This article shares two key questions that I do my best to ask myself… and answer… when I’m out in the field with my camera gear. I’ve found these two key questions have helped me make the most of the photographic opportunities that present themselves.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Am I challenging myself and my camera gear?
Like many photographers I find that I can fall into a rut from time to time. When this happens I seem to lack enthusiasm and passion for what i’m doing with my camera gear. A general malaise can creep over me, resulting in lower levels of energy and creativity.
If I allow these feelings to take hold I end up having a less than enjoyable outing with my camera. And, I usually come home with far fewer usable photographs.
Asking myself these two key questions retrospectively is not good enough. By then I’m back home and my photo session is over. I’ve wasted both time and opportunities. To be meaningful I need to ask these two key questions while I’m in the moment with my camera gear. That way I can get myself back on track, be more productive, and creative.
Challenging myself and my camera gear can involve a wide range of factors. From a personal perspective a number of factors can come into play. Here are just a few of them… these are sub-questions to the bigger one noted in the heading above.
- Am I considering the available light and the best shooting angle possible given the conditions?
- Am I working hard at capturing my photographs correctly in camera in terms of composition, exposure and focus?
- Am I pushing my ability to handhold my camera gear at slower shutter speeds?
- Am I copping out by telling myself that I can fix my laziness in the field through post processing?
- Am I using my feet enough to get the most out of my camera gear, or am I using the focal length range of my zoom lenses as crutches for my own laziness?
There are other issues when considering my camera gear and its capabilities. There are more sub-questions related to gear.
- Am I using the IBIS performance of my camera as well as possible given the photographic conditions?
- Am I missing photographic opportunities because I have not adjusted my camera settings quickly enough? (this is key when using Custom Modes)
- Am I using the best ISO setting possible given shooting parameters?
- Am I operating my camera to maximize my chances of success? This could include using ETTR, focus/recompose, and other techniques.
- Am I trying to capture difficult photographs that would challenge the auto-focus ability of my camera or am I letting those opportunities pass me by?
Depending on the camera gear we have at hand, and the subject matter we are attempting to photograph, these considerations can vary for each of us.
Am I purposefully and thoroughly observing my surroundings?
Being aware of our surroundings opens up a wealth of photographic opportunities of which we may not be immediately aware. We’ve all faced situations when we’ve left home with specific photographic objectives in our mind. Sometimes conditions change or birds/wildlife does not appear as expected. This can cause us to trudge home in a disappointed state.
By purposefully observing our surroundings we can often see opportunities that we weren’t originally expecting to be present.
These could include other species of birds or animals. Or perhaps some dramatic lighting that helps to highlight a commonplace behaviour.
You may notice a common bird repeating an uncommon action.
We may notice a plant, flower, berry or leaf of interest.
Or perhaps a subject that demonstrates a specific concept like courage or perseverance.
Even the most common of birds when captured at the right moment can create an interesting composition if we harness our powers of observation.
Looking for details in our surroundings can lead to us creating a photograph, the opportunity for which may have only lasted for a few seconds.
Noticing small movements can lead to photographs.
Sometimes even little gems hidden inside other larger subjects can become apparent to us.
Making it a practice to ask myself these two key questions, “Am I challenging myself and my camera gear?” and “Am I purposefully and thoroughly observing my surroundings?” have led to the creation of many photographs that I would have otherwise missed. Most importantly these two key questions have helped me experience the joy of photography on a day-to-day basis.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted. This is the 1,053rd article published on this website since its original inception.
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