Patience is a Virtue – isn’t it?

Patience is a virtue – isn’t it? And what is patience anyway. According to the Oxford English dictionary it is this. Recently I was discussing patience with another wildlife cameraman. Does a wildlife cameraman need to be patient?

Filming pine marten with IR in Mid Wales

Patience is a virtue, so goes the saying. The patience of Job. The patience of a saint. We consider patience to be a positive attribute and for good reason. Without patience we’d never achieve anything, or at least anything worthwhile. All wildlife camera people expect to have to wait, and sometimes it’s a long wait.

Everyone tells me that I must be really patient to do the work I do. So why did my colleague and I conclude that we were not patient people. Both of us lose the plot on a regular basis. I lose my patience with litter tossers and my friend gets mad at loud exhaust pipes. Why then, can both of us sit for days in a hide waiting for a wildlife subject to turn up and perform for the camera?

Patience doesn’t come into it

It’s obvious really. Patience is specific to whatever task you happen to be doing, so if you find a task interesting patience doesn’t even come into it. In the picture I’m sitting in yet another hide waiting for a pine marten to turn up. That night I don’t think it did turn up, but a fox did. I’ve done a lot of filming in the dark this year, mostly with a Sony A7s. I did get a little bored at one point, until the fox came along. Staring at a camera monitor when it’s dark and there’s nothing happening is no fun on the eyeballs. You still have to concentrate though, and there are still the sounds of the night to entertain you.

Is patience a virtue?

Undoubtedly yes. But being patient doesn’t mean that your mind won’t wander. In fact, I was filming kingfishers earlier this year, and had long periods of inactivity. While waiting I ordered a book on my phone and wrote this poem in my head.

I gazed upon a waterfall,

Perchance a kingfisher might call.

Five hours later, bugger all.

And that is the life of a wildlife cameraman. We love it, that’s why we don’t have to be patient. I still enjoyed that filming session but not for the amazing footage, because I filmed absolutely nothing. Was it an exercise in patience, or was it just me doing my job. You decide.