What I find really important…
is leaving my cameras on and ready to go, which means being at a starting setting. For me, that’s 1/800 sec., ISO 200 or Auto ISO when it is working, continuous mode, f/8, and 9 point focus. The settings are the Sunny 16 rule for shooting wildlife in action. I know exactly where I’m starting so there are no surprises, and I can start shooting immediately.
I change my settings often, but I always begin at the same place. I always start ready. This particular beaver popped up out of nowhere, did a quick survey, flapped a tail, then dove back in. No time for screwing around with settings.
If I had to consciously think about how to push a button and spin to ISO 400 and then wheel around to get an aperture of f/8 and then dial up exposure compensation to account for the snow and white ice, that’s a lot of thinking, and I would have missed the beaver appearing moment. It’s important to change my shutter speed, f-stop, ISO settings, and zoom in or out without ever taking my eye from my view finder.
That is why being ready to shoot comes in handy. It is why knowing my camera helps too. I sat at this location for about an hour and a half. I did not know what and when to expect anything to happen, but it was a pretty day and scenic location. The beaver actually caught me off guard when it appeared.
That is why I clipped the tail. When I am shooting, I get so engrossed in the sense of place, I forget what lens is on my camera sometimes. A bit too much glass on the beaver.
It’s not about your adherence to the rules. It’s about being in a beautiful or interesting place likely to find a story, being prepared when you arrive, and being patient while you wait for the magical moment. Ok, a beaver is not much magic, but it seemed that way to me while I was waiting. See the post on Garden walk Garden Talk on using the rules of composition. It is a post not to miss if you like doing photography.