Despite being a little slow to fully embrace it a dozen years or so ago, I’ve become very grateful for the world of digital photography. One of the best perks, of course, is that it costs nothing but sorting time and storage space to take lots and lots of photos. When I was shooting slide film, I was very selective about how many photos I took because I knew it cost me about 33 cents each time I clicked the shutter. As a result, I didn’t take as many chances as I would have liked, and often didn’t take enough images of a particular subject to get what I really wanted.
Today, I don’t mind taking way more photos of something than I think I’ll need to make sure I’m happy with the final result. A great example of the benefits of this strategy occurred back in June of this year. I had finished spending some time at my square meter photo plot, and was doing a quick meander through the rest of the nearby prairie when I spotted a goatsbeard seed that had gotten caught on the flowers of a hoary vervain plant. I liked the color and texture the seed/flower combination, so I stopped to photograph it.
The seed was barely attached to the flower in one place, and a gentle breeze caused the seed to slowly rotate around on that fulcrum. In my head, I had only a vague concept of the image I was trying to capture. There was something about the fuzzy, webby texture of the seed and the strong vertical arrangement of the flower stalk, but… As the seed shifted around, I just snapped away – kind of like trying to refine an idea by just talking it out.
Just when I was starting to get frustrated by not getting what I wanted, the breeze picked up just for a second and blew the seed into a new position, where it hung for a few moments. That was it! I slid my tripod a few inches closer and got exactly the shot I had been searching for the whole time. It’s become one of my favorite photos from this year, both because of its simple beauty and because I had to wait for it to happen.