OK, I’m not really that excited about trees. What really grabs my attention is a certain quality of the light – and perhaps the possibility to photographically isolate the interesting elements in the landscape. I say “possibility”, because almost every shot depends on luck to some extent. This one more than most.
The first piece of luck was being able to pull onto a barely used frontage road sandwiched between a busy freeway and the railway tracks. I had noticed the fast-moving clouds dragged their shadows across the dry hills as they raced by, constantly changing the scene in a mesmerizing game of “what will the spotlight shine on next”. Once set up, my ultra-wide-angle lens allowed me to include both the sky and the foreground in a nice dramatic way (it does distort quite a lot, but you’d never realize it unless you knew the railroad sign was really vertical!).
With the unpredictable light changing so rapidly, the perfect shot needed more than a little luck. My approach was just to keep shooting, in the hope that one of those shots would catch that magical moment with exactly the right play of light and shade. Most of the time, the scene was either all sunny or all overcast – really quite dull – but for one fleeting moment the simultaneous light on the rusty sign and the distant tree pulled it out of the ordinary and made it a keeper.
Good thing I saw that tree and pulled over!