Stop Making Excuses.
“The light is horrible.” “My camera is too slow.” “It’s too windy.” "There's a branch in his face." "There's no clear spot to shoot from."
Who cares? Please. Stop it. Just shoot. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on lady! Back it up! You sound a bit harsh! Calm down!
Sometimes it’s easy for us to put the blame on something/someone for our pictures not being optimal. But guess what? Not every picture is going to be optimal. And guess what else? If you don’t shoot, you won’t even be able to find out.
I've seen folks with the best professional gear complain over and over again. And I've seen people with modest setups and point-and-shoot cameras walk away happy. You just have to do what you do, and shoot! And enjoy it!
OK, so the light is horrible. This is going to happen. All the time. Now what can you do about it? How can you compensate and make a better image? How can you make it creative?
Camera too slow? Work around it. Learn to work within the constraints by anticipating the action ahead of time. Or use the slow shutter to your benefit.
Too windy? Grab a tripod, bear down, and use a faster shutter speed!
You’ve got to at least try. You’ve got to take the picture. Smash down on that shutter button! And it might be junk. But that's OK! You’re going to take junk pictures. Everyone takes junk pictures. They’re not all winners folks. Or are they?
Well, they're winners if you get something from them - knowledge. You can learn from those wacky, terrible images, and can change how you approach the situation next time.
For me, shooting is the best part of photography. Obviously you want to come away with a great image, but at least, if the image isn't what you wanted, let it be a tool for you to achieve what you want in the future.
Now here is a contrasting situation. The conditions are great, and I still failed.
The image below of the Wild Turkey isn't particularly bad, but it's not great. Driving back home after a shoot, we pulled off the main road to shoot this large group of Turkeys. The light was amazing and I just hammered away, not really thinking too much about it. Well, that was my mistake. The focus isn't perfect and the background (though has gorgeous bokeh) is pretty boring. The bird is just plopped there in the frame. Meh. Not impressed.
Next time I can say to myself, "HEY LADY, PAY ATTENTION. Check your focus. Take notice of her lovely feathers - move to a position where the sun catches their colors. Have something in the background or foreground, leading into the frame. YOU KNOW THIS STUFF. DO IT."
OK, maybe you don't have to be so hard on yourself but it's good to keep all the stuff you've learned in mind. Whether it's from your successes or failures, you can always learn and be a better photographer.