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Prepared for Luck
text and photographs by Jonathan Steele
We all know that getting those fantastic shots takes preparation, research into your subject, research into your location, awareness of the weather gods, dedication to things that others just think we are nuts for being that dedicated too, and the list just goes on and on. We also know that it can absolutely involve an element of luck! When luck befalls you, you want to be prepared for it. There is one resounding theme to being prepared but before I get to that, let's take a look at a handful of images I have captured because I was..... prepared for luck!
happenstance = Prepared for Luck - Jonathan Steele Photography
Happenstance
The morning of this shot I was driving to work (yes I chose to avoid the starving artist route). Passing through Deep River Connecticut I caught a glimpse of the full moon setting between the hills on my left. Ahead was a twisty, winding stretch of road with a right turn at the end where I thought, maybe, just maybe the moon will be visible over the field there. As I rounded the corner, there it was, low to the horizon and visible through the fog. I was prepared, I had my camera with me, as well as my lenses and tripod. Pulling over I quickly hopped out and setup up to take the shot, when I looked up the moon was gone! It had disappeared behind the layer of fog. But then it started coming out the bottom side of the fog! The upper side of the fog had cleared enough to reveal the Belt of Venus. CLICK! CAPTURED! I was prepared for the luck! Websters defines happenstance as "something that happens by chance", on this morning I was, by chance, in the right place at the right time with my gear. Hence the image title "Happenstance".
Home Port - Prepared for Luck - Jonathan Steele Photography
Home Port
The evening of the "Home Port" image my significant other and I were out to dinner at a restaurant in Westbrook Connecticut. On the way home we decided to take a short cut through the local marina. Driving around the buildings and through the maze of roads leading to all the different docks, we came to Route 1 which is what we were hoping for. The only thing is that the Marina had installed a gate at that end of the road and it was closed this evening. I glanced off to my left and saw the scene captured in this image. All of a sudden I didn't care that we were going to have to backtrack through the marina and a few neighborhoods to get to Route 1. I reached into the backseat, grabbed my camera and switched to my wide angle lens. I jumped out with camera and tripod in hand and headed down to the docks to capture dusk at the "Home Port". Again, my gear was with me and I was prepared for luck!
Under the Stars - Prepared for Luck - Jonathan Steele Photography
Under the Stars
Under the Stars is an image that was captured at the Essex Stream Train Depot in Essex Connecticut on a late November trip home from work. The wind had been gusting a bit that day and as I came off the highway I noticed how it was blowing the steam coming from the engine. Instead of continuing my trip home I pulled in to the parking lot and grabbed my camera equipment. Knowing that the train releases a burst of steam just before pulling out of the station I set my camera up just off the front of the locomotive and waited for the release. The whistle blew, the steam was released, the wind picked up and the camera shutter opened and closed about 2 seconds later. It wasn't until I was processing the image in my digital darkroom that I noticed the stars above the train thereby giving the image its name. None of this would have mattered had I not been prepared by having my equipment with me and ready to go. Once again, I was prepared for luck!
Sunrise on the River - Prepared for Luck - Jonathan Steele Photography The Tugboat Gotham - Prepared for Luck - Jonathan Steele Photography
Sunrise on the River The Tugboat Gotham
"Sunrise on the River" and "Tugboat Gotham were captured at the same location but on different days. On my drive to work I pass by the Connecticut River as it zigzags its way through the Connecticut towns of Portland, Middletown and Cromwell.

For a time during spring and autumn the sun rises inline with one of these zags, or maybe it's one of the zigs! In either case being prepared by having my camera equipment with me gives me the opportunity to pull off the highway and be late for work while I capture a shot at this every changing location.

In all the years I have been driving by this location I had never seen a tugboat until the day of "Tugboat Gotham". Can you guess what's coming next? Yup, I'm glad I was prepared for that lucky moment by having my camera with me!

I think by now you may be getting the idea that having your camera with you at all times is how you can be prepared for luck. In capturing this last image part of the being prepared for luck did involve pre-planning in case that lucky moment arose.
After the Launch - Prepared for Luck - Jonathan Steele Photography
After the Launch
"After the Launch" was captured on a business trip I had to Maine. After finishing up in Maine I stopped in Portsmouth New Hampshire to have lunch with my Mom. In talking with her, she confirmed the stories I had been hearing of a Snowy Owl in Rye, the next town over. After lunch I took the gamble and drove down along Route 1 keeping my eyes peeled. As luck would have it I came across the Owl that day and was rewarded with several images of this graceful bird. As with all the other images mentioned in this article, this image was captured no more than 100 feet off of the road. By being prepared every time you drive off somewhere you will have miles upon miles of opportunity to stumble across that lucky moment, so make sure you're prepared at all times and Happy Shooting!
All Images are 2016 Jonathan Steele Photography, All Right Reserved
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