Photography Tips 39 -Making the Most of Opportunities

Making the Most of Opportunities

Photography is like many other things in life. When competing in a sports event or job searching, there are times that you feel you have no control over how things will turn out. And, sadly but true, you don't.

But one of the things you can do to increase your probability of photographic success is to increase your opportunities during that specific event. In the case of a sports event, the opportunity may come up for you to make a decisive decision for the next millisecond of action. You may have many options, but little time to choose that perfect move for the play. Unlike the sports event, the job search requires you to make repeated attempts in order to be successful.

Lets apply that to your photography, and especially wildlife photography, but not exclusively so. If you have captured or attempted to capture wildlife images in the past, you well know that the skill sets of camera technique and actually knowing how your camera functions are key to achieving a good result. However, like the sporting event, a wildlife subject may present itself for just a moment, and you have to make those decisive choices in order to capture something usable. But this is where the situation also overlaps the job search.

When I first began photography, I shot back in the "film" days. Every time I depressed the shutter button, I was well aware of the 50 cents I just spent. Today it is different. I can select "continuous", and there I am capturing images at 9 frames per second. This feature of photography has changed the world of photography more than any other single item. So what is the point I am trying to make here? When you are capturing wildlife, and even landscapes, take many exposures. And why would you want to do that?

Well, modern cameras are equipped with many cool electronics features. One of them is autofocus. It is a great feature, but not perfect. If I only take one shot of a bird, snake, insect, etc, the focus could be just a slight bit off. The subject might blink or move it's head. I could easily have taken several at that same time, and then grabbed the best shot while at home post processing, using the delete key for the rest.

In the sample below, I was shooting from my kayak. The mother swan was feeding with her young. Since there were several offspring in the scene, the dynamics presented a difficult scenario of evolving images with usable components, and non-usable components in each frame. I would have been extraordinarily lucky to have captured just the right image with all the actors in the correct place at the precise moment.

Above the reflection of the parent is cut off, and you cannot see all of the young.

Above we can see a bit better view of the parent, but many of the offspring are missing.

Above you can see why I chose this image from the couple of dozen"close, but not quite" images.

But I chose to shoot short bursts when I thought I was close to capturing something very good. You can see from the selection above, all of the images are pretty good, but a select few are very good. And I can assure you, these photos were not the only ones I took. Many were targeted with the finger poised over the delete key during post processing. But I was able to secure some images for final display.

If you have ever tried to shoot images of small passerines in flight, good luck with that one. I have many frames of flycatchers, sparrows, hawks, warblers, etc., with just the tail feathers at the edge of the frame...and yes, empty frames. Here is a suggestion to try the next time you have the urge to capture birds in flight. Not the easy flying herons or ducks, but those tricky short burst erratic flyers. Actually, you should try this the next 20 times. Anticipate when the bird will fly, and shoot small bursts of images. Every so often you will connect with the exact moment the bird decided to fly. Bingo!! Just like the many job applications you sent out, one was sent at just the right moment and to the right place that produced the job interview...and ultimately the new job. If you wait until the bird jumps from the perch, I can assure you, you will have the empty frames I mentioned previously.

To summarise, when you have wildlife moments you are capturing, be sure to take many shots during the action and also when you think the action is about to begin. You will not be able to capture something every time, but you increase your chances for capturing peak moment shots that were so elusive during the days of film.

I still find myself, shooting single shots when I should be shooting burst. Some habits are hard to shed. However, I constantly remind myself to use the burst shot technique, and during those events, I have some decent keepers. Good luck, and Happy shooting.

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