Familiarity definitely breeds contempt.
When I first see a new animal, everything it does is exciting and I’m quickly taking photos. I had the opposite experience in Yellowstone where I found bison hanging around everywhere.
I quickly realized I was going to see more bison than I had laid eyes on in my entire life. They weren’t going to suddenly migrate. Since I knew there was always tomorrow, they would easily get trumped by other wildlife. I actually had to force myself to keep looking for special moments. How quickly excitement fades – it’s actually sad.
I also realized that I would not be happy with just another regular composition. I gave myself the challenge of finding a bison on a ridge to show some of the Yellowstone landscape. Off I went to find my bison icon.
The challenge was to find a bison that wasn’t eating or lying down (eliminating 95% of activity), find an especially good-looking specimen (eliminating 90% of the animals), find some good light (eliminating 85% of daylight hours), find the right settings for a dark animal and hopefully find this all on a ridge (eliminating 98% of the terrain). That definitely got me looking again.
Thankfully there were a lot to of bison to practice my technique and it needed some work. I was not quite satisfied with the results at the beginning. Quite a few days past and I realized this was getting harder than I anticipated.
Towards the end of our stay I found a bull standing on the top of a ridge just before sunset – eating of course. I impatiently waited for him to look up and it finally happened just before he left the ridge. Eureka!
I was pleased with the result. It is one of the few times I was able to visualize a wildlife scene and capture it. Only the abundance of potential targets made it possible and getting over my sense of familiarity.