Want to see a look of consternation, say the following to me...
“You must have a good camera.”
“That’s a lucky shot.”
First, I do have good cameras, but I’m confident that I can be as productive with “entry-level” gear as I am with my current line-up. I began shooting in the days of film and manual focus, and only embraced digital cameras in 2004. Prior to the switch, I employed a variety of technologies that included autofocus 35mm cameras, panoramic rangefinders, and 6x6 reflex system bodies. While I am certain that I was as lucky then as I am now, I also know that I practiced using my cameras just like I do today with my current stable of digital SLR’s.
The “lucky shots” definitely have an element of good fortune, but this luck is cultivated. I deliberately put myself in the right place at the right time, know my lenses and understand exposure theory. Recognizing what the meter says, the “best” AF-mode and where to put my body when “luck” happens, is as much about practice as it is happenstance.
Today’s post is a spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) caught traveling between forest fragments. Minutes before the picture was made, the entire troop was moving through the woods at a distance. The pace of their journey was fast and furious, so I watched the troop behavior with curiosity as my students and fellow travelers took off in attempt to catch the action. I remained patient, and at one point noticed that a juvenile had become separated from the group. Having seen this before, I knew that an adult would change its trajectory in an attempt to retrieve the stranded companion. This is when I began my move as well. Watching the monkeys traverse the trees, I recognized that there was only one path back to the larger group. With the forest bisected by a clearing, the gap was the one place I could catch a clean shot. Despite being in the right place, I managed to take only four pictures as I slowly panned the gap between the branches.... I’d say that this was just another “lucky shot!”
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