Print It!

Abstract pseudo-aerial. A trick to edit and print.

Some would argue that an image is not final until it is printed. More and more I am tending to agree. Print it – you will learn a lot and be a better photographer.

What is the thing you are creating?

I am intrigued by the idea of creativity and I have studied creativity research some recently. Real, hard core theoretical psychology. It has been disappointing. One of these days I will write an article on what I have observed.

One of the things I do appreciate about the papers I have read is that they tend to tie creativity to producing something. Sort of the idea that if you just think creative thoughts, are you creative? If you can’t or won’t produce a creative work, is the creativity really there?

There is benefit in producing something and holding it up for yourself and others to see and examine. Small images on a screen do not have the impact

Why a print

A print is real – a tangible, physical product. It takes on a life of its own; it is held, examined, felt, passed around, hung on a wall. It is permanent.

Creating a print changes our thought process and our relationship to the image. We must finalize it, because the print will never change. And we have to re-think it in terms of the limitations of the print medium.

It is kind of like having a child. Initially it is my baby, very closely held and personal and protected. Then it grows up and becomes an independent person.

And by analogy, the print is made to be permanent and independent. It is a work we have produced for others to have and enjoy.

What do we learn

I am amazed by what I learn by printing an image. It was edited for hours until I am sure I am happy with it. Then when the print comes out, it’s “Really? That needs more work”.

Viewing a print is quite different than looking at an image on screen. We have a different relationship with it. Our perception is very different. Even at a simple technical level, an image on a screen is formed by light being generated, an additive process. A print is seen as light reflecting off a substrate as modified by colored pigments. A subtractive process. The perception and the psychological process is different.

But ignoring all technical considerations, there is something about a print that points out all the flaws in your image. Seeing it as a physical representation on paper changes how we look at it and what we see. If you want to find out if your image is any good, print it.

How is it that I can work with an image for hours on screen and not see that sensor dust spot in the sky? Why didn’t I see that the mid tone contrasts are inadequate? And that purple highlight just doesn’t have the punch I wanted. Where did that distracting line leading off the edge come from?

We see a print more critically. Since it is a different process on a different medium we have a fresh look. And a print is far more limited in dynamic range than our camera sensor or computer monitor, so we have to map it differently to get the result we want.

A real thing

Holding our image makes it real. It has weight and texture and it is a permanent work independent of us. To use the baby analogy again, before the child is born it is still kind of an abstract idea. After it is born it is real and living.

In the days of film, making your first print was often a seminal moment. The experience of seeing a black & white image “come to life” in the darkroom bath is often the moment people say they became hooked on photography. It can be somewhat similar with printing, if you do your own. Seeing this baby of yours coming to life on paper right there in your studio is a joy.

Have you held a print? Isn’t it magical? And if you hand a print to someone, watch their reaction. Wonder, joy, maybe fear of ruining it combined with a desire to touch it. They only see images on screens. When it leaps off the screen and becomes a real, physical object they perceive it very differently.


I am doing more printing recently. I knew it would be a change and a learning, since I had not done it for a while. But even I was not prepared for it. But I love it. A great print is a thing of beauty. The image becomes real, alive, permanent. Like our child, it grows up and has a life of its own.

Try it. It could change your viewpoint.

The Subject Isn’t the Subject

French street scene at night. The comp[osition carries it.

Huh? Wrap your self around that for a minute. When we shoot images, we almost always have a distinct subject. What sense does it make to say the subject isn’t the subject?

Inspired by a quote

This article was inspired by an article by Ian Plant in Nature Photography Network, Feb 8, 2023. In part, he said:

But the single most difficult, most counterintuitive aspect of photography, the one thing that most photographers have a tough time wrapping their heads around, is this: your subject is not your subject. Instead, your subject is just part of the overall visual design. The subject might arguably be the primary element of the design, perhaps the most important part, but it is only a part, nonetheless. To make truly exceptional photographs, you need to include more than just your subject; you also need to include other visual elements that work together with your subject, getting the viewer engaged with the story you are telling with your image.

This requires some careful thought. Many of us tend to be fixated on finding the “right” subject and filling the frame with it. Ian is suggesting that is a limiting view.

What else is there besides the subject?

But if you have a good subject, and if you light it and have adequate depth of field, and you expose it right, doesn’t that make the picture? He says probably not, and I tend to agree with him.

