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.
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.
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.