No More Excuses

No More Excuses

As the years go on, I’ve experienced and witnessed something very disturbing. While not always true, I’ve seen the work ethic that was so strong when I was young diminish. I’ve discussed what has been labeled the “Entitlement Generation” with many people of all ages, and there’s an overwhelming agreement it exists—even with those who are part of the Entitlement Generation! If you’re part of it, if you succumb to it, and you’re a photographer, I implore to make No More Excuses and encourage you to become part of the Just Do It generation. Photographers who make excuses don’t often come back with winning photos. My prescription: rest up, read what’s below three times a day, drink plenty of it, and call me in the morning.

Excuse #1: The Light Is Soooooo Flat I Can’t Get Any Good Pictures. The alarm wakes you at 5:15 AM because you read that sunrise light is dramatic. You wake up with just a bit of reluctance. This is a step in the right direction from you feeling entitled to sleep till noon. You actually get excited because you know you need to be on location for early light. Upon arrival, clouds dominate the eastern horizon and the light is flat. Those from the Entitlement Generation may gripe and moan, but you’ve graduated from those ranks and cheer the flat light! “Why the cheers?” you ask? Because there’s a world of photos that await you. No more excuses that you can’t get a great image on an overcast day. Think small and think macro. View your surroundings with telephoto eyes and look down at the ground for potential subjects. A plethora of pictures await the photographer who’s not looking for excuses. Your goal of capturing the grand landscape needs to shift to subjects that are more intimate. The territory to explore may be no more than a few square feet of real estate but net an amazing end result. The point is that if you begin your session with Plan A, be prepared for Plan B or maybe C. The challenge is to walk away with good images no matter the conditions. It’s not the number of pictures you make during a session that dictates its success. It’s the number of keepers you bring back. Thomas Edison once said, “Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.” Break a sweat and make No More Excuses.

No More Excuses

Excuse #2: No Photos Today—It’s Toooooo Cold. (Now say it with a whine...sounds nasty doesn’t it?) Snow is an ingredient that has numerous advantages. It covers the land in a blanket of white, which hides distractions, rubble, dirt and other undesirable elements. When sunrise or sunset reflects off its surface, images come alive. But associated with snow is cold weather. For all you Entitled Generationers, that’s why they make cold weather gear, boots, chemical warmers and fleece. If you choose to remain a fair weather photographer, other than the fact you miss out on snow scenes, you also deprive yourself of longer shooting sessions. During the winter, the sun stays low on the horizon for longer periods of time. Lower sun angles mean better light for longer periods. So strap on your gaiters, break out the pocket warmers, grab your fleece and head out in winter to make some great shots.

No More Excuses

Excuse #3: But It’s Soooooo Heavy! (How many of you said it with a whine?) What else could I be referring to other than a tripod? A tripod should be every photographer’s best friend for many reasons—more than the fact it helps make a sharp photo. Your tripod should be beefy enough to provide sharp images with your longest lens. A flimsy one isn’t worth its weight in dirt. A substantial tripod may be heavy and somewhat of a chore to carry, but if you return from an outing and every photo isn’t sharp, it was a waste of time to carry it anyhow. Accept the fact that it’s SOOOOOOOO heavy and deal with it. Another benefit of a tripod is it allows you to study the composition with more comfort. Since it supports the weight of the camera, it frees your mind to think more deeply about where to point the camera to create the best composition. It also forces you to slow down since you can study the viewfinder with greater scrutiny. An additional benefit is it allows you to get in the photo if you use the self-timer. Finally, it allows you to more easily shade your lens against flare. You can move to the front of the camera and block the light that causes it. So with all these positive factors, learn to love your tripod even though it’s SOOOOOOO heavy!

Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.

Photography is what motivates me to move through life in a positive way. Photography is ͞All About The Light͟ and it’s the first thing I seek out before I press the shutter. Optimally, I pursue great subjects in great light, but if there’s an ordinary subject in great light, I still press the shutter. I love to share the photographic knowledge I’ve accumulated and I hope my enthusiasm is contagious so I can motivate others to feel the same way I do about my photography.

