As my wife and I were rushing on a two hour drive to an appointment in Kelowna, British Columbia for which we couldn’t be late, we both lamented on the photographs we were missing – a heard of deer along the road, some coyotes hunting in an open field, eagles, a farmers field turned into a lake because of the spring run-off, and the sun glowing on white lakeside cliffs we were passing.
Linda reminded me of a long trip to Utah we made some years ago. Our route was to head east to Calgary, Alberta then turn south, follow the Missouri river as it snaked it’s way through canyons and gullies, and then head west to Salt Lake City. We left later than we should and we were driving with as few stops as possible because I had promised my brother I would be at his house for a family event the next day. What a wonderfully scenic drive that was. We kept realizing we should stop again and again, and we didn’t. Linda said “We will never do that to ourselves again”, we need to leave lots of time, even days, to photograph subjects when we see them.
I think that many photographers have had the circumstance where the chance at a great photograph was missed because of the wrong lens or camera. I remember a photograph of a moose in the hazy morning fog that I made with a little digicam because it was the only camera I had with me. At least I had a camera with me and I did get the shot, but the photo was lacking because of the limitations of the camera’s small sensor, the lack of a telephoto lens, and a tripod would have helped also. I spent time working on it in Photoshop, changing it to a black and white because I couldn’t correct the purple cast caused by the early morning’s low light on the camera’s tiny sensor. I was able to make a passable 8×10 print, however, it lacked the quality I could have had by using a DSLR camera with a telephoto lens.
The Boy Scouts state, “Be prepared”, and I think that is a good idea for photographers. When film use was common, most serious photographers had more than one camera; one would be loaded with black and white film, the one with colour negative film, and sometimes one with colour slide film. Since digital imaging began many photographers now own only one camera, as colour, or black and white images can be manipulated in the computer. I have my main camera, and can borrow my wife’s camera if I require a backup camera that uses the same lenses. My cameras get lots of use and I need to have a backup in case of equipment failure while I am working.
Sometimes I like the portability of a little digicam. I mainly use it for those subjects that are close to me and rarely use it for scenics. If I do, I prefer to use it with an old monopod that quietly languishes in the trunk of my car. It’s pretty beaten up, but it keeps my camera steady. Trying to take a scenic with arms extended and expecting a sharp image is asking too much of the technology.
These days it is easy to carry a camera around, and taking lots of pictures doesn’t cost anything except time, until one starts making prints. As I began to write this article I thought about my father. His chances of taking a good picture were pretty good because he was a prolific, dedicated photographer. As a contractor he worked all over the southwestern United States, and he usually had a beat-up, dirt-covered camera jammed under his pickup seat, or somewhere in his excavator, and he rarely missed an opportunity to photograph anything that interested him. The sheer volume of pictures he took outweighed the bad pictures. He mostly used slide film, and, as kids, my brothers and I looked forward to his evening slide shows. There were always lots of interesting (and sometimes unusual) photos and it was fun to view pictures that he hand-turned using our family’s old projector.
Like my father, photographers should be continually looking for photographic opportunities and always be prepared for them by having some kind of camera with us. And when we miss that photograph because the equipment we have is wrong, or because we aren’t using it correctly, we should at the very least learn from that so in the future we won’t have missed opportunities.
As always, I appreciate your comments. Thanks, John
My website is at www.enmanscamera.com