Do you ever wish you could add something to your nature photos that would just magically make them all super awesome and fantastic?
Well, guess what? You can!
That secret ingredient is patience.
One of the hardest parts about photographing nature is that nature is filled with uncontrollable subjects.
That flower will grow where it feels like, not where you want it to grow (in front of a beautiful background).
That bird will perch where he or she feels like it, not where you want it to perch (in that perfect light).
That mountain is not moving–regardless of how much you want to put it in front of your favorite lake to create a nice reflection image.
So, the only way to deal with all this uncontrollable chaos is patience.
Here’s a few stories to help illustrate the importance of patience:
Bald Eagle in Flight
To get this photo of a bald eagle in flight, I had to stand in 5 degree weather for about two hours. Although there were a ton of eagles flying around, only occasionally did they fly close enough to photograph (filling at least 20% of the frame). I’d say for the two hours my dad and I were outside, I probably only had a minute or two of pressing the shutter. For the other 118 minutes, we just waited patiently for those birds to fly closer.
Silhouette of a Creosote Branch
To photograph this silhouette of a creosote bush, three things needed to happen: a good sunrise or sunset, low wind, and I needed to find a good branch to photograph.
In the desert, good sunrises and sunsets are pretty common, so that wasn’t much of a problem. But, it’s usually pretty windy, and these creosote bushes really like to bounce in the air (even on the calmest of days), so I had to wait awhile for that calm day.
Lastly, I needed to find a good branch to photograph: one that pointed almost straight up and didn’t bunch up a lot in any part. Creosote branches tend to grow more parallel to the ground, so it took some time to find a nice branch like this.
To get this photo of a Chocolate Lily, I spent hours looking for a flower with a great background (one that was far away and contrasted well with the brown flowers). And, then once I found this specific flower, I waited patiently for about 30 minutes until a cloud came in to block the sun and help balance the light on the flower.
What about you?
If you have a similar story to share about how patience played a big role in one of your photos, please share it with us by leaving a comment below.
Please post a link to your photo too, if possible. Thanks! 🙂
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About the Author: Steve Berardi is a naturalist, photographer, computer scientist, and founder of PhotoNaturalist. You can usually find him hiking in the beautiful mountains and deserts of Southern California.