A successful picture is a complex balance of many, often competing, dimensions. Yes, a subject is usually important, but there is the overall visual design, the composition, the feeling, the processing, even the context.

Presenting a badly designed image of a great subject usually doesn’t work well. Maybe in a photojournalism context, if the subject is truly unique it would be considered a strong image. But as a normal visual image, no.

It’s that balance thing. All the parts have to be strong.

It all works together

A well composed image of nothing particular probably doesn’t work. Neither does a not well composed picture with a good subject. We’ve probably all experienced both.

Another statement from Ian Plant in that article is:

Once you learn to stop thinking of your subject as your subject, you instead start seeing your subject as an abstract compositional element, which is a necessary step for making compelling photos. You start to see your subject in terms of its shape, color, and luminosity value. Seeing shapes and learning how to arrange them effectively within the picture frame is of critical importance to successful composition.

So the subject is part of what you build a compelling image around. Everything else you have learned about composition have to be thought through. You know, the considerations of framing and leading lines and balance and contrast and emphasis and patterns and … it goes on. You can find a million videos on the internet with someone ready to give you the secrets of composition.

Viewer perception

Why doesn’t an interesting subject carry a picture by itself? For you, it might. You were there. The image invokes memories of the experience, or the subject is important to you. Not so for the viewer.

To the user, it is a picture. You have to give him a reason to keep looking at it. People are so inundated with imagery that they are going to move on in about 1/2 second unless you can grab them.

So, let’s say there is a picture you like of a heron. It was your first trip to Sanibel Island in Florida and you shot lots of bird pictures. It is significant to you. But put yourself in the place of your viewer. They see lots of heron pictures. What does this one have to offer to make them pause on it?

Is it a significant moment with the bird poised to catch a fish? Is the bird in an interesting pose? Does the lighting enhance the feeling? Have you brought something of the environment where the bird lives that is of interest? Does this tell an interesting story about the bird? A good image is more than just an interesting subject.

Your mileage may vary

Seems funny how most of my articles contain a disclaimer like “your mileage may vary”. Art is intensely subjective. There are no hard rules. There are only patterns that have been identified over time that seems to strongly influence people’s perceptions.

Ian is describing landscape photography. “Rules” may well be different for portraiture or photojournalism or other things. The fine art I do is a lot like landscapes. Sometimes it is straight landscapes. So his thoughts struck me as significant. As always, you do your own art according to what makes sense for you. Never let any so called authority tell you you can’t.

But listen to opinions of people who have a track record of doing good work. Don’t necessarily follow them, but listen, try it on, see if it fits before rejecting their advice.

Today’s image

This is a quick shot of a street scene in Paris. It is not a carefully planned set up shot. I was out for dinner with family when this grabbed me.

Quick or not, it passed the test of “I’ll think of a reason later“. The more I worked with this the more it went up in my estimation.

Why? It is a pretty standard tourist shot of Paris streets. Look at the things that help make it more. The curve of the street and sidewalk draws us into the scene, as does the diagonal line of light and color., as do the people walking into the scene on the right. The bicycles give movement and make it more alive. The light and color on the building draw us to the side of the street that has most of the interest. As you look along the lighted street, the people in the cafes each seem to have their own story and interest. They all seem to be enjoying the evening out and that is pleasant and inviting. The receding perspective of the buildings on the left also direct and guide us along the street and through the scene.


To me, there is a lot of interest to explore and reasons to keep moving around the image looking at things. A simple shot of a street at night blossomed into an interesting picture. It moved beyond a street scene and became a study of living in Paris.

Most all of that was instinctual, not planned. A (metaphorical) bell went off alerting me there was something here. I got in position and framed the shot quickly. I really didn’t want to hold up my group, and I didn’t.

It’s a fairly standard and common subject. Design improved it to something more special. Instinct helped me craft the interest. What do you think? Is it interesting? Am I kidding myself?


Hand held, old digital camera, estimated metering.

I have written a few times about how intent and expression are more important in a photograph than craftsmanship. I don’t want to leave the impression that craftsmanship is unimportant. It is critically important for a serious artist.

What is craft?

Craft is defined as skill at carrying out one’s work, or an activity involving skill in making things by hand. I believe an artist first has to be a craftsman. Proficient with his tools. Using our tools and equipment must be second nature.

