Luck and the Prepared

The MacDonald Bridge, shot at ISO50, F10, three exposures.  Canon 5d mark II and 24-70mm F2.8L, at 42mm

They say fortune favors the prepared.  I think this is entirely true, although my belief in luck is quite limited.  I make my own chances, as my hockey coaches and father always taught me, but being prepared is ultimately part of that process.

Earlier this week I was restless after drinking too much coffee in the afternoon.  I hopped in the car and went out in search of some cool locations to use for nighttime portraits.  I parked downtown, wandered around a bit with a high ISO and long lens.  The light mist in the air led to some cool shots of walls, enclaves, nooks and crannies in the streets of Halifax.  I had tossed the tripod in the back of the car with no intention of using it.  I was also using a 70-200mm lens, but had put my 24-70 in the bag for good measure.

I was mildly dissapointed with my results, but location scouting is a lot like fishing. I hadn't landed anything worth keeping, but I moved on.  As I drove out of the downtown I spotted the bridge, lit up and looking very cool with the light mist in the air.  I found a good vantage point and got out the two pieces of gear I had no intention of using that night (but had packed anyway) and set up a shot.

For about 15 minutes I stood there, shivering in the wind while simultaneously trying to block the larger gusts from hitting the tripod.  I bracketed my shots, -1 2/3, -2/3 and 1/3 to get some really cool light, and actually got lucky enough to have a container ship pass under the bridge while I was shooting.  The 10, 20 and 30 second exposures were long enough to capture the motion and it showed up in the final result.

I'm trying to do less HDR but when I saw the result of this shot, the green steel structure, the purple tinted sky and the long streak of light underneath, I was thoroughly impressed.

By having guessed at what gear I might need and being prepared, I was ready to get this shot when it came by happenstance.  I do like to travel light, but it's really important to pin down what essentials you are able to bring if a great opportunity presents itself.