Will Goodlet

Persistence and Patience. The best weapons of the wildlife photographer

Will Goodlet

I don't believe Wildlife photography is really about equipment, it definitely helps, but there are ways and means to get around a lack of it.
It's not really about access to wildlife either, check out Simon de Glanville's city pigeons or Richard Peters Shadow Walker if you don't believe me.

It certainly helps to have wildlife close-by but there are opportunities almost everywhere if we look carefully.

No, for me, the crucial ingredients are persistence and patience.
 

 Lanner Falcon in flight

Lanner Falcon in flight

The more often we can show up when the right light, subject and environment come together the more likely it is that we will end up with something special.

The longer we are prepared to wait for the 'decisive moment' (Henri Cartier-Bresson) the more likely it is that we will witness it.

Wildlife photography is like no other genre. We have almost no control over what happens in front of the lens. We aren't portrait or fashion photographers, who can control both their lighting and the poses of their subjects. We have to take what we are given at the exact moment we are given it or lose the opportunity forever.

 Lion devouring Giraffe

Lion devouring Giraffe

More often than not we are left empty-handed having gambled on our weather, subjects, location and abilities. The only recourse is to try again tomorrow, next month or next season. If we persist our chances inevitably improve.

I think many of us have suffered from lack of motivation. It is hard to rise many hours before sunrise, dress in the dark and the cold and trek to a location far from home with nothing more than belief and hope to keep us going. It's especially hard when there are only a few minutes of good light at the end of our journey.

 Cheetah giving chase

Cheetah giving chase

Waiting cold and alone for our subject to show while the light strengthens and changes hue is what wildlife photography is often about. It's a time to gently observe and to be ready.

We can't always manage it. We might loosen our grip to warm a cold hand, or close our eyes briefly and drift off. We might take a second to wipe the sweat from a brow or put some sunscreen on a burning arm and in that second we miss our opportunity. The thing we have waited hours to photograph happens and in the blink of an eye it is over, nothing but expletives hanging in the air. There is a reason that patience is a virtue, it always brings the best shots!

 Face off

Face off


I've found, in my photography, that it is often easier to be persistent and patient if I focus on a particular event, activity or species. Expending most of my energies and thought on that one goal seems to pay off more than chasing sightings.

 Baboon eyes

Baboon eyes

Sometimes I might spend hours watching a hole or a foot hanging from a tree, wondering what I am missing elsewhere. It's hard, no doubt about it and sometimes I give in to FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and pack up and move on. It remains a battle of will at every sighting. To stay or not to stay, that is the question!

 Lioness in the rain

Lioness in the rain

If we are lucky the magic happens. The clouds break and in that golden moment the foot extends and stretches and before we know it a spotted shape is resplendent and in the sun with a rainbow overhead.

If we persist and are patient it can happen.

© Will Goodlet

 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa


Photo Information:

[Canon Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM] [ISO200, SS 1/80, F4, FL400, Flash:off]

Charles William Goodlet
will@willgoodlet.com
 Rainbow leopard

Rainbow leopard

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