digital photography tips with Digital Photo Mentor Darlene Hildebrandt

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Have Patience – Take Better Photos

This is a quick tip for you; something that you can start doing immediately to improve your photos without buying any more gear.

It's all about patience!

I talk a lot about slowing down and taking photos more intentionally. Less “spray and pray” and more using the decisive moment. This goes right along with that advice and it's to stop and wait a moment for the scene to unfold before your eyes. Having patience and waiting for just the right shot will help you take better photos.

I'm currently travelling on the Oregon coast and when I took this series of images the other day I thought it would be a perfect example of this concept to reinforce it. I took these first couple of images of a seagull perched on a post. I wanted him to turn his head sideways, it's a better view for birds if you can see their eye and have them in profile.

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Then I decided I wanted to just use two of the posts and shoot vertically to show more height. Compositionally vertical lines imply strength, power and height. So I turned and shot another image.

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I noticed the other bird flying in the background and liked the idea of having a second bird in the shot, but now my main bird was facing straight to camera, so again I waited for him to turn. Birds move a lot, you need to be ready and keep the camera at your eye.

The key to this patience thing is to not just stand there, but actually be ready to shoot it when the right moment does appear. If the camera is by your side, or has a lens cap on, you'll miss the shot.

Being ready

Something I see on my photo tours and in my classes is that most people new to photography take really good care of their camera, almost too good. I see lens caps on, all the time, even when out walking around. I see lenses in pouches, inside bags all zipped up and strapped down, and cameras turned off. I've even seen socks over lenses (love you Ann!). While all that protection does keep your gear in pristine condition, it doesn't allow you to be ready should a photo opportunity present itself.

While you do want to take take of your expensive gear, you also want to be ready to get a shot. When I'm out walking around my camera is always on (it goes into “sleep mode” and you can quickly wake it up just by tapping your shutter button half way), lens cap is off (and the other lenses in my bag have their front caps off usually too). I used a lens hood and UV filter to protect the front of my lens. So, there is a happy medium in there somewhere between taking good care of your gear, and babying it to the point of missed shots.

Patience will get you results

So I waited for the bird to be in just the right position and took a couple more images.

Got a second bird in one image, and he turned but then I had his butt!

As I was waiting for him to turn his head just right and a second bird to fly through the scene, he decided to take off. In my opinion this is the best shot of the bunch and had I stopped after the first one and kept walking, this never would have been captured.

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What are your thoughts? Which image do you like best? Do you have patience when shooting?

Share your experiences in the comments below and remember, patience IS a virtue!

Cheers,
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