Being in the right place at the right time takes more than just luck. Before I depart for a travel destination, I prepare a shortlist based on pre-trip research. Specifically I want to know the exact time and location of sunrise and sunset, as well as the moon cycle. By far, the best tool I’ve found for this is the Photographers Ephemeris. They have a free Mac and Windows desktop program, and a slick app for purchase with iOS and Android devices. Using the info from the Ephemeris, I was able to position myself accordingly for the most dramatic light on the Colosseum in Rome.
Rarely do experienced photographers walk up to a scene with their camera, and immediately capture the peak moment of drama. If you watch a pro at work, they arrive early, exercise patience, and wait for the elements to converge in a brief but brilliant moment.