Not much better than lunch with friends. Especially friends I don’t get to see much. So was the case on Friday. Had a wonderful lunch and lively discussion. DT is an artist. A painter. Our discussion soon evolved to how an artist and a photographer differ. Before the artistic photographers jump down my throat hear me out. My argument is that to be a great artist (like DT) requires some genetic code or psychological trait received in development in the womb. Not everyone can pick up a brush and create masterpieces. Like Beethoven a true artist have unique skills and talents. That arguably cannot be taught. A visionary that can put their vision on paper with only two tools. A brush and paint. And their vision.
Ok now for the photographer. I argue it’s a numbers game. “If you shoot enough photographs. Eventually you will get a good photograph” I am specifically talking about wildlife photography. Yes the great photographers seek out unique wildlife. They know their equipment better than the vast majority of camera gear owners. And they know the biology of the wildlife they pursue better than most also. But it still comes down to being at the right place at the right time. Patience. And composition. If you follow great photographers or talk to them, they take a ton of photographs. Most artists get one chance with a painting. The create the subject.
Today I had a prime example that supports my argument. I have shot thousands of photographs of Blue Heron. One great photographer, Moose Peterson as of late has joked about how plentiful and easy Herons are to find and photograph. They are everywhere. Even in Yellowstone! Every year I come back with Blue Heron photographs taken at Yellowstone. Today I watched, followed and took hundreds of photographs of this particular Blue Heron. At times I sat with my eye to the camera and my finger at ready for long periods of time. Waiting for that moment when the Blue Heron would lunge forward and snatch it’s snack from the water. To me that is the prize. To capture that split second when the Heron brings up a wiggling treat in it’s beak.
Not today. Not that capture at least. For a few moments the light changed slightly and the Heron looked up. I was shooting with an exposure compensation of -.7. Why? The Heron was always on or near snow and very bright dead pine trees. Shooting the D4 with a 600mm lens and a 1.4 teleconverter got me very close. I was across the Fire Hole river form the Heron. Did not really see this particular photograph until I saw it on my computer. One shot. A unique shot of a Heron. The light was right. The Heron’s pose perfect. And all I did was push a button on a camera. No vision. No artistic forethought. Lot’s of Luck.