Along with the concept of the “Golden Rule” go ahead and put the law of compromise up on the list of common sense life lessons we all should have learned by the age of eight or so. That being said, at my age I have come to realize how strongly this law affects any aspect of life I can think of. Do nothing but eat Little Debbies and watch He-Man & the Masters of the Universe after school then don’t be surprised at the talentless overweight adult you have become. Do nothing but work at studies, tirelessly trying to become the most productive individual on the planet, then chances are you will wind up with a joyless existence. Don’t work, go hungry. Do nothing but work and starve just the same. I think you get my point.
Photography is the perfect example of this law. The contemporary photographer has the exposure triad – equal parts shutter speed, aperture setting and ISO speed. Increasing any one of these three for particular aesthetic effects (DOF, action freeze, etc…) will necessitate a change in one or both of the others. We can rarely get everything we want from all three corners of the triad without a good deal of work, patience and serendipity. Taking this even further, the nature photographer – as I describe myself, has what I call a “subject triad” that covers the landscape, the wildlife, and the macro. Now, none of these are mutually exclusive, but rather like the exposure triad it can be seen as a continuous three-way interaction.
The larger point I’m attempting to make is, just like using the exposure triad in making a proper exposure under constantly changing lighting, a nature photographer should be open at all times to changing subjects. This point was driven home recently when Sarah and I paid a visit to the Castor River Shut-ins within Amidon Conservation Area. This is one of my favorite locations for landscape photography. It can often be very challenging, however. Compositions must be hunted down and the light needs to be near perfect to capture the rocks, water and vegetation just the way you like. During this particular visit, even though there was some nice autumn color, the lighting was utter crap at the shut-ins. As I hopped from rock to rock attempting not to drown myself or my over-priced gear trying to make something happen with what little I was presented with, I happened to take a look back at my wife, Sarah. As usual, she had taken a short little stroll and was in the woods taking pictures! I noticed she was taking back-lit foliage pics as well as macro shots. I then cursed myself for putting the blinders on and looking only for that grand landscape composition and forgetting the other points within my self-described triad. The maples and hickories were in glorious colors and I was able to take some macro shots that I am pretty pleased with. This is why I try to carry as much gear with me as I comfortably can. If I did not have my macro equipment, then I would have likely been out of luck. The compromise? Aching legs and shoulders for the next few days!
“But we gotta get happy when we wiggle in the middle” – John Hartford