I took my daughter to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower. She was excited to road trip late at night with Dad and napped to be ready for action. To her, she was fully prepared. Well, kinda prepped.
I, on the other hand, on top of working away with clients, photographing, and back-end office work, spent a lot of time selecting and prepping the suitable camera gear to use. I tested in to make sure it all worked before heading out late at night into the dark. I researched locations and reconfirmed the technical aspects of astrophotography. After an early evening meeting, I arrived at home and prepared some healthy and filling snacks.
I also suggested she bring a bit more clothing that a down-filled vest which she begrudgingly agreed to and grabbed a blanket from her car.
All this was followed by a few hours of late-night driving to find a balance of not too far from town, away from the city’s light pollution, and an appropriate place to set up.
I set up my tripods, astro-tracking equipment, and camera. I twiddled dials to get focus set, balanced all the technical aspects specifically shutter speed and ISO. Did not want star blur from too long of an exposure, but do not want the noise that comes from pushing a high ISO.
As we laid back on the prairie soil, swaddled in the heavy blankets I brought, ignoring the lawn chairs I’d set up, we watched all the excitement of the lightening storm as it passed north of our location.
Just under an hour into star gazing, she was cold and crawled into the car to fall asleep. I continued, thinking it was not really that cold with my winter jacket on and hood pulled up over my head. I had come prepared and had expected a chilly summer’s night.
I continued to work the camera settings, replaced different lens lengths, and reviewed what I was getting to make sure I was at least “on the dance floor” as it related to quality and composition.
As the hours rolled past midnight, the storm passed out of sight and the meteor showers I had expected to see did not produce much activity, so I packed all my gear up. I packed up all the snacks, blankets and chairs and drove through the early morning hours back to a warm bed.
Over a late morning coffee, I reviewed the hundreds of images I had created. Most were insignificant. Some were good. A couple were impressive. One completely stood out head and shoulders above all of them.
I reflected on all the previous days spent preparing the gear, the procedures, the location, and especially the snacks. I thought of how I reviewed images in the camera, calculating what I had done and what needed to be done to make progress the quality of the raw image. I thought how each image I created was an individual lottery ticket I was purchasing. With each ticket the chances of me winning the jackpot increased.
Sure, we hear of the jackpot winner who bought a single ticket while picking up a jug of milk. I do not like those odds though. I want to have the cards stacked in my favour. Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
All this preparation on the back-end produced a single photograph when the moment came to bear. Why? Because impactful things do not just happen by accident.
Now, let’s all go out into the world and create our bit of luck!