Making the Effort for Better Pictures

When I first started photographing seriously in the late 90s, I attended a workshop by nature photographer John Shaw. Of the many tips he shared with the audience, the one that stuck with me was the importance of being at a particular location when the light was best, which for nature photographers means early and late in the day. Mr. Shaw did not mince words about this, stating this would take effort, and half-jokingly adding that the two most common enemies of good photography were sleep and dinner.

I have followed Mr. Shaw’s advice ever since, missing more than my share of sleep and dinners along the way, but never regretting it. Unfortunately, there is exactly zero correlation between, say, getting up at 4am and being the beneficiary of beautiful light conditions. I cannot begin to count the times when I have gotten up early only to face a gray, rainy morning, and not even taking out my camera. But I have also seen more of my share of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the kind that make people ask me “was it really like that?” Yes it was.

 Fishing boats at sunset, Esperanza, Vieques, Puerto Rico

The picture here depicts a bank of colorful clouds over fishing boats parked just outside the small town of Esperanza in Vieques, Puerto Rico. The sun had just set and was lighting the clouds from below the horizon. I was working the scene with my camera, capturing the quickly-changing color of the clouds. Across the street from where I was standing, a clutch of seafood restaurants were starting to come alive with dinner patrons. I persisted and continued taking pictures until the skies became dark.

After the shoot I walked to one of the restaurants and had a nice dinner. I guess sometimes you can have the fish and eat it too.

Now get out and shoot something.