(© Ian Plant) Nature throws a lot of obstacles in our way: nasty weather, hordes of biting insects, and bad light are just a few that immediately spring to mind. Good photographers, however, doesn’t let such hurdles drag them down. Instead, they look for ways to turn obstacles into artistic opportunities.
For the image above of a great blue heron, I was having difficulty finding an angle that worked with the available light. Trees blocked most views of the heron; the only open view available revealed the heron in unflattering full sunlight, surrounded by lots of distracting dead tree branches. So I decided to make the best of a bad situation. I walked along the line of trees until I found a small opening with a view of the heron. Shooting through the opening with a telephoto lens, the scrim of fall foliage backlit by the sun was rendered as a wash of out-of-focus colored blurs. As I changed my angle, the heron became backlit too, which in my opinion is much more dramatic than front lighting.
By remaining open to the possibilities, and by creatively turning an obstacle into an opportunity, I was able to come up with an uncommon perspective and to present my subject in an interesting way. Developing a mindset that allows for this is as critical, if not more so, than mastering the technical aspects of image-making. Creative, artistic images will do more than anything else to set you apart from other photographers and to get your work noticed.
So the next time an obstacle is thrown in your path, think critically about how you might turn it to your advantage. You may not always be able to come up with something that works, but sometimes you may surprise even yourself with the results.