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Jakester as Superhero….

Jan 19

In In The Field at 8:37am

So I was with the DLWS gang in the Marin Headlands, looking at the Golden Gate Bridge, which, I can reliably report, does not move. See below.


No stranger to photog paranoia and insecurity, which rages in the hearts and minds of shooters everywhere, I continued to prove that salient fact over and over again, as if my right index finger had developed a kind of idiot savant twitch, in that it knew how to do one thing well, that is, push the damn shutter button over and over again. I’ve always been good at simple, repetitive tasks, so I went to town and produced a grid of remarkably similar looking photographs. My early career wire service editors, those members of the “One or Two Frames, Shoot It Clean” tribe are spinning in their graves.

I never met a landscape I couldn’t put a person in front of and thus make interesting,  so I importuned Moose’s redoubtable son Jake to be between me and the bridge, and thus save me from myself. Pretty nice portrait actually, as Jake got his mother’s looks and not Moose’s:-) (He did get his dad’s knack behind the camera, though. He’s a damn good shooter.)


And then, of course, I stopped, no doubt worn out from the all the clicking. I was sitting there, enjoying the breeze, looking at the sky, and just generally refreshed by not being inside a building. (I do honestly believe that sometimes, forget the photography, just look and enjoy.) I was sitting, watching the sun go down, and and the sky deepen, and the car headlights come on, and just letting lethargy and laziness take over. I mean, I was sitting on a Moose pack that contained a good chunk of the Adorama equipment catalog, and I wasn’t doing shit with it. Other folks were racing with the light, being photogs, looking and shooting, and I sat there, keeping my fingers warm by placing them under my ass.

Sun’s goin’ down in a big ball. Nice. Good clean throw to the western sky, lotta leeway to the east to get below it and look back. Nice. Got a D3X on a tripod, and a 200-400mm in my bag. Coupla flashes. Nice. I sat there with all this stuff, and my brain disconnected. Remember in T2 when the Arnold cyborg, just about crushed and dead, switches to a backup battery and his noodle flickers back to life? That’s pretty much what happened. I looked around and in one of those coulda hadda V-8 moments put the setting sun, the wall I was sitting on, the long glass and Jake together in my head.

Some mindlessly frenetic scrambling and shouting produced the camera and lens combo, Drew with a flash on a paint pole, and Jakester in position. See below, shot by fellow photog Rob Aramayo.


Got this, with Jake looking like one of the Watchmen.


Of course the sun’s just about gone. Every frame I got prior to this was either a test or a flat out bad shot with people wandering about the background. If I had started even 10 minutes earlier, woulda had several good frames and a ball of sun. But I didn’t. I didn’t see it ’cause I wasn’t looking. I’m pretty hard working, generally speaking, but I tell ya, sometimes I get so damn lazy out there it makes me wanna upchuck. Anybody else out there ever pass up a good frame ’cause you were too much of a lollygagger to pull out the camera? Or worse, there’s a camera in your hands and you just can’t muster the energy to change to the right lens? Guilty as charged, your honor. I’ve passed up good pictures just ’cause I didn’t want to put down my coffee.

Shot at f18 at 1/50th of a second, 200mm on the zoom. Plus one on the flash. Minus 2/3 on the camera EV. Wish I had more of ’em. Maybe I will next time, when I remind myself to shoot and move, instead of sit and watch. More tk….

Tim says:

on January 19, 2010 at 8:47 am

I’ve taken more great pictures with my eyes than with my camera Joe.

To the extent that I can remember taking them and have even been known to go looking for the neg/slide/file!

Great rescue though ;-)1/50th @f18 is impressive!


Bobbi Lane says:

on January 19, 2010 at 8:53 am

Joe, terrific image for a slacker!
Hey, I totally relate. Sometimes you do need to just experience life not through the lens. As you know, I’m a SPACE fanatic and I’ve shot a shuttle launch and several landings. Still never SEEN one, just through the lens and then looking at the slides (yes, slides) afterwards. Photographers discover, learn and experience a setting or people through the camera and find some other kinds of meaning by doing it. There are times that I do remember to just “be there” and feel a part of the scene. There will always be another photo, but another moment just like this one.

Bobbi Lane says:

on January 19, 2010 at 8:53 am

That last line was supposed to read “but NOT another moment like this one.”

John A. says:

on January 19, 2010 at 8:54 am

Sometimes, just sometimes, I’ve seen a shot that I thought would raise the roof, but didn’t get it because I was too lazy to swap lenses …has happened more than once. I get stuck on one lens and you would think that thing was soldered on there!

