Not sure that CJ has ever put it exactly like this, but a lesson he is always teaching is “Think about the shot you want.” He is not big on just establishing an average type setting, pointing the camera and pushing the button. Think the shot through first. What do you want out of the shot?
A mental check list might look like this…
Is the sun where you want it…hopefully at your back?
Do I want the subject in perfect focus and the background blurred?
Do I have the subject in one of the thirds…is the composition right?
Do I want to expose for the sky and let the foreground be a bit underexposed?
Is there anything sticking in from any side of the frame that will detract from the shot…like a branch of a tree?
That sky is kind of grey…do I want to minimize it in the shot and get more foreground?
Is there some kid running across the shot?
All of this can be done in a few seconds…but it needs to be done. Too many shots turn out average because you or I did not take a moment to think about how we can make the photo the best it can be.
On the attached owl photo I had these shot thoughts before I took the photo…
Is his face in the sun so I can get the color of those beautiful eyes?
Can I get in close enough with my lens or by creeping up on him to basically fill about 25% of the frame with the owl without having to crop the shot to do so?
I want to blur the background…so I need an aperture that is wide…in this case, f/6.3.
Am I blowing out any of the background…over exposing it?
Most importantly…are the eyes in perfect focus?
As soon as I saw the eyes…click. Got the shot. Again, the whole process need only take a few moments…but those moments are important.
Hope that helps.