Monday, September 7, 2009

Year 5 Day 7 - Photography Competition

It is inevitable. There's competition in photography. Right??

I like to get inspired by other photographers producing great work. But not everyone reacts that way. It can be hard to - to find unique subjects, unique locations, unique moments, unique interpretations. Everyone wants to be good at what they do, better than the next guy, right?

Read on for more...

Many professional photographers are known for awesome images taken from far away places. Nevada Wier calls it Terra Incognito (land of the unknown). To go to places like that, places that are mostly unknown, and undiscovered and undocumented - that's got to be cool. Like the guys that documented snow leopards. It had never been done before, so as long as they came away with *something* they'd done a great job, right? Those guys wound up capturing images and video (with camera traps) of so much, identifiable cats, offspring and even mating. But the effort they put in, over years!

I'm by no means comparing my work to that of a team like those that documented the snow leopards - but I like to dream. I like to think I can some day - be known for something cool, to share the secret moments of wildlife.

And to make that more difficult than traveling to the land of the unknown - I want to do it in my own backyard. I keep my travels to roughly within 100 miles of my base. Occasionally I reach out a bit farther, but, the places I put in the real time, getting to know a place or area, that's within a couple hours of where I live.


I guess I am at its most basic level competing with myself. I want to always do better. I want to see new things, see things that are unique and free from my own influences.

Better gear can help in that regard, but only so far. Learning to read wildlife and observe, and approach in a better way is where the larger gains are, in my opinion. They don't make a 6000mm f/5.6 lens. But, if you search enough and learn an approach, some things that might seem impossible one place are almost easy at another.

Too Young To Be Afraid

And that's what I keep telling myself. I know I can improve beyond what the gear can offer.

And that's something that might boggle the minds of a few folks. (I'm speculating but) I think that some people might attribute good photos to the photographers gear, maybe not the gear alone, but they might think that without the gear the images are not possible. That can be an easy excuse. Right? If only I had that gear, I could get that image.

One of the ways I produce the images that I get is to go out shooting a lot. Not just some, not just a few hours on the weekend. I have gone to maybe 40 places over 4 years, and some places I've been 50 to 100 times. My 'location trip count' is at something like 900+ for ~4 years.


I will continue to expand my travel distance a little bit each year. But I try to balance that with things I find that are just around the corner from me, almost actually in my back yard...



I'm going to try to keep blogging daily for the month of September. I'm taking the month off from flickr posting. I want to take a little step back so I can take a leap forward in my image making. I am still shooting on a regular basis, so if you know me and wonder if you will see me out shooting, chances are you will.

This weekend I was out shooting a couple days at a regular location, and I ran in to a person from New England. Someone said that she was going to Blackwater Refuge, so I made the decision to approach her and say hi, and offer some insight in to blackwater and what to do when visiting for some good results. It worked out. I was glad I took that little risk.

I spoke to Pam for a couple hours over the two days, she'd been to Blackwater before but I added some info that she wouldn't have found on her own in just a handful of visits. I like to share info.

But I also like to keep secrets. Secret spots. You may wonder how that can work? How can both be true. Well, the places I share info on, those are spots tons of people know about already. The spots I tend to keep secret, well those are mostly unknown.

The cool thing from that encounter with Pam was that she had actually seen my work and 'she knew me'! Now that's cool.

Osprey @ Sunrise, Blackwater NWR, MD