Photography’s Most Important Ingredient​

In a few recent articles, I discuss some of the technical details of photography. Aperture, ISO, shutter speed and other details are outlined.

However, there’s one very important ingredient that can’t be learned from a photography book or even fully understood in a classroom envirorment.

The ingredient that I’m talking about is patience.

If you’ve ever been to New York City and visited the walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge, you know that, usually, the upper deck is packed with people. So many in fact that it would be impossible to get a photograph without them in the image.

On our last visit to NYC, I walked the bridge a few times. Finally, one rainy morning I got the shot that I wanted. There were still people, but not so many that I couldn’t wait them out and get the shot that I wanted.

This is just one example. A healthy dose of patience is also required when making images of the sunrise, or the sunset to be honest.

Sunrise is pretty straight forward, the sun is going to rise. The hour before is often better (more photogenic) than when the sun actually shows itself.

Sunset is sometimes the same way. Once the sun dips below the horizon, resist the urge to pack up your equipment. Some of the best images come from this time after the sun sets, known as the ‘golden hour’.

While an image with the sun just setting is fine.
The shot made after the sun actually sets has a completely different look.

I often compare landscape photography with fishing, you never know exactly what you’ll get and they both take patience. In both cases, patinece almost always pays off.

Another image from NYC. I waited for several hours before making this photo. There wasn’t enough time to go somewhere else without risking missing this moment. Better to wait for it.

I’d passed this location many times. When I finally took the time to stop and make this image. I waited for a long time until the light in the sky was just right AND the light on the crosses (and their reflections) was what I wanted.

So, I guess the message of this post is; don’t be in too much of a rush. Wait for the right time, take the time to get the image that is in your vision.

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