Plan photography or just go out and about?

Just go out and see what comes your way or make a plan? I live within walking distance of the Arkemheenpolder in the Netherlands. This is the oldest natural polder (wetlands) in our country. It is quite easy to see 20-30 species of birds while walking here. Here I met Harry and Sally a few minutes walk from home.

They have made a nest near a wall with sand martins. This causes huge disruption when Harry has been to McDonalds and comes home with a burger. There is then enormous panic among the sand martins. Kingfishers are real killers and feast on the young sand martins.A site near here where 34 breeding pairs of sand martins were disturbed by a single pair of kingfishers. The sand martins left and never came back.
The plan is to photograph Harry and Sally in the near future and wait for the young to fly out. Incubate for 18-21 days and then age for about 21 days until fledging. Enough to photograph in the coming weeks if my wife does not want to leave with the camper.

Enjoy life or your heirs will.
Favorite gear: M1X / OM-1 and the big white one.


Could only post one photo in the thread. This is Harry


great and interesting subjects! Definitely worth getting to know them better through the coming days. It’s that time of year here also. And I’m interested in seeing as many of the new additions as possible.
I had to look up Sand Martins (not found in the US). They seem very interesting also.
We also now have our swallows in residence, having just arrived a week ago, or so.
they’ve decided that the homes built by UCSB, for their faculty, is a prime housing development for them also ! LOL! The School, somehow purchased what was ‘open’ green space in our area, and has developed it… The University of California is a untouchable empire in our state, and can do no wrong, even though it does…
Only right that nature has decided to take a bit of it back.
I’ll be interested to see what you will see in your polder!
‘Plan’ or ‘Just go out’ - either works, depending on why. I mostly (99%) chose to go out. Because that’s what I do. I go out to observe, learn about and feel part of my natural world.
Mostly that means ‘moving’; but sometimes it also means ‘staying’ and seeing what comes my way.
I usually do not go out just to ‘photograph’. Photography is part of my vehicle for really ‘seeing’ and learning. Then it’s also seeing and recording something which might not be apparent, common or easily discovered. Being ready to photo-record helps me see better, stronger, clearer. So I very rarely ‘plan’ for photography. But when I do, that often works out well, in the image department.
Looking forward to more images of your neighbors and neighborhood
Thx, Yuri

I think making a plan generally produces better photos. Exploring and observing the area and then settling in with or without camouflage. If I go into the area by bike and take a camera with me, I do take pictures but usually find them less interesting.

Given that I mainly take photos of ‘bugs’ - i.e. anything with 6 legs or more - I’m never sure what I’ll see, so I’m like a kitten chasing butterflies… and dragonflies, and bees, and beetles, and tiny little things I can barely see. Given the challenges of macro photography I’m not making life easy for myself - it takes longer for me to think about DOF, aperture, whether to stack, etc. than the subject usually hangs around for.

And now I’d like to move into birds as well, which means not only will I have the wrong setting when something interesting turns up, I’ll have the wrong lens too!

But on balance, my enjoyment of hunting the subjects and discovery of new (to me) species gives me more pleasure than getting a cracking photo. The cracking photo is just icing on the cake.


Mostly plan - I do architecture by choice which often needs to be pre-arranged to gain access - but recently one of my flickr groups has stated to arrange a few photo-walks. Here I just turn up, usually in area I do not know well, and follow a route with other group members. This slows my pace, sometimes forces me to step out of my comfort zone, and is both enjoyable and (I think) beneficial.

I also belong to a couple of theatre architecture groups who arrange visits, mostly in the UK. I often add a day extra to explore the area, which I like to do on-the-hoof, after the planned visits to the buildings. Portsmouth and Douglas IoM coming up.

I’m too easily distracted by random eye candy to follow a plan beyond which lens to carry for the outing.


You sound more like me with every post… Not sure that’s a compliment though :wink:

Always just a walk, and I always need a lens one size longer than I have with me…
Sand Martins are the same species we in North America call Bank Swallows (Riparia riparia). They’re just returning to Southern Ontario now - I saw my first ones today.

I do not set up a detailed plan but do some research and usually have several informal “alternates”. When I photo travel, I do a lot of research and tend to have more of a plan. For day trips, I tend to be a lot looser. But, no matter the plan, I am always looking for serendipity - when something catches my eye, I follow it.