Sometimes photography is a bit like a police stakeout, you have to spend a lot of time standing around twiddling your thumbs waiting for somebody to do something.
I had spotted this large Panda trampoline ride from about 100 metres away, across a crowded area filled with people, rides and popcorn!
I could immediately see that the bright red, black and white would look great against the bright blue sky and green trees. Colour-wise it was exactly the territory I like to be in.
The trick was how to portray the ride so that you could actually tell what it was. I tried taking a shot from the front with the ride attendant helping kids in and out but that didn't really do it. Then I walked around to the side and noticed the big, round windows on the side.
The only problem I could see straight away was that all the little tykes were jumping around inside and you couldn't really see them in a photograph. I took a couple of shots just to confirm my suspicions and could tell straight away that it wasn't going to work.
What I really needed was for someone to come to the window and wave to Mum and Dad. Being the father of two young boys meant that I was pretty sure that was going to happen sooner or later - just hopefully sooner and at the right window!
Before the (often fleeting) moment occurs I always make sure I have everything set up. I pre-focussed the camera on the window to make sure I wouldn't have to suddenly focus. I made sure I had the right lens on for the framing I wanted, showing the entire front of the ride so people would know what it was. And, most importantly, I checked my histogram to make sure my exposure was right.
Then I just sat and waited. I must have looked very suspicious sitting there with a camera staring intently at a blank window! Good thing photography is a popular hobby in Japan and nobody thinks twice about photographers - unlike Australia where you can get beaten up if you're not careful!
Anyway after about five minutes this lovely little girl came to the window and very kindly held both hands up to the window. Perfect. Snap, snap, snap goes the motor drive and before I knew it she'd gone back to bouncing.
Good photography takes time. Sometimes that time is taken up with planning things, setting things up, researching things. But more often than not that time is taken up with just plain old waiting. Waiting for light, waiting for somebody perfect to walk into the frame, waiting for serendipity to happen along. It's always a balance between waiting for what you think will be the best shot ever, and the lure of the 100 other best photos ever that might be waiting around the corner.
What's the longest I've ever waited for a shot? I really couldn't really tell you. I'm usually just so busy enjoying myself that the time just flies by. If you gave me a choice of waiting somewhere beautiful for beautiful light for eight hours, or trying to create that light on the computer...well I'll take the waiting any day. :)
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