One of the things that photography has taught me something about is patience. Like many people these days, I tend to want instant gratification. That’s one of the reasons that I enjoy using a digital camera so much. I can see in an instant just what kind of image I’ve captured. That’s a far cry from my fim photography of the past. I’ve been known to “discover” disposable cameras under the seat of my truck two or three years after the film has been exposed, and although it’s fun to have new memories of past events, it makes for poor photography.
You have to see your mistakes in order to learn from them.
So, being someone who is now somewhat comfortable in the digital age (Hey, I use a digital camera and I’m even blogging!) I’m used to having things right away. Want to watch a movie? Order it from “On-Demand.” Want to hear a song? Hit iTunes. Want to watch a funny commercial again, or see a concert clip, or the sports play-of-the-week? Go to Youtube.
So I love my digital camera.
The patience part comes from what I put into the camera, to get that instant gratification.
There are two types of patience that I need to exercise when I’m behind the camera. First is the patience to wait for the right moment to get the kind of shot that makes me stop and say “Yeah, baby!” This is especially true when it comes to candid portraiture. People sometimes think I’m nuts because I’ll have the camera up to my eye for a loooong time before I push the magic button.
“Just take the picture already!”
Nope. I’m waiting for the right look.
Now that doesn’t mean I don’t take a lot of lousy photos as well. I probably discard ten for every one that I like, but the ones that I like are most often enjoyed by the people they’re taken of. I remember one instance where I was photographing a “subway guitarist” and I had a definite idea of what I wanted in the shot. I wanted this guy, head down, concentrating on his craft, framed by people on either side of him hurrying along so quickly that they blurred in the picture. Now that one took about 65 exposures before I got the one I wanted.
So waiting for the right shot is one kind of patience.
The second is waiting for the camera to do it’s work. This past weekend I was on the beach in the dark, with the camera set up on a tripod, pointed at a well lit pier extending out over the water.
The camera was exposing for fifteen to twenty seconds at a time, and then taking another ten seconds to process the image additionally in order to reduce the digital “noise” in the background.
The camera did a great job, but I had a tough time just waiting for the camera to tell me it was okay to take a look.
The next morning I was out at sunrise. Because we were only in the area for a couple of mornings, there were a lot of shots I wanted to try to fit into this early morning light. Of course, they were all over the beach, from the inn we were staying at to the pier a quarter mile away.
Not a huge distance, but because I only had a few moments to use that light before it changed dramatically, I found myself wanting to go faster than I knew I should. I really had to step back and tell myself that one or two really good photos were much better than a hundred lousy ones!
Patience is a virtue. That’s what Mom always says.
I’m beginning to think she might be right!