Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

June 15, 2009

Avoid ruts by shooting variety

Filed under: Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light, style, weather — richditch @ 4:40 pm
Great Egrets in fog

Great Egrets in fog

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of photographers get caught in a rut and sometimes even giving up on photography when they’ve apparently lost their creative edge. This can happen when they become consumed with perfecting a technique to the exclusion of all other considerations, such as trying to get the perfect bird on a stick photo at a backyard set up.

I try to keep an open mind by looking at things and seeing if I can take advantage of a place, or behavior, or light, or weather, or whatever to photograph a familiar subject in a fresh way (at least for me).

These Great Egrets were photographed on a rare foggy morning at the Water Ranch in Gilbert, Arizona. In this overly dry environment we rarely see fog, and I miss it from my days in humid New Jersey. So when we’d had a particularly heavy rain storm one evening and the forecast was for fog in the morning I knew I needed to get out in it for some unusual image possibilities.

I wasn’t disappointed – the fog was very heavy and the familiar ponds of the Water Ranch took on a completely different character. What’s more I had the place to myself as other AZ photographers didn’t understand the potential or just assumed it wouldn’t be good for any photography.

I posted the lead image a couple days ago on a photography critique web site because it fit a weekly theme of “white.” I was astonished when one of the comments I received was “Hm, picture would be better if I could actually see it… Don’t know what your trying to do here. Fix the lighting here, ey?” I bristled when I read this, until a friend pointed out the person who made the comment was 13 years old and just starting out in photography.

So, this post is for 13 year old Maggie, in case she stumbles on my blog. What I was trying to do was use the unusual fog to simplify the image, reducing the complexity normally seen in this setting to very basic forms and shapes. And also to add variety to my large portfolio of Big White Birds That Everybody With A Camera Shoots. And keep my vision fresh and myself out of a rut.

And just to reinforce that, here’s a composite of all the Great Egret images I’ve posted on this critique web site, probably going back to a time when Maggie was five years old.

Great Egret - variety of images posted at NPN

Great Egret - variety of images posted at NPN

The first two in the composite were made on film at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico; all the others are from the Gilbert Water Ranch.

Opening image: Nikon D200, 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/350th second at f/8, matrix metered +2/3rds ev compensation, 12/12/07.


1 Comment »

  1. I do understand where Maggie gets it and had to laugh, my first reaction when I came to your blog this morning was that the picture was grayed out for some reason. Many web 2.0 sites do a screened fade on images that are not active and you roll over them or click on them to reveal the original image. Given that a 13 year old is growing up in a web 2.0 world it is easy to see why she would perceive this as an error. But photography is about trying new things and experimenting with light and lack of light.

    Comment by Brendon Grice — June 17, 2009 @ 7:43 am

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