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The Shot List

Wedding photographers typically have a "shot list" of photos they need to capture throughout a wedding day. The list helps make sure they don't miss an important person or moment during the day. It's a concept that can easily be translated to other genres of photography.

When I encounter a bird, sometimes I only get a chance to take a few shots before the bird flies off...but sometimes a bird will hang around long enough for me to capture several different poses. I employ a "mental shot list," to make sure I get all the views I want of a bird. For instance, this Gadwall duck was swimming around in my general vicinity for quite a while, so I was able to take many different photos of it.

Here are a few of my ideas for waterfowl photos, if the bird is cooperative: A portrait from the side and front, a water droplet dripping from the bill, a nice reflection in the water, the bird preening and flapping its wings, interaction with another bird, and taking off or landing in the water. There are many more possibilities, and obviously not all shots will be possible with every bird.

The key idea is that rather than seeing something interesting and taking a snapshot of it, you put thought into exactly what kind of photograph you want to make from the experience. If you are capturing a flower, you can take the flower from different angles, different exposures, and different depths of field. Use your imagination and create a vision of what you would like to see in your camera. On the flip side, it's probably not necessary to take a million pictures of the exact same thing. Having an idea of the kinds of images you want to take can also help you narrow down the choices of photos you are making. If circumstances allow it, be intentional about your photography.

Happy shooting!

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