My day in Paris had started off typically enough. The air traffic controllers were on strike, just not the ones controlling my United flight landing at CDG. The rail conductors were also on strike, but fortunately for me the Ubers at the airport were running just fine. I arrived at the office on a sunny morning without incident (despite ominous reports of riots in some far flung arrondissement), worked for a few hours, and then checked into my hotel for a quick shower and nap. It was during my shower that my jet lagged brain realized the weather had profoundly changed when I heard the din of loud raindrops on the roof of the hotel above me – loud enough to drown out the sound of the shower I was taking.
I took this photo on the same early morning in Zürich that I took my Boats in the Fog photo. My original vision for this morning had been to capture the extraordinary Grossmünster church at sunrise, but the weather in Zürich turned out to be rainy and foggy the entire week I visited. Thankfully, the rain let up one morning and gave me an opportunity to explore the city and take photos.
Weather can have a profound impact on photos, and bad weather can sometimes be good weather for a photo. However, when dealing with bad weather, improvisation is a critical skill. This turned out to be crucial on a trip to Dartmoor in the southwest of the UK, where overnight storms made the morning dreary, foggy, and gray. I wanted to photograph an ancient 13th century bridge in the hamlet of Postbridge, contrasting it with the fog and rain, but finding a good angle that worked in the conditions turned out to be difficult. Fortunately, a solution happened to be right behind me.
When we traveled to France in 2010, we made sure to include a visit to Versailles on our itinerary. So much of Versailles is extraordinary, but the Grand Trianon château stands out as one of the more beautiful. This section of the palace was roped off, allowing one to view it but preventing entry. There was a crowd of people all taking photos, so I only had a brief moment to slide in and take a few shots handheld.
Right after I wrapped up taking my photo of The Barn at Mountain Valley Farm, the owner suggested I check out the view from his apple orchard up the hill behind the barn. The light was fading quickly, and by the time I made it up the hill, the scenery was lit only by an orangey glow from the setting sun behind the Green Mountains. In my mind, I knew I wanted to compose the barn and mountains against that orangey sky. The question was how exactly to do that?