I DIDN’T see this picture at first. I stopped the car to take a completely different picture.
It was a beautiful March morning with crisp sharp sunlight shining down on the snow and a fine mist rising from the land. It’s quite rare to get such a lovely mist covering the island at this time of year. I stopped the car to take some photographs of the beautiful church at Jomala in these great conditions. To get to the view of the church I wanted I had to pass through this underpass. And I was met with this view.
This is the first shot I took. I took about a dozen more photographs, some from the other end of the underpass including the beautiful church and some with silhouettes and long shadows of schoolchildren walking through. But this first one was the best. It’s the combination of graphic simplicity and beautiful light. Sometimes that’s just the way it is.
And it’s a lot better than any of the nice pictures of the church I actually stopped to take. But I wouldn’t have found this scene if I hadn’t stopped to take pictures of the church. That’s the lesson I guess. If you see a good picture always stop and take it. Because you never know when you might stumble across a great picture.
I THINK most people pass great pictures every day. Sometimes they don’t see them. Sometimes they do see them and say to themselves: “Oh, what a shame I missed that great picture.” Often, given the right circumstances, the shot will reappear if you go back at a similar time.
This picture was taken from the main road to town from my house. I passed this lake every day on the bus for a year while I was learning Swedish. Most of the time the lake was pretty, but not a great picture. Never confuse those two things. Pretty scenes rarely make great pictures in my experience. But in the Autumn the rising morning mist over the lake made the scene very dramatic.
This effect often doesn’t last very long, maybe about 20 minutes on misty days, over a period of about four weeks in September and October every year. For a week I woke up early to check the atmospheric conditions were right. The day I saw great mist cover over the land I drove in instead of taking the bus. I stopped and waited for the mist to clear by the right amount. I used a telephoto lens, about 200mm, to crop out some unwanted details and compress the distance between those little peninsulas of water reeds.
So the lesson is, try to look at the things you see every day with new eyes. And if you miss a great opportunity once, go back. Sometimes I’ve been back to a location seven or eight times before recreating a great scene and it’s so satisfying when you finally get that picture!
This picture is available to buy from alamy.com by searching for ‘watkins aland’