The past few weeks we have been covering what “equipment” you need to take good nature pictures. This week’s piece is a quality and one that I consider very important: Patience.
My observation of folks trying to get wildlife pictures is that they always seem to be in a hurry and they just don’t let wildlife get used to them — or themselves to get in good, interesting positions. Sometimes it takes a lot of time for wildlife to present good shots and I have always been fortunate enough to have the patience to sit for lengthy periods waiting for “the shot.” Much of this comes from having been a hunter my whole life and nature showing me the rewards that can be expected for those who wait.
Oh, there have been occasions when I spent many hours sitting in a blind waiting for a particular shot and it never materialized. Once, I spent almost eight hours in a blind out on the water, wearing waders, looking for the shot that never came. However, the next time I tried, it arrived only minutes after I settled in. You must have patience!
If you have been a hunter in the past, patience may already be in your equipment bag. If not, you need to develop it and that can be difficult.
One thing you can do during those “waits” is stay alert and observe other wildlife or things going on around you. Often times this provides good, unexpected images that you weren’t thinking about. It will also provide you with information about the other amazing things going on out there that you may not have been aware of previously. Your main subject matter may not give you the shot you were looking for, but it can clue you in on its habits, which may be helpful in the future. As you practice patience, you receive rewards and that will reinforce your will to remain on the scene longer in the future.
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The last equipment I will list is the actual camera and lens, which I consider less important than those things I mentioned previously — how to use lighting, how to use the settings on a camera, image stabilization. Sure, an $8,000 long telephoto lens will give you a much better image than that $600 medium telephoto piece of glass, but only if you know how to use it and have fine tuned your other “equipment.” A $5,000 camera with high digital resolution capabilities will really make a difference in image quality but, again, only if you know how to use it.
There is nothing wrong with putting a pile of money into photography equipment, but like anything else you need to have a solid platform, that is, knowledge of the basics of the art. Good equipment helps but not as much as good photographing skills.
I had a friend who was handicapped and was not able to get around in the field so she was pretty much stuck to photographing nature from her vehicle. She had a modest $600 fixed-zoom lens camera. She practiced what I preach about skills and she did extremely well, many times really surprising me with what she had captured. One day she told me she thought she was ready to move up to a better camera and lens and wanted some recommendations. I gave her some but reminded her that she was doing very well with what she had, and asked whether she was planning to get a job with National Geographic, selling images or making large enlargements. No, she just enjoyed taking good pictures of nature. And, she never did get a new outfit, but she still enjoyed — and improved on — her pictures.
Remember what Ansel Adams said: “You don’t take a picture, you make it.”
Nature photography is a great hobby, especially if you are “hooked” on wildlife. It can provide some real challenges for you and teach you a lot about wildlife that you otherwise probably would not notice. Just know that you need to work at it and learn to understand all phases of photography. As opposed to “one that your camera took,” there’s great satisfaction in getting a great image because you did the work.
Doug Domedion, outdoorsman and nature photographer, resides in Medina. Contact him at (585) 798-4022 or [email protected] .