Thursday, June 5, 2014

Scout and Plan picture locations

Many people recognize attractive settings for a photo but it takes effort (for me anyway) to remember exactly where and then to conceive of a way to use it.  For example, this lake front scene could be perfect for a Bride or high school senior desiring a uniquely stylish backdrop. However, pulling the subject(s) together on a pontoon boat at the right time of day and weather is challenging.  The slanting sun rays don’t last long.

I love to see the tree trunks and their reflections lit in the morning sun this way. That means it is about 7:30 in the spring time. Some subjects just aren't up yet, but if this composition speaks to a lifestyle it might be worth the effort.

I practice with non-human subjects in this popular dog park because it has a long hill with a clear view of the sky. 

Usually owners are happy to help pose their pets after I introduce myself.  Using a strobe, I can take portraits or action shots and vary or manipulate the horizon line, backdrop, woods, grass, or sky for one-of-a-kind images. Practice is the key word, and I can count on seeing a few willing subjects here.

Nearby Rogers Bridge Park has a boat landing on the Chattahooche  River (below).  The morning mist is fairly reliable, before 8 am, because the river is fed from the bottom of a dam 192 feet high.  The river bed is shallow and firm, and it makes a great setting for photographing a Kayak in mid stream. 

Once you have found a memorable location the Photographer's Ephemeris can help plan time of day and view points.

This free tool can indicate the time/position of the sun through the day and a few other useful geographic tips by using astronomical data and Google Maps.  In this screen shot my potential camera position is the red marker, sunrise is indicated by the thick yellow line, and the sun's position at 7:38 am is the thin yellow line. The other three lines are Moon rise, Moon set, and sun set.  

The Ephemeris tells me if I look towards the bridge, from the red marker at this time of day, I will be facing the sun head-on.  In that scenario, the boater would be paddling downstream to me with strong back lighting.  An alternative would be to place the boat downstream from the red marker and then work upstream to me with the sun lighting his face. 

A lot of folks simply figure this stuff out when they arrive on location and look around briefly.  I can too, but I like to plan some compositions ahead of time.

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