What makes us stop and say to ourselves, “There’s a photograph here!”? It really comes down to one element that is all around us—light. The play of light off objects, critters and people is what grabs the mind’s eye and makes us take note and sparks visual interest in the viewer. There are lots of processes that go into that final photograph to make it successful, yet none are as important as how we speak with light. And that’s all done through exposure.
Filing the frame with the critter isn’t required for great wildlife photography. Reflecting on how I first slanted my wildlife photography in this direction, it has its roots in the first lens I had to shoot wildlife. I started with a Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 on an old Minolta that was soon replaced with a Nikon 400mm f/5.6 on an F2. That 400mm was my main lens for a long time and it taught me lessons about wildlife photography that I still depend on to this day.
Some of the best photography is in the worst weather!” I’ve been saying that for decades and it comes from coming in from the cold, soaking wet and thrilled to death with the images I captured. The drama in the light, clouds and the response to it by nature is a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle you just can’t duplicate. In order to see it and photograph it, you have to get out in it and be able to work. And that’s where the challenge lies.
Aviation photography is on the rise, literally and figuratively. There are many reasons for this, from the ease and small expense of getting involved to the excitement and subject matter. I think it’s also because it’s a way we can all get in touch with our own history.
The winds are kicking up and there is a chill in the air, a storm is coming. The afternoon light flickers bright to dim as the first clouds block the sun, racing east with the wind. The moments of sunshine get less and less as more and more clouds join the parade. The light changes from mellow to dramatic. I grab the camera and truck keys and make a dash down to the flats. This is not the first time, I’ve done it so much in fact that with the wind and light I know exactly where I want to be to shoot, so I step on the gas. Within a couple of minutes I’m in place and admiring the big battleships of gray ready to dump their load of snow on our home. A break comes in the clouds, the light comes streaming in as the camera goes click. It’s the perfect end to a fun chase.