8 Comments

    I have written several motivational blogs and articles concerning this. “18 below a photographers delight” ” Inclement Weather Photography” etc. That said, the less people who listen to our message, the larger the market for you and I. Wonderful article Russ 🙂

    Love your thoughts and the way you expressed it….I find myself in some of those boats too, Thanks for the kick. I purchased a Fuji XT2 b/c my 5D4 is too heavy for hiking for me. Sure I can carry it but at 10k feet why carry more weight than you need to. My heavy tripod is the same. However, those thin legs on my lighter tripod do dance too much when up high. So I just drop down lower to the ground for the landscape images when I can. I am not using a long lens so I can use a lighter tripod too……but as you said, it “must” be stable! Thanks for getting me to think more about the why I am out there and the necessity for me of capturing “sharp” images. Cheers….

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked a photographer “where’s your tripod” and get “in my car…” then I get a whine about tripods cramp their creativity. My tripod is my friend, it goes everywhere with me (except those places that don’t allow tripods; I’m talking to you, Seattle Japanese Gardens) and then it’s time for my gorillapod.

    Hi Russ,
    Great article! I just got back from a week on the east side of the Sierra from Bridgeport to Bishop. Wish I would have been there a week sooner for better color but what I got was still great. Like you say, look for the little things that stand out and are somewhat different. I love my Tamron 150-600 G2 lens. I took most of my photos with it. Getting in close to subjects and details of the mountains. Love my tripod also and always, always use it. It is heavy but ditto all the reasons you said to use it.

    Daryl, Tom, Paul and Tom – glad to read you’re all on board with regards to cold weather or the importance of a tripod. I hope others read your comments so it will be reinforced in their heads that they, too, need to get on board. Get some GREAT shots this upcoming winter using your tripods! 🙂

    The light is so “what”? I always thought that photography is essentially a study of light. I explore it – fighting it is as silly as trying to punch holes in a cloud – learning to live with it can be HIGHLY educational and HIGHLY creative. Maybe the light right now this minute isn’t what you had in mind when you hooked the camera bag and went out the door – so deal with it – plan better – try another time – but for the sake of everyone else’s sanity, stop complaining about something that’s beyond your power to alter.

    Too “cold”? – next time it’s gonna be too “hot”? A couple of decades back, I found myself (mid-50s, then) standing behind two young girls at a set of traffic lights, in the central downtown area here, waiting for the lights to change. The pair of them looked to be about 23 – both had similar figures – both were dressed in a similar way. It was around 3:15pm – later summer afternoon – not “hot”, but certainly rather warm. And to my astonishment, I heard one complaining to the other that she was too hot, and the other replying that she was too cold. They were standing about 12 inches apart. At the same instant in time. I could scarcely believe my ears! In that instant, I had a life changing epiphany – I realised that complaining about weather is utter nonsense. And that revelation has changed my outlook on life totally. I no longer complain, full stop – I just get to, and LIVE – and enjoy every God given minute of my life. If only I could find them, to thank them for what they did for me! 🙂

    The tripod is a bit trickier. Half my photos are taken while travelling – when I’m at home, I use one – in fact, I have several I use, here. But travel doesn’t lend itself to taking the ‘pod with me. Apart from any other consideration, my wife – who’s always there too, when I’m travelling – would kick up hell’s delight if I brought one with me. And in any case, the times I ache to have one are invariably moments when I find myself in a location where tripods are banned, full stop. I agree in principle with your comment – I use one when I can – but it’s not “always” enough, and there’s nothing much I can do to kiss it & make it better, apart from changing shutter speed.

    Jean and Chris – Thanks guys! Complaining is just what it sounds like……….. Those who take initiative and try to make lemonade rather than complain will get much farther ahead.

    Jean – I hope you find the two females so you CAN thank them!

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