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Missed Opportunities

It happens to all of us. Those moments when we see a scene that would make a perfect photograph, but for various reasons, we pass it by - only to regret later not having taken the shot. Over the years, I've missed many such opportunities, but one particular scene I passed up has stuck with me over the years.

My partner and I were on a road trip somewhere in Indiana, if I remember correctly. It was late afternoon/early evening and a thunderstorm was moving in (it wasn't yet raining). We were driving on the interstate, nice farmlands on both sides of the highway. As a photographer, I'm always fascinated by light: how it transforms an otherwise mediocre scene; how it plays with shadows; how it creates or changes the mood. This particular afternoon, I spotted a small farm off in the distance: a weather-beaten barn, a silo and a modest farmhouse all surrounded by beautiful wheat-colored fields. The particular subject matter was nice, but that's not what caught my attention. Instead, it was the way the dark, ominous clouds from the approaching thunderstorm contrasted with the sunshine still shining on the farm land.

I considered stopping to take a photo, but quickly realized there wasn't really a safe place to pull over and park, and even if I did, I would've had to run across three lanes of traffic flying by at 70+ mph. All while the thunderstorm moved closer. I passed up the photo opportunity and we continued along our way down the interstate.

I've learned over the years of doing photography, if something catches my attention enough to make me think, "that might make a neat photo," then it's worth taking the time to get the shot. Many times I've photographed an old building, for example, only to find months or years later that the building has been torn down. I've often realized how glad I was to have captured that moment as I saw it when it originally caught my attention.

It's been probably six years since I spotted that perfect farm scene in Indiana, yet I still find myself thinking about it from time to time. I have no doubt that had I taken the photo, it wouldn't have turned out as beautiful as I saw it (it rarely does), but I do wonder how the passage of time has changed that farm land. It's certainly changed me.


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