Wednesday, 23 May 2018

A New Philosophy

I've just spent five days down in Kent, East Sussex and south-west Surrey looking mainly for Nightingales, Cuckoos and Dartford Warblers and, although I had only really had one good day of photography, I've come back knowing a lot more about how I want to proceed with my hobby.

I've always said that to take good photos there is no substitute for getting close to the subject and good light, no matter what equipment you have. Most people seem to think you need the best gear to get the best shots, but if you are close enough and the conditions are right, there's not much to choose between a lens costing £800 and another costing £9000. I'm very lucky as I do have the best gear in it's price range, so I've really got not any excuse for poor shots.

But more importantly for me now, I've learnt that if the conditions are not absolutely right, there's no point in taking even one photograph unless it's merely for a record or reminder of what you've seen. You need to be as close as possible, with the sun in exactly the right position (usually behind you), with an uncluttered background and on a clear day without any fog, haze or shimmer. The merest bit of haze, shadow or a fussy background can completely ruin the shot. And a really bright, sunny day is not great for photography.

I also need to stop taking lots of photos of the same bird in the same poor conditions, hoping that one of them will be acceptable - they very rarely are any different and I usually end up deleting them all.

Finally, I've learnt that once you've exhausted your local area of all its usual birds, you definitely need to travel to see new ones and there are certain places in the country and certain times of year where and when you'll get the best shots of your target species. I'm currently compiling a list of this type of information for future reference and although you can never guarantee that the birds will be there doing the same thing every year, at least it gives you a better chance of success.

So from now on I hope to take a lot less photos and to think about my shots a lot more in terms of light, background and composition and most importantly not bothering to press the shutter when the conditions aren't exactly right for the shot I want.

Not exactly a revelation or awakening, but a way to move forward.

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