Landscape photography is not a scavenger hunt where you get rewarded for how many places you can photograph.
In my book, you are much better off photographing fewer places, but doing them very well. Return. Find different light. Find a different way to show the place. See it in different seasons. Look for things like wildflowers, or wait for some bird or animal to come to it. Fall in love with the spot, and then work hard to tell it’s story – even if you have to keep trying.
Take Balanced Rock at Big Bend National Park. It is a beautiful place, at the edge of the Grapevine Hills. But it is a bit odd and a bit frustrating. You can only really see it full from a couple of vantage points (i.e. standing on a couple of boulders that let you see the whole scene), so almost all images of it look pretty much the same, no matter the photographer.
And I have shot this several times, so I did not really need this image, but made the long pre-dawn hike in the hope I might find it surrounded by wildflowers. Alas – NO, that was not to be. There were a few around, but not in your face and not in view of this class shot. But still worth shooting? Hell yes!
But soon a few clouds started to build, and then I suddenly had something unique to that exact place and that exact moment. For me, that is well worth the time and effort to get there and photograph Balanced Rock yet again.
But wait, there is more. What about finding a perspective you have never tried before? I walked around the Balanced Rock as I watched these clouds roll through and finally found this image, which would not work anywhere near as well with an empty sky. Again, an image completely of this one time and place.
And about those wildflowers, could I find any nearby? With a little searching, I finally found a couple of vantage points that allowed me to include flowers and Balanced Rock in the same frame.
So is that worth coming back to Balanced Rock every time I come to Big Bend? For me, the answer is definitely yes.