One of things you will hear from many photographers is to have your camera ready to shoot at anytime, and I'll concur with that advice. If you have your camera with you, it should be turned on and set to capture an image with little or no adjustment. This image is a very good example of that, along with being in the right place at the right time.
This image was taking while I was on a central California photography tour with Dave Wyman and Ken Rockwell in June of 2010. We had spent the day capturing images along the coast from San Simeon to the Bixby Bridge and were on our way back to San Simeon when we stopped at the historic River Inn in Big Sur for a break.
While others in our group headed straight for the river to capture some portraits of each other among the wooden chairs in the river, that the River Inn is famous for. I captured a few flower images around the grounds and was taken in by the bright colors of an old bus they were using as a beverage stand. After capturing some images of the bus, there wasn’t anything else in the vicinity that I was inclined to capture so I went to visit with a couple of other photographers that were watching and waiting for the others to finish up at the river.
The call was made to start heading back to the van, so I starting off in that direction. I had gone about 100 feet across the backyard of the River Inn and was under one of the many trees throughout the grounds, when just by chance, I happened to look up and saw this amazing image of the red leaves being backlit by the sun shining through them. It was fairly late in the day and the sun was rapidly moving toward the horizon, but because I always keep my camera ready to shoot if I’ve got it with me, I quickly lifting the camera to my eye, focused, and got off the shot, with this image being the result. There is virtually no post-processing done to this image and what you are seeing is what I saw with my own eyes.
In the case of this image, I had my camera set for aperture priority, auto ISO, and most importantly turned on, even though I wasn’t planning to take anymore images. This allowed me to just lift the camera focus, adjust the aperture with a quick spin of the command dial (although I do not remember if I actually change the aperture from where it was at) and shoot. After capturing this image I attempted to capture another shot but the sun had already moved and the glorious light coming through the leaves had left.
This image to the left was taken less than a minute later toward the same leaves and as you can see is nothing special, in fact I would normally have just deleted this second image but I kept it to illustrate just how quick great light can leave. The image above is one of my favorite from that trip along the California coast and I do believe it would have been missed if I hadn’t had my camera ready to shoot.