The world is full of some fantastic sites, from natural to the human-made. So how do I pick what to take a picture of when I’m out and about?
Well, it depends (I know… everyone’s favorite answer!).
I can find beauty or intrigue in almost anything. While digital allows me to shoot as much as I want, I try to be slightly more discerning in my experimenting. It sucks to have over 500 photos to weed through and edit after a weeks vacation. I take the apparent picture but then I try to take only a few artsy ones to satisfy my curiosity of would this work? Plus, I learned on film and have picked it up again, so I’m trying to slow myself down and find the right shot.
Whatever that means.
Let’s pretend I’m out in nature, maybe exploring a new to me hiking trail. Of course, I know of “the shot” everyone, and their mom takes on this trail. I will probably take at least one photo of the shot (because that’s what you do) and then I’ll start to look around. Can I get a different perspective, higher or lower maybe? What if I turn to the right or left? What’s behind me?
When I arrive at a scene, I usually take a moment to scan the area. What pops for me? Then I will get out my camera to see if the scene still works when I look through the viewfinder. Do I need to move because that tree branch now looks funny? Do I need a different angle to make a better composition? A step to the left (but not too far as I don’t want to fall off the edge!).
Sometimes, a lot of times, it doesn’t work.
Looking through the lens makes things look different. Maybe when I look through the lens, there are less distinguishing characteristics in the foreground, and everything runs together. If so, I don’t take the photo but keep looking around.
If I’m not 100% sure if the scene works, I take a test shot with my cell phone. If I like it, I shoot with my “real” camera. If not, I look again with my eye to see if I missed something. I try to work quickly and efficiently with my phone because I’m usually making someone wait.
Eventually, I’ll find something I like better to snap.
I’m usually drawn to scenes with lots of greens and blues. Blue skies, trees, the ocean tend to grab my eye first. I also love colorful rock formations like Sedona’s red rocks or the texture of hoodoos in Bryce Canyon.
If I’m in the city, skylines are an easy answer. Who doesn’t like a skyline image? You can see several different and unique architecture in one picture. There’s usually different shapes, either of the building themselves or one some detail in the building like the windows. I also love the shadows the sun and other buildings can cast. And of course, the reflections in all-glass buildings make me happy.
I’m always looking for a scene that will work well on film or in black and white. I may overshoot on my digital camera (creating more work for myself) but I will always ask will this work compositionally and light wise on film? Will it translate well to black and white?
I will always be a sucker for film and black and white images.
There’s something about those two that keep pulling me back in. They also make me slow down, be in the moment, and analyze what’s in front of me. I like that moment of really seeing the landscape in front of me to decide if this is the best I can do before I press the shutter button.
So, in short, what makes me press that little button?
- An interesting formation, either rocks or buildings.
- Something I can visualize in black and white easily.
- Something different or unexpected about a tourist spot.
- Something I want to remember for myself. (This is a big one!)