Missed Opportunities

I missed it, and have no excuses. No good ones, anyway. 

My camera and lenses worked just fine. My batteries were charged, and memory cards had plenty of space. 

And it wasn’t like it was just a one-off chance, either. I had plenty of opportunities. I’m kicking myself, I just CANNOT BELIEVE I MISSED IT!! I failed to get a good photograph of the Comet Neowise.

You’ll recall Neowise as that super-cool, once in every 6,800 years Astro event that photographers from across the globe spent the majority of July salivating over. Chasing compositions lining the comet up above some of the most iconic locations around. 

Some seriously awesome images were made by talented photographers who took the time, made the effort, and got out there to do the work. Shots like this one: 

They deserve it, and I don’t. I had big aspirations, yet here I am with nothing even though I live so close to so many things that would have worked really well. I had ideas. From framing Neowise with an Anasazi ruin at nearby Wupatki National Monument, which would have been GREAT, to composing an image of the streaking comet flying over the Grand Canyon, which is only an hour-and-a-half away. PERFECT! Alas, nothing. 

I have no excuse. I wasn’t too busy. I wasn’t consumed with other things. I was available and paying attention. Only a few nights were ‘skunked’ due to cloud cover, not all. 

I suppose that saying I flat out missed Neowise isn’t exactly accurate. I saw it twice, once when I had my camera in tow, but I wasn’t really prepared. I didn’t have a lens selection, didn’t have a read on a composition. Thus, my result was nothing to write home about… 

Neowise is the first bright comet to be visible with the naked eye from the northern hemisphere since the mid-1990s, so it’s not as if I’ll just ‘catch the next one.

Anyone else out there feeling bad about missing out on this opportunity? Beating myself up about this got me thinking about missed photographic opportunities. I’m sure that we all have a story about a time when for whatever reason we missed a chance at a GREAT photographic opportunity. A chance that in retrospect we feel as if we should have taken. This might have been a time where you slept in and missed out on perfect light over an amazing location. A sunset that turned out to be epic when we skipped out on it because “it didn’t look good.” Maybe your story is from missing a unique event or moment that you thought about photographing, but got lazy and left it be. 

Should we concern ourselves with these missed chances? Photographers work to record moments in time that otherwise can go unnoticed. We want to capture everything we see. It is in our nature to see it all, to not miss the details. 

But we can’t photograph everything, so should we hold ourselves accountable to never miss anything of perceived value? Because we are photographers are we somehow responsible to ALWAYS be on the hunt, camera in hand, and ready to go? I think there are times where I would answer “heck yes!” and other times where I’d say, “unnecessary.” 

Obviously, there is no right answer to this question, only opinions. I thought it might be a fun one to ask as I enjoyed (sort of) pondering it myself as I was trying to make excuses in order to let myself off the proverbial hook.  

I still regret missing out on Neowise. Should I be beating myself up about it? Depends, I suppose. We’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’d like to share your favorite story of a missed photographic opportunity, head on over to the Backcountry Journeys’ Tribe Facebook page and tell us all about it!  

And if you were able to photograph Neowise, we’d love to see your work, there, too. I, for one, will be quite jealous. 

Kenton Krueger








Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Katmai, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands National Parks, as well as internationally in Costa Rica & Brazil. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, and spent roughly five years writing and photographing for the award-winning Omaha World-Herald newspaper, out of his hometown, Omaha, Nebraska. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of trip leading and guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens, to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.


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