Turn Around - Doug Johnson

"Turn around" is maybe the best bit of photographic advice I ever received. It's free, easy, takes almost no time, and often results in surprisingly interesting photographs. And yet, it is unexpectedly hard to do.

It's seems like such a useful technique would become second nature but it was years before I regularly remembered to look behind me. Here's my best guess as to why this is: when there's nothing "interesting" ahead, I'm inclined to keep moving but when there IS something compelling, well, I don't even think to look away. The potential benefit of turning around, of course, is that the stuff behind us, and more importantly, the light on the stuff behind us could be WAY more interesting.

Turn Around

Which brings us to this week's photo -- shot at the end of a fantastic 12-hour bus tour of Denali National Park. We saw spectacular scenery and lots of big mammals (bears, moose, caribou, and sheep) but the star attraction, Mt. Denali, had remained hidden in clouds. Finally, at sunset, the clouds parted just long enough to catch a brief glimpse of the highest peak in North America.

Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the bus but could still see that a photograph would be disappointing because we were now over 30 miles away and the sun was setting almost directly behind the mountain. Between the haze, the glare, the bouncing bus and the distance, the spectacular 20,310-foot massif was going to look quite dim and puny.

That's when I turned around and spotted the shadow of the bus and all the passengers weaving in and out of the hills outside of my window. To me, this was far more interesting than the blurry scene on the other side.

I like this shot a lot -- probably more than anyone else because I was actually there, I really like shadows and reflections, and, to be honest, it just amuses me.

In any case, this photo is a rather good example of the serendipitous things that can happen when we remind ourselves to "turn around."

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