Ian Middleton • A Lucky Shot

What makes a great photograph? Ian Middleton lets us in on the secrets of how skill, experience and knowledge, plus a little bit of luck, play crucial roles

I took this picture on a hill in the Ljubljana Moors, just outside the capital of Slovenia. It wasn’t planned. I hadn’t even gone up there to take pictures, just on a walk with my family. However, when I got to the top of the hill and looked out, I saw the sun bursting through the clouds and rays spreading out, illuminating the frosty landscape. I also noticed the direction in which the clouds were heading. I couldn’t see the church in the distance, but I knew it was there and anticipated that it would fall upon this nearby hill and church.

Instantly I ran off over the fields, my two-year-old son chasing after me shouting “daddy, daddy!” I got into position, pulled out my camera from my backpack and got to work. For the next ten minutes I captured this and a number of other images.

I came back grinning. My wife by now is used to this crazy behaviour and was smiling this time. I thought to myself, ‘that was lucky.’

But was it? As I was processing the images later that evening and reflecting on my good fortune, I started to think about how luck plays a part in photography. I remembered another time when I had captured a picture of Lake Bled, with the sun’s rays bursting through the clouds and falling right on the island’s church. When I posted it on social media, one person commented ...

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