All sorts of photography outside of a studio is dependent on circumstances that are beyond the immediate control of the photographer.
Whether you’re looking for wildlife, or searching for dramatic weather or light, there is often a temptation to chase after those things you seek.
Unfortunately it rarely works out.
Over the four plus decades that I’ve been into photography I’ve learned that the hardest thing to come by is patience. We can buy all sorts of magical new gear that will overcome the photographic problems we faced for years, but we can’t buy patience. If only we could because almost all of us could do with a little more patience.
I have learned the hard way that chasing after the subject or the surroundings I want for a great image will often COST me the best shot.
I’ve been in the field in the middle of incredible downpours – so much rain that it looks like the skies won’t clear for weeks. I left thinking no shot was possible only to learn that those who stayed got amazing images.
Sometimes you just have to wait for the weather to play ball.
This also applies in my bird photography. When I first started photographing birds, I used to spend countless hours driving around looking for nests and perches and birds in flight. The sheer number of hours I spent in the field pushed me into some lucky situations but given the time I chased the birds, I should have had much more to work with.
I no longer chase the bird. Now I realize the importance of simply waiting on the bird. Most beginning photographers are shocked to find out that I find many of my image elements BEFORE I find my bird. Once I find the right general habitat and conditions, I look for the direction of the light and then a clean background. I put the light at my back, set up a bag blind, and wait. I wait on the bird to come to that perfect situation. Using this method I have tripled the number of shots I get compared with the old method of constantly chasing, chasing, chasing.
Most of this seems extremely counter intuitive. But as you get more experience with photography you’ll start to understand. Sometimes you just have to get somewhere and wait – and wait – and wait. If you move too early or if you simply chase the next great thing, the fantastic stuff probably will happen in the place you just left.
It’s important to wait. And not to give up.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”