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Monday, 15 October 2007

The Waiting Game

You know the old saying, “I have all the patience in the world, I just don’t have time to use it”. Nature photography is often a waiting game. Sometimes it’s worth waiting and sometimes it’s not. Do you have trouble with this? I know I do. If the light is good and nothing is happening in front of my eyes, I often want to cut and run to the next location. But sometimes if you just sit tight and wait, you can get that extra special image. In the first example (above right), I was shooting in Southern Saskatchewan and spotted this Richardson’s ground squirrel at the side of the road. I used a 500 mm lens and shot from the window of the van using a bean bag for support. The light was still good but it was nearing the end of the morning shoot. I had taken what I thought were good images when I noticed another ground squirrel coming out of the same hole. After about 10 minutes I was able to take the next image (left). Now that’s a little more interesting. The voices in my head start to speak a little louder now. “That’s enough, I’m hungry, and the light is getting harsh…..”.



But wait there is a third head poking up, so I keep shooting. Finally the second and third squirrels are up and they form a nice grouping (right). Now I would love to say this always happens when I force myself to sit quietly somewhere and wait but it doesn’t. Nine times out of ten nothing interesting happens at all and I’m left wondering what I missed down the road.


What about that other side of the coin? What if there is something better down the road? It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it. Sometimes you just have to listen to your gut and go with it. For example, I was in Brockville, Ontario during last year's Thanksgiving weekend and got up early to shoot some scenes in this picturesque town on the St. Lawrence River.

I was in the old section of town and was shooting just as the sky and city lights start to blend together. It was okay, some good stock shots but nothing dramatic. I could see the sun was just about to clear the horizon and the voices in my head started to speak. “Look there’s mist. This could be interesting”. I decide to listen to the voices and head down to the river. As the sun came through the mist it was quite dramatic. I shot a few frames and checked the histogram for exposure. (image below)
I could hear a boat coming and got myself ready to shoot as it passed the highlight in the water. (see image below)
But when I heard the rowers coming I really got excited. (see image below) So sometimes you are rewarded by staying put and sometimes you are rewarded by moving on.
How many times have you run into a photographer and they say “you should have been here 5 minutes ago”? I hear it all the time. I guess you can’t get them all. A lot of your decisions will be based on a number of factors such as how long do you have (an hour, week or month?) and how well do you know the area? This is where research and scouting locations ahead of time becomes very important. If you know where to be when the light hits, you know your options and can make more informed decisions. The more informed you are, the more you can trust those nagging voices in your head.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Beck said...

Another great post, Ron - and the photos are unbelievable. Of course, this also illustrates why I'd never make a good photographer (aside from lack of talent) - I can't wait for ANYTHING.

16 October 2007 at 10:45  
Anonymous Marta said...

I really like the way you described how you got both sets of photos and then to see the beautiful results. Guess photography is like the rest of life. If only we could have a crystal ball!!! Keep up the good work!

16 October 2007 at 11:25  
Blogger Mom2fur said...

The pictures are beautiful! I love the squirrels. We just have regular gray ones here on Long Island. My husband and I feed them peanuts, but never once have I gotten a really good picture of them. I have very little photography patience. And they sure don't pose like your three--I wonder what they were listening to?

16 October 2007 at 15:56  
Blogger Rach the Bach said...

Your niece Beck sent me your way to check out your blog. Wonderful photography! I wish I could do what you do, but I don't think I'd have the patience. You have a gift!

16 October 2007 at 20:30  
Blogger Susanne said...

Skipped over here from Beck's place. Your photography is amazingly beautiful!

17 October 2007 at 11:08  
Blogger WendyDarling said...

Found your link at Beck's blog. Amazing photos!!! :-)

22 October 2007 at 00:28  

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