When it comes to nature photography, there’s a large component of luck — of waiting for the right moment. In the studio you can make the photo happen the way you want, but outside you just have to be ready when it happens.

I was walking in Minnehaha park last weekend. I was technically taking a summer stroll with the girlfriend and not there to take pictures, so I left the tripod in the car, but still brought my camera. We walked down to the Mississippi and on the way back the girlfriend pointed out an egret walking in the creek.

I whipped off the lens cap, framed the shot, and realized the darned bird was standing in a shadow. I stood and waited, calculating where he’d have to move for a decent shot, watching the random bits of dandelion fluff or whatever that stuff was floating over the creek. Finally the bird starting walking in the right direction, stepped into the sunlight, and I took the shot…

1/60th at f8, ISO400, 200mm

… and screwed it up. Sadly, I didn’t pay enough attention to the shutter speed, and was at a lousy 1./60th of a second — far too slow for a handheld shot, especially at 200mm. Sadly, I was at f8, so I could have bought myself a fast shutter if I had been paying attention (though admittedly, probably still not fast enough.

The sad thing is that if it wasn’t for the camera shake blurring it, this would have been a really cool shot.

Win some and lose some, and lesson learned — the foundation of photography is always the technology. You have to know the technology to make anything else work, and you screw that up, and you lost your chance.