Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry Leave a Comment

Wildlife photography is addictive.

I think a big part of the attraction is the uncertainty of whether you are actually going to find something to photograph and then, when you find that subject, what they will do.

In the guiding industry it is often said that you should expect the unexpected.  Ok, that’s all fine and well but it’s kinda difficult to plan your images based on those kind of statements and you need a little more to go on.

There are certain things you can take control of.  Shutter speed, aperture, ISO.  The way you frame your shot or, if you are thinking about the whole photographic process, what you are going to do with the shot during post production to fulfil it’s full potential.

Every one of these decisions, however small or insignificant they may be, will make a difference to your image so that part of the process is completely up to you.

Enters luck.

Regardless of how well prepared you are you just cannot ever prepare for every single possibility when you are out in the field.

Anything – literally – could happen at any given time so all you can do is to be as prepared as you can be and then let’s nature do it’s thing.

A few weeks ago I got lucky.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography

Greater Striped Swallow

Pilanesberg National Park

Nikon D800, 300mm, 1/1250, f/7.1, ISO 1600

I had my camera set up to capture the Swallows either landing or taking off from a perch they were continuously using before taking mud to their nest.

After a few experimental shots I was happy with my shutter speed (which would allow a very slight blur at the edge of the wings) and DoF (which was large enough to allow for the movement just before they got to and after they left the branch) so now it was up to me get the shot.

Well, me… and luck.

After quite a few missed shots I found myself again staring at the Swallow waiting for it to take off when, through my viewfinder, I saw the flash of the second bird flying into the frame.

In my mind I thought the first bird took off but when I looked at the image I was pleasantly surprised.

My bird did not leave it’s perch but, as luck would have, it’s partner flew into the frame exactly at the right time.

I did everything I could right at the time but this shot is a result of luck.

And you know what?  The more you are out there and the more you photograph the luckier… nah, you know the rest!

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

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