• Sam Wilson

When A Photo Outing 'Fails'

Lessons Learned Along The Way


It happens to everyone at some point - our equipment fails, you forget an important piece of gear, the weather doesn’t do as expected or predicted - insert your experience here - I’m sure you’ve had them too.




This one I’ve never actually done, but I have wondered why I can’t see anything a few times when I’ve turned the camera off while walking around …


I’m also terrible with my circular polarising filter. This is a fabulous tool, but as the name implies, it’s circular (and it spins - yes that’s the technical term), and you have to actually have it in the right spot for it to work correctly.


I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve forgotten to adjust it when I change my camera angle, resulting in less than optimal photos. I now tend to only use it at waterfalls and in forests because of this.


They are fabulous for enhancing greens in waterfalls and forests etc but they can ruin skies if not positioned correctly. I don’t have an image now that I can think of to show that, but here’s a comparison with and without a polariser.



This is not a scientific example by any means as the left was taken with my phone, and the right with my camera but I hope it gives you an idea.

Then there was the time a friend and I decided to go and shoot this amazing waterfall after a heap of rain in the area. What we didn’t research was the effect that all of this said rain had on the area. So much so that many roads were closed and we couldn’t actually get to the waterfall …


So, over 700km in a day later, with no coffee I might add, this is the only photo I have from that day - lucky he’s cute (the cow of course) …




To redeem ourselves, we did go back a few weeks later (and after proper research this time) to be rewarded with this -



The Reward - Ellenborough Falls In All Her Glory

It’s also easy to get so caught up in trying to get the photo that you don’t appreciate where you are or what you are experiencing. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of that.


It’s good to remember that as much as the outing may be about photography, photos are meant to reflect the experience, not BE the experience - take the time to just chill.



Trust Me - I Look Way Closer Than I Actually Am!

Equipment (or user) failure

As frustrating as it can be, gear does break from time to time no matter how careful you are. I’ve been on shoots where people’s tripods have broken, the SD card has failed, their camera has just stopped working, so it’s not really that unusual.



Thanks To My Lovely Photographer Friend For This photo Of Me Being Silly With A Broken Filter


This Was Nowhere Near As Amusing As A Broken Filter

I guess I’m lucky that that those scenarios have never happened to me. I do feel blessed that when I did have my lens fail I did have a back up - it wasn’t ideal, but at least I came home with photos each time this happened (long story and back and forth with Canon, but hopefully now sorted).




So This Was The Morning The Error First Appeared On My Camera - Lucky For The Phone

The broken filter and issue with my L-Bracket also didn’t cause catastrophic events, but I did watch a Nick Page video where someone’s camera and tripod fall off the cliff at the Faroe Islands (I think) now that would be catastrophic. It was so kind of Nick to lend that person a kit for the rest of that tour - phew!


Poor Conditions

Think lush green rainforests but when you get there it’s all but a drought and it’s clear blue skies every day.


First world problems I know - and just for the record I hate that saying, even though I know it fits. The other saying that I really dislike is ‘there’s someone else worse off than me’. While it’s true, I feel it devalues what you are feeling at the time.


The way I look at it is - you’re allowed to feel miserable/unhappy with whatever is happening and wallow for a bit - BUT you’re not allowed to stay there. We all have our different levels of resilience to what we can cope with and keep on moving, but keep moving we must.






When You’re Just Not Feeling The Love

You do all the right things - pack everything, get in the car and get out there. But, you get to the location and it’s just … Blah (yes that’s my technical term).


This is not so much an issue when you’re at home and you can go back at any time, but when you’re on a tour it can be an issue.


I’ve found you really do just have to go through the motions and hope the inspiration kicks in - it doesn’t always work, but it does more often than not.



It’s Ok To Miss A Shoot


I was recently on a tour and just wasn’t feeling motivated by the location for sunset. I decided to give it a miss as I knew we would be revisiting here more before the tour was over.


Now, I live on my own and am not always used to company 24/7 - this changes on tour and I often make the choice to miss a shoot just to get my much needed solo time. That is what I decided to do on this occasion - and yes, the wine was delicious.




After having my relaxing night off, it was time to get back into it and no regrets from me.



Packing too light

Whether it’s just a day outing with a decent walk, or a plane trip where every bit of weight counts, I get caught out every time I try to cut down on my gear. That lens you left out is guaranteed to be the one you want, or even worse, the necessary tools that would have been able to fix my L-Bracket that fell apart on my recent tour to Tasmania.


The other one on that trip was only taking one decent pair of shoes, only to be caught by a rogue wave one sunset. Despite using the accommodation’s heater overnight, I did have to put up with wet shoes for the next couple of days - no one else to blame but me but once again a lesson learned.


Road trips are a whole other issue - I can totally fill my car and who cares, no such weight rules when you’ve got your own car.



Miss Peaches Looking Suitably Unimpressed While I Pack

Anyhoo, we all learn from these experiences, and they can make for some great stories - once you’ve had time to recover and can look back objectively and with our sense of humour restored.


And at the end of the day we hopefully won’t give up so easily next time, because there will definitely be a next time, even if it’s not at the same location.


When do you call it quits on a location, grab your now empty coffee mug and head off looking for breakfast and more coffee?


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How did you adapt/recover from such high expectations, or when things went wrong - please share so I know I’m not the only one.


That’s it for now - Keep smiling and stay caffeinated


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