Picture: Desert Bighorn sheep at Valley of Fire State Park, near Las Vegas, Nevada
This is one of the images I included on my last post, my top photos of 2013. Now granted, I don’t actually consider this a super-great image. Sure, it’s a nice image, maybe even a very nice image. The reason it made my list for top shots of 2013 is based more on emotional attachment than pure, unabashed photographic quality.
You see, this image was taken on the first morning of my recent trip to the southwest corner of Utah. On this particular morning, I wound up witnessing the amazing glow of a cloud-filled pinkish-red desert sky sunrise. I have no photos of that amazing sunrise because I witnessed the glow while spending that entire part of the morning sitting inside an outhouse bathroom at Valley of Fire State Park. I was suffering intense intestinal distress thanks to an overly rich dinner the night before. My buddy, who was nice enough to treat me to dinner at what would be my first (& last) visit to The Cheesecake Factory while we were passing through Las Vegas, got some great pictures that morning. By the time the sunrise colors had totally faded to a dull overcast gray, I finally managed to emerge from the outhouse, … slowly.
I figured my morning was completely shot as far as photography was concerned. We hopped into our trucks and drove off to a different area of the park to make our breakfast of coffee and oatmeal. The lighting wasn’t great, and I sat and chatted with my buddy while he set up a time-lapse. Then, while he was engaged setting up his shot, I happened to glance over and see a few Bighorn sheep. Having never gotten a good shot of these animals before, I quickly grabbed my 80-400mm zoom and managed to get off a few frames as the small herd scampered across the rocks, quickly moving away from where we were. Two of the sheep stopped for just a brief moment when I manage to get this frame. I knew the moment I pressed the shutter that my once-ruined morning shoot had suddenly been salvaged with the click of a single frame.
Sometimes as photographers we head out the door only to get totally skunked, coming home with nothing good at all. It’s part of the territory, and we accept that. We may not like those times. We may just shrug our shoulders, throw up our hands, and resign ourselves to our poor luck. That’s just the way it is. But it’s also true that sometimes all it takes is just getting one single, good frame to turn what would otherwise have been a dismal failure into a success. For me, on this day, this was that shot.
If you have a similar story where one good shot saved the day, I’d love to hear about it. If you’d be willing to share your story in the comments, please feel free to include a link to the photo if you have it posted online somewhere.
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Gary Crabbe is an award-winning commercial and editorial outdoor travel photographer and author based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, California. He has seven published books on California to his credit, including “Photographing California; v1-North”, which won the prestigious 2013 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal award as Best Regional title. His client and publication credits include the National Geographic Society, the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, TIME, The North Face, Subaru, L.L. Bean, Victoria’s Secret, Sunset Magazine, The Nature Conservancy, and many more. Gary is also a photography instructor and consultant, offering both public and private photo workshops. He also works occasionally a professional freelance Photo Editor.