When was the last time you sat down and flipped through your old images?
If you are like me you have a pretty substantial amount of images stored away on your hard drive, most of which will never be seen by anybody except perhaps your family who get subjected to to obligatory holiday picture viewing sessions. There are many reasons you might not have done anything with your images but I am willing to bet that one of the reasons that pops up is that you don’t feel the particular images are good enough.
This is not necessarily a bad thing as it will not only help you to create a much stronger portfolio of images but it will also help you to look, and hopeful think, about your images more while shooting and processing your work. And that’s a good thing!
Now I agree with the above completely, and used to do the same thing, but when I sat down yesterday with a cup of coffee to look through some old images I found a sequence I shot way back in 2007. We were at one of the big dams in Madikwe when a pride of young lions tried to move in on a younr rhino at the water.
The sun had already set about 20 minutes earlier, we weren’t ready for the action and my equipment was not geared, or setup, for this kind of low light, fast action shooting.
So what did I do?
Hell, I grabbed my camera, dialed in some settings as quickly as I could and fired away. The whole sequence was shot with a Nikon D300 and Sigma 50-500mm lens and I ended up with the following settings – 175mm, 1/30, f/8, ISO 2000.
These images have been sitting in a directory since then. Never been used?
In my mind they are technically, well, crap. If I could have this exact same scene over again, with way more experience and better equipment, I would probably have been able to create better images.
Do I regret not getting the images crisper? Sharper? Did I delete them outright as they did not fit into the mould of what I , and other, believe a good image should be?
These images remind me of an absolutely amazing afternoon in the wild. To me, they are perfect!
When you photograph wildlife you need to keep this in mind. Your images do not always have to be 100% perfect. They need to be perfect for you!
The difference I believe is this – if you head out into the field to go and do some game viewing and you take your camera along you are going to get these kind of images. Sure, you might get lucky and pull off a few awesome frames but it will be exactly that. Luck.
On the other hand, if you head out specifically with the intention of going to photograph a specific species or scene then you will be ready, both from an equipment and visual point of view, to get the shots. You will be looking for them. Waiting for them.
So the one question you need to ask yourself, and I am going to revisit this again in the next week or so, is this – Am I going out into the field specifically to photograph wildlife or am I taking my camera along just in case I see something interesting? Your answer will influence the images you get.
I was not ready for the above sequence. I had packed it in for the day when magic happened.
When you head out make sure you are ready. Don’t just wait to see what happens. Go out there to photograph!
Oh, and as the year slowly draws to an end, why not go and scratch through your old images. You never know what you might find! 😉
Until next time.
Gerry van der Walt
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