots come from having zero planning involved. You can jot down a plan for a date in the future, spend all morning prepping when that day comes, then realize.....well......its going to rain all day. That plan falls apart pretty quickly. On the other hand, you can wake up and see that the weather will be great. You can see all of your plans unfolding as suspected and then when you get to your location you realize.........ok, the light sucks. Nothing will ruin your day more than bad light. Honestly, shooting on that rainy day would yield better results than a day with harsh light.

That brings me to this house outside of Maysville, Ky. I have driven by it many times when I was younger since it was en-route to most of the shopping and or food that Maysville had to offer at the time. I never really paid much attention to it because it was something native to the area and something you just see all the time. I can't remember if it was always empty or if someone lived it in but I do remember always looking over at it. It is big, it is old, and it demands to be looked upon.

That brings me to the day I got to shoot it. I was visiting my mom and we were driving by when out of the corner of my eye I seen the sun flicker between some low clouds. The sun was about 30 minutes from setting and there were a lot of big poofy clouds that the sun was shining through periodically. It hit me, GET THE SHOT!! I knew I didn't have much time to get a shot of this moment so I frantically spun the car around. We drove to the road that the house sits on just so I could get a better look at what angles would look best. I decided that the front of the house was a no go. The sun was hitting the back right corner and I didn't want to trespass. I turned around in a driveway just to hear the loud noise of bottoming the car out. Needless to say, I got quite the look from my mom as this was her car.

So here we are. I am now driving around like a hit man looking for the best spot and time to set up. The sun would come and go as it faded behind the swiftly moving clouds. Not only was I fighting the fleeting time, I was fighting the clouds. I opted for a shopping center parking lot since it had a view of the entire property. Here is the fun part, at least for me. I only had one lens with me that day. It was my trusty Fujifilm 16mm 1.4. It is my all time favorite lens on any system I have ever owned. Was it perfect for this shot? No, it was actually a bit too wide, but it was all I had. To remedy the wideness I had to stand on top of the concrete pillar that holds the street lamps in place. It gave me an additional 4ft of height to shoot over the fence line. This actually worked out great as I got to use the weeds along the ground as a way to frame the house. The next 5 minutes were spent hugging this light pole with one arm while standing on the 4ft concrete support just waiting......and waiting. Finally! Boom! The sun peaked through. At this time the sun was almost even with the horizon line the clouds over the house had made. I'd guess we had about 10 more mins of great light so this timing was perfect. Any more time waiting may not have yielded the dramatic look that I achieved. Sunset light is awesome until it isn't. You have to work fast and at times you have to have a bit of luck.

This is one of those shots that the common viewer will look at and say, "cool shot". But not knowing what it takes or the thought process behind it really leaves a void. As any photographer will tell you, "great shots have a story". If someone tells you that you have to plan out your day and have everything in order to get a great shot then they are fibbing to you. Sometimes you will get one of your best shots by bottoming out your moms car and hugging a light pole while strangers drive by thinking you are having a mental episode.

This photograph has been selected to be the cover of the BEST IMAGES section of the 2023 Capture Cincinnati magazine. You can pick a copy up here if they haven't sold out. I'm hearing the pre-sale is moving faster than anticipated.


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