Behind the Camera: ‘Into the Distance’

When I started out as a photographer I would take a machine gun approach to shooting, blasting anything and everything in sight. I had a “shoot first, sort out the mess later” approach. Then, over time, I started to learn to calm down. I learned to tell the difference between things I could the photographed, and things that couldn’t, and at the same time got a better sense for what makes a good shot and what, quite frankly, sucks. It wasn’t that I was wasting film — I was shooting digital — it was that I wasting time on things that wouldn’t work, and making the post-process job a lot bigger than it needed to be.

Something else that has developed — no pun intended — is my eye for what makes a good shot. I don’t always get it right — far from it — but my hit to cull ratio is a lot better than it was even a couple of years ago.

Another aspect that has improved is that part of my brain that spots good shots when I’m not actually thinking about it. Quite often that’s when I’m in the car, and that means that I’ve also had to work on perfecting my “pulling over as fast as is safe to do so” part of my brain (also my “turning around for the shot” part has had a workout).

There are a lot of good shots out there waiting to be taken, just begging to be seen.

Like this shot. I was driving along and all of a sudden realized that the clouds and the mountains and the light were all playing nicely together and that there was a shot waiting. What photographer David Noton calls “the decisive moment.” It’s then a matter of whipping the camera out as fast as possible, dialing in what my gut says are the right settings (I might get a chance to tweak later) and make some exposures.