Preparation Can Pay Off


Sandhill Crane Taking Flight

While scouting some new photo sites, I had a Sandhill Crane take-off to the left of me – about 40 feet away – and I made a couple shots as he was reaching to the sky. I noticed him taking off, deliberately brought my camera to my eye, checked my settings and fired away – not the best pictures, but not all that bad either – especially for the unexpected flight! A couple things came to mind.

I remembered last spring how many times some nice “targets” would suddenly appear in the sky – and just how bad I was at even getting a shot off, much less an acceptable one. I would fumble with my equipment, spot the target and attempt to change my setting and then get a shot off. That’s not the case anymore, so what’s changed?

Basically, I learned how to better utilize my equipment, pay better attention to what’s going on and to walk with camera setup to take unexpected shots. While the first two are important, it’s that last one that really pays off! My camera stay in Shutter Priority with at least 1/1,000th setting. Drive mode is set on continuous along with focus, exposure compensation is set for a sky shot and my ISO is set to Auto. Reacting to a suddenly available shot, all I have to do is bring the camera to my face, adjust my exposure compensation if it’s not a sky shot and make the picture.

It’s working well for me so far this year! Practice and some preparation have paid off and – in case anyone sees me taking those types of shots – I look like I know what I’m doing and not a monkey “romantically engaging a football” if you know what I mean!

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1 comment so far

  1. Bill FInger on

    Hi Mark,
    In looking for photo possibilities for the cover of my book, which I’m about to self publish, I came across your wonderful shot of the crane. My book is a memoir called, The Crane Dance: Taking Flight in Midlife — a personal growth book which among other things describes how I used my own “crane dance” as a talisman/metaphor for my journey. I’m writing to see if I can have your permission to use this photo on the book cover. I would put your name on the photo as one does with credits and inside with the acknowledgements include this web link and a short phrase about your photography if you’d like that. Please let me hear from you. (I couldn’t find your email on this blog site so am sending this note via this “leave a reply” box.)


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