It’s a funny thing, spontaneity.  Some people never experience it, and for some reason never want to.  Others, like me, embrace it.

My first memory of spontaneity was in the 3rd grade.  I distinctly remember taking a test one day and, of course, the first thing my teacher said – as she always did – “Don’t forget to write your name on your paper.”  But something happened this day.  Something called…spontaneity.  At the very instant I was to enter my name, I simply decided I wanted to be called by another name. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my name – I always have.  But on this particular day, I wanted it to be…George Clooney! That’s right – George Clooney.  I said to myself, “I think this name can take me places!”  In the memory of Ferris Bueller, I shall never forget my teacher standing in front of the class calling off the names of each student to pick up their graded test.  When she came to mine, she hesitated for a moment and then continued, “Clooney…Clooney…Clooney!”  Needless to say, that name did nothing for me!  I’m so glad I didn’t stick with it.  I feel sorry for the guy who really has that name.  (OK I admit I didn’t use the name George Clooney, but the rest of the story is true – I just don’t remember what name I used that day.)

As time went by I continued to live my life with an element of spontaneity.

Now, here comes the twist.  I’m also a person of meticulous detail.  That’s right, I’m a planner.  In fact, my organizational skills are off the charts!  These two characteristics seem to be rarely combined.  But if you stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense. If you were spontaneous all the time, it would no doubt lead to irresponsibility.  On the other hand if you were organized all the time, well it would have to result in absolute boredom.

So from time to time, I get spontaneous.  Like…

The time I came home one day from work and said to my wife, “Pack your bags, we’re flying to Philadelphia in the morning to see a basketball game.” The airline tickets were waiting at the airport and the basketball tickets were waiting at the arena.  We lived in Iowa at the time.

Or, the time we spent 3 days driving to California to spend 1 day at the beach.  And then spent 3 more days driving back home.  Again, we lived in Iowa at the time.

Or, the time we drove from Southern California to Iowa to surprise my mother on Christmas Eve, nearly giving her a heart attack when she answered her doorbell that night.

Or, the time we drove 6 hours to San Francisco only to have dinner and then spend 6 hours driving back home.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.  So, I’ll fast forward to the last time.

Living in Southern California, you just know you’re not going to see rain from April to November.  Like the song says, “It Never Rains in Southern California” during that time. But, on this day something was different.  Waking up and looking outside provided quite a different view from what is normal. In the skies over the mountains, there was a cloud. Oh it was small right now, but you had to hope there might be something to it.  Could this cloud be different.


There was only one way to know for sure.  I had to travel to the other side of the mountain range where the cloud was building.  You have to understand, I’ve really come to love it when it rains here!  Sometimes, I think the perfect rainy day would be spent eating chili at Ruby’s Diner at the end of the Huntington Beach Pier.  So, it seemed like the logical thing to do.  I mean, I hadn’t seen any precipitation in more than six months. The closest thing we get to rain is the lawn sprinklers coming on! 

Once on the other side, I could see this was going to be a promising venture!


Isn’t this an interesting shot below?  It was as if the storm was attacking the blue sky from every side, leaving only a fast closing vortex of beauty.  It was growing darker by the moment as the storm swallowed the clear skies.


And then everything changed as the heavens released what had not been seen for months.  The beauty of rain.


Now, I’m not saying everyone should abandon their responsibilities and start chasing storms.  But, a little spontaneity can be good for the soul.  You should give it a try.  Do something different – something you haven’t planned to do!

Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

~ by photographyfree4all on August 30, 2010.


  1. This is wonderful! I completely agree with the importance of spontaniety. In fact, I moved to my current city on a whim. Jobless, Carless, I bought a greyhound bus ticket, packed my bags, and took off with only $300 in my pocket. Most will call that reckless, but I am thankful that I made the leap.


  2. That sounds like a great idea! I’m ready for a bit of spontaneity!


  3. Thanks for sharing your story, Christina. I’m really glad it has worked out for you! Some may have thought you to be foolish, while others would never have that courage. But for you, it was the prefect decision. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll come back, soon.


  4. If you’re ready for spontaneity, Barb, then keep your eyes open. Your opportunity will no doubt come when you least expect it. Thanks for stopping by.


  5. Nice photos, I like the way you can see the storm creeping in.
    I really like the picture at the end too. Ever since being in the Philippines I’ve been more aware of noticing rain in the distance. Here’s a link to a photo I took over there where there’s a really big rain cloud and you can see the rain teeming down far away.


  6. Thanks for your comment, clicksey! Your rain sot was great! It was a great storm – even a couple of lightning strikes. But, I was on the move when I saw them. No time to even try a shot! I hope you’ll stop by again, soon!


  7. Ah… surprising your mom on Christmas Eve must have been such a fun thing to do. And your wife must have been thrilled at the impromptu trip–wow! I agree–either can’t really be ‘all that’ without a little bit of the other thrown in from time to time. Glad you finally got your rain pictures–I can’t imagine going months without rain.


  8. I will never forget the look on my mom’s face when she came to the door that night. It was around 9:00 PM on Christmas Eve. That look was worth the trip! Thanks for your comment, heather. Stop by again, soon.


  9. Your photos are beautiful and I love the rain pictures. We average about 6 or 7 inches of rain a year, here in Arizona. When I see the clouds forming, I want to get up and dance! Your other posts are so helpful, as well. Loved the one on macros. I would so love a macro lens. Someday. Thank you so much for your visit and comment on my blog.

    I’ll visit your blog often. Your photos and posts are inspiring.



  10. Nice set of images, I like the story 🙂
    Spontaneity is sometimes key to getting those unexpected images… I’ve always said that too much planning only results in the resulting shots not living up to expectations 🙂
    Keep Shooting!


  11. Clouds make such great subjects, don’t they? I especially like the one labeled (9).

    It’s a funny thing but it seems like every time my husband and I visit So. Cal. it rains. Frequently. So next time you want some rain, just give me a call. lol!


  12. Wonderful story and excellent advice! I’ve had days where my gut is telling me to take camera in hand and go [insert location or subject here]. When I listen, I am rarely disappointed!

    The cloud formation is amazing in image 9!


  13. I love picture 9! It looks like that Joshua tree is repelling the storm. I think here in Seattle, I run away from the clouds and towards the occasional sun. I miss the crazy storms in the southwest.


  14. Thanks for your kind words, milkay. I really appreciate your comment. I, too, love the cloud formation you mentioned. It was certainly amazing to watch. I hope you’ll stop by again, soon.


  15. Thank you for commenting, Bryan. Seattle is always so beautiful and green. We who do not live there probably don’t realize how much rain it takes to make everything so very green. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll come back soon.


  16. Thank you for your kind comment, Lisa. You receive even less rain than we do here. I’ve photographed a lot of clouds and they always seem beautiful to me. But, these were great because they were constantly and quickly changing. I’m glad you stopped by and hope you return for another visit, soon.


  17. Thanks Michael! What you’ve said here is so very true. The best shots I’ve taken are the ones I wasn’t expecting. Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your comments and expertise.


  18. Thanks for your kind words, Robin. You must visit mostly in the winter time. I’m glad you stopped by and hope you’ll return for another visit, soon.


  19. I’m reminded of Stieglitz Equivalent series.

    I first made photographs of clouds years before I discovered Stieglitz. My discovery of Stieglitz confirmed my genius!

    PS: You are a photographer!


  20. I found these clouds to be fascinating! Thanks for contributing this information, Don! It’s great. Thanks for the kind words. I hope you’ll stop back again, soon.


  21. these pictures are AMAZING!


  22. Thanks mct! I really appreciate your kind words. Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.


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