A couple of months back I really started to struggle for inspiration when out with the camera. This wasn’t helped by the lack of response I was getting to shots I was taking. I started to doubt my ability and wondered if I had hit a brick wall in my photography efforts.
Sometimes it’s hard seemingly putting so much effort into something only to get nothing in return, not even an acknowledgment (or for that matter criticism) of your work. You’re putting in the time, seeking out new locations for wildlife and in your mind you’re getting some good shots, but no-one seems to be interested. It can be a bit soul destroying sometimes and makes you start to doubt yourself.
After a while it feels as if your muse has left you.
But then one cold and wet evening in I decided to catch up on some of the photography video blogs on YouTube, most notably some of the wildlife photography videos from Wild Eye/Gerry Van Der Walt.
Three episodes in and I could feel myself being inspired, to the point that when I’d finished watching a number of them, I couldn’t wait to get out with the camera.
So what had happened to inspire me again? It’s hard to say, but I think seeing someone being so enthusiastic about wildlife photography, and being realistic and down to earth about it; speaking at a level that is not patronising and is from the heart really stirred me.
But it didn’t stop there. Following this during a damp Saturday afternoon walk around our local lakes I was lucky enough to capture some shots of a wonderful Egret looking for food.
To be honest given the hour of the day (just after lunchtime) and the number of people already visiting the lake I thought my chance of seeing anything interesting wildlife wise was slim to non-existent. But this time I was wrong. There it was, in a stream just off of the lake looking for food, resplendent white feathers making it look almost ethereal in the grey and damp environment.
Standing on a wooden bridge crossing a stream I rested the camera lens on the handrail and fired off a number of shots. And then I remembered why wildlife photography excites me so much… … it’s losing yourself in that moment when your eye is pressed against the viewfinder and all you can see is your chosen subject. It’s made even better when it’s an animal or bird that you’ve never been able to photograph before. All of a sudden here you are almost in its world, watching every movement it makes, and trying to predict what it will do next. Nothing else matters, everything around you seems to fade away and the sole focus of your attention is the subject in your viewfinder.
That rare moment when the camera almost ceases to matter as your settings are spot on, the subject is lined up nicely; all you have to do is hit the button and get the shot. You might almost feel a bit guilty of intruding in this creature’s hunt for food despite knowing you’re far enough away to be no bother at all (thanks to that big lens).
You might even forget to press the shutter as you’re so enthralled by watching this bird doing its thing, captured by its sheer beauty and grace as it hunts, its focus on a potential meal in the water it is wading through. And then it’s gone, taking flight all of a sudden, and your concentration snaps you back to reality in a heartbeat.
You are again conscious of the world around you, and all you can do is look at the photos you have captured.
And there it is, out of twenty or so shots a couple have nailed what you saw in your mind when taking the photos. Completely satisfied I head home, and look forward to the next time I can get out with the camera. Muse rediscovered and confidence restored.