Lucky shot, or is it…?
By David de Leeuw
‘WOW!’ – I’m sure every photography enthusiast recognizes the feeling when you hit the shutter button on your camera and instantly realize you have a winner here. It happens to me once every 100 shots or so. Not that much, indeed. And while my ‘a day without a good photo is a day not lived’ – motto drives me to pimp and/or fantasize non-existent beauty in my other pics, deep down I KNOW that’s no way to crank up my success rate.
So maybe good things are worth waiting for and I should thank the Lord or the Flying Spaghetti Monster for my luck, or is there a way to trick fate into handing me more WOWs?
Fortunately, there is. Luck can be tempted to be on your side. A few tricks I employ to that end:
1 Go out a LOT.
Take your camera with you everywhere you go. That way, when you glimpse something beautiful, it can be captured. Don’t be tempted to let it go, but pause and take the time to take that photo. You never know.
2 Be alert
Pay attention to what happens in the corner of your eye. If something you see gives you that WOW-feeling, even if it’s just like a kind of stir, it’s probably worth your time.
3 Act before you think
Hit the shutter button immediately when something happens quickly but you suspect it might be beautiful. Hey, we have digital photography now! Who cares about a few hundred wasted shots.
4 Get a compact camera
Use a compact camera for maximum reaction speed! Oh wait, that’s just because I lack money to buy one with interchangeable lenses. Skip that.
5 Gain experience
Gain experience and use it. I now know the temptations of the blue hour, around sunrise or sunset. I especially love it when it becomes the red or pink or golden hour, and when the water of my Amsterdam canals becomes still and reflective. So that’s for timing. I’ve also come to appreciate the shadow and silhouette worlds that backlight can provide: shooting against the sun can produce some wonderful instant mystery. And to that end I like small diaphgrams, a lot.
Improve. After too much of the same, I start to bore my audience and myself. Look at pics by famous photographers and be inspired. I try to add more dynamics to my photos. People moving and all that.
7 Leave some room for cropping
Don’t worry about getting it exactly right immediately. Ofcourse tweaking your camera settings is essential, but when not sure about framing the picture, make sure to leave some room for cropping.
And then. Respect luck and accept it whether it decides to lend a hand or to take a nap instead. You’ll see some photos I took posted with this column. They would definitely not have been possible without sheer luck. So thank you, luck. I’ll keep on wandering around to let it find me, and hope it will find you too.