As a rookie professional nature photographer who ends up throwing away at least 99%
of the images I shoot, there are a lot of things I wish for. For example,
considering all the great automated features of SLR cameras, I wish someone would
invent an SLR that would beep or buzz or even chime when I achieved the very best
composition in the frame. Maybe there could even be a recorded vocal alert that
would say: "Warning! Composing the frame requires more thought than just choosing a
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And there are too many times when I get so excited about the photographic
possibilities of a particular subject that I forget to adjust my circular polarizer,
or to turn off the flash, or to clean the lens, or any number of other small and
necessary tasks. So, I wish there could be a camera with a "Turn On Your Brain
Alert." Maybe such a thing would flash one or all of the following messages in the
viewfinder: "Calm down! Adjust your equipment! Take time to think!" Over the
last several years, I've been learning the hard way that good photographers must not
only compose their photographs, they must also compose themselves.
And, finally, I wish someone would invent an SLR that would absolutely guarantee,
without doubt or hesitation of any kind, the very best exposure settings. It's not
that I'm always disappointed with what my SLR automatically chooses. But many
times, the camera's choice for exposure settings doesn't at all achieve the effect
that I'm after. And sometimes the camera itself can be fooled under certain
conditions, resulting in a photograph that is entirely unsuitable from even the most
Of course, it's not likely that anyone is going to invent a magic camera that
satisfies my wish list. So, whenever I'm out in the field attempting to add to my
inventory of satisfactory photographs, I try my best to remember the following:
1) When it comes to composition, centering a subject in the frame is often the
wrong choice. Consider the Rule of Thirds, but also consider breaking it if you
feel strongly enough about a different strategy. Don't let the frame fill with
unnecessary clutter. Contrast in lighting and/or color can be used to advantage, as
well as choosing an effective high or low angle to accentuate and complement your
subject. Give thought to depth of field as well as to the possibility that you
might have space being wasted in the frame.
2) As far as maintaining my own composition goes, I try first to keep my equipment
well organized. I still need to invest in a good photographer's vest. In the
meantime, I use a fisherman's vest to store and carry my various components in the
field. One pocket is for unexposed film, another for exposed film. I use separate
pockets for filters, an extra lens, a lens cleaning pen, my camera's remote control,
etc. As there is always some hiking involved, I use a sling to carry my tripod on
my back, and my high quality camera straps ensure safety in carrying one or two
SLR's. I also take water with me and a few high protein bars so that I can both
hydrate and nourish myself along the way. And finally, maintaining mental focus, a
relaxed physical state and a positive attitude are all extremely important. Taking
time to breathe, observing the beauty of nature and truly enjoying yourself are each
essential components of a successful session in the field. Doing so promotes clear
thinking and attention to detail when preparing to shoot that once-in-a-lifetime
3. Bracketing, or taking a number of photographs of your subject in progressive
increments of a half-stop both above and below what your SLR camera tells you is the
correctly metered exposure, will help ensure you of obtaining the very best result.
Many times, I have used up half a roll of film on one composed subject, with each
photograph taken at a slightly different exposure, in order to achieve a single
photograph that is worth keeping. My Canon digital offers auto-bracketing, which is
a great feature provided by many newer digital SLR cameras.
Of course, nothing will ever absolutely ensure your satisfaction with the final
result. But take it from this rookie who continues to keep learning the hard way:
doing all of the above will help you get rid of your wish list and achieve better
My Outdoor Eyes Photography Blog|
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