Craftsmanship is usually a learned skill rather than an innate talent. Sure, some things are easier for some people than others, but it still has to be learned. Lots of investment of time and practice.

When we get skilled at the craft, the mechanics recedes into the background. It becomes a support and enabler for our artistic vision.

Perfection doesn’t make a picture

I have argued before that perfection of craft does not make a great image. The classic statement is Ansel Adam’s quote that “There’s nothing worse than a sharp picture of a fuzzy concept”.

It might be better to say craft alone does not make a great image. It is a table stake. You need it to get in the game. An excellently crafted image may not be great, but a poorly crafted image is very seldom great.

Craftsmanship is the base

Craftsmanship is a base we build our work on. But it is only a base, one of the legs of the stool. We also have to have vision and creativity and the drive to express them. I believe this expression cannot happen without solid craftsmanship.

I have said before that photography is one of the most technical of the arts. We are dependent on our equipment. Knowing how to use it correctly and effectively is absolutely critical to success.

We must study and practice and drill until it becomes second nature. Have you trained your hands to just “know” where the camera controls are? Can you use them in the dark? With gloves on? Can you quickly and almost instinctively determine the exposure solution that aligns with your intent for the image? Are composition and framing decisions happening rapidly in the background with little conscious thought?

When you’re out in the field working a scene you like, you don’t need to spend time juggling the technical tradeoffs in adjusting the camera. This distracts you from the artistic side. For instance, recognizing that this scene needs about f/8 to get the depth of focus you want and, since you are hand holding, at least 1/200th second shutter speed to insure a crisp image. Given that, are you willing to go to ISO 1600 to get these settings? These decisions should be almost instantaneous and subconscious.

This is not to say you are operating by habit or on automatic. Quite the opposite. It is a state of flow. You are channeling all the craft you know to focus on the moment at hand. It is exhilarating.

Photography is a craft

Photography is a craft. Most arts are, but it seems more obvious in photography. We cannot create without our tools. And we cannot create well unless we are proficient with our tools.

Let’s take a quick look at the chain of technologies required in photography.

On the capture side there is the camera, of course. They are not trivial anymore. The user manual for my Nikon Z7-II is 866 pages. That just describes all the settings available, not how to use them. Becoming skilled at using one of these is formidable. Luckily, most of us only use a subset of the capability.

And how much data do I need for what I am doing? Shooting full frame 40MPixels and above requires much more refined technique to achieve great results. Maybe what I’m doing today would be just fine with a 20MPixel APC camera. Do I have large and fast enough memory cards for my shoot? Enough batteries?

There are the lenses and filters to select. It takes training to understand the effects possible and how to select the right look for the situation. Should I use a zoom lens when I know it is theoretically possible get a little better sharpness with a prime lens?

Am I in the camp that says all images must be shot on a tripod? Or am I a hand-held guy? Or either, depending on the situation? Shooting hand held, do I know the techniques to get maximum sharpness? Or the techniques to shoot moving subjects?

What about capture file formats? White balance? Camera profile settings?


That’s just the capture of an image. If you shoot RAW images, which I hope you do, the images are useless until they have been processed intensely.

First, they have to be transferred to your computer. Do you have enough storage? My main image storage is currently using over 7 Terabytes. Then there’s multiple backup of that.

If you are processing high resolution files you will need significant computing power. Lots of memory and graphic processing power. And a great, color calibrated monitor. Hopefully of 5K or more. That power is required to be able to process images fluidly without having to wait for the machine to catch up. Waiting really breaks your concentration.

And of course, you use a color balanced process. Your camera and monitor are calibrated and you are using a wide color gamut system like ProPhoto RGB. A wide gamut allows lots of freedom in editing.

All that processing takes a lot of time. So when you go out and shoot 1000 images, don’t forget that they have to be processed, and culled and keyworded and filed.. For me, processing an image takes anywhere from 1 minute to 8 hours.


How you process an image depends on what you are using it for. Getting something ready to post on social media probably just requires some color and tone correction and maybe cropping. Preparing an image for a print could take a long time.

Let me take the path of going to a print, since that is my preferred utilization.

A print is a physical object that is perceived different from an image on a screen. The viewing time of a print is usually much longer than an image on screen. As such, it generally needs to be processed to a higher standard. Very careful spotting – removing sensor dust spots – is critical. Spending time removing or mitigating distracting elements is usually important.

