Before leaving for my road trip through South Dakota last month, I planned at least one or two photos shoots for each day of the trip. For my last day of shooting, my plan was to shoot an old barn near Bear Butte State Park at sunrise. This photo shoot was important to me because I like how this barn is positioned on the plains with the butte in the background. Here are some of the specific steps of my planning process:
I started watching the weather forecast for the Bear Butte area a few days prior to the shoot. The forecast was not promising. On the night before the shoot, the forecast called for overcast conditions with a 90% chance of light rain. Given the small chance of shooting in acceptable conditions and the amount of effort required to check out of the hotel in time to arrive at the location before sunrise, I canceled the photo shoot. I stayed up late watching TV and planned a different photo shoot for an afternoon in Rapid City.
It was about 5:30 AM when I woke up and decided to reach for my phone to check the weather forecast one last time. To my surprise, the forecast had improved. There was a window of time around sunrise when the skies might open up enough for some light to hit the barn. I started moving very quickly to get packed and out of the hotel in about 15 minutes! The employee at the front desk of the Hampton Inn even handed me a breakfast bag on my way out!
My GPS unit led me right to the barn. I ended up shooting the scene for over an hour. I captured some images in the soft light before sunrise and also in the more direct and warm light just after sunrise. I kept shooting until the light became too harsh.
Here is one of the images of the barn from the photo shoot:
One might wonder why anyone would go through such effort to capture a picture. For me, it's about more than getting the picture. It was an amazing experience to witness this sunrise while standing alone on the South Dakota plains. If it wasn't for photography, I doubt that I would have had this experience. And, it's just not the same to see the barn in the middle of the day.