Or - Sometimes, if you keep at it, you can get what you want.
Early Saturday morning I found myself in the Fort Myers River District. I was hoping for some nice thunderheads for the rising sun to light up so I could make a nice picture. Nope – not a cloud in the sky. After moseying along the riverfront, I wound up near Joe's Crab Shack. I had always had a notion of making a picture of Joe's at night, all lit up with it's colored lights. No such color at sunrise. But with the contrast and texture of the High Point residential highrise as a backdrop, my mind's eye saw a possibility for a black and white picture. I set up, composed my picture, and waited for the sun to clear the downtown buildings and light up the scene before me.
By a quarter past seven the clear sky was becoming a deep royal blue. I knew that would give me the rich dark tones I wanted in a black and white image. Clouds? We don't need no stinkin' clouds. A breeze was rippling the water, scrambling the reflection, so for the first exposures, I chose to use a neutral density filter to lengthen the exposure time and, I hoped, give me a nice satiny reflection.
Then I made some more exposures with the ND filter removed for a crisper reflection and shifted my position to adjust the composition.
Later, when I reviewed the pictures at home, they were okay, but I wasn't satisfied with them. The next morning, Sunday, I went back downtown. I was roaming the district looking for a scene lit by street lamps while it was still dark and I noticed that I was sweating. Hey, there's no wind. It's absolutely calm. I could get a good reflection at Joe's. So, once again I found myself at the same location I had tried the previous morning.
From having reviewed the pictures from the day before, I knew the composition I favored, one with the corner of Joe's roof extending beyond the edge of the High Point building. Even though there wasn't any wind, there were boats moving in the marina that disturbed the otherwise smooth surface of the water and distorted the reflection. I figured I had what I needed and was about to head out, when, at the last minute, I decided to see what I see if I got down in the water. I had been shooting mostly from the landing of a pier in the marina.
As I set up the camera at the water's edge with the tripod as low as I could get it, I noticed that the water was almost perfectly still. “Now!” I thought. And I hurried to get it level and to compose. As I was about to trip the shutter, a fish jumped just under the building. Click - I got my exposure! Then, a few more as the fish's ripples spread out towards me and squiggled the mirror surface of the water. But I knew I had my picture.