Many of the remaining decisions center on the characteristics of the final output. What size will the print be? What paper will be used. All papers have different properties and strengths and weaknesses. The paper can make the print look very different. Is it matte or glossy? Coated or uncoated? Heavy or thin? What color is it – papers aren’t necessarily white.

To get an estimate of the final result requires turning on proofing during the editing. The computer attempts to simulate the final printed result. Of course, to do that, you need accurate profiles for the paper and printer combination. But that is just an approximation. It may need more than one attempt. And what about out of gamut colors on your print? Handling those can be tricky and exasperating.

Build on it

That is a lot! And this is just talking about still photography. Photographers have to be expert at most of what I described. That is some of the craft involved. All of this craft has to be used intelligently in the process of making a great image. It’s why I say that photography is one of the most technical and craft-based arts.

But as much as we sometimes like to burrow into the fun details, the craft is a base. Build your base solid. But on top of the base, we need to build our artistic sensibility, our vision. We have to establish our style.

Craft means knowing how to use your tools to achieve the results you want. Maybe that is an ultra crisp, tack sharp image. Maybe it is a flowing abstract with no sharp pixels. Yours might run to dark and moody and underexposed. Somebody else might be bright and high key. Those are your choices. Whatever your vision leads you to do, it is your craft that allows you to achieve it.

Throw It Away

Going to work on a Paris morning

This is a controversial subject. I have touched on it before, but it is time to circle back. My assertion is that most of us should throw away more of our work. Horrors! Kill our darlings? Sounds terrible! But I am convinced that one excellent way to improve our work is to throw it away.

We probably overshoot

It is so easy now days with digital cameras. There seems to be no cost for shooting a lot of frames. We “work the scene”, taking many shots at different angles and positions and focal lengths. Refining it to find the best view. And then shoot a few insurance shots, you know, in case one doesn’t record properly or we jiggle the camera. You know.

That’s a pretty typical process and can be useful. But the reality is these shots are not free. We have to edit them, cull through them to select the best, do some “quick” processing to see if they seem worth investing more in. This takes a lot of time. They take up disk and backup storage space.

So where with film, we might have taken 3 or 4 images of a scene, now we come back with 15 or 20 or more. That can be good. If you really have to work through different views to determine what is best, then do it. Or increased experience might help to get you there in fewer attempts.

For example, you come to a nice waterfall. So you shoot brackets of apertures from f/ 2.8 to f/22, and brackets of shutter speeds from 1/1000th to 10 sec, and exposures from -3 to +2 stops. Just in case. Why? You should know from experience what you prefer. You should know that f/8 +/- a little is what you like with this lens at this distance. The amount of blurring you prefer is usually achieved at around 1/4 to 1/10 second for this kind of subject. You should know how to expose to the right and prevent clipping of highlights.

Just that takes it from shooting all possible combinations to intelligently determining what to do. You have a style and preference and you should be comfortable with the craft. Why shoot things you know you won’t like?

Overshooting creates a huge backlog of work. And lots of wasted disk space. And a cluttered Lightroom catalog. Simplify.

We keep too much

OK, let’s say you intentionally shoot a lot of images of a scene as you work it. How much of that do you really need to keep?

Are you going to keep all the shots in case you later change your mind later about what you like? Don’t. Make an artistic decision and stick with it. Don’t keep that full bracket of apertures “just in case” you change your mind.

We make it hard on ourselves by second guessing our decisions. Decide what you like in the group, what matches your intent at the time, and throw away most of the others. My experience is that if I didn’t know what I liked at the time, one of the variations seldom captures “it” either.

The great gets lost in the sea of good

Are you drowning in a sea of pictures? So much that you can’t locate the shots you like best? I get the impression that this is an increasing problem for a lot of people.

A solution is a more disciplined filing and catalog system. This is made much easier when there are fewer images competing for our attentions.

You don’t need 20 decent pictures of that scene. You need the one that represents your best artistic sensibility at the time. And that one should be processed to bring out your vision as you saw it then. It should never be a case of wading through many competing images to pick out the best one.

Here is a hard lesson I have had to learn: good images are usually worthless. Only great images have any chance of making it. You seldom need the ones that are only good.


I am arguing for decluttering our catalog by removing images you aren’t going to need. But yes, that means you have to kill some of your darlings. Delete perfectly good images.

