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Nikon Owner Issue 22

Waiting, Grabbing and Something In-Between

by John Archer-Thomson

Tree leopard, Moremi

John Archer-Thomson, a regular contributor to Nikon Owner, makes a welcome return with the curiously ingenious title: Waiting, Grabbing and Something In-Between.

A lot of my photography falls into two main camps. Most of the year Sally and I are able to photograph Pembrokeshire where we have a reasonable knowledge of the area but occasionally we will go abroad where we are usually part of a small group, exploring unfamiliar terrain and reacting photographically to the subject matter around us.

At the Pembrokeshire end of things we are at home. We know where and when the sun will rise and set, we know when the birds will return, when certain flowering plants are at their best and when the light will fall favourably on certain geological formations. In short we are in our photographic comfort zone.

Abroad is a different kettle of fish. We have researched the destination enough to know we wish to go there (always a useful ploy); we have a good idea of the features/species we would like to see but beyond that it is often a reactive process. We don't have the Pembrokeshire luxury of waiting for the right day or lighting before setting off; we have to go with what we are given (in Botswana recently, for example, we were given a thunderstorm of spectacular proportions, lightning was thrown in for free which gave us just enough light to see how badly the tent was flooding).

Fulmar Cliff

This dichotomy of photographic approach set me thinking. There is no doubt where I feel most comfortable behind a viewfinder; it is at the landscape end of things. Here we are talking tripods; a slow considered approach to the composition (do I really wish to have that can of Coke in my pristine beach panorama?); waiting for the light; filtration or not; what happens if I move 5cm to the left? etc. etc. Abroad, often in the back of a safari vehicle, it's a bit like waiting for the target of the baddy to appear in the shooting range. Will one get any usable shots of the elusive beast (substitute leopard, tiger, Bataleur eagle as appropriate) before it disappears (I have an enviable collection of the backsides of various animals as they disappear into the bush) or will one end up with nothing (or half a tale) or indeed end up shooting the innocent child instead?