If at First You Don’t Succeed…
Photographers are crazy. Pounds upon pounds of equipment cannot weigh us down or stop us from climbing a mountain. We forgo meals for photographic opportunity, only eating hours after the sun has finally set and we have trekked back to camp. It is this the passion that drives us. It can make us bake in the heat for hours hoping to spot a lion, stand on top of a desolate, freezing mountain in the wee hours of the night, waiting for 30 minute star trail exposures, and then trying again when they’re not perfect, or trudge through newly fallen Central Park snow at 4am to be sure to make it to the castle before dawn.
Unfortunately, sometimes things do not work out perfectly. Sometimes the lion doesn’t come, or you are late for the sunrise, or the weather, despite the forecast, has dampened the sunrise. The sting of a missed opportunity is downright disappointing, and it’s easy to let it ruin your day.
Two days ago, I took my first hot air balloon ride, over the beautifully unique Cappadocia region of Turkey. With mountains, valleys, fairy chimneys and other rock formations, and hundreds of multicolored balloons flying above them, this was to be the pinnacle, and final piece of my Turkish excursion. I planned for weeks and watched the weather closely. Through some local contacts, I tracked down the best company, and its best pilot. Everything was planned to a T.
But try as we might, photographers, we cannot control the weather.
Though the skies were crystal clear when I awoke at 4:15, a looming black cloud slowly rolled in. It positioned itself, with great purpose, directly over the valleys of Cappadocia, where the balloons fly. Far off in the distance I could see a hint of color and light on the edges of mountains, where the cloud dissipated towards the horizon, but above me there was no blue, or pink, or orange, and below there was only grey, only flat. One hour later, right on cue, as our balloon touched down, the skies opened again. It seemed to happen in a flash. Where had the clouds gone? Apparently I was not meant to photograph Cappadocia from the air. For the day I resigned to the fact that this was one amazing opportunity I would just have to miss out on, and started mentally planning my schedule and bus ride back to Istanbul for the following evening. Destiny had intervened, and the decision was made for me. But I never believed in destiny anyway, and I wanted photographs.
Not ready to pay the relatively large fee for another balloon ride which might easily turn out the same way, I decided to explore other options. I asked the reception man at the Shoestring Hostel if he knew anybody at the balloon companies, and if they might be interested in having a professional photographer on board. He told me he would look into it, but didn’t sound hopeful. As I walked away, it seems, a lightbulb went on. “Wait!” he shouted. “You’re a photographer?” he continued, as if he’d only just realized what was going on. He explained that the hostel itself might be interested in my services. Within 5 minutes, the boss had arrived. After another 5, I had a free room for the night, free lunch, dinner, and drinks, and (drumroll please) a free hot air balloon ride for the following morning. That morning was yesterday, and it couldn’t have been a clearer, more beautiful day. Plus, some cool cave hotel photographs don’t hurt either.
Never give up, photographers.