Great shots of Jake! Love that last one with the sun setting behind him, outstanding!

Celso says:

on January 19, 2010 at 8:57 am

I think someone should drop the zooms and re-engage in some “prime lens love” 😀

Bet ya it would make you move more!

Ranger 9 says:

on January 19, 2010 at 8:59 am

The Golden Gate Bridge DOES move — according to this site [] it can deflect up to 27.7 feet sideways, 10.8 feet downward, and 5.8 feet upward. Might be significant for someone trying to do HDI on a stormy day…

Roar Lochar Ramberg says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:02 am

For me it is never a debate whether I will take a picture when I got the camera, my issue is bringing the camera wherever I go. But once I have it I just skip arguing with myself because it essentially take at least as much energy as just changing the lens and taking the shot, and the latter will make me much more satisfied as well! :)

Bob DeChiara says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:03 am

Sit and watch huh…sounds like me when i started shooting my sons little league games. I missed more frames simply because I was sitting and watching.


Tom McKean says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:08 am

Aaah. Every shooter gets that way every once in a while. Just sitting there and taking it all in.

Keep up the great posts and shooting, Joe.


Sarah Kavanaugh says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:09 am

This is one of those “Joe makes me feel better about myself” days, by testifying that he’s as human as the rest of us. Danke!

Al Graham says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:12 am

Nice post.
As a concert shooter, I often get caught up in the show and miss plenty of shots. We shoot what we feel. We all work on out shooting skills plenty. Sometimes we just need to sit back and work on our feeling skills.

caroline says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:15 am

There’s something to be said for sit and watch, sometimes. And you still got a great shot, didn’t ya then?

matglas86 says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:25 am

“I’ve passed up good pictures just ’cause I didn’t want to put down my coffee.” Finally one of the photographers that I well respect points out one of my personal issue’s. There are so many times that I feel guilty just because I missed the shot and I could have made it all along.

Thanks for the comfort Joe.

Ken says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:25 am


Great teaching and info for this blog.


Ken in KY

Juan says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:28 am

I went to Arizona recently with my family and always wanted to shoot “horseshoe bend” just outside Page,AZ. When we finally got there I was so wound up in getting “the shot” I almost forgot to just stop and enjoy what I was looking at without the camera in front of my face.

Jim Frazier says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:47 am

Nothin’ wrong with sitting and watching. Except when you almost miss shots like that. 😉

Duncan says:

on January 19, 2010 at 10:14 am

I’ve definitely gotten that feeling where I have my camera with me and see a beautiful frame in front of me and just sit there looking at it. I feel like every now and then it’s good to just sit back and enjoy a view. After all, your eyes will give you that full-panorama, high dynamic range image that cameras can’t hope to capture

Girish says:

on January 19, 2010 at 10:22 am

Like the last photograph of Jake Peterson. The portrait of his also looks nice with the bridge in the background.

mike says:

on January 19, 2010 at 10:37 am

You know, I have been in this situation many times before as well. The one thing I have learned though, is that being a photographer allows us to appreciate moments that a lot of people will never take the time to have. We need to allow ourselves the moments to ourselves as well. They are sacred moments. Moments that allow us to realize who we are and why we love doing what we do. Then, when we remember why we do what we do, you realize that Jake on a wall with they sun in the background would be awesome. As such, we act and we get a great shot. I think those moments are a lot more valuable. It gives the “one” frame that we got instead of multiple frames, a great value and meaningful moment.

Thanks for the great shots and all you do.

Bill Bogle, Jr. says:

on January 19, 2010 at 10:39 am

The last shot of Jake looks like it was after the nuclear event, or maybe he was there for the fire over San Fransisco. It is amazing how fast it can present itself and change.

You had great light and great subjects. Wish I could have been there, or in Yellowstone in Winter. That has got to be awesome. Have a great time.

Bill Bogle, Jr.

Craig says:

on January 19, 2010 at 10:42 am

Modern definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get different results.” LOL. Yep, pretty much describes you, Joe.

Matt Cashore says:

on January 19, 2010 at 10:48 am

Photos, schmotos…you used the word “lollygagger” in a sentence. You have my undying devotion!

Kris says:

on January 19, 2010 at 11:13 am

Joe or Drew, could you answer a question for me?

I’ve been shooting/assisting for 10 years now, and I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time. One thing I haven’t been able to answer on my own yet is: why do you use the EV compensation button/setting on your camera when you could simply open/close the lens or adjust your shutter speed manually to give you the desired result?

