Patience Is Not Just a Virtue

Patience can give a photographer far better images than the “spray and pray” method. A good landscape photographer waits for weather and light conditions to create drama before he snaps the shutter. The better sports photographers learn to time their exposure, instead of using streamed rapid fire exposures. Even candid shots are better when the camera operator observes the action and is selective. Timing requires patience.

Our job when shooting is to utilize shadows and light to create images that are either realistic expressions of what was there or abstractions of the scene. Outside, shadows constantly shift due to changing sun angles. When clouds and weather are added, the scene often becomes magical. Inside, light can be more easily controlled. But subjects in candid shots often don’t get pulled away from distracting backgrounds. Waiting for the best time to shoot is one of the easier ways to improve your portfolio.

Drama in landscape shots usually occurs near dawn or dusk. I generally scout locations during mid day and use the mostly southern light to provide information as to when to shoot that scene. If I chose the wrong time I waited for the light to improve or tried about 12 hours later. Some places I go back every year or two and hope the weather will add some element that the original needs (at least in my mind).

My sports photography has been limited to the sports I enjoy, biking, car races, volleyball, kayaking, and rafting. Almost every time, my single shot scenes were the only ones I liked. Even when doing a sequence of shots as rafts went down a major rapid, looked better when I shot them using my own senses as opposed to shooting a long string off of the motor drive. I attribute that to the fact that a camera set to take sequential shots does them at fixed intervals and the best shot more likely than not will occur at a moment the camera is not exposing its sensor or the film. It takes practice, but once you get the sense of timing, you can apply it to shots other than sports.

The Rocketeer was the first frame shot on the roll (Nikon FM, Fuji Reala 100 ISO film, f/16, 125th of a second, Tripod 8" height 15mm Sigma lens). My son, is the boy launching the rocket. I shot 3 launches that morning, the others were shot using a motor drive and the same exposure info. None of the others came close to capturing the drama of the scene.

For candid shots at events, scout the location before you take a shot. Make mental notes of the scene and shoot so that your subject is in a “light bubble”. In other words, place the subject in light that is at least one whole stop brighter than the background. Be patient, sooner or later a good subject will enter that area or if you have really done good scouting, you can move from location to location getting good shots.

The difference between a snap shot shooter and a photographer is not just the way they use light. It also is their use of time. Patience will improve your shooting ratio (good and great shots to mediocre and poor).

Patience Is Not Just a Virtue


Mesa, United States

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