Muppet Moment 02 - Missed Opportunities

December 22, 2017  •  Leave a Comment


Sgwd Ddwli Isaf 1Sgwd Ddwli Isaf 1Sgwd Ddwli Isaf, The Lower Gushing Falls, on the Elidir Trail and the River Neath, Wales

I like this shot of Sgwd Ddwli Isaf, the Lower Gushing Falls on the Elidir Trail, it’s one of the highlights of Waterfall Country in South Wales.  I also hate this picture!


Well, it reminds me of my muppetry! 

Often, after seeing this picture I look in the mirror and to my reflection I pose the philosophical question:  AM I MUPPET?

I am not always a muppet, I hope, but there are times when I leap aboard a crazed bull and charge headlong, not only as a mere passer-by as the supreme reigning Lord of MUPPETDOM. 

The charging bull, sadly, is often the analogy to my indelicate approach to photography.  So rarely am I presented with beautiful scenery, that I tend to rush in. Despite much planning and preparation, at the scene I get nervous, twitchy, and fail to concentrate as I should. 

I stop looking for the unique compositions that I contemplated when studying the visit online, I still try to take shots...good shots...but I fail to immerse myself in the scene first.

Every scene is different, every day, even every minute; those subtle changes in light and shade that can alter the mood of the place, and your mood and feelings of the location.  To make a good photograph, a photographer should feel and connect with the scene, and show these in the final shot, not just to look at it and click it.

That’s not quite what I do; I hope I am beyond the snapshot level - though even that has its place.  I do try to compose thoughtfully; to line up the best angle, consider the border, the framing and so on...but I am still missing that vital measured approach.  Watch videos from Mr Heaton and Mr Danson.  They do it, and I am trying to learn from their vlogs.  I hope I am getting better...

Ok, I accept, I am not a photographer, I am a wannabe photographer, but, we all can have ambition...

So what is my main problem with this photograph? 

Look at it closely, above, or the larger version in my gallery. 

Do you see it yet?

  • I took this image, and several more from this position.  This is f/16, 0.8sec ISO100, 15mm on a crop sensor.  No ND grad but a polarizer was used.  Other shots were longer / slower shutter speeds, and also framing the upper and lower sections with different focal lengths
  • I moved to the left of this shot to view sideways across the lower section, and also to get a fuller view of the upper section
  • I checked out a piece of fallen timber to the left to include, but decided against it as it hindered the view of the falls too much
  • I moved to the right of this shot.  Closer to the low flowing river to see what movement I could get coming through the scene

All of these positions were also varied in terms of shutter speed.  In total I was in front of this fall for 20 minutes.  See some of the variations below, not fully processed but just to give you an idea.

So what’s missing?

Look at the main image again?  It hurts!

The lower section is, what, two feet high and VERY easy to climb up.

WHY WHY WHY didn’t I go up there to get a full shot of the upper section and it’s plunge pool, which, even at the low flow as it was last summer, would still give an awesome set of images?



Missed opportunity!

The tips from his moment of muppetry that I hope, HOPE!, to learn from are to try and prevent my “bull in china shop” approach, a mantra, then, for a process:

When you arrive:

  • Breathe!  Think!  Sounds simple, but DO IT!
  • Yes, the waterfall is beautiful, but what other focal points could you use to make a more interesting shot?
  • What other angles or perspectives could you use?

Oi! Stop it! Keep that camera off the tripod...keep thinking...

  • Are there any other positions I could move to?

Now you can start taking photographs, but don’t forget to check that you have covered everything you saw when you were working/processing the scene. 

  • Don’t let the bull run away with you, he can (and will) thunder in even after you start
  • Don’t get carried away
  • Remember to check your images BEFORE you leave the location.  Did you get it all? 
  • Go back to Step 1!

Many of us enthusiasts may only come to such a location once in a lifetime.  Make sure you don’t leave and regret it. 

If necessary, take a small note book and jot down ideas before you start clicking and check them afterwards.  Don't be a frustrated photog!  Sure you may fear the intrusion of people into that pristine clean scene, but, hey, what’s the Clone Tool for?

Have you ever had a similar experience to this?  Please leave me a comment so we can console each other!


Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.


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