By Scott Shephard
Today, I'll spare you my philosophical ramblings and talk about the secret to most good photos: good light.
I took this photo close to twelve years ago during the sunrise service several Black Hills churches host at Mt. Rushmore every Easter. The sunshine on this day was clear and brilliant, as I think you can see. I should have been concentrating on the church service, of course, but I was multitasking.
As I look at the photos I took that morning, it occurs to me that the sun angle, which provides strong sidelight without casting too many shadows on the faces, occurs only once every 365 days - April 20, 8AM. And I was there to see it.
This may not seem like a big deal to you, but for me it is. Like so many other photo opportunities I've encountered, I was at the right place at the right time. Is this an example of what Ansel Adams described as "Fortune favoring the prepared mind?" I don't think so. I was a novice back then. I am less so now.
Canon 1D 1/800s f/10.0 ISO250 245mm
Here's the whole monument
And, for the sake of comparison, here's a photo taken two months later from a slightly different vantage point at the same relative time. Notice the deep shadow covering Roosevelt and how deeply shaded half of Washington's face is. That's because the sun is rising further to the north.