So, sometimes as a photographer, you may be drawn to something, a particular subject, or a place where light tends to fall just so. And you're intrigued. You may make a quick snap just as a reminder to go back to that spot or subject when you have more time to do it justice with the image you make. You go back and make the image you saw in your head (or at least something that is decent) and are happy. You may forget about the quick snap and never go back and not worry about it.
Then there are times, subjects, locations, that are different. Maybe you see a particularly grand tree in a forest. You take a lazy snap, knowing that there is something there you can revisit when you have more time. You come back to the spot, ready to focus and spend the time it takes to make the great image you feel is there. You carefully compose. You wait for the light and shadows to be where you want. You do everything right. But you don't make a great image. You make one that is decent. It's okay. It's better than average. But you know something missing. Maybe it's just the light. Try again at a different time of day. Still not what you know is there. Maybe different weather? Some fog, maybe? You wait for a foggy morning. You set everything up. The fog is gorgeous. Maybe it's morning and the light has just started filtering through the trees, shining brilliant rays through the fog. Nope. Maybe the perspective is wrong. You wander around the subject, crouching. Climbing. Scouting. Trying to get just the right vantage point. Nope. Still just decent images. Maybe they're even pretty good. But not what you KNOW is there. Maybe it would be best in a different season. You come back again and again. In snow. In rain. On a hot summer day. In the crisp air of autumn, leaves just beginning their color change. At night. Long exposure? Nope. Maybe needs more photoshopping? Nope. Different format? You shoot it square. Nope. 4x5? Nope. Maybe something more cinematic. 16x9 with a long lens? Nope. Maybe you need to shoot with film. Digital doesn't have the right look? Nope. Maybe you're focusing on the grandness of the forest and forgetting the trees. You shoot details of your subject. Nope. Still missing something. Then light goes off in your head like a flash! A FLASH, literally! There are shadows where you want light and light where you want shadows. When the natural light doesn't cooperate, make your own. You carefully set up strobes, reflectors, etc. After what amounts to hours upon hours of setup, hundreds (if not thousands) of frames, you may have created some pretty good images. Some you're even proud of. But you still haven't captured what you KNOW you can get out of that spot, that subject. There is a truly great image there. Maybe there isn't, really. But it doesn't matter. You will search for your photographic white whale until you've gone mad.
UPDATE: Here is my latest attempt (dawn redwood, metasequoia glyptostroboides):
Anyway, this is one of mine: