How to make a good picture? I can’t tell you anything about a universal recipy. But I have some basic principles: Do what you enjoy. And if you don’t have a choice, you have to try to make it enjoyable. Regarding myself, I found out that I find photography pretty boring, when I travel to a place, snap the picture and leave. Where is the magic here?
If I want to make an image, I want a story behind it. There is tons of nice pictures that I take, but the ones I love are the ones that have a story, or even tell a story. For the picture that you can see on top of this article, I prepared a long time. First, I made sure that I will be at the right spot at the right time. The spot was fixed. I wanted to make a unique picture of the Saarschleife. Including the Milkyway.
On google maps I found the direction, in which I will be photographing. Then, I downloaded a software called Stellarium to figure out, when I will see the milkyway in the adequate position, without having the moon polluting the nightsky with its otherwise so lovely light. March 23rd 4:30am. That will be a tough night. A week before I started checking the weather forecast. Clear sky, Yeah! 5°C, Damn! Whatever, I got warm clothes.
The journey was lovely. I slept over at a friends place (because he lives closer to the place I needed to go) and traveled as far southwards as I could do for free with my student ticket. From there, it would be just 210km to go. Easy for an experienced hitch-hiker!
Hitch-hiking is an topic on its own. I love it and I hate it. In the beginning, I usually think to myself “What the hell have you been thinking? You just stand at the road and hope that someone will stop?”. But then, if I got my first two lifts, the mood all changes: Nothing seems impossible. Really, nothing. I open myself up, talk a lot and lose all my fears and worries. I do not care what people might think, and I approach people directly for anything. People become my google maps.
I meet weird people who tell me about conspiracy theories (they don’t call them like that, they call it truth) and also more positively interesting and helpful people, who I would have never met otherwise. Just like Jean-Philippe, a language-teacher and writer who was on his way to France to visit a childhood friend. But he was far to early, so he took a serious detour, to bring me directly to the next city and have lunch before leaving me.
But I love to also leave the hitch behind at some point and hike. I love to do the last steps in a very decelerating way, to very slowly feel myself getting closer to the destination. I even (accidentally, though) took a wrong turn and realized it too late, so I finally walked 20km before I reached. It was already night. But it felt amazing. Even the bunch of young people from the village couldn’t change my mood. They unwittingly stopped me from setting up my tent, because my camping spot was their smoking-weed spot. And then there was Herbert, a mid-age retiree, who collected empty bottles, to earn a bit extra money.
Herbert actually could tell me a lot about the area, he knew everyone and was giving me a lot information about politics and economy of the region. Weird things happen, when you go out on weird trips. It all adds up to my story. I woke up at 4:00 by the same young people, coming over for another joint. But it was time for me anyways.
When I was framing my composition, I realized that I could see the Milkyway with the naked eye. That was totally unforgetable. The image is technically not perfect, it has a lot of noise and the forest and land is underexposed. But the story behind it makes it perfect to me.
I could take the picture and I had a beautiful and adventurous day. The way back was also a journey on its own. In the morning the places was crowded by fellow photographers, one of them was there on a short-trip with his mum. They invited me for breakfast and took me back. The world can be such a nice place, if you challenge it. Quite soon I found myself waiting on the very trainstation, on which I have started my journey a bit more than 24h earlier. But that seemed to be ages ago.