This hurts. Why should you delete good images? Because as I said earlier, we are artists. We have to have the confidence to make a decision and a statement. This is my vision of that scene. None of the other attempts matter. DaVinci didn’t paint 20 variations of the Mona Lisa.

If you have a catalog of 100,000 images, are they 100,000 excellent images? What good are all those OK images that you will never use? Wouldn’t it be much better to only have 10,000 great images? The numbers are just for discussion. My point is, declutter your environment.

But, we say, I need insurance shots in case my great image gets corrupted. Really? How often does this happen. And if it does, that is what your backup strategy is there to correct.

But I really like all those shots. Yes, but when is the last time you used one of them? Why would you use one of them? If they are not the great image you love, their value is close to zero.

To use the example from before, if you have 100,000 pretty good images, how do you locate that 1 great one you want to submit to a gallery? It is hard to find the signal in the noise.

Declutter. It hurts at first, but is healthy.

Tighten up that portfolio

The same applies to our portfolios and projects. Less is usually more. This is another of those painful lessons experience teaches if we listen.

Your portfolio should have a max size you pick. If you want to add a new image to a portfolio, make yourself decide which one you will replace. This is hard. But here is a truth: every time you take one out, you make the remaining set stronger. Taking out a picture you love doesn’t mean you don’t love it anymore. It just means that it is not the strongest in the group.

I don’t think I have ever damaged a portfolio by taking something out.

Same with projects. That is a little trickier, because sometimes we need images to set a context or help tell our story, but still, they should all be strong. Less is still usually more.

A personal example. I recently needed to pull together a group of images for an exhibit. The subject was one I love, so I had a lot of images I really liked. In my first pass, I pulled out 162 images I loved that I thought would be great for it. I knew that was a ridiculous number for this exhibit, but I really liked all of them.

So hard core culling mode on. After my next pass, it was down to 125. Progress, but way out of range still. I had to remind myself that deleting an image from the set doesn’t mean I don’t like it, just that it was bumped by a stronger image of mine. So with a great struggle, I was down to 69. So far I have taken out nearly 100 of my favorite images!

Narrowing my focus and getting even more selective got it down to 44. It hurt, but now I have narrowed it to 23. I’m kind of stuck right now, but I know I need to get it down to about 15.

A funny thing has happened, though. At this point I believe ALL of them are great images and I could almost randomly select the next 8 to cut. That is an interesting realization.

Be reasonable

In all things you have to make reasonable judgments for yourself. I’m not saying never keep alternate shots of a scene. I routinely keep a few. But I don’t keep duplicates that do not add any value. And I don’t keep alternate images that I know from experience are not my style.

And there are those shots you know are flawed, but you just love them. Fine. I have a lot of those. Generally they are segregated from my “main” images, but they are important memories for me. Or they tell a behind the scenes story that is valuable to me.

I use a multi-pass editing process and I usually let images age some before making many final judgments about them. But I figure if I don’t delete about 1/2 of my shots, either I am on a great run (it happens sometimes) or I’m not being critical enough. Often it runs to 2/3 deleted. And by deleted, I mean really gone, erased, trashed, removed, never to be seen again, digital dust.

It hurts, but the remaining ones are stronger. I want to always be biased toward making the survivors stronger.

Today’s image

The project I described above is on France. More about the joie de vivre rather than a tourist view. To present more of a mirror than a window, to refer back to a recent post. This picture is one i am struggling with. Would you keep it? So far I have. I think it says a lot about the environment and culture and spirit of the people. I love it for a number of reasons. If it doesn’t make it into the final set, I will be disappointed, but it means the overall group has a higher bar.

I’ll Think of a Reason Later

An un-pre-visualized shot taken from a moving boat on the Seine River.

I get tired of hearing all the pronouncements from leading photographers about how all our shots should be carefully planned and pre-visualized. While this is good advice sometimes, it is not always true. At least, not for me. I have come to see some of my best work as happening when “I’ll think of a reason later”.


I got the title from an old country & western song by Lee Ann Womack, lyrics by Tony Martin and Tim Nichols. Great lyrics, but the song has nothing to do with photography or any art. But when I heard the title, it seemed to perfectly fit what I often experience. So I decided to “repurpose” it.

You know how you sometimes hear something that sparks other ideas or seems to crystalize some ill-formed thoughts that have been gnawing at you? This was that for me. I love the image it brings to my imagination.


