Having just returned from my cruise, not being able to get within half a mile of the glaciers, the 100-400 turning out to be very poor quality and in general not finding many of the things I expected, this is perhaps a very appropriate issue to discuss.
Lots of times in the past I have gone out photographing and found absolutely nothing to photograph, or if desperate, took some photographs that I knew wouldn't be great but somehow hoped I might be wrong - and of course wasn't - the proofs were crap.
Well, I can't say that I have found a brilliant answer to this problem but I can state that it happens a lot less often to me now than it used to. You might argue that this is because I'm better than I used to be - but I'm also a lot fussier and I would have thought the one would cancel out the other leaving a net frustration index unchanged. But it ain't so. That being the case, what could explain the difference? Could it be going digital, or using colour as well as black and white, or is there some other more important factor?
My thought is that none of these explanations is the main one. The big issue is, I think, that I am better prepared to work with what I find. I may have intended to photograph glaciers, but presented with cloud covered mountainsides, I shot that instead. Stuck on a ship far from shore, I photographed the ship instead of bemoaning the lack of landscapes.
There's plenty of precedent for this. Ansel Adams was known to photograph graffiti, back lanes, water towers, people and gardens, successfully, collectibly, and very well!
Does this mean I can guarantee me a successful shoot - absolutely not - I still have bad days - though it's my suspicion that bad days have more to do with my mood than what is in front of me.