Photo Tips: Right Place, Right Time


Photo Tips: Be in the Right Place at the Right Time


On the morning of our last full day in the Copper Canyon region of Mexico, where I was leading a photo tour, I had scheduled with my tour participants a 7:00 am breakfast before a photo walk I wanted to take them on.  This took place in a small town named Cerocahui, which in the local Tarahumara language means “land of the grasshoppers.”


Morning clouds and church silhouette in Cerocahui, Mexico by Ralph Velasco.

Morning clouds and church silhouette in Cerocahui, Mexico.


About 15 minutes before we were supposed to meet in the hotel lobby, I was ready to go and just waiting for my people to go back to their rooms and grab their camera gear so that we could head out.  I had come down to breakfast with my equipment and so while I was waiting I peeked outside to see what were perhaps some of the most beautiful clouds I’d ever witnessed, and this was after several days of no clouds whatsoever, so of course I was intrigued.  I thought instead of wasting time waiting for them, I would venture out across the street from the hotel to see if I could capture the local church and its cross in silhouette, with these amazing clouds as a backdrop (see above).

If you’ve followed my blog even for a short time, you know I’m always stressing the importance of clouds.


Early morning photo walk in Cerocahui, Mexico by Ralph Velasco

Our group on an early morning photo walk.


I’m always preaching about how luck is a big part of photography, because I certainly had nothing to do with the fact that we were presented with some fantastic clouds under which to photograph.  And I often talk about how the more you’ll make an effort to put yourself in the right place at the right time, the luckier you’ll get, and today was no exception.


Early morning mist on a spiderweb in Cerocahui, Mexico by Ralph Velasco.

Early morning mist on a spiderweb.


Once the group met up and we set out to photograph, everyone was noticing wonderful photo opportunities just about everywhere we looked.  The Cerocahui valley was blanketed with stunning yellow flowers as far as the eye could see, and an early morning mist settled on every surface, including grass, flowers, barbed wire, fence posts and spider webs.


Early morning with horse grazing in Cerocahui, Mexico by Ralph Velasco.


Horses and cows grazed in the fields, dogs lazed in doorways and frogs and other critters hopped and jumped along the valley floor.


Shoes hanging from power lines in early morning in Cerocahui, Mexico by Ralph Velasco.

Hard to make a bad shot with these clouds in the background.


Even an old pair of boots hanging from the local power lines made an interesting subject with these heavenly clouds as a backdrop.


Old shed in early morning light in Cerocahui, Mexico by Ralph Velasco.


Weathered old sheds, houses and places of business made great subjects that all of us could take advantage of.


Old building with flowers in Cerocahui, Mexico by Ralph Velasco.

These beautiful flowers make a nice contrast against this old, weathered building.


Walking along the dirt road we were following I came upon this scene of some bright, yellow flowers against an old, weathered building, and seeing this as a great contrast I took a medium shot of the scene (above).


Old building and flowers closeup in Cerocahui, Mexico by Ralph Velasco.

Closeup of these flowers with a weathered background.


Trying to create a variety of images that would tell this mini story, I moved in to make a closer version of the scene, getting another look at the bright flowers against the old shed’s weather-beaten wall.


Old building with woman and flowers in Cerocahui, Mexico by Ralph Velasco.

A woman popped her head out the window to add some additional interest to this scene.


Just then, a woman stuck her head out the only window on this side of the building and gave me a bit of a smile…she must have heard us talking outside her home/business.  Being ready with my camera, as I always try to be, I was able to make a quick capture with her adding that human touch I’m always talking about.


It’s no surprise, but the more prepared I am, the luckier I seem to get.


Early morning clouds reflected in a puddle in Cerocahui, Mexico by Ralph Velasco.

Early morning clouds reflected in a puddle.


Using a muddy puddle as a foreground element I was able to double the impact of the early morning clouds by showing their reflection in the water.


Early morning clouds with fence post and barbed wire in Cerocahui, Mexico by Ralph Velasco.

Early morning clouds with fence post and barbed wire in Cerocahui.


So, getting up and out when the conditions are right will almost always pay huge dividends, and this was not that early in the morning as all of these images were made between 8:00 and 9:30 am.  I’ll bet even the latest riser can get up this early to be rewarded with such interesting photo opportunities.

When’s the last time you had a chance to witness clouds this beautiful…and more importantly, did you go out and take advantage of them?


I’ll be leading another photo tour to Copper Canyon from August 16 to 25, 2013.  

If you’d like to join me, please see the link below.


For more information and to register please see

Jim Cline Photo Workshops

See below for links to additional blog posts on Copper Canyon, Mexico, and for tips for shooting from a train.

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