Know your surroundings
It is strange how, here in Nebraska, the storms (lightning storms) only tend to come an hour or so before sunrise. I am out to photography before that as I want to photograph the storm rolling in. Once the storms gets close, I go home for safety's sake. Being new in the area, I spend time getting to know my surroundings. Most of the images that I like a lot are images that were taken after going back to the same places over and over again until mother nature sings her song. This image was taken after having been out photographing in this area numerous time.
I started to notice that as the storms start to roll in they tend to generally come from the same direction. I also noticed that God-rays also appeared frequently. I never captured them because I was not in the right place to shoot them (too much going on in the foregrounds facing that direction). But this is the advantage of getting to know your surroundings. You start to notice patterns such as weather patterns, which direction the God-rays appear, and where suitable foregrounds are for different kinds of scenarios.
For this image, I was photographing a mile or so east, at first. I noted that the cloud buildup was suitable for God-rays. So, I forgot about lighting and moved to this location for the God-rays. This image would never have been captured if I did not know my surroundings.
So here is the challenge for each of us. Explore your surrounding area well. Make notes as to which locations are best for which scenarios. Get to know the weather patterns. Armed with this information, you can quickly make better decisions about where to be for which kind of scene. If things change you will be ready because you would know where to go for that. I am now ready and know where all the open fields are (those without homes, power poles and cables, etc.).
It was the famous South African golfer, Gary Player, who once sunk the ball from an almost impossible position in the sand. A reporter called him "lucky." Little did the reporter know that Gary spent hours and days practicing those very shorts from those very positions. Gary responded to the reported by saying, "the more I practice the luckier I get."
Create your luck with preparation. Get to know your surroundings. It will increase the odds of getting the shots you want.
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