Big Thanks and a Really Good Comment

Thanks to all the lovely folk who attended the latest RSPB Wildlife Photography Workshop at RSPB Bowling Green Hide and Lookout last Sunday.

Lots of questions and a few lightbulb moments make it all worthwhile and to see the enthusiasm of the participants makes me realise that we are all on the photography journey – I’ve found that photographers, in general, are a great bunch of folk who always seem to be interested in each other’s work and understand that we can all learn something from each other. Constructive criticism is always welcome and never refused because, quite frankly, that’s how we all grow. Most of the participants worked in manual mode rather than a specific priority setting (Av, Tv) and this was a great starting point from which to ‘push the envelope’.

During the morning session I explained how I used Aperture Priority and Auto ISO when on Festival shoots because the light constantly changes and the activities can be rather frenetic with people moving about quite randomly. This sort of shoot demands ‘on the hoof’ decision making with very little time to spin the dials playing photo-roulette. It’s fast, pacey, forever changing and very unpredictable. Not to mention fast changing differences in natural lighting.

One of the participants made the comment (and I paraphrase here), ‘You’re the first pro photographer I know that uses Aperture prioity mode rather than Manual mode all the time’.

My response was honest and simple: ‘When it all kicks off I have to ask myself am I going to risk losing that ‘killer shot’ by having to spin the dials in Manual just because I’m a pro? Am I heck as like. Photography is all about capturing the moment and telling the story and, quite frankly, I’ll do anything I can to get the shot. On these sort of shoots my brief is usually simple: get the shot and tell the story. End of! Often, the photographer is simply the client’s tool so I have to bear that in mind all the time.

Selection of my tools has to be careful and considered. I don’t want to faff about changing lenses all the time or checking the degrees that the light changes or asking subjects, ‘Please could you be still for a moment while I take a photograph’. That is a step too far. So based on experience of these sort of shoots I have my go-to kit already prepared ready for the day, and in these situations it’s usually my bomb-proof Canon 1DX Mark III coupled with the Canon 16-35mm f4L IS USM lens. This combo will just about cover every eventuality. And it’s damn fast! Fully charged batteries and spare data cards and I’m ready to go regardless of what the weather throws my way. This combination of body and glass is unbelievably tough: I’m not the most gear-careful photographer on these types of outings. The point of all this is that I’m proactive rather than reactive. Even on the day I quickly assess what’s going on and respond accordingly, having already chosen the tools to realise the shots that I envision.

So what’s the point of this? Simply put I always try to get folk to be proactive rather than reactive photographers whenever possible. And if you are then your ‘keeper’ rate will go up – I promise.

Envision the shot and choose the tools to make it a reality.

Oh! Yea. Before I end this rather short latest news I have to say thanks to Dave (you know who you are) for his kind supportive words to the other participants about ‘taking on board’ some of the knowledge I was trying to share. Thanks buddy!

Thanks again to everyone… ‘Be proactive, envision your shot and use the right tools to make it a reality’. See you all next time.

Happy snappin’

One comment

  1. Steve, thank you yet again for another wonderful and well explained wildlife photography course yesterday. I feel I have benefitted so much from the last two sessions from the basics of understanding metering and exposures through to composition and what makes a good photo. Thank you.


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