Wearing Blinders

On occasion horses are required to wear blinders. Many racehorse trainers believe these keep horses focused on what is in front, encouraging them to pay attention to the race rather than other distractions, such as crowds. Additionally, blinders are commonly seen on driving horses, to keep them from being distracted or spooked, especially on crowded city streets.

Sometimes as photographers we too go out with blinders on. We set out with a particular subject or scene in mind and, when that doesn’t materialize, we’re lost, not knowing what to shoot or where to go next.

A couple of weeks ago my good friend Rick and I went out shooting at one of our local wildlife preserves with the intent to capture birds. After being there for a while it became evident that the bird activity would be minimal at best. The light was pretty poor too for the kind of images we were after. To fight off the boredom and, not being quite ready for the hour trek back to civilization, we decided to take a drive around the rest of the property. The image above was captured at a bend in the road along one of the property’s swampier sections. Had we given up and just gone home, I never would have seen this much less photographed it.

Be prepared to take the blinders off as it were. Or, better yet, try not to put them on at all. Instead of “I’m going out to shoot birds”, try “I’m going out to shoot.” Be open to other possibilities. I never go out with just my large “bird lenses,” I always have a shorter zoom and wide angle lenses with me to be prepared for a wide variety of subjects.

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