I recently received an e-mail asking for my views on a hot-topic.
The writer was having a discussion with a friend about two opposite methods of capturing a perfect wildlife image.
Is it better to take lots of images with the hopes that one will turn out?
Or should the photographer focus all their finely-tuned energy into capturing a single perfect image?
This was easy to answer since I had a similar discussion with one of my early photography teachers.
The teacher’s style approached each situation with a single 8 X 10 sheet of film loaded into a huge view camera.
I on the other hand, was a young, energetic student, sporting an itchy trigger finger, and a Nikon FG.
I concluded that it’s all a matter of style.
Some photographers like to wait patiently for the perfect photo.
Others (like myself) prefer to work quickly and take lots of images in the process.
I simply cannot sit and wait.
That would bore me to tears.
And, the photo may never happen.
However, some people can’t work quickly, and are more aware of their situation when they slow themselves down. Many prefer to work in a confined, controlled, methodical manner, making certain everything is perfect.
I can only speak for myself.
I knew within my first year of owning a camera which style I was comfortable with.
I work best when I feel the rhythms of my subject, the rhythms of the surroundings, to be in tune with my equipment, and my own rhythms.
I dance with my subject-of-interest. I’m very focused in the moment, with hightened awareness. And, the images happen as the world’s rhythms flows around me.
I find myself in an almost out-of-body state – I get “in the zone”.
Through years of practice, I’ve taught myself to feel all the subtle nuances, using all my senses, responding immediately upon the perception of a good photo happening before me.
I’m subconsciously reading the light (without looking at my meter), I’m checking all my surroundings to see how they might effect the image, I’m studying the behaviours of my subject (when animals or people are the subject), I’m thinking about my camera equipment, and I’ve got a mental picture of the final photographic result in my head.
All these thoughts are happening at lightning speed as the photographic situation unfolds before me.
And, when I anticipate a good photo about to happen… I let ‘er rip!
I find my style to be very efficient, and I have great success with it.
Often, I’ll be finished a good photo-shoot in 15 – 20 minutes when others are still setting up.
To anyone sitting and waiting – I say “good luck”.
You still require fast reaction, full awareness, with an ability to turn-on the speed and energy when the action happens.
However, to be successful at either style requires practice and experience.
So are the two styles really that different?
They’re simply two different ways to accomplish the same goal.
I know what I need to do.
But, maybe I just haven’t experienced being “in the zone” of the sitter & waiter.
March 11, 2010