A fellow photographer friend of mine once described me as a "run and gun" shooter. He meant that when I photograph landscapes, I capture them as they happen. I didn't take offence to this, as many careers were spawned from this style of photography. Photo journalists, sports photographers, and everyday citizens who were lucky enough to capture historic events would all be classified as "run and gun". Think about the most memorable photographs in modern human history - almost every one of those photographers just happened to be at the right place at the right time.
His labelling of my style got me thinking, I'm more than that. It made me feel like a lazy photographer. I began seeking out situations and landscapes that were planned ahead of time. Instead of capturing the then and now, I was aiming to create the scene. I recalled what I learned but had long forgotten because I had just stopped doing it. I went with the purpose of adding artificial lighting, using a neutral density filter, and slowing my shutter speed way down. I sought out waterfalls, raging oceans, and moving objects in order to engage my fine art abilities. My tripod goes with me more often than it does not, as I am now planning the outcome of how the finished product will look in the end.
In a way, I take the moniker of "run and gun" as a compliment. Often times, I find the most interesting photograph doesn't really have a subject matter. Sometimes it's what's going on behind the scenes that draws me in because nothing was planned. Having a good eye to know when to document what's transpiring right now is an art form in itself. It may not be as technically challenging, but you have to be quick, you have to be ready as events unfold.
I would classify my friend as a fine art photographer. His work is beautiful. HDR shooting at it's finest. His shots are well thought out and well executed. His subject matter is spot on. But with this style, comes patience and skill, especially in the final edit. Unfortunately, I sometimes don't have the time, nor the patience to sit and wait for that perfect shot. Full respect for the effort though.
If I find myself going out in nature without much of a plan, I will sometimes set my camera to Aperture Priority. Why? Because I need to be ready quickly. I can still adjust my ISO and exposure based on the ambient lighting, but the camera has to prioritize a fine depth of field and a fast shutter for those times when I see an animal, for example. In these situations, AP is a baseline mode to get me to the finish line in a hurry. A starting point if you will. If I know that I have to be quick in getting an image of a startled bear or an eagle flying overhead, then my aperture is usually locked down and my shutter speed is high.
After all, it's the finished product that truly matters, not how you got there.