Weather, dammit.

Regardless of the spectacular scenic attractions promised by your long-anticipated vacation destination, nothing blurts NYA! NYA! in your face like terrible photographic lighting conditions, courtesy of Mother Nature. And by that I mean cloudless, unremittingly fair weather.

Such conditions make for flat, contrasty images with washed-out skies that you know are going to be drab and featureless even as you’re snapping the shutter. But you drove 500 (or 700; or 1000) miles to get here, so snap you do anyway.

To salvage some kind of value out of the occasion, you resort to the kinds of artsy-fartsy picture studies you would normally only consider undertaking back in your own urban backyard — such as still lifes (lives?) featuring rust-flecked signs instead of the craggy but sun-bleached terrain behind them. You might even add an ill-considered early morning self portrait into the mix, just for novelty — anything to break the tedium of full sun on bare rock.

Afterwards, you curse your luck (as I did following a trip to the far back-of-beyond reaches of Big Bend Ranch S.P. this Spring) and try all sorts of exotic post-processing techniques to salvage something worthwhile out of the expedition. (That daguerreotype filter in the Alien Skin Exposure toolbox sure comes in handy for such desperate projects!)

Other than bemoaning our luck, we can only take solace in the knowledge that our very next photographic journey may find the weather gods smiling on us as they have done before. It’s what keeps us going back for more.

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