Remember how sages used to tell people not to sweat the small stuff? And then someone had the audacity to say it was all small stuff? They were wrong!
I started out trying to photograph big, dramatic scenes – ideally with a bear in them. I can sometimes be my worst critic but too many of them ended up as nice photos … the dreaded nice! For a photographer like me, that is absolutely nowhere. If it’s bad, I can delete it. But if it’s nice, I’m left with a glass below my usual half full.
In the few heart-pounding seconds that are often all I have to get a key shot, there are quite a few things to focus on like exposure and … focus! Once those are hopefully in range, I have learned to look for little things in the composition that start trickling water into my glass.
In our area, a classic snowy owl shot is on a power pole since that’s where they often hang out. One day I found a lovely snowy and aligned myself to get rid of the wires across its body. I ended up with a beautiful owl in a … nice photo. Don’t get me wrong, any snowy owl is incredible but I’d seen many versions of this photo before.
Then I noticed something on the wood beam below. It looked like leftovers from the owl’s last meal. Including that tiny bit of red dramatically improved the photo in my opinion. Despite representing 1% of the photo, it screamed for attention, drawing my eye back to it and then to the nonplused owl. Something clearly happened here and I am left to wonder. A photo with a story. Now my glass was getting fuller.
Or take another example. A loon in ice is pretty special.
A drop of water is inconsequential in the size of this photo. Except it’s not. That drop of water falling off the beak changes everything. It’s impossible not to notice (double negatives and all). I’m still learning the fine art of bird whispering to get them to linger with a falling drop of water.
What makes a good photo? It’s a lot about sweating the small stuff. And maybe starting with a smaller glass.