Strike While the Iron is Hot

How many times have you thought about making a photography trip, but then put it off? Ian Plant urges you to go ahead and plan it because otherwise it may never happen!

Photography is more than just making pretty pictures; it is a way to document our constantly changing world. Driven by the unrelenting arrow of time, each moment is a unique slice of reality that will never be repeated. As photographers, we keep a sacred trust, recording and preserving that which will inevitably be lost.

To that end, we must all act decisively, and embrace fleeting photo opportunities when they arise. There is an old idiom that is a favorite of mine – “strike while the iron is hot” – which harkens back to the blacksmith at his forge. Iron must be shaped when it is hot and pliable; if the metal cools and hardens, the opportunity is lost.

For years, I visited a favorite place on Lake Superior, where a graceful sandstone arch hovered over the water. It was in deep water, with no easy way to approach it by shore. I tried to figure out a way to approach by kayak and set up my tripod in the water, but the scene resisted my early, half-hearted attempts. I always figured I could return one day and find a solution, perhaps wait for a drought when water levels dropped below average. But one year – without warning – the seemingly solid arch collapsed. It had stood for thousands of years, and then one day, it simply fell into the water. Now, it is gone forever, and I missed my chance to capture its fleeting beauty.

More recently, I traveled to Hawaii to photograph the ‘firehose flow’ at Kilauea Volcano's Kamokuna ocean entry in Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park, USA. For months...

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About Author


Ian Plant is a full time professional nature photographer, writer, and adventurer. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, books and calendars, and he is a frequent contributor to Popular Photography and Outdoor Photographer magazines, among others.

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