We all strive to take beautiful photographs, which often means that we chase golden light topped with a beautiful subject. But what do we do when there is no light or our subject is not in a good position for a photograph? What is our thought process before pressing our shutter? Do we press the shutter at all? I would like to share my thoughts on this with you and what my process is before I take any image, regardless of the conditions.
I love wildlife photography not only for the memories it creates but also because of the challenges it holds. There are so many elements when it comes to wildlife photography that are out of our control which can test us and challenge us but it’s these elements that keep me wanting to learn more.
The technical side of photography is very important; understanding settings, how each change you make influences the next, and understanding how we can manipulate our camera to get the picture and end result is a must. That’s only half of it, however; the rest is up to the photographer.
Firstly and probably most important is to enjoy and take in whatever the scene may be, whether it’s an animal or a sunset. We must never forget the reason why we started taking pictures in the first place. I always make a conscious effort to enjoy being out in the field, taking in the smells, sounds and sights. This is always a great reminder of how privileged we are and something we should never take for granted.
When I set myself up to take a picture I try to identify what stands out to me, what I want to highlight for the viewer and how can I describe the scene and share my experience with others. Once again an animal in beautiful light is a dream photograph for any photographer but how do we create a good image when the elements are not on our side?
Looking at the scene in front of us and identifying key features to an image, we need to look at the bigger picture. Maybe an animal is in thick vegetation and in terms of learning and testing ourselves that is not always a bad thing. There is potential for a variety of different images we can take. It may come in the form of a tail or a close-up of an animal’s paws. Having these thoughts stimulates us to think out of the box, move away from our comfort zone and test our abilities. Not every photograph we take will be amazing but instead of being negative or immediately discarding the image, rather take a moment and work out why the image came out the way it did or how you can improve it the next time you have a similar opportunity. There may not always be an opportunity to take a picture and for me that is the beauty of wildlife photography. The sense of the unknown keeps us going and wanting more.
There is a certain amount of planning that we can put into taking an image but as photographers we need to be flexible and adapt to any situation. In wildlife photography nature does not always present perfect conditions and so we need to adjust and create the best image possible at the time. Remember that taking a picture describes a scene of what we witnessed and how we experienced it. Great photographs are created by feeling and emotion; if you are passionate about your subject or the particular situation it will come through in the image.
Don’t be afraid to explore your camera and new situations, try something new and the results you come up with will more often than not surprise you.