Almost every photo shoot has obstacles that we must overcome. Today’s photo shoot was no exception.

We’ve been in hibernation so far this winter. After weeks of gathering dust (us and our cameras), we finally decided on a mini-vaca to one of our favorite hotels, La Posada in Winslow, AZ. In doesn’t hurt that La Posada houses a four-star restaurant called, “The Turquoise Room”. We were looking forward to many scrumptious meals and the opportunity to remember how to use our cameras. Enroute to La Posada, we made our first stop at the “Petrified Forest National Park” for our first shoot of the year.

Obstacle 1 – Wrong Hour

By now you know that we love to shoot during the blue hour (just before sunrise or just after sunset) and the golden hour (just after sunrise or just before sunset). We plan our photo excursions around this time of day. Unfortunately, the Petrified Forest didn’t get our memo as they open a bit after sunrise and close before sunset. We’ll just have to shoot during the harsh hour (that time between golden hours).

Even though we had less than optimal lighting conditions, using good compositional techniques can still provide a nice image.

Obstacle 2 – Uninteresting Sky

If we can’t shoot at the time we want, we will want to incorporate other elements into our photos. The Southwest usually has beautiful blue skies, often with nice puffy while clouds. This feature could make our photos look good. But, alas, we are “blessed” with dreary grey skies with almost no cloud definition. Our shots will now have to limit the amount of sky.

Taking advantage of the Blue Mesa Formations (keeping the sky to a minimum)

Obstacle 3 – Rain

The park is big and spacious. Having only a couple of hours we settled on the beautiful Blue Mesa loop. This is a one mile walk among, believe it or not, blue mesas. We started our trek down into the loop, anxious to begin shooting. We are still confident we can make something work photographically. That is, until it started to rain. It shouldn’t rain in the desert! We decided to persevere and finish the walk with our cameras mostly under our jackets.

Obstacle 4 – Gusty Wind

The rain quickly abated giving us hope. Now, we can finally shoot. Just as we set up for a shot, gale force winds started. Maybe not gale force, but at least 40 mph gusts which certainly felt gale force-like. It’s pretty difficult to hold the camera steady while being nearly knocked over by the wind. We started to believe the visit to the Petrified Forest was a bust.

Capturing the colors of Blue Mesa (while braced against the lookout railing)

Now what?

We have mid-day light, dreary skies, rain, low-40’s temperature, and wind gusting! We left the warmth of Scottsdale behind for this? This is not a recipe for a successful photo shoot. What can we do to salvage the situation? How do we get a good shot? With the environment against us, I still had my brilliant mind. I started making stuff up. Hmmm, that rock formation reminds me of a mini Mount Rushmore. If I look carefully enough and use my imagination, I can see presidential faces.

If you look very carefully, and you stretch your imagination, you can see the faceless faces of former presidents.

Remember, it’s all about the light.