The Art of Yelling "Stop" So You Can Get the Shot

How many times have you been in a moving vehicle and missed a moment that you regret?

During our travels we aren't always privileged with time, patience, or friends and family that understand everything that goes into getting "that one photo" that you've wanted to capture. As a photographer, I have often traveled and explored with friends and family who want to share in my adventure. However, they don't always want to share in the joy that is waiting to capture a photo. Sometimes you have to say,

"STOP STOP STOP, DO YOU SEE THAT?"

 

Driving through Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the middle of spring is a surreal experience. As the photo at the start shows, the park comes alive with life in a multitude of green hues. This isn't the case for some of the park. For those unaware, in 2016 the Chimney Tops 2 fire burned more than 10,000 acres of the Smokies. Driving through sections of the park even in early 2017 yielded stretches of road that were surrounded by charred trees and dark undergrowth. At this point in the trip I didn't expect to stop in the park, it was my expectation that the next stop would be in Gatlinburg for gas to continue the trip home to Louisville. It didn't help that much of the time spent in the Smokies had been drenched in rain.


This was the view from Clingmans Dome. This was my first time in the Smokies and I didn't get to see a lick of sunshine in the mountains at this point in the trip. After spending a few days in Asheville, NC and along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I was disappointed in this trip the Smokies. Yes, I know that is typical Smokies weather. But as a photographer, I was left wanting more. 

Back to the drive through the burnt over section of the Smokies. We were leaving the park and in the back of my mind I knew I was going to have to come back. I didn't have a photo that I loved and I didn't have any time to hike in the park. All perfect reasons to come back. So I put the camera away and sunk into the passenger seat of the car ready for the drive home.

That's when I saw it. That's when I yelled "STOP, STOP, STOP! Do you see that?" It took a few moments, but this was the resulting photo.


In my disappointment I had almost missed the fact that the clouds were breaking, the rain was ceasing, and the Smokies were coming to life. The result of yelling "STOP" while someone else was driving the car gave me this moment of capturing a rainbow over the section that was burned by the Chimney Tops 2 fire back in 2016. Even to this day I still love looking back at this image, and reveling in the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. I can't wait to go back and see what else Great Smoky Mountains National Park has in store for me on my next trip!

Fast forward several months.

"STAAAAAAAAAAAAAHP THE CAAAAAARRRRR"

In my mother's eyes, this was probably not the most tactful moment in my life as a son.

Having to attend funerals are never fun. But we still had the family together, so I asked if we could take a trip to Mount Rainier while we were in Washington state. As the dates for the trip approached it started becoming clear that the trip up to Rainier was going to be tricky. The weather wasn't great, there were wildfires happening in Washington and Oregon, and it appeared that my luck for "this is my only chance" kind of trips isn't very good!

As we started ascending in elevation to the visitor center the clouds set in, and it was impossible to see more than three cars in front of us. At this point I knew I wasn't going to get many good photos out of this trip. So as we went up I had my mom pull over at Narada Falls. However, after editing this photo, I have come to appreciate the feel and mood that unexpected weather can add to a photograph.


Heck, even the visitor's center had this eery quality to it. In my photographer mind it still didn't make up for the fact that I was not seeing Rainier. That the picturesque location I was expecting wasn't there, and wouldn't be there on this trip.


But, as an added bonus my sister got her first Junior Ranger badge!


It was in these moments that once again I had given up. I packed up the camera into my camera bag and accepted that I was going to have to come back. So we left the visitor's center and started heading down the mountain towards our next stop.

That's when I saw it. That's when I yelled "STAAAAAAAAAAAAAHP THE CAAAAAARRRRR" and nearly gave my mother a heart attack as we were heading down a switchback with cars in front and behind us. I had my mom pull off at an overlook so I could attempt to see something...to see anything! And there she was!


This was the only view of Rainier I was going to get on this trip. As I took photos, the clouds rolled back in and covered her back up, as if to hide her glory from me and to shove it in my face. It just means I'll have to go back, but I'm glad that I go this photo!

The Art of Yelling "Stop"

By no means do I support giving people heart attacks. But we don't always travel solo and have all the time in the world to get the photos we want or to spend the time adventuring that we desire. I have in no way perfected how to tell friends and family to stop the car so that I can get a photo. My biggest suggestion is that if you're traveling with friends and family and you know that you may come across a moment where you want to take a photo, set expectations.

In the Smokies, my friend Jordan knew that I was upset about not getting a photo and was as supportive as ever saying "just let me know if you want to stop." And sometimes my excitement just comes out of my mouth at a higher decibel level than expected.

Mount Rainier, however, was not my most tactful experience. I found no way to express "I can see Rainier," as this was the first time in my life even getting a glimpse of the mountain in person. It was all I could do to tell my mom to stop the car. Traveling with family adds a level of trust and understanding that you may not get with friends in these moments.

At the end of the day, you also need to be open to yourself and your own eyes. Don't be afraid to keep looking, even after you have given up.

Published: January 19, 2018

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Edward Webb

Louisville

Storyteller and Photographer currently living in Louisville, Kentucky || Currently planning a 7,500 mile trip to visit 27 National Parks. Proof will be recorded here: www.nationalparkwanderlust.com || Contact: ted...