Costa Rica 2009: Serendipity

Ego...                 “I am one skillful photographer!”
Average Joe...    “You must have a nice camera; how many megapixels does it have?”
Ego...                 “My photography is my art.”
Average Joe...    “Man, are you lucky...!”  

So what is it, luck or skill? 
Is it a vision thing or is it technology at its best?
I’m not sure that I can answer these questions today, but I will offer a bit of insight about how I perceive the photographic process and product. I have found that our best photographs are the product of careful planning, preparation for the field, and serendipity. Look, we can all get lucky once in a while... right subject, right light, and right “auto-setting;” but good photographers plan ahead. When a photographer knows the gear, understands exposure theory, and can previsualize a composition, good things happen when opportunity knocks (apologies for the cliche).

Nature and wildlife photography can be unusually challenging. We do not rely on models who work predictable hours, and we rarely have the opportunity to control the light around us. As a result, nature photographers must be generalists who are prepared for serendipitous moments. 

On this day Tamy and I were hiking a 1.5 km rainforest trail within the Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge. There was not a lot of animal activity, so I decided to photograph a flowering bromeliad. Tamy wasn’t very interested in this flower, so she meandered down the trail. By the time I caught up with Tamy, I could hear flailing branches and falling fruit. Tamy was surrounded by a troop of capuchins and now I was too. Serendipity happened, and we were prepared.

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