The Art of Patience and Paying Attention

June 06, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

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January sunrise Crested Butte Mountain, Coloradop1259670586-5

Intense sunrise color over Crested Butte Mountain, Colorado

The title of this post could have just as easily been “The Patience of Art…”. Far too often I’m a victim of seeing just one way and jumping out of the truck, camera in hand, and clicking away. That’s not all bad but it’s not very good either. The downside to photography from an artist’s perspective is that the “thing” has to actually happen. My painter friends have a little luxury over me in this respect. They can paint from memory, imagination or fantasy. I don’t get to photograph that way. They can also edit as they work and just leave out the telephone poles, fences and other distractions. I spend hours or days in Photoshop trying to do that, oftentimes with poor results. For the photographer, paying attention to the world around us and knowing how stuff works is a critical skill.

In the sequence above I was compelled to find a vantage point and photograph the first image even though, after brief inspection, it left a lot to be desired. I was disappointed with it. Upon further inspection, not in the camera but of the scene, I realized that the scene may get better. The hint of what was to come (maybe) was the sliver of bright light under the clouds at the horizon. I knew I was up before official “sunrise”. The sliver of bright sky promised the possibility of glorious light on the underside of the clouds if I would only wait. Then five minutes later (3rd photo) the color actually got worse. That happens a lot. For every incredible photo you see hundreds of others never even happen. But a few minutes later the red reappeared and slowly began to intensify. You’re seeing just nine of 23 images above but I still think it makes my point. Over the course of 20 minutes the sky went from interesting to incredible just as I thought it might. If I had followed my first instinct to drive off after reviewing the first image I would have missed “the shot”. I hate it when that happens! To avoid those disappointments I’m learning to slow down, pay attention and be patient. I’ve been rewarded with some pretty nice images for that learning as well. For a photographer, an intimate knowledge of our subject(s) is an important skill. Otherwise, our great images are just dumb luck. Whether we’re photographing landscapes, wildlife, portraits, birds or what have you, knowledge of our subjects is what will separate our work from the masses.

Good news! My new portrait and wedding website is now live. Take a look at and let me know your thoughts. Feel free to share this blog or the web link with anyone you think may be interested. Thanks for looking!

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Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson creates fine art photography displayed as prints and canvases and provides private photo tours in and around western Colorado.

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