Don Molynaux says:

on January 19, 2010 at 11:23 am

I am sooooo guilty of being LAZY! The Olympic torch is being run through my city today and I missed it! (Making work phone calls instead.)

Rob Byron says:

on January 19, 2010 at 11:24 am

I got so tickled at your proof sheet. My finger does the same thing. It has a mind of its own and when it decides its tired it lays down on the shutter button.

Oh, and the only time I get lazy is when there’s a really important shoot on the line or I’m trying to set a good example

WesD says:

on January 19, 2010 at 11:25 am

Great to read that im not the only one. the other day I layed on my couch and watched a orangeish gold sunset.My camera gear was about 10 feet away and my lovely wife 2 feet away.Thanks for posting, now im going to go shoot.

Paul Aylett says:

on January 19, 2010 at 11:50 am

Inspirational as always. You never cease to amaze me with your creativity! Excellent stuff!

Michael Hansen says:

on January 19, 2010 at 11:50 am

Great shot. Amazing power in those SB-900’s. I mean f18…
Any post on the sky?
Thanks for an always entertaining blog:-)

Nick Latham says:

on January 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Joe, I do that constantly. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve taken my camera out on a walk looking for shots and it’s never even made it out of the bag. Never sure if it’s laziness or lack of inspiration – either way, that can’t be good…

Drew Gurian says:

on January 19, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Hey Kris,

That’s all about whether you’d prefer to shoot in Aperture Priority or Manual…Joe prefers to be in Aperture when he can, as he feels it keeps him moving faster. I, on the other hand tend to shoot more in Manual, and enjoy that control over the camera much more….though as Joe says shooting in Manual with a hi-end camera is liking taking a porsche to church on sunday……so it’s really your call :)


Dwayne D.C. Tucker II says:

on January 19, 2010 at 12:49 pm

That’s a nice shot Joe. We know you work hard but don’t get lazy 😛

Nassau, Bahamas | Miami, FL

Mike Neale says:

on January 19, 2010 at 1:00 pm

To philosophize is to learn to die,…next time in CA, Joe, stop-by our place,…leave the baggage,…and we’ll sit by the pool and talk about the weather,…or the ol’ Peterson days,…..;-))

Nicely stated.


Simon Grosset says:

on January 19, 2010 at 1:07 pm

For the first time since I began reading your blog, I’m going to disagree with you!

” I was sitting there, enjoying the breeze, looking at the sky, and just generally refreshed by not being inside a building. (I do honestly believe that sometimes, forget the photography, just look and enjoy.) I was sitting, watching the sun go down, and and the sky deepen, and the car headlights come on, and just letting lethargy and laziness take over.”

Don’t you think that sometimes it’s important to just stop and recharge oneself? Like you were doing? Perhaps that little bit of R&R made the final photo possible? Without a rest your brain wouldn’t have kicked into gear?

I often think that good memories are maybe better than good photographs…… Until I forget the memory, of course!


Phil Mansfield says:

on January 19, 2010 at 1:40 pm

As my wife always likes to point out to me, “the cobbler’s children have no shoes, tsk,tsk”. Shooting for a living sometimes I gotta kick myself in the ass to shoot the fun stuff, like family. Or take up cobbling perhaps…..


William E Lee says:

on January 19, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Love the last shot of Jake… except the sensor dust is driving me mad!!!

Say it ain’t so Joe!

Andrei says:

on January 19, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I’m sure there’s gotta be an iPhone app called “Get of Your Butt and Take the Picture, Joe” that will either remind you of it or change the lens itself, or somethin’. But then,… we wouldn’t have all of Joe’s complaining for having only one good frame, and even that one doesn’t have enough room on the bottom for Drew to add up the rest of the sun in Ps. I wish a picture of Joe keeping his fingers warm (…) will show up on Flickr.

Scott McQ says:

on January 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Yeah – I have my lazy moments. More often than is good.

But some times, I just want to watch, to enjoy the moment to see the whole image, instead of just what fits into the frame. Those moments I don’t apologize for.

Ed says:

on January 19, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Great post Joe. i am sure it is something we can all identify with. Certainly it happened to me just yesterday and I mention that fact in my own post. Thanks for making us all feel like we can be on a similar plane.

Mark Holloway says:

on January 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Anybody else out there ever pass up a good frame ’cause you were too much of a lollygagger to pull out the camera?

Years ago I recall this old wood frame house that sat in the foreground of this great big high rise being built behind it in the distance. Sun would rise and light up that glass building and that old house like fire. Every morning as my (ex) wife and I would drive past it she would tell me, “you should take a picture before they tear that house down”. Or, “you’re gonna miss a great photograph if you don’t shoot it before they tear that house down!”

