After a morning of photographing lots and lots of Baltimore
and Orchard Orioles, the one photographer next to me remarked
how he snapped off 800 images. Then he asked me. I told him
around 300. He was surprised to find out I pulled the trigger
for that low of a number.
Simple. I shoot in what I call photography zones. Basically
I have two zones...
1. Shoot Zone. Anything that flies or lands in this zone I know
for 100% fact will be a keeper because the sun is at the
right angle and my foreground and background are perfect.
Of course an image could still get deleted due to lack of
sharpness, head angle, etc.
2. No Shoot Zone. I don't care how rare a bird might be, if it
lands in this zone, I don't snap the trigger. The reasons are
pretty much the opposite of above...the background could be
cluttered, the sun angle wrong, etc.
I determine these zones as soon as I've established my shooting
position. Through the viewfinder I'm determining what will and
what will not make a good shot (I'm also taking test shots to
What are the advantage? Two that I can think of.
1. Less culling and more time. For every bad shot I don't take in
the field, that's one less image I have to review after I get
home. When you're talking about hundreds of images, that's a lot
of time I'm saving...time that can be used toward my keepers.
2. Less lens travel, increased chances of success. Since I know my
zones, there's no need for me to be swinging my lens left/right,
up/down, etc. I can focus on one area. This increases my success
tremendously because there's little to no wasted time of trying
to acquire the image, focus and change any needed exposure settings.
So while the photographer next to me is capturing a bird buried
deep in branches of a tree, I'm capturing something right in front
I also don't turn my shutter into a machine gun. I still shoot on high
speed, but my average bursts are 3, with the most being 5. I can do this
because I've gotten to the point where I can predict what the bird's
behavior is going to be.
Another reason for the 3 to 5 burst is the last thing I want to do is
look and stare at 10 to 15 almost identical shots, trying to determine
which one is the sharpest. That would drive me insane.
The last reason is buffer. While the guy next to me has to wait a second
or two for his buffer to clear, I'm ready to go and catch the next shot
that he'll miss.
This next image was caught on a boat of about 6 photographers. I'm
the only the got the shot because I knew what the best angle was and
by studying the Loons behavior, knew when/where he would pop out
of the water next...
I hate to brag, but I will, but every time I've entered this in a contest, it has
I guarantee that if you try this and have the patience and resolve,
you'll gain an extra keeper or two that you would've normally missed.
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