Hell, I might as well go look for Bigfoot or something ... because frankly, the perfect shot only occurs when you DON'T have a camera!
Case in point ... back in 2004, my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I drove out to the little rural community of Mesopotamia, Ohio, which is about 45 minutes due east of Cleveland, in a heavily-Amish area. Out there is a delightful little general store, called the End of the Commons General Store, because it's at the end of a long rectangular town commons area (hence the name). The store's really neat, selling all sorts of bulk foods, snacks, etc. My wife likes to stock up on baking supplies there for her Christmas baking. So we always go in the beginning of December. It's a nice little trip, and I enjoy going to the store.
The first time we were there, I stepped outside the store, and looked over at the Commons area. There was a neat little gazebo, lit up with Christmas lights, and it had a Christmas tree on it, also lit up with lights. Tied up nearby were several Amish buggies. It had snowed, and evening was beginning to fall, but it was still clear outside, so the sky still had a little blue in it. And it was the most PERFECT image I had seen ... it would have made Norman Rockwell cry out in envy, it was so perfect!!
And I had no camera. Naturally.
So every year, we go back, because we enjoy the trip, stopping at a variety of local attractions (cheese shops, Amish craft places, etc.), and now I bring a camera each trip.
And it's never been perfect. Ever.
In 2005, there was snow, there was Amish buggies, but the gazebo wasn't lit up.
In 2006, there wasn't much snow, we were there too early, it was a little too sunny, and the gazebo wasn't lit up.
And this year ... no snow, no Amish buggies. No lights on the gazebo.
So I'm not entirely ready to give up. Because ONE of these years, everything's gotta align for me, right?? And the thing is I'm not one of those ultra-anal photographers, who go back to the same spot day after day, at all different times, in all weather and different lighting, trying to get that perfect shot. But I'm just trying to recapture some magic. Though I wonder if I'll be able to do so at all. Maybe not. But there is some fun in trying, I think.