One of the most important things we can do as photographers is understand the choices and control available to us in specific situations. This is, of course, applicable to other facets of our lives.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
There are things that are out of our control. Weather is clearly one of them. A few years ago during a trip to the North Island of New Zealand we visited Napier as part of our planned itinerary. Our schedule was tight and if we wanted to do any street photography in the historic downtown area, we would need to do so on an overcast, and potentially wet afternoon.
Our Nikon 1 gear is not weatherproof, and I’ve never liked using rain sleeves, especially during windy conditions. So, as both the rain and wind intensified during our walking tour we faced some choices. The most obvious one was to simply end our photography walk and return to the motel.
The second was to use a rain sleeve and likely experience some self-induced physical and emotional frustration. The third option was to use the overhangs and awnings from buildings to get partial shelter from the weather. And, the final option was to adjust our approach towards subject matter and composition.
As you can see from the images in this article we did continue on with our photography walk, and implemented the third and fourth choices in terms of the options we considered.
We ended up with some interesting perspectives of the historic downtown area of Napier. They were quite different from photographs captured during earlier visits, with many tending to be more abstract.
This experience in Napier also impacted something over which we could control… our future equipment purchases. When we decided to change our main camera system, weatherproofing was a ‘must have’ attribute. It was one of the reasons we chose E-M1X and E-M1 Mark III camera bodies and M.Zuiko weatherproofed lenses. This gear will not protect from all possible weather threats (e.g. tornado), but it is far better than owning gear that does not have an IPX1 rating.
Sometimes we can go out with our camera gear to photograph specific subject matter like birds-in-flight. And, we may stubbornly stay fixated on that original goal, even though lighting conditions and the gear that we’re using are not very compatible. We can fail to see the other choices available to us in terms of subject matter. As a result we can end up with very few usable images.
It is far more productive to accept what we can’t control in terms of lighting, and choose different subject matter that is better suited to the conditions and the camera gear we’re holding in our hands.
The presence of birds and wildlife at a particular location, during the specific time when we visit, is beyond our control. We can still have a productive photographic outing by choosing to use the telephoto equipment that we usually use for birding to capture images of flowers and foliage instead.
There may be times when we are duped into thinking that some things are out of our control. Like achieving shallow depth-of-field with a small sensor camera.
When faced with this type of situation, we need to apply some critical thinking to discern what is factual versus merely someone else’s opinion.
Often we can make simple choices in terms of lens focal length, distance to subject, and possibly the use of extension tubes, to achieve our desired composition, even though our camera may utilize a smaller sensor. Experimenting with our potential choices is a great way to expand the utility of the gear we own.
In life, we can emerge from our cocoon and can fly when we understand those things that we control, versus those that we can’t. It is key to focus on taking actions with those things that we can control.
The philosopher Epictetus explains this very simply… “Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing.” (Enchiridion I)
Initially it may seem strange to think of our body, our property or our reputation as not being within our control… but it does make logical sense.
While we can take actions to try to maintain our health, eventually our bodies fail and everyone dies. We could be injured or killed in an accident. We could fall victim to a virus.
Regardless of what we may choose to own in terms of property and other possessions, they can be stolen. Perhaps expropriated. Or destroyed by things we cannot control like storms, fires, and earthquakes.
And, our reputation is simply what others think of us. We can’t control what other people think about anything.
There is no point fretting about things that we cannot control. Our efforts and actions are best directed at things that are within our control.
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear and technology as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.
How you can help keep this site advertising free
My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to support my work, you can purchase an eBook, or make a modest $10 donation through PayPal. Both are most appreciated. You can use the Donate button below. Larger donations can be made to… tom at tomstirr dot com… through PayPal.
As a reminder to our Canadian readers, you can get a special 5% discount when ordering Tamron or Rokinon lenses and other products directly from the Amplis Store.
Word of mouth is the best form of endorsement. If you like our website please let your friends and associates know about our work. Linking to this site or to specific articles is allowed with proper acknowledgement. Reproducing articles, or any of the images contained in them, on another website or in any social media posting is a Copyright infringement.
Article is Copyright 2021 Thomas Stirr. Images are Copyright 2018-2020 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending websites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!