Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Granddaughter can Capture a Fantastic Image

One of the big differences between a good amateur or professional photographer and a person taking snapshots is in the work and pre-planning that goes into capturing an image. My 6 year old granddaughter, if she is lucky, can capture a fantastic image if it happens in front of her. All she has to do is point the camera and press the shutter. But to consistently create good images takes a lot of work, judgment and pre-planning.
A few weeks ago I decided to head down to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. I had seen a number of beautiful images of raptors taken from there by members of one of the photography clubs I belong to and wanted to see what I could do. I gathered information from my friends and the internet as to location, favorite spots in the refuge and the types of animals I would find. From past experience and a little homework I processed what I knew of the habits of these animals so I had an idea of where and when I should be set up to capture the images that I had in my mind. I left the house early in the morning and made the 2½ hour trip to Ridgefield getting there just after sunrise. As it turned out that part of the trip was a bust—it was raining and gray and no opportunities for photography. Not to let the day go to waste I decided to head down to Oregon (it wasn’t that much further) and see what images I could find along the Gorge of the Columbia River; knowing that with this weather there may be an opportunity to capture a moody image of one of the many waterfalls in the Gorge. This is where past knowledge helps—you change your tactics to meet the situation Mother Nature presents to you. As it turned out my hunch was correct and I was able to capture a number of images of waterfalls in which the weather made for great effects in the image. As I continued east the weather got clearer and my thoughts went to the next day’s sunrise—the weather forecast on the radio was sounding promising.
I ended up in Maryhill, Washington where I had heard of a Stonehenge Memorial. The light wasn’t right but I wasn’t there to take photographs anyway, I was there for research; to find wherer I wanted to set-up for my sunrise shots of the next day.

Before sunrise the next day I was at Maryhill again and ready for the arrival of the sun. As the sun came over the horizon I was able to capture a number of good images of Stonehenge and a couple of great images of the Columbia River and Mount Hood. My background work, preplanning and judgment were starting to pay off.
Late that afternoon I ended up back in Ridgefield, found the spots I had located the day before and was able to capture some images of raptors, herons and a coyote in the light of the setting sun.

I cannot do anything about the weather and the natural lighting that Mother Nature provides; but with a little knowledge and work on my part I can be in the location that may provide the best image for me to capture under the given conditions. Consistently creating quality images involves a lot of work but when your work pays off it is well worth the effort.

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