You can guess the rest of the story.

Al says:

on January 19, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I drove all the way from Washington, D.C., where I was busy feeling important, to the Smokey Mountains to take a class taught by Art Wolfe. After lectures we went into the mountains and he drove by all the groups to see what we were doing. I explained that a few minutes before he arrive the sun had slipped under the overcast and lit up all the leaves just right. “Did you get it?” he asked. No, I said. He just stood there. To this day I can hear he thoughts: “WHY NOT!” I swear I heard his thoughts.

Carsten / topfloor says:

on January 19, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Hey Joe from Germany!
Being there with you at the same spot and time, you still can do magic with a camera in your hands, you flashman :-)
Hope you enjoyed the sunset as much as I did,

Marshall says:

on January 19, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Too many times to count. But I’m still kicking myself for not going back two blocks to get my camera two weeks ago, for a chance at a shot that has not presented itself again. Should’a just been late for dinner.

Torin says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:27 pm

I hear ya, Joe! I’ve been a photojournalist for over 20 years and can’t count all the times I’ve said to myself, “Wow, that was a GREAT play! Wish I’d taken a picture!” at a few hundred football games.
Anyway, thanks for all your insight and passing along all your real life experiences to us. Keep it up.


Patrick Delany says:

on January 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I understand. “Stop and take the picture, you may not get a second chance.” is my self created Nikonians auto signature. Advice I need to follow more often. Amen brother.

flying says:

on January 20, 2010 at 12:41 am

a good teaching

flying in china

John Kimbler says:

on January 20, 2010 at 1:00 am

Been there done that Joe. Wish I had a dollar for every time I missed a shot cause I was watching the critter instead of shooting it, or changing lenses when it took off :)

Love your work, and I study your portrait compositions to get better at photographing insects.



Larry says:

on January 20, 2010 at 1:06 am

“I’ve never regretted a single picture I’ve taken. I have regretted the ones I didn’t take”
– Me –

Tom Peterson says:

on January 20, 2010 at 9:19 am

I was in upstate New York a couple of years ago rushing to an appointment when I saw this river (stream) flowing through a field. It was sunlight and a tremendous storm was rolling in from the west. I had the gear in the car and thought to myself “that would make a great shot”. Life being life I had to rush on without getting the shot. I can still see it in my minds eye. It would have been great. Sometimes we need to remember what’s really important. BTW: I was fifteen minutes early for the appointment. I still kick myself in the butt for that one.

Beth Wold says:

on January 20, 2010 at 10:27 am

I just love your blog. Always makes me smile! Confessing something you wish you’d done differently is so much more motivating than talking about everything being perfect. Thanks!

Nicholas says:

on January 20, 2010 at 10:38 am


First time commenting, though I’ve been lurking since David Hobby pointed me your way late last year. For myself, I don’t think your second picture would have as much impact with a full sun. To go with the parallel you suggested: Watchmen is a grim and gritty story, and the partial sun gives the image that feel.

I usually get lazy taking pictures of my son. I’ve got plenty of memorable shots and a corresponding number of missed opportunities….

Bart says:

on January 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Not long ago we had hoar frost develop in the early morning…beautiful thin strands and pointing sideways from the metal arbor to which it was attached. The air currents had it pointing in this unusual horizontal position, and it was as delicate as anything I’ve ever seen. As I tried to describe it later in the day to my granddaughter, I pulled up some google photos to show her. I couldn’t find one that really showed what I saw, and then I slapped myself in the head. It was the true V8 moment.

Instead of going outside in the cold and leaving my coffee behind for a few minutes, I missed an opportunity of a lifetime. I’m still kicking myself.

SJlarue says:

on January 20, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I do it every day Joe. It’s called enjoying the creation instead of worshiping it. If it was meant to be taken, you would have taken it.

You’d make a great fisherman…whining about the one(s) that got a way! 😀

Minse Blom says:

on January 20, 2010 at 1:17 pm

How cool is this?

Joe named as one of The 30 Most Influential Photographers of The Decade! Congrats.

Jim White says:

on January 20, 2010 at 1:22 pm

If I recall from a recent post Joe, you were on the road for 200 plus days last year . . If “anyone” needed a break for a bit, it would be you. Also, I’d give everything I own to have your knowledge for exposing and composing images . . Don’t beat yourself up, you da man!

David de Groot says:

on January 20, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Oh yes! Definitely “guilty as charged” on that last point. Usually it occurs at the end of a long trek, just too tired to pull out the camera to shoot the amazing scene in front of me.

