At dawn Sunday morning, a thick fog blanketed the lake, and I grabbed my Nikon and tripod, jumped in the car, and headed for the other side. Just before I got to the bridge, I glanced down to see a boat and 2 fishermen near the high bank, half obscured by the fog. "That would make a nice shot," I thought, slowing briefly before continuing over the bridge. I decided to check out the early light from the west bank and then come back to capture the image of the fishermen.
I should have known better.
Across the lake, fog sheathed the sun, while the underside of the bridge rose out of the water like a docked battleship. Labor Day campers were being treated to a glorious morning, with the first muted sun rays reflecting on the water, and blue sky peeking through the mist. An energetic visitor jogged down the highway from town, and at the Marina, a man strolled with his dog, leash in one hand, coffee mug in the other, both silhouetted against the sky. Three boats rested against the sand, possibly waiting for their last outing of the summer.
While I clicked away with my camera, something was tugging at the edge of my brain. The image of fishermen in the fog. The one that got away. By then it was too late to capture the same thing I saw earlier; the light would be different, even if the boat were still there, which was doubtful. Photography is often, for me, as much about the shots I miss, as the ones I take. Besides the limitations of ability and equipment, there is the obvious and sometimes irritating fact that at any given moment, a person can only be in one place.
There is a silver lining to this, however. That fishermen photo, though I can't share it with anyone, rests in the archives of my mind, where it is perfect, with no issues of focus, exposure, white balance, or print quality. Wayne Gretzky said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Well, maybe not always.