Sometimes as photographers we fail to see the forest for the trees. We get so involved with a subject that we forget to look around and see if there are other targets of opportunity.
Example: I was at Yosemite National Park. Arguably the most beautiful place on Earth. I’m there with a friend specifically to take pictures and it’s a grey, overcast day, but there are lots of reflections (Fig 1) that are drawing my attention. Since it’s late autumn, the animal life is at a minimum. We’ve seen a few stand-offish squirrels and some ravens and that’s about it. We are walking the length of the Merced River, looking for photo opportunities.
Along come some ducks (Fig 2). We are so starved for animal life that we start watching these ducks swim around and then they land on the shore and start to hunt for food amongst the rocks. There are perhaps two males and six or eight females. We start stalking them, hoping to get a decent picture.
I should mention that we had an encounter with a duck last year (Fig 3) that led us to postulate that ducks are inherently evil. We had come across a small pond in a marsh in which a single duck paddled around looking for food. It was near the shore on the far side of the pond from us, so we slowly circled around to get a closer picture. Of course, as we did this, the duck moved closer to where we were originally, so we circled back again, only to have the duck move to the far side again (there may be a Gary Larson reference in there, somewhere). So we split up and one of us started moving around the pond, figuring that at least one of us would get a good picture. So what does the duck do? It takes off and flies away, laughing at us “Qua, qua, qua, qua, qua…” Later that day we say a duck (the same one?) in the river and once again, every time we got almost close enough for a shot the duck would move tantalizingly close, but too far away. Thus the concept arose of the Evil Duck.
So here we are, stalking ducks again (Fig 4). They are walking amongst the river rocks eating… whatever it is that ducks find in these rocks to eat… and generally leading us down the river, which is the general direction we’ve been going anyhow. Now we are actually getting some pretty good pictures of these ducks, so we’re kind of happy about that.
Every once in awhile I turn to look at the reflection of the bridge (Fig 5), which is now behind us, as these reflections are really great and make for great pictures. We’re doing this for perhaps ten minutes when my friend say, “Oh my goodness; Look behind us!” It is not until that point that I actually looked around to see what could be seen. So what have we both been missing as we chase down the Evil Ducks again?
Let this be a lesson to you. No matter what you’re doing, no matter how interesting your subject, no matter how deeply involved you get in trying to get The Shot – every now and then pause and look around you. There are wonderful things going on that you might just be missing!