On Anticipation

For those of you reading this, you are more than likely a photographer. And if so, despite the differences in what we shoot, in whatever medium I guarantee there is one thing that we all share – the images that got away.

There would be a dozens of images that would fill a respectable online portfolio of those photographs that have didn’t make it over the years. Most of the time it was seeing the photos without having a camera. Or packing up and leaving a place too soon. Other moments the the focus was out, the composition was slightly off. Basically, lots of if onlys.

 Over time those missed opportunities that once filled me with angst have now bleached, the edges yellowed and faded like a cheap print that’s been in direct light for 20 years in someone’s lounge. Those images have been forgotten now, buried under layers of memory and experience like sand that once sifted and silted in old oceans to eventually settle and form the rocks of sea beds.  They form part of my structure and it’s what I have learnt from.

This week that happened twice, two images missed in two consecutive days. Luckily, we’re not talking about anything serious here, nothing that’s going to change anything. Just a selfish desire to add to existing collections.

One the first occasion it was a simple landscape shot. Quintessential Kimberley, bordering on the cliché. One of those shots where I’m out bush with no people or phone reception and which is a place for contemplation away from the noise, to enjoy nature and take some photos to celebrate that.

The photograph had all the elements. Yellow grass, Boab trees, an escarpment range in the background. With the composition tweaked, focus set and lens ready to fire all it needed was a burst of that diffused light from the sun that was lingering from the clouds in the background. After waiting for about 30 mins or so I heard the distinct sound of five or six Brolgas that were flying into the scene. Cliché scales through the roof.

I had to changed some settings to freeze them in flight while still keeping a respectable front to back sharpness and when I look up they were just on the inside of the Boab tree just silhouetted on the horizon line.

And that’s when I fired the shutter.

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Roebuck Plains, West Kimberley, 2018.  Brolgas can stand up to 1metre in height and a wingspan of over 2m

Roebuck Plains, West Kimberley, 2018.

Brolgas can stand up to 1metre in height and a wingspan of over 2m

But then two veered left and flew directly above the Boab tree on the right of the frame. I could see their outstretched necks, hear their duck like call, shadowed under their 2metre wingspan like looking up at a small plane about to land. They were the perfect blend of ambient light for the detail and just dark enough to be silhouetted.

And that’s when I should have fired the shutter.