To Shoot or Not to Shoot…

I headed out for a dawn seascape shoot this morning, and to my disappointment, the conditions were appalling.

The sky was mostly plain, with the fairly typical annoying clump of dark cloud right on the horizon.  The very few patches of good cloud were mostly in the wrong places.

The conditions, apart from being utterly boring, were extremely difficult for exposure, even with GND filters.

I made the decision not long after being there, that I wasn’t going to shoot.

The light just was not right, and for some landscape/seascape and even wildlife photographers, the light and combination of sky and cloud, is crucial to the shot working or not.

So, this raises the question:  If the conditions are not right, should you shoot, or should you not shoot?

Some people would take the view of making the best of the present situation, or shooting anyway, since they are already there.

Others decide that good enough is not good enough, and that they want a certain type of image which requires a certain type or quality of light.

For me, while the notion of making the best of a bad situation has a certain positive outlook about it and is otherwise commendable, I am extremely fussy about light and want a certain look, quality of light and feel to my images, so I elect to back off the shutter release if the conditions are unfavourable.

I’ve noticed that the hard-core ‘scapers whose work I follow, rarely ever publish an image captured in in sub-optimal light.

I’m not a bird photographer, but I’ve also noticed that those guys are very fussy about light and tend to favour images of their favourite feathered friends basking in golden hour light.

At the end of the day, it comes down to good light or bust.

Fortunately I have the liberty to decide that pressing the shutter release isn’t worth it; the only demand I face is that I set for myself in capturing the image I want.

3 thoughts on “To Shoot or Not to Shoot…

  1. Allan Nielsen

    It is times like this that I find the most rewarding if I manage to make something from the conditions as presented. let me throw the question back to you, if you had been commisioned to take a shot of Bondi and every day in the week allocated was crap, raining, etc, would you go back to the client and say sorry, the light wasn’t right?
    As a part-time or enthusiast, we have the luxury of being able to pick and choose our picks, but as a pro, we need to deliver. I think this is a great lesson for all wanna-be pros, to treat each shoot you decide to go do, as a client request.
    With regard to golden hour light for birders, that is my most least favorable light as it doesn’t shot the bird colours very truely, adding a gold tinge over the image which then needs to be catered for. You never get golden light within a rain forest for example, many birds don’t venture into the open at that time of day. So if that was my criteria I’d have to get rid of a LOT of shots. One of my favourite bird shots is one of two lorikeets in the pouring rain!

    Summing up; I understand your point, but if you work to those requirements I think your shots will be very limited.


    1. Xenedis Post author

      I gear what you’re saying, Allan.

      However, my point is made from the perspective of someone for whom photography is strictly a hobby, and entirely with whom the decision whether or not to shoot rests.

      Clearly someone paid to get the image doesn’t have the luxury I do.

      On my position, my experience tells me that it’s better not to shoot if the conditions are not good.


  2. John

    Hmmm in my opinion these kinds of situations should be a chance to practise (at least for an amateur) a bit with light and filters so one can be more experienced later,in the “perfect” conditions.I think this is something the digital era is offering us.



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