“If Only I Had a Camera…”
Posted In Photographic Considerations on Tuesday, April 23rd 2019

“If Only I Had a Camera…”

Northeast Outdoors Experience Staff

I am of the opinion that not having in your possession a camera capable of taking remarkable outdoor photographs is directly proportional to the amount of photographic opportunities that will present themselves on any given day. For example yesterday I saw a whitetail doe at about 20 yards, a common loon at about 15 feet, rock climbers dwarfed by the magnitude of the sheer multi-colored face of the granite they were ascending, an eagle soaring in formation with some vultures high about the cliff face, (did they know something I didn’t about the fate of the climbers?), a sunset that was amazing and a sunset that looked as though it was pre-ordered for a landscape shot of perfection.

What is not expressed but apparent by the preceding paragraph is that if all of these things WERE available to photograph, imagine the opportunities if you intentionally spent all day looking for incredible images during your travels. Dawn to dusk adventures can present an amazing array of potential images. It doesn’t take a trek hundreds of miles into oblivion either to see photographic opportunities. In the past 30 minutes I have seen an eagle and osprey soaring over the river behind the house, a flock of cedar waxwings picking the remaining crabapples off the tree outside my window, two immature robins eating bugs off the roof outside my windows and a Cooper’s hawk land on a pine tree branch about 100 yards away. Where’s my camera you ask? I’ve been asking myself that very thing for years so don’t even go there.

It seems to me that becoming involved with other activities outdoors is what presents us with eventual photographic opportunities. In other words, time spent equals time for possibilities. Usually the activity your engaging in will limit to some degree what you can have readily available for photographic equipment. Perhaps the secret to finding more and better image opportunities as to simply take your camera, lenses and other paraphernalia and THEN go for a hike, or a canoe ride or whatever. Just bringing along a camera for your outing, while an honest effort to be prepared, simply isn’t going to have the camera in your hands for that one fleeting moment when the perfect picture presents itself. You almost have to consider yourself to be a photographer first and a fisherman or hiker second.

I have been guilty off and on throughout my life of having a camera and taking too many pictures of the same thing while ignoring things outside of my field of view that were far more interesting images. I was once convinced to take several pictures of a favorite fishing location from several angles with my phone camera only to hear something behind me at the edge of a cornfield. I quickly turned to see 4 wild turkeys running at breakneck speed towards the woods beyond the field. They had been easily within decent camera range before they started running. One shot of the fishing hole would have been plenty and maybe if I hadn’t been so bent on being creative with my perspectives I would have had a shot of the tom and his three hens to run through Photoshop and then post instead of 4 pictures of the same river from different angles. I keep that particular river shot on my computer's screensaver to remind me to always keep things in perspective.

For the close-up shots of fish or portraits or even the occasional landscape or sunset, a point and shoot camera or cell phone camera will do just fine. The automatic abilities of these devices to compensate and set shutter speeds have seen a remarkable degree development and refinement in the past 10 years or so. Many built in zooms in these cameras are very capable of extending the effective range of these relatively inexpensive investments. Having to manually access setting controls that takes your eyes off the subject that suddenly appears before you out of nowhere can definitely be frustrating however. For the photographer with a quality DSLR and a decent telephoto lens either attached or readily available, capturing a quick image can sometimes find luck on your side with everything right and one quality picture on your wall or computer screen because of it.

A highly recommended lens for general purpose wildlife and nature photography is the Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM. Having one either over your shoulder or attached to your camera while you stalk potential images can provide the photographer some excellent shot opportunities for not a tremendous amount of money.

You might as well face it, every outdoor activity will require an investment to some degree. Luckily photography is only part equipment cost. The other investment is your time learning about the outdoors and how to get good pictures in the process of learning. Usually the latter is far more important than the former. Don’t just get close… get closer!


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