Sometimes people that work in creative endeavors suffer from lack of inspiration. It can be caused by simply a phase or moment in life where nothing comes to mind. It can sometimes be caused by a sudden confidence crisis or events that make one doubt. We all go through it. The question becomes how do we get out of it? Well for me, I had a bit of a confidence crisis. I had done a shoot for someone and they hated everything pretty much. I was devastated. Combine that with being suddenly extremely busy and I go for several weeks without any blog posts or updates to the site. I also had trouble pulling out the camera for anything other than what I had to do. Eventually I decided to seek advice on the photos. I contacted my mentor and sent him a link to view the photos. He came back and said that they were very good, photos that I could be very happy with. That helped a lot. So the first bit of advice is to find others that you trust that you can go to for critique, and often a good boost. Then I did a product shoot for someone. The product had sat for two weeks and the deadline was looming. Eventually I got up the nerve to set up shop and start shooting shoes. I sent the photos into the client fully expecting a request for a re-shoot. Instead I got nothing but praise for the photos. I was very happy. It really helped me get my groove back. So advice number two. Action helps overcome doubt and lack of inspiration.
So, with the boost, and kids being on spring break, I had a chance to pull the camera out for some fun. I took 4 of the kids to the zoo yesterday. We had a great time. It is always fun and refreshing to see the animals. And I had never had a chance to try out my Sigma 70-300mm lens for long telephoto shots. I was really curious how it would work out since I had read it was a little soft on the long side of the focal range (which it does tend to be, but hey, I got it for $59 off eBay). I eventually want to invest in a top notch long telephoto zoom, but, as with a lot of people, money is always in short supply. So we make due. This is one of the things I am hoping to show with what I do on this site. I want people to know that you don't need to spend thousands of dollars to have fun and get good photos. I love this shot of the duck. I love wood ducks anyway. They are so colorful. This will be getting printed soon and displayed in the house somewhere. I might even print it on metal.
I was also able to get some great shots of the male lion. He was very happy. We could hear him roaring from when we first walked in the zoo. OK, the zoo in Grand Rapids, MI is not nearly as big as those in places like Chicago or other really big cities. So he was about a quarter mile from the entrance. But it was cool. I especially loved this photo. How often do you see a picture of a lion scratching, or with his tongue sticking out. I am still trying to find the perfect caption for this photo. Maybe I can start a new genre of photos... LOL Lion... haha. I will be getting more shots of him through the summer for sure. I do have more I will share in future posts from this zoo outing too. But I figured one lion photo was good enough for this particular post.
It was definitely fun to monkey around for the day with the kids. I too often work way too hard. And what better place to monkey around than with the chimpanzees. This guy was just the greatest. He was totally owning the moment. It is almost like he was saying "hey how do you like this pose". The nice thing with shooting a telephoto lens is that you can really fill the frame with the subject when you normally would never be able to get near them. Of course the drawback is that a long telephoto lens is heavy. I always get a kick out of reviews for telephoto lenses where people knock the lens for being heavy. Seriously???? You are talking a very long lens with lots of glass in it. What were you expecting, featherweight? I suppose it can be considered weight training for photographers to hall around telephoto lenses at a zoo all day. This is where a really good strap like the Black Rapid straps help a lot. (so click on the ads on this site when ordering so I can make a few pennies and afford one for myself)
One final photo from the zoo for this post. Another duck. Sorry, I forgot to look at the sign for what type this is. I guess I need to go back again so I can find out. I need to redo the shots of the spider monkeys anyway. I totally over exposed those and blew it. I love this duck shot though. One tip with shooting a long telephoto though. Make sure you find something solid to help support the camera if possible. Even the least amount of movement will show up in the photo. Fast shutter speed helps too, but the more stable the camera the better. If your subject is being pretty stationary then using a lens with stabilization will help a lot. If the subject moves though you still need the shutter speed, and anything at 1/500th of a second or faster is going faster than the image stabilization sampling rate. So stabilization will only help in some shots. It is not going to be a cure all for every shooting scenario. I will write more about that later.