The Virtue of Patience

Being virtuous, is simple (as in uncomplicated), but difficult. At least that is true for me. 

The one thing that almost everybody ranks as a virtuous accomplishment, is having  patience.

I have been known to lack patience. I know that is a failure because I have patience in some things but not others. I can feel the difference. Selective patience is probably not a virtue.

I exhibited a fair amount of patience as a photographer. I have been known to wait hours for a perfect wildlife photo to present itself. Or for a subject to even show up. Over and over again I would attempt to time a shutter release to coincide with a fraction of a second of wind stoppage, when a single flower blossom was my subject. I could go on.

I also found patience when I was teaching photography. I loved teaching photography, so patience just came easy.

There’s the rub. If we only practice patience when it’s easy, well, we won’t have much patience, and likely very little virtue.

I lack patience when it comes to a business that is doing some work for me, and that work is not done when they say it will be. I have no problem if they tell me it will be quite a while, but when they accept the challenge of doing work for me, barring something unavoidable, I expect them to finish when they say they will.

I have by far the least patience, with myself. I have always hated having something that needs to be done, and letting it go till “a week from Thursday”, so to speak. It rarely gets easier with time. That means I have less patience for myself, than for others. I like freeing up my mind, and I am hard on myself (no patience) when I do not accomplish a task as so that my mind can indeed be free.

One thing that all of you have been with me a while know, I lack volumes of patience  with others or myself, when they or I do not shoot straight. I have little patience for wading through lies in order to discover the truth.

I have caused coworkers or friends to lack patience with me at times. I know what it means to be the perpetrator of causing others to become impatient. I do not however like keeping people waiting, or otherwise causing legitimate reasons for them to lose patience with me. I become…… guessed it, impatient with myself. 

It seems that impatience, can breed impatience.

The images below, bring to my mind, the subject of patience or impatience, depending the circumstances.

Patience and Photography

Photography, especially nature photography does indeed take patience. There have been times when my patience ran thin, but mostly I kept my eyes on the prize.

When working with wildlife, I think all photographers would love to capture action and behavior. If you are “patient”, you will. In the meantime, there is zero wrong with portraits.

I’ve had very few photographic opportunities with wild Badgers. The one below only provided me with portraits. Common poses witth an animal we do not see very often, makes for uncommon images.

This was made in the mountains of Colorado near the town of Walden.

One thing you can do if you are making portraits of common animals, is put yourself in a great position. What you see through your camera lens will become a scene that others will see, for years to come.

Below we have a Bull Frog at eye level. Photographically, we are in its world, it is not in ours.

A side view portrait of a wild lizard in New Mexico is somewhat active and alive by the nice pose it struck.

This fly struck a pose for me, and the pose contained action.

If it takes a while for an interesting pose to appear, be patient it will happen.

A Snowy Owl sitting on a dead tree stump, will sooner or later (patience) spring into action.

Even when it posed, it provided action as it swayed side to side seemingly enjoying the morning sun on a winter’s day. It may take time for it to happen.

Birds itch and scratch, and often do so when they are otherwise quietly posing for portraits.

Be patient and be ready.

These three Sandhill Cranes spent much time in this field before they practiced ring around the rosy.

Patience pays off.

Eventually birds like this female Greater Scaup, will get hungry and go fishing. I could have packed up long before this one surfaced with some lunch.

I had photographed a lot of flying Sandhill Cranes during the daytime before this shot. I patiently bid my time, and waited for the setting sun for a more unusual image.  I wanted something different, and the birds impatience to get going, and my patience to get the picture, made for a fruitful situation.

I photographed Sunflowers all afternoon, but decided to wait it out for sunset.

I arrived at Balanced Rock in Utah in the afternoon and got some acceptable shots. I kept “seeing” in my mind’s eye,  this formation silhouetted at sunrise. I waited until the next morning to get the shot I wanted.

Nature is patient, and so was I.

There is nothing in nature photography, that require more patience than working with dew covered orb webs. You can literally, brush a piece of grass 50 feet away and begin a chain reaction of events that will not only shake the dew off of your subject, but probably break the web strands as well.

Patience is not only a virtue, but totally necessary with some nature photography.

Flowers such as this Aster, might also lose its dew with any amount of carelessness. If that happens will you have the patience and stick with it and watch the weather and return for a second chance?

Photography, especially nature photography, teaches patience. Sometimes the hard way. Bring what you have learned about life to your image making, and bring what photography has taught you to your life, and you will the more patient and virtuous for it.

May God Bless,

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