In the past year, studying photography has taught me about a zillion things, and not all of them have to do with aperture, shutter speed and ISO. For one thing, I’m learning patience– that seems to be the A-#1 requirement. If you rush a Miracle Man you get rotten miracles… and if you rush a photography student you get rotten photos. (Incidentally, my entire life philosophy is based on The Princess Bride.)
I went out for a walk today on one of the nature trails that run alongside the Boise River, just hoping to get something I liked. One image. Because, another thing I’m learning is that anytime I go out hoping to find something to photograph, I’m golden if I manage to capture just one shot I want to look at over and over, and maybe even share with people. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s awesome.
It was about 94 degrees out there and I was traipsing along the gravel path getting rocks in my shoes and wishing I’d thought to wear a hat, slap on some sunscreen and bring a bottle of water. I was not feeling patient. It was mid-afternoon, which is not usually the best time to take photos, anyway, because the harsh sun is beating down, overexposing the highlights and stripping all detail from the shadows. I took a few shots, but I just wasn’t feeling it. The only things that caught my eye were a beautiful orange bird that appeared for about a nanosecond before she hid in the trees, and a lovely yellow butterfly that was flitting around so quickly it wasn’t worth even trying to photograph him. But I did, anyway, and got a few blurry photos of leaves, like a big green smear of paint across a canvas.
The butterfly continued his happy dance. I started walking back toward the road.
“Oh, c’mon, dude, I just want to take your picture! Why don’cha land for a minute? Give a girl a break!” I kvetched as I headed toward home. And then… he did. He landed on a leaf not six feet away from me, his wings spread perfectly, the glaring sun filtered by the canopy of trees overhead. And there he sat while I snapped photo after photo, moving a little closer with each one, until I was just a few inches away and had to switch my lens to macro. The gracious little butterfly held his pose far longer than I ever would have hoped, then resumed his journey as soon as I stopped shooting. All I could say was “Thank you!” but I said it about a dozen times as he flitted away.
So, I learned something else about photography today, and who knows, it might even translate to other areas of life: It never hurts to ask for what you want.
Oh, and always carry water and sunscreen. You just never know…