Patience And Capturing The Perfect Photo

Mount Rainier Peak

Being a photographer is far from an easy gig, depending on what you are photographing there are numerous different skills that you need. To be fast yet calculated in capturing the key moments that matter. There needs to be a knack to capture the story and not just the subject. The ability to sit, to wait with patience for just the right moment to capture the photo.

What Is Patience?

Patience is a personality trait that takes an awfully long time to develop for many people. Think back to when you were a child, how often did you hear the phrase, “be patient.” If you are anything like me, I would imagine it came up quite frequently.

Patience : The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. – Google Search

When it comes to photography and patience, I believe the essential part of the definition is to “tolerate delay.” There are some aspects of photography where a delay is almost a given. Rarely as photographers do we get the opportunity to arrive, take the photo and leave. There is almost always some degree of waiting at every stage, whether we are capturing a wedding, a model or landscape.

Patience And Photography

There are sometimes both as a recreational and as a working photographer that patience will play a part in getting the photo. Being able to wait for the client, wait for the right conditions or wait for the camera. If you are not able to be patient, you either end up with bad photos, that are not what you want or no photos at all.

Waiting For the Client

Whether you are photographing a wedding or a model or anything else for a customer, there is going to be waiting. It is a rare day when you can walk into a photo shoot, and everyone is ready and in place. Even if things start well, changes will happen, set-ups changed and people to manage.

The thing we need as a photographer is the ability to move things along, but also to show patience in waiting for next step.

Waiting For The Right Conditions

Depending what you are photographing, there could be any number of factors that will impact your photo. Whether you are capturing a landscape, seascape, sunset, sunrise or any combination. There are times that photographers may wait for minutes, hours or even days to get just the right set of conditions for the photograph.

Although at times as a photographer we take the conditions as they are and capture the photo we can. There are more times such as a sunrise or sunset; that time is spent waiting for the right moment to capture the photograph.

Waiting For The Camera

Then, of course, there are so many times when we find that we are waiting for the camera. Taking long exposure images, or testing the settings that we are using to be sure we will have a usable image. Possibly even faced with longer waits if trying a new technique such as light painting or star trails.

Patience to capture a waterfall long exposure

The above image is a great example of having patience while waiting for Long Exposure Photos. At this particular place, the only vantage point is a cantilevered platform. Even the slightest movement on the platform moved the camera. I captured around ten shots to get a sharp image, as people would step on the platform and shake the camera.

Of course, there are also the times that the camera starts doing something that we do not expect. Leaving us to spend time trying to figure out which setting was adjusted and how to change it back. A time that patience can be a virtue.

The Results Of Insufficient Patience

Time and again I have been out with my camera, and got to see what others without patience have missed. For example when there might have been an underwhelming sunset, and most photographers left with the sun passing the horizon. Those who stayed will sometimes reap the rewards with some amazing images. While there is no guarantee, many of my best sunset photos occurred between 10-30 minutes after the sun set.

Patience at Cleveland after the Sunset

The above image is a great example of those who don’t have patience miss out. On this particular day, there was probably around 20 photographers in the area for the sunset. The sun had dropped below the horizon around 10 minutes before I captured this photo. The sunset itself was not so impressive, and around three-quarters of the photographers had left as the sun disappeared. However, the handful of us that remained end up with some excellent images with the colors in the clouds.

Choosing When To Be Patient

You cannot always wait indeterminate amounts of time, in case something happens. However, there are usually some factors and time frames you can apply.

The thing is especially with something like a sunset or sunrise; there is only a small window that you will get usable images. In the morning at sunrise, about 20-minutes after the sun is above the horizon, usually is too bright for images unless the conditions are perfect. While around 20-25-minutes after the sun has gone below the horizon will see the images too dark.

Describing every situation is difficult. In other cases, it just comes down to being certain the time frames you are putting on yourself are not too short. Other cases are entirely dependent on luck.

Mount Rainier Peak

One such situation was the image above, which is the peak of Mt Rainier near to Seattle. It was just a matter of luck as the peak was covered in cloud most of this day. But there were so many places to get a photo from we just kept going and managed to find a spot at the right time. Allowing us to get many other great shots this day instead of just sitting in one place waiting for this one photo.

Don’t Miss A Great Photo

I hope that the above has inspired you for a bit more patience. To take a little more time and see what might develop in a situation. Just not to walk away at a time that might be just before the right opportunity for a great shot.

Is there a time that you know you have missed a shot, where a little more patience might have given you a great image. Why not share your story by leaving a comment below. You can connect with me on social media, pick your favourite social network below.

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