A quick scan of Google Maps. Maybe this spot will work for the photo. Change to satellite imagery. There’s trees on one side, if I frame the shot with the trees, it will work.

A quick check of the PhotoPills app on my cell phone. Angle of the sun. Time of sunset. If this lines up perfectly, the shot will be aces.

A quick phone call. Yes, our observation tower is open, and many people climb it and photograph from it. Perfect.

A quick check of all weather conditions for that day. I’ve got a semi-acceptable window of decent weather. This may work.

A quick check of all my necessary camera gear. Nikon Df is coming with me, and I’m packing my old f/2.8 80-200 bayonet telephoto lens, a lens I’ve owned for the past 15 years. I bought it cheap on eBay because the previous owner removed the rubber barrel and wrapped the lens with tennis racket leather; so technically I have the only Nikon / Prince branded telephoto lens out there.

Maybe I can get a 3D shot or two. I’ll pack the Nimslo and a roll of color C-41 film.

I definitely want to try an experimental shot. Grabbing my 1940’s era Kodak Medalist II. I’ll need 620 film for this camera, because 120 film – with its fatter spools – won’t fit in the unit. A quick call to B&H Photo and some legacy 620 film is on its way to me, and will arrive in plenty of time. Aces.

I think I’ll also pack the AGFA Clipper Special f/6.3, along with a roll of vintage 616 Ansco All Weather Pan film. Hey, so what if the film’s older than me? I’ve gotten pretty decent results from vintage film.

Directions to all shooting locations. This is a one-day trip out, and I can’t afford to get lost.

A quick call to this new-to-me OnStar application in my car. All I need to do, according to OnStar, is press the blue button, give the OnStar representative the destination address, and I’ll receive turn-by-turn directions through prompts on my dashboard. Okay, OnStar, this is your opportunity to prove your worth.

I’ll need to pack my Chevrolet with a full tank of gas, and some beverages and snacks.

I check the COVID-19 vaccination card. According to the card, I’m had both shots of the Pfizer vaccine, and the second one entered my body at least 14 days ago. Just to play it safe, though, I’m packing a couple of disposable face masks in my car’s glove box.

I’ve been told in the past that once I get an idea or a concept in my mind, I’ll claw on it and keep at it until I achieve the results. That’s fine. I don’t expect anyone to understand why I’m doing this. Sometimes I wonder about it as well.

But the fact is, I think I’ve done two photo excursions in the past year and a half. And realistically, the last one was maybe a year ago, around this time. I’ve dealt with a broken ankle, COVID-19, the loss of my external hard drive (and 10+ years worth of archives), and just straight-up apprehension over going anywhere to photograph anything.

This weekend … that ennui ends. I need to get back out there and take pictures. I need to capture images that speak to my heart and to my mind and to my soul. There is no excuse.

This isn’t just about the rediscovery of Competition Season 2021. I’ve got enough photos that were left over from 2020 to keep that afloat.

No, this is about restoring the power inside of me. The thrill of going somewhere and getting the photo that previously danced in my mind, and that I somehow found a way to take it from intangible to tangible.

But throughout this endeavor, preparation is the key. There’s a good photo, and then there’s a “what the holy freakin’ heck was that and how did you score it?” photo.

I want those “holy freakin’ heck” photos.

And anybody who disagrees with my goals … well, they can go kick rocks.

Although, if they’re going to do that, at least wait until I get the cameras ready to photograph them kicking rocks. 😀

Plans are ready. If all goes well … this weekend could be a big, positive photo adventure.

And I’m good with that.