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Leaving Things Behind

Some photographers work predominately in a studio. Most everything they need is there in the studio with them. Others of us have to pack everything they think they'll need on their back and carry our "studio" with us to where we plan to shoot. This single point can lead to numerous possible problems and frustrations.

I once drove for several hours only find out at my destination that I had left my tripod at home on the kitchen counter. I had been in a rush to get there and managed to do so just as the sun was starting to set. As I reached into the car to grab my tripod, I realized that my evening had turned out differently than I had hoped. After thinking about it for a while, I concluded that I either had to turn around and go back to get my wayward tripod or settle for recalibrating my photographic expectations for the entire weekend. On the bright side, at least the traffic was lighter my evening tripod run. When I got up the next morning and headed out to shoot at sunrise, I could almost pretend nothing had happened. Unfortunately, nothing had, since I had been kept occupied driving well into the night.

If it isn't already apparent, I'd suggest making sure you don't leave anything behind. Even though I was able to salvage some of it, that episode put a serious crimp in my weekend plans. For as much as I advocate the use of a tripod both for stability and as an aid to composition, I felt more than a tinge of guilt for having forgotten mine. I only made that mistake once. Now I check. Duh.

But if you're over having a chuckle at my expense, I want to move on to a related point.

When I'm staying in a particular area, going out to work various possible subjects both mornings and evenings, and during the day if I'm not catching up on sleep then, a somewhat similar problem presents itself. I can do all I can to make sure I load up with everything and not leave anything behind, but it's not always clear as to what I really need. I may think I'm going to be shooting wide angle images out across a field of fall colors at sunset, but if I pass a great macro opportunity it would be nice to be able to take advantage of it. And so, I may decide to add some macro gear to my pack to be prepared. Just in case.

Or I may not, if I'm feeling a need to save weight. This little decision can open up a huge can of worms, frankly. Do I leave behind a lens I might possibly need, or do I carry the extra weight with me, perhaps only to lug it back with me unused at the end of my outing? Unlike with my tripod (duh) it isn't clear whether I would need a macro lens or not. No matter what I do weigh the odds of encountering a macro subject along the trail, my choice could never be more than an educated guess. Maybe if I run into someone who was there the day before I can have a reasonable degree of certainty but counting on that happening wouldn't be realistic. Personally, I tend to err on the side of lugging too much, but at least I feel like I'm being prepared. My back and shoulders don't always agree with that theory of course.

But the dilemma of possibly leaving something behind complicates more than just this. If you go somewhere, aiming to take photos, did you come away all the images you were capable of capturing there? Or at least do the best you could with the equipment options available to you? Or did you leave some opportunities (and some killer images) behind? One's you could have gotten had you only seen them. Regardless of what equipment you lug with you, did you explore the area sufficiently to do it justice? Or did you leave some killer shots behind because you could have only noticed it if you walked around to the other side of that rocky outcrop that caught your eye and made you get out your camera. Stand on the side next to the trail and its easy to think you've seen all there is. But move around to the other side and there's no telling what you can see. That is, unless you go look. That change of perspective may make all the difference.

Sometimes the things we leave behind are obvious. Or at least they should be. Like my wayward tripod some years back. Duh. Other times, things are less clear, and you have to weigh the odds and use your instincts and experience. But if you go somewhere in search of good images, it would seem a shame not to explore as many potentially good compositions as you can. See what you can find. I know I've missed my share of good images, but I've learned how important it is to try. It would seem a shame to leave any good shots behind if you can help it. You may not always find much beyond what made you stop in the first place, but you might. And the only way to be sure is to check. If you don't want to miss out, you have to check.

Date posted: November 25, 2018


Copyright © 2018 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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Related articles:
The Fine Art of Carrying a Tripod
Habit Forming

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