I would guess that over all, I am in the middle of the pack when it comes to patience. I have had good patience for some things, so, so on others, and little or no patience for other things.  In general, waiting was never my favorite thing to do. I even lacked patience in waiting for others to grasp subjects that I understood. If I myself was bad at something, or uneducated, then I had no patience with myself. I wanted to know, like right now!!!!!!!

Photography, especially nature photography, helped me to gain patience. I learned that sometimes good things come to those who wait.

Waiting for that duck to swim back past me so I could made the perfect shot, eventually became a wonderful time of watching that duck go about its life, instead of an agonizing time of impatiently wishing it would just get over here.

Landscape photography teaches one to be patient. If you are, the light will change and you will have an entirely new mood or perspective, of that same subject. It is worth the wait. 

So the waiting became merely incidental to the satisfaction that arrived at the finish. 

Macro/close-up photography is the greatest teacher of patience in the natural world. From waiting for that ever so brief moment when the wind dies down so you can make that flower shot, to patiently waiting for that dragonfly or butterfly to land so you can finally get the image that you hoped for when you crawled out of bed.

None of the above, helped me with my worst subject of my impatience, human beings. Oh I still loose my patience with people when it comes to politics or social issues, but my overall patience with humans, has gotten much better over the years. Maybe because I have finally learned (sort of) to be patient with myself.

The biggest teacher I ever had when it comes to being patient with other humans, was when I began to teach photography workshops and giving lecture/slide shows on that subject. You cannot expect people to know what they do not yet know. The fact is, I love to share information about photography so much, that I began to love teaching it. Patience while in the act of teaching, actually became natural for me.

Patience can be learned. It can be built upon step by step.

I am reaching the point where I can even sit in a line at the drive up at a local fast food restaurant without going insane.

Yes photography, especially nature photography, takes patience.

Any photographer who has pursued “little critters” with a camera knows what patience is about.

This dragonfly came and went to and from this perch for what seemed like at least ten times. It would stop and go again in only fractions of a second. Oft times it barely stopped and would fly again. I pre-focused on the tip of the plant, and then pulled the trigger every time it landed. I missed most of those chances. The best  shutter speed and depth of field combo I could manage was 1/125th sec. at f/13. Fairly slow and fairly shallow. Eventually it sat for a while, maybe one second, and I managed to get one useable frame.

Days like this brought me an increase in my patience levels, but I still needed (need) more.

I walked into a woodland at a nearby Illinois county park and found the plants and grasses covered with these Little Yellow butterflies. I wanted to get three or more in a single photo. I could have gotten ten in a single image if I wanted to shoot with a short lens, but then the butterflies would be the size of peas in my photo. I set up with a 300mm lens and waited. Oh to have a little more patience!!

Eventually, I managed some usable pictures. The image below is a very average photo but with a little patience, I did get what I was after.

Milkweed Beetles don’t move very fast but when you see a specific image of them that you want, you would be surprised how quickly they will cease doing what they are doing. In this case, I thought speed might be necessary to accomplish my goal. Then I knocked them off their perch. They fell apart so to speak. I waited forever for them to reach another perch position, and restart their consummation.

A lack of patience by me, meant that now I needed a lot more patience to complete my goal. Life is a series of lessons.

Making action shots of birds, can require fairly fast reflexes and the ability to arrive at appropriate camera settings quickly.  The ability to think and move fast, can actually require some patience or you will blow it. A shot without the time it takes to think, is doomed for failure.

My subjects here which are male Ring-necked Pheasants, grew weary of this very violent fight and gave up without (if memory serves) ever accomplishing what they hoped to accomplish, with the hen that is just out of camera view.

Action and flight shots of birds in general, require a balance of quick reflexes, but enough patience to get it right.

Much like with dragonflies, birds often return to the same perch over and over again. This Osprey landed on this framework for a light fixture multiple times. That allowed me to focus on that fixture and wait for the bird. I only needed the patience to wait for it all to happen.

Finding a nest like the one below is a gold mind, because not only do you know the birds will return, but they will hover in midair before they land, allowing for tack sharp images. Hovering shots do not require amazing reflexes or “super anticipation”, but they do require patience.

Hunting birds such as this Red-tailed Hawk, will often hover, but you do need good reflexes and great anticipation along with the patience to wait for the perfect moment.

When you are looking for emotional wildlife shots, the sort that warm the heart, even making photos of captive animals in a zoo, can require a bit of patience. This young Japanese Macaque finally, after what seemed like days (it was probably 20 minutes)  gave me what I had hoped for.

Patience, patience, patience.

Now come on, how much patience does it take to make an image like this? Well, over a week anyway.

I was out one fall day photographing nature in a local park and thought about using this footbridge as a leading line into an autumn forest. The bridge itself, just did not say autumn. Then I thought, how about if the walkway was covered with fallen leaves. I came back once and was disappointed. In a week or so I returned and nature had provided what I had hoped for.


Sometimes pursuing light, can require much patience.

I was in Canyonlands N.P. in Utah taking in but rarely photographing the magnificent Navajo Sandstone rock formations you find there. The light was boring, and did not flatter the rock.

Hours and hours and hours and hours, well a couple of hours later, the late afternoon sun peeked out and bathed the top of the formations and the distant La Sal Mountains with a warm glow, while casting dramatic, contrast producing  shadows at the base.

Waiting in the darkness for the sun to come to come up, can be a study in patience. I mean, what can you really photograph waiting while you wait for your primary subject which is in some ways, light itself?

The moments before the sun hits the horizon or after it has set for the day, are often the most dramatic. Dramatic yet subtle in this image made in the Rocky Mountains. It would have been a shame to have missed this for a lack of patience.

You can do anything with patience, perseverance and faith.

I have generally had at least and average amount of perseverance, but for most of my life, I lacked dearly in patience and faith.  Faith, is now what I live by, but there are times that I find myself short of the stamina needed to be perseverant. I can still lack at times in patience, but nature photography taught me to have more, and God always helps me when I need it. 

God Bless,

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