Sometimes We Miss

The Palouse at Sunset During a Thunderstorm byJay Goodrich

The Palouse at Sunset During a Thunderstorm © Jay Goodrich

There are times, when no matter how much experience you have, things do not necessarily go according to plan. This was in fact one of those times. The good thing was that my friend and fellow photographer Gavriel Jecan had as much trouble as I did. Phew! I would have had to bury him in a shallow grave and confiscated his camera as my own.

The set up. I have somehow, with my extremely limited skill-set in marketing and business matters, have landed Marriott as an architectural client. This job was a two-day job in the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington. Two days of shooting, with a day on the front end for scouting and prep. Gav and I arrived early to scout the property which in turn gave us the ability to head out for a little personal shooting that evening. We decided to run up north to the Palouse to shoot sunset. What came next was the crushing blow. A death blow of sorts.

There was a growing thunderstorm on the horizon. It was clear to the west and the storm was traveling from the south to the north. It was the perfect photo situation. We were going to get a sunset during a storm. Well there in-lies your problem. Nature is fast. Way faster than any human can perceive. We were in Colfax, Washington when the storm exploded at the same time the sun broke through its western edge. Now if you haven’t been to the Palouse, the town of Colfax is in a deep valley and ah, not so good for the sunset.

I drove up one of the miscellaneous roads as fast as possible to head for higher ground. Breaking speed limits I am sure. Within minutes we had a location to shoot the sunset. The problem was that we were in the direct path of the storm. The blessing and the curse. It wasn’t raining too hard, but the wind was blowing at about sixty miles per hour. Those drops of rain hit like bullets. The came the lightening. We tried and tried to photograph it. Every time it went off we were talking about it. Every time our shutters were open it was a no show. Then there was the run-for-the-truck-we-are-going-to-die-up-here moment. Followed by the lack of foreground at our location. Followed by the soaked gear. Followed by the fact that neither of us thought to get some video. Yes that’s right, collectively we both have been shooting forty years and today it seemed like forty minutes.

All was not lost. Yeah right! As the storm passed and the light dimmed, we headed back out for super long exposures for the again elusive lightening. And it did exactly as it did before. Lightening, who me? Yeah, I’m on a coffee break when your cameras are open. And then there was the deer. Bambi. I hate that guy too. As our scene went to black and the flashes of lightening illuminated the now northern horizon, we saw something familiar. Every thirty seconds or so we watched as the final dream of ours fleeted to the east. A four by four buck walked the horizon line, perfectly illuminated by mister coffee break lightening. Again only to be on exact opposites of our camera shutters.

The lesson of this story. No matter how good you get or how good you think you are, there will be a time when you and I miss. The key, I got to see some crazy stuff that evening, I do have a witness, and although the evidence is purely circumstantial, I don’t need to prove it in a court of law. Thank god.