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Putting In The Time – Not All Shoots Go As Planned

Timothy Farmer
October 29, 2020
So, after a great last-minute astrophotography trip two weeks ago, I guess it was time to have a letdown trip

So, after a great last-minute astrophotography trip two weeks ago, I guess it was time to have a letdown trip. A group of us went to Eminence for some astrophotography and it was awesome, I was able to mix both astrophotography and steel wool to come up with a composition I have been wanting to do for a while.

Pulling off this astrophotography steel wool photo and some portraits, fashion, and miscellaneous other shoots I have been riding high on the work I have been doing. Last night it was time to put in some time and pay some dues. A co-worker wanted to go shoot astrophotography at a mill that is about 2 hours away. I was all about it even though I had to be at work the next day. It had been cloudy all day here in the city but the forecast left room for hope. We contacted the property and arranged permission to be there after hours. Made a list and pulled the equipment together, I even pulled a camera I have been wanting to test.

After grabbing some grub, we hit the road. On the way out to the mill we traveled about two thirds of the way heading west on the interstate. The cloud deck was breaking up to the north and slowly (key to the story is slowly) moving south. After getting off the interstate we headed south for 40 plus miles and things kept turning cloudier as we went.

Learning Moment

For this location we had to get permission and let them know when we would be showing up and when we planned on leaving. This is where a little more for thought would of help. We only scheduled a two-hour window and as we arrived it became obvious that that was a mistake. There was no wind so the clouds moved very slow. It was not until I reviewed the time laps video that any movement was detected.

We sat. We waited. We took a few shots here and there. But mostly we scoped out where we would shoot from if the sky was clear, or at least less cloudy. After two hours we packed up and headed back. It was not 10 miles from the location and we had almost a full sky or stars (still could to the south where the core of the Milky Way is).

Frustrating? YES! But not a waste of time. This is part of being a landscape, astrophotography, or really any other type of photography that is out in the weather. You plan. You cross your fingers that the weather will smile upon you. And then you go. If the stars are in alignment (pun intended) we have a great shoot. But if they don’t, you have still worked through the problems. Look at what you can do to improve your chances and checked out that you really did have the right gear.

So, don’t get frustrated if this happens to you. Take time to still go through the steps. Even set up and do some test shots to check your composition and lighting (if you are using any). The next time you are out and everything is going your way you will not have to think as much about the nuts and bolts because you have practiced. You can focus on being in the moment and getting your exposure and composition perfect.


We were able to make it back to the mill on a clear night and were well rewarded. Since I had taken advantage of the two hours when we could not shoot because of clouds I was able to be prepared.I knew I wanted to photograph from the water. So, an old tripod that could sit in water without a care and some river shoes got packed.

Putting in the time will pay off in the long run. You just have to make sure you put in the work. If things don’t go as planned, start planning for the next time you can make it to your location.