When one photographs people there is a certain amount of communication between the photographer and the subject in order to reach the end result; the photograph desired by those on both sides of the camera. But what about when you are photographing something in nature like a flower, a mountain range, or a bird? How do you connect with them or do you connect with them?
What do you see when you photograph a flower for example? Do you just stop and admire it for a moment before you take the shot and move on? Perhaps you take a little more time to compose your shot first according to certain photographic rules like the rule of thirds. But at any time from seeing what you want to photograph to taking that shot do you take the time to listen to your subject matter? Yes, it is possible to listen to nature. Do you stop and really experience the flower? Do you notice how many petals there are, are the petals smooth or ruffled, are there any spots on them, how variegated are it’s colors to name a few possibilities. Do you take the time to drink in the full flower?
That is how I “communicate” with nature when I photograph it. I give thanks for it’s existence and for my fortune in being able to witness it. Some sunrises and sunsets have moved me deeply when I’ve noticed just how the beautiful colors change with the movement of the clouds and the sun. When possible, I have touched what I wanted to photograph to connect with it. I’ve sat down on the ground and let a flower “speak” to me while mentally trying to find the way I would capture it’s beauty. Turning my head this way and that trying to compose an image I have contorted myself into all manner of positions to get some shots. I’ve fought my fears of falling when scrambling around buttes or leaning over the side (a bit) in a hot air balloon all because I wanted to be able to capture what I saw AND felt at that moment.
How can you connect when your subject matter moves faster than a flower in the breeze; when you can’t hold it still like a bee or hummingbird? You get what you can get sometimes unless you have a lot of patience…and luck. With moving subjects when you take the time to just watch them for a bit, study where they are moving and how, you just might be rewarded with some wonderful shots because you will be able to anticipate where they might be or what they might do next. Anticipation, patience, and a fast shutter speed never hurt in these instances.
When I saw this plant the first thing I noticed was it’s brilliant colors. From there I observed the striations in the leaves with their jagged edges and then the water in the center. If you had come upon this plant what would you have noticed about it or would you have walked past it because it was surrounded by butterflies and birds? Unless speed is of the essence, take the time to notice what is around you and what it is you are about to photograph. But do it carefully; don’t become so absorbed you risk injury to yourself, your gear, or your subject matter.
A bromeliad in the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.