Timing is everything; especially for photography. Being in the “right place” at the “right time” is critical to making the “right photos”. So how, exactly, do we go about making that happen?
A million dollar question, I think.
One comment that we read and hear frequently, and I completely agree with, deals with knowing your subject. Knowing the behavior of an animal, for example, can help us predict where it might move to, what it may do, and so on. There’s no question, in my opinion anyway, that the better you know your subject, the better the photo opportunities you’ll have.
But the key, I think, is to process that information, and then to act on it. Often I see and hear photographers in the field talk about what a particular photographic opportunity might yield, and how cool that would be; yet they don’t move to make that happen. Particularly this happens in group settings. Being willing to move and go after the photo that YOU imagine in your head is what matters; don’t worry about the group. It’s your photo you have to delete later on; make the photo you want, not the photo everyone is shooting.
Someone might suggest, for example, how awesome it would be for a bear to walk along the beach right at sunrise, creating that wonderful photo opp for a great silhouette. And they’d be correct, that WOULD be awesome. Bears, like most animals, are creatures largely of habit; with a little bit of discerning observation, you might quickly notice their favored routes and paths to their food sources.
So move yourself into position before it happens, and wait. And wait some more. And when you see a nice sunrise on the way, wait even more determinedly. And when a bear begins to move along the beach, make sure all your camera gear is setup correctly, your ISO and exposure details are as you want them, and be ready.
And then press the shutter.
It’s really not any harder than that.