Some shots are millions of years in the making.
The first time I visited this fossil eroding out of the Badlands National Park Sediment it was a dreary overcast day. The second time, the fossil skull was covered with snow. Both times, I thought something was missing: a shot to do this subject justice.
I happened upon the fossil again a day or two ago as I was searching for undiscovered arches to photograph. This time I was there in winter and had late afternoon light. The long-dead animal suddenly came to life. This was the shot that was missing in previous visits to the location. The winter sun’s low elevation and later afternoon angle combined to cast a wicked shadow. The shadow almost looks like the fully-fleshed head of a beast. After millions of years, the skull shows signs of life-shadow signs but signs nonetheless.
After millions of years, I am glad I kicked it around a few more days before giving up on the shadow of the beast within. Next time struggle with a subject ask yourself what it would look like in a different time of day, a different season, or millennia hence. I could have duplicated this with a little speed-light magic in any season but it took nature’s own for me to see the light.
Rikk Flohr © 2010