Sunday, July 15, 2012

Luck - The Good and the Bad

Sunset on the Water
Seneca, a first-century Roman philosopher, once said luck is when preparation meets opportunity. That is a great explanation of good luck. Bad luck on the other hand is the cause of one of two things; the lack of opportunity or the lack of preparation. 

I take ownership of my own luck, at least as much as I can. If I am not prepared it is my own fault. That's right, my fault.

If I know there is something that I want to photograph, I make sure sure to do what I can to make myself available to do it. 

Sometimes luck means I have to abandon something else that I want to do, like stay at home and have a quiet evening with my wife. But each and every time, luck requires me to say yes to opportunity when it comes knocking. 

And opportunity knocked on my door yesterday. And I said yes.
Faded Brillance

My friend, and fellow photographer, Liz Smith, called me up yesterday and asked me if I heard about the possible Aurora Borealis happening. I said, "No". 

She asked if I would be interested in going out and shooting it. I said definitely. It has been a goal of mine to just see an Aurora Borealis since I was a kid and learned about them. One of the biggest challenges has been my luck.

See I have spent my entire living at or below the 45th parallel, that is halfway between the North Pole and the Equator, in Oregon. As luck would have it, the Aurora Borealis don't dip down to the 45th parallel very often. 

Another bit of luck is the fact that I live in the state of Oregon. If you are not from around here, there tends to be considerably more overcast days than not here in Oregon. That is not a complaint, but simply an observation supporting my story of luck. I don't complain about the weather like so many others I know. I love cloudy skies during the day because cloudless skies are boring for a photographer.

Starry Sunset

To be an aspiring astrophotographer living in a perpetually overcast state like Oregon usually can be, is sort of bad luck. Being an aspiring astrophotographer looking to photograph the Aurora Borealis and living beneath the 45th parallel is a double tap to the bad side of luck. 

So when opportunity presents itself, even if it is only a thirty percent chance, I jump on it. Thirty percent was the chance that the  Aurora Borealis would be visible at the 45th parallel.

The skies were clear; opportunity. The sun had sent a sizable, M-Class, coronal mass ejection (CME) right at us; opportunity. I made myself available; prepared. I tracked the coming solar storm online; prepared. But alas the Aurora dream would remain such, a dream. 

The Aurora Borealis never made an appearance at the 45th parallel because the CME was not strong enough; no opportunity.

But I didn't let that take away from the beautiful evening and great company of my wife and Liz. 

We even had a surprise encounter with another photographer friend, Nathan Smith and his wife and son, Heather and Noah.

All of us made the best of the Aurora Borealis show, sans the Aurora Borealis, and had a great time and captured some amazing images of sky, both during and after sunset.

In the end the Aurora Borealis never made the opportunity available. But I made some beautiful photographs and shared a beautiful evening with some wonderful friends and my wife. It was a lucky day after all.

Are you prepared? If not; Why not?

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