Things don’t always work out the way you want them to. The light is not always perfect. The subject is not always in a great location. There are so many variables that you must contend with when in the wild photographing. Successful outdoor photography, whether you are photographing wild horses along the coast of North Carolina (where I made this image yesterday), or birds in the rainforest of Honduras is all about learning how to work with the cards that you were dealt.
Yesterday, a major fight broke out between two dominant stallions on the island. I had been waiting all day long for this sort of action and finally, after hours of anticipation, here it was. The only problem was that the horses were up in amongst these very large ceder trees which offered just small windows of opportunity to photograph in between. Of all places for the this to occur, it had to be here. There are hundreds of wide open acres encompassing the tidal flats that begin just a few yards away, but instead here it was.
There was simply no way to photograph this action. It just wasn’t going to happen. No amount of maneuvering with the horses would have given me a single usable photograph. So instead, I spun around to scan the other horses’ reactions. Sure enough, these three stallions had trotted over to the sidelines if you will, to witness the outcome of this fight. Normally you don’t get this sort of reaction from the other stallions. However, when you are dealing with a fight of this magnitude – all stand at attention to watch.
When I saw the three heads lined up perfectly like this I immediately knew how I wanted to photograph these boys. Working my way around them so that the sun would create a halo effect around their heads, I also composed so as to take advantage of the large dark ceder that they were standing next to in order to create a pitch black background. Stop and consider this just for a second. I went from a ruined shot because of the cedars, to exploiting those very same trees in order to create an artistic portrait of these three stallions. I played the cards I was dealt and was rewarded handsomely.
When you can learn how to size up your surroundings and exploit weaknesses and make something out of what was seemingly nothing, you will find that your photographic opportunities and keepers will grow exponentially.