Jonathan Fleming says:

on January 20, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I can relate on the laziness, but what an image you came up with! Always a pleasure reading your blog, Joe.

Gary Scaife says:

on January 20, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses. There are plenty of times when I was out fishing or out shooting when I just sit down and enjoy being out in the fresh air. Sometimes fishing or shooting is just an excuse to get out in the woods.

Kevin Williams says:

on January 21, 2010 at 9:39 am

Wow, wow, wow. I love the lesson in patience here, Joe. I actually like the shot of the GG Bridge with Jake in it the best, but then I do usually prefer photographing things that don’t move. :)

Miranda Eubanks says:

on January 21, 2010 at 11:32 am

Your posts are unendingly enjoyable and inspiring. I thank you!

Jason says:

on January 21, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I’d say that I’ve done the same as you did here Joe, but only if I had a reputation of producing fantastic photos to fall back on. As it stands, I am not going to admit my “numnuts” predilections publicly!

Oh wait…I just did! :)

Gavin Jowitt says:

on January 22, 2010 at 2:06 am

I think it’s good to occasionally leave the camera in the bag and enjoy the moment. I’ve just returned from shooting in Malaysia where I forced myself on several occasions to enjoy the surroundings through my own two eyes instead of a Nikon viewfinder. It’s ok for somethings to preserved in memory rather than pixels… unless of course there’s a client paying 😉

mike murrow says:

on January 22, 2010 at 2:30 am

hmm. i was on the bridge that day on a walk with my girl. if you zoom in on (one of) the images at 1000x you can see me spitting over the edge to my girls horror.

Nicole says:

on January 22, 2010 at 5:51 pm

I can understand the need to just sit back, relax and enjoy the moment. Sometimes with the camera up to your eye all the time, you miss being a part of the actual moments that are happening. Considering your incredible legacy, Joe, I don’t think you have anything to feel bad about!

I was so incredibly lucky to attend the DWLS in Bozeman, Nov 08. Your energy was amazing and the shots you took, always fantastic. I so enjoyed the workshop that I had planned to attend the San Fran one. Unfortunately cancer has me sidetracked for now. It’s teaching me many life lessons about enjoying each moment of every day. But I am planning on attending another DWLS as soon as I am back on track! Hopefully next year.

Love your blog and stories, always insightful!


T. C. Knight says:

on January 23, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Sadly enough, I have missed THE shot because it was too much trouble to load all the equipment before making a trip. But sometimes it has nothing to do with laziness…more with wanting to be “normal” for a few minutes. No shooting, no composing, no light checking…just watching.

chris says:

on January 25, 2010 at 11:04 am

Is it me or is there dirt on your lens joe ,tut tut

Ben Fullerton says:

on January 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Hey Joe.

I think those are the shots that really fire us up and keep us going. I never am filled with more fire to create images than when I see beautiful opportunity and don’t jump on it. Sort of like, ‘You win this round, universe. But I’ll be back, and I’m going to capture you good!’

Love you blog, keep it up!


Sanford says:

on January 27, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Happens to all of us. I shoot a lot of NHL hockey and I am a hockey fan. Every once in a while I will find myself watching the game instead of shooting, big NO NO for sports shooters, and I’ll see a nice open ice hit and just shake my head and say, that would have been a nice shot dumb ass!

Thanks for what you do Joe

Ellen L. Adams says:

on January 28, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Yes, I’ve gotten lazy. I was just in my neighborhood, on my way to the grocery store. I usually take my camera but this time I didn’t. Boy was I sorry. Squirrels scamper in and out of the trees all the time. Well, this time, the squirrel had a chicken wing (no kidding) and was chompin’ away. I swear I reached for my cell phone and the photo was worth diddly. To make matters worse, this little “dude” looked right at me, made a face, and then kept on chomping on that chicken wing. AND, I COULD HEAR HIS TEETH CLICKING AWAY WHILE HE GNAWED ON THIS THING!!! Lord, talk about a missed opportunity.

Despite the fact that you had a “V-8 moment,” you still got some great stuff. I guess that the lesson is, always have a camera, because you never know what you might see.

Renie Haiduk says:

on February 5, 2010 at 9:21 am

Joe – becoming more disciplined regarding blogs; yours is one I totally love and this posting in particular. Being honest about being lazy (I know we all have those moments, some of us too often) is presented in a way that is refreshing, and motivating. A moment of when the Superhero says “yeah, I’m human too…” Really enjoy your postings!
Look forward to seeing you here soon!

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