Daniel Dietrich | The Right Place at the Right Time

The Right Place at the Right Time

March 23, 2015  •  7 Comments

A photographer was invited to a new friend's house for dinner one evening. During some small talk before dinner, the photographer was showing his new friend a handful of images from his portfolio. After 10 minutes of ohhhing and ahhhing the host exclaimed, "Wow, you must have an amazing camera!"

Later during dinner, the husband of the cook proudly boasts of his wife's lasagna, and asks the photographer if he agrees. The photographer let's out a huge, "Mmmmmmmm! Incredible! Yes! Your wife must have an amazing oven."

A little light humor to help explain a photographer's 'Luck'. Do we ever say to the painter, "Wow, you must have an amazing paint brush!" or to the sculptor, "Wow, you must have an incredible chisel. Of course I am only joking around with this topic and am never offended when someone comments on an image I share, "Lucky shot!" or "Right place, right time!" It does however create an opportunity to share with people some of the effort, patience and persistence that might go into a single 'Lucky' shot.

This was my very first image ever taken of a Great Blue Heron eating a gopher.



I had no idea heron's ate gophers. I thought they ate fish until I saw this happen. I was amazed. So I got my camera, and went to this particular place until I got this shot. And then I went back again. And again. And again. As I look at my shooting log right now, I see that I have visited this particular location over 50 times since that day.

This was the last image I took of a Great Blue Heron eating a gopher.



When I moved to the bay area in the early 90s, I had heard of people seeing bobcats at Rancho San Antonio and the Marin Headlands. I hiked those areas countless times. I of course wanted to see a bobcat, but my head swiveled at all the sights. I photographed birds, trees, the ocean, the golden gate bridge. And after each hike, I said, "Darn, no bobcats."

About three years ago, I made my mind up. I wasn't going to look for anything but bobcats on any hike in Point Reyes. I can't find a bobcat if I am looking in a tree for an owl. So that is all I did. This was one of my very first images of a bobcat in Point Reyes. Impressive, yes? It isn't on my website for sale, but if anyone wants an image of it, I can make it available. :)



This is the last image I captured of a bobcat.



My first coyote image.



My last.



Is there luck involved? Sure! Was I in the right place at the right time? Of COURSE! There is an element of luck and being in the right place at the right time involved in every shot I take. But I like to think that my luck is supplemented with a heavy dose of commitment, perseverance and patience.



Lou Plummer(non-registered)
Ah, you broke this down so nicely. Everytime I shoot in the early morning or late afternoon, I get lucky with the light. When I use a fast shutter speed, I get lucky and don't have blurred images. When I use a higher ISO in low light I get lucky and don't under-expose my photos. I wasn't that lucky at first though but the more I shot and studied and learned the more the gods smiled at me.
Todd Plummer(non-registered)
Great post, Daniel. All too true - sure, luck plays a part, but the follow up and preparation to get the great shot is where the quality comes from. The first photos are like drafts of a poem or piece of writing - the later images show what comes with effort, refinement, studying the subject. Love that heron-gopher shot! Blue herons eat birds, too - as you may know. Their predation upon the rare yellow rails and black rails in Tomales Bay was one impetus for the creation of the Giacomini Wetlands.
Sian Jones(non-registered)
Daniel you have hit the nail on the head, patience and more patience add to that experience and knowledge and lastly a dose of luck never hurts.
Jimmy Jones(non-registered)
Daniel this is a very good example of how photography is a never ending learning process. Our early shots teach us how to make better shots. Every bad shot is chock full of education on how to improve. It's feasible that all of these shots could have been taken with the same camera. The difference is our ability to become our worst critic and learn from our mistakes. This is something you obviously have tuned into. We always hope our next shot will be our best shot, and when it is, it's a great feeling.

There is no substitute for experience!

Great work!!
Tami S(non-registered)
Oh, good grief!
It's NOT the camera?! Dang it…although that may save me money on a new one.
What a great illustration of your experience, evolution and expertise.
Thanks for sharing your work.
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