It is part of the accepted religion of many photographers that you never shoot a picture without a well thought out plan. Even to a firm visualization of what the final product should be. Being a matter of faith, it is unquestioned and can’t be reasoned. But I will question it. There is an old quote that says “sacred cows make the best burgers”.

Is there a time for careful planning? Yes. Of course. Otherwise the whole controversy would be foolish.

When is planning important? First, on any commercial shoot, where a certain result must be obtained, on schedule and on budget. You will not work in the industry if you can’t deliver repeatable and acceptable results to your client. Sure, you must also have a recognized style to flavor your work, but that is secondary to the results the client wants.

Second, if you are doing some type of conceptual photography, where you have to synthesize the result from materials you shoot specially for it. It all has to be coordinated so the right materials are available for constructing the final image. The parts must be consistent in lighting, focal length, position, color, etc. Most of all, they have to be complete. You don’t want to start bringing your product together and find that a key piece is missing. This process takes good planning and visualization.

A third possible one is a once in a lifetime trip to an exotic location. It would be reasonable to scout the location, plan for lighting, weather conditions, etc. I say maybe, because I probably wouldn’t do it. I might want to have some idea of what to expect, but I would be more energized by abandoning preconceived notions and reacting to what I find.


What’s missing in this very disciplined notion of planning? To me, it is spontaneity, happy accident, feelings, reactions. These are the things I thrive on. These things make my work more alive and vibrant.

The things I find, unanticipated, can captivate me. When something excites me and energizes me, I find I am generally happier with the results. The engagement is memorable and meaningful. I am drawn to the subject or the scene. The feelings I have seem to come through in my images. Dare I say it, there is love there.

Can a planned, rehearsed shot engage me? Yes, sometimes I like to really get deep into whatever I do. But that is accidental. Usually I find in those situations that my engagement has to be secondary to the planned event. For me, I don’t want it to be secondary.

I enjoy the discipline of shooting for a project. But even when I have a certain theme in mind, I do not have a fixed plan for what I will shoot. I may hypothesize what some of the images in the project might look like, but that is only a guide to spark my imagination.

I would much rather find joy in something no one else has noticed. Something that, at just that moment, is interesting, even exciting. Tomorrow it may look like junk, but right now it is something else. This is more interesting to me than getting yet another beautiful shot of an iconic scene.

I’ll think of a reason later

So, “I’ll think of a reason later” means to me that I will follow my instincts, my interest at the moment. Later, when I am working on the image on my computer, I will see if I can think of the reason it called to me. Usualy there are some good reasons.

I will be lead by my heart. Planning can be useful, but I will not be a slave to it. I have no problem abandoning a plan to shoot something more interesting.I am a fine art photographer, not a commercial shooter. This means I will follow my instincts, shoot what I like and what I am drawn to at the moment.

I will be the first to admit that this does not always lead to the best possible results. Sometimes I follow my instincts down a rat hole to a dead end. That’s OK. Better than OK. It is wonderful. It is better to me to try and fail and sometimes achieve something special than to rise to nothing more than mediocrity.

So I am amazed sometimes working on these spontaneous images on my computer, to see things I was not conscious of at the time I shot it. I see shapes and forms, color harmony, framing, patterns, and lines that work to make an interesting image. These were mostly subconscious at the time I was shooting.

I seem to be able to use all my years of training instinctively. Was I pre-visualizing my images? Probably, but it wasn’t conscious. I was not aware of it in the moment I was shooting. The measure for me is: was I excited at the time? This is I’ll Think of a Reason Later.

What works for you

I’m reacting here to intense evangelism I see from some so called authorities. The reality is, there is no “one way”. At best, they can tell you what works successfully for them. Sometimes they just want to evangelize you to their point of view.

An artist’s working style and subject matter is intensely personal. What works for one will completely trip up and block another. Do what works for you without thinking you have to follow a plan some famous photographer told you.

I don’t mean to ignore everybody. Listen, try their ideas out. Experiment. But ultimately reject what doesn’t work for you.

Today’s image

This image was taken going down the Seine River in Paris. I glanced up and instantly recognized a scene of interest to me and snapped it. It was not pre-visualized, and I was not consciously searching for a situation like this.

Sometimes happy accidents happen. I plan on it. That is, I find if I am receptive and looking around with interest, they happen. Frequently.