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I have been seriously interested in nature photography for the past 8.5 years, during which time I have vociferously read about the art and science.  At some recent point along the way, I began to realize that I had actually become a competent photographer.  Yet, I still found myself wondering about the “secrets” of great nature photography.  How is it that I have never come across a list of “secret” skills or tricks to always make perfect shots?  I think a tripartite answer exists.  First, most accomplished nature photographers admit quite readily that there are no “secrets.”  Second, myriad inputs affect every shot when the trigger is tripped, to include personal, environmental, technological, and other factors.  Third, there are no “secrets” because competent nature photographers know them and have internalized them.

Practice, practice, practice.  Plan, plan, plan.  And pay attention.

On a recent trip to San Diego, I had planned to shoot the downtown at sunset from the top of a parking garage with a long lens.  I had checked the ephemeris for sunset time, noted the angle from which sunlight would illuminate the buildings, and arrived early so as to find an optimal spot and set up my equipment.  This did result in what I think are a number of fairly good shots of the downtown.  However, perhaps one of my favorite shots resulted from being in the right place, at the right time, and turning around.  In other words, even with practice and planning under my belt, I paid attention to the changing light upon the landscape and approached the world around me with gratitude and a finger on the trigger.

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