When do you have enough?

By Wednesday, April 11, 2007 grafphoto

In continuing my ‘choose your battles wisely‘ commentary, I have another loon image to share. Although I am not quite sure what ‘the moral’ of this story is. I have gone back to photograph this loon now a total of 3 times. Two of the three resulted in some keeper images, the other time was spent just looking for it for a couple of hours and not finding it.bi8452.jpg It isn’t the first time I have repeatedly gone back to photograph a particular cooperative or rare subject – because I am always hoping for better light, better surroundings, better behaviour, just better images. But I do think about ‘to what end?’ After all, how many images do I really need (or want) of this particular loon – or the Barred Owl, or warblers this coming season, etc, etc?

How much time does it take to really explore a subject’s potential and possibilities? This time around I had much better light and some pretty cool reflections going on in the water. Particularly with wildlife, all of this can be very time consuming. Most of the time spent is simply waiting for the animal to come closer to you, or to do something unique. Sometimes it is just time spent looking for it. I have a hard time defining when enough is enough. Sometimes the animal defines that for you and just moves on – that makes it pretty easy. But when a subject is in a pretty reliable spot (now for 19 some days total spottings) – it is hard to pass up taking advantage of an opportunity. I suppose we all define for ourselves where to draw the line and when enough is enough. I think I am always wondering if something could have been just a little better. From my last session with this loon, I wish it was a little closer to me, with the cool reflections, and perhaps a fish in its mouth . then maybe I will have had enough.

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • bluejude says:

    The second image is much more interesting. I think to over-think the whole balance thing would lead to staid photography. I think going with what feels right is what gives any medium heart and soul and indivuality. Just my thoughts…{:
    Thanks for stoppin by my blog! More abstracts are on the way…{:

  • Intern says:

    the pictures are gorgeous… I clicked on both to see the enlarged size. very well balanced. Excellent photography.
    You got very fine eyes … and the read was delightful…

    Personally, I dont think I pay too much attention on details, balance … I’m more of point-and-shoot person … so i have got a lot to learn.

  • David says:

    I find the same thing happens to me. Often I will go out to get a photo of a kangaroo and come back with 100+ photos, still not having the one I wanted!

    Sometimes I find that flora is a worthwhile subject, it tends to stay still for longer! 😉

    Keep up the good work.

    David’s “Images of Nature” Gallery

  • paul says:

    I have countless sunrises, pictures of birds, lizards, etc. I like the comment about the orchard. Each day there is something new and interesting about the ‘same old subject’, of which I seem to never tire.

    As long as you are satisfied, what’s the difference? 🙂 Keep shooting! You are getting more and more intimate with the loon and will pick up more subtle traits/tendencies as you observe.

    It’s fun stuff.

  • Mark says:

    Hi John, I don’t think it is necessarily a pursuit of perfection. It is knowing there can always be different light, different conditions, different behaviors that might create an entirely different image.

  • John says:

    If you are on pursuit of perfect, you would always expect a better shot. Sometimes, don’t be so hard on yourself and you’ll find you’ve already made it.

  • Mark says:

    I agree with you guys, there is always something different to be found. But at some point, I think we all find ourselves selectively distributing our time. We need to assign perhaps some ‘value’ to the time spent in perhaps getting something slightly different of an already well-photographed subject vs. exploring something new. I don’t mean to imply that everything should be results oriented, because I probably enjoy the process at times as much as I enjoy the results. It is just something that enters my thought process when deciding – do I go here, or here today?

    And thanks for stopping by to comment! It helps me sort my own thoughts out at times! 🙂

  • I agree with Daniel in believing that one will ever or never completely explore a certain topic.
    I will often approach the same subject over and over again, knowing that there is always a better shot of it waiting for me.

  • Daniel Sroka says:

    You ask How much time does it take to really explore a subject’s potential and possibilities?

    I don’t think you ever can completely explore a topic. This reminds me of something the great photographer Jerome Liebling said, (see here for the reference). In an interview, Mr. Liebling was talking about he has been working on a series of photographs about an apple orchard near his home since 1979: “I guess that’s a long time to be working on an apple orchard, isn’t it?† he said. “But the apples still keep growing each year.†

  • wingerz says:

    I recently started taking photographs, and over the weekends I find myself taking a lot of the same walks through the neighborhood and along the Charles River. There’s always something different to see – signs of the changing seasons, different light conditions, varying numbers of pedestrians and cars. I have ended up with more pictures of mallard ducks and squirrels than I know what to do with.

    I am having fun developing my technical skills and my camera eye, and I am guessing that this is something that stays with you as you become a better and better photographer.

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