How do I decide to click the shutter button?
To click the shutter button may not seem like a difficult decision. It can happen quite quickly and you may not think a lot of thought has gone into choosing what I am taking a photograph of. But despite making it look easy, it’s not. When I go out to shoot near home or travel to get those “epic” shots, I do a lot of pre-planning and thinking. Then once I get to the place I am shooting, I take it all in and start making shots in my mind.
What goes into pre-planning for a landscape shot?
If I hear about a full moon, I will place that on my mental calendar. I love to shoot those unique moons, like harvest, because they appear larger than normal. I stick close to home so my shoot location is usually within walking distance. I like to use these neighborhood shoots to test equipment or a new idea I had. Since I know my neighborhood, I think ahead of time of where I want to set up, what camera and lens I want to use, and what techniques I want to practice. I have all of this info in my head so when I get outside, I set up my tripod and click the shutter button once as soon as I line up the shot. I am clicking the shutter to practice.
If I am traveling, a lot more goes into shooting, especially since I’m not out to test anything. I spend time before we leave looking at the places we will be visiting and getting an idea of what the area looks like. I look at “the shots” everyone gets. I don’t always want to get the same shots as everyone else. I want to look for something new or different. Once I get to the location, I usually will spend some time looking around and trying to determine what the best angle will be. Sometimes that requires me to get low, sit/kneel, or even lay down. Sometimes I look to find a rock or something that can give me a boost. I look behind me.
You never know what you will see when you don’t look at the obvious spot.
Once I have the lay of the land, I will look through my camera lens. Do I like the framing? Yes? Click the shutter. No? Move. A bit to the left. Try again. Maybe if I get lower. No. Ok, this spot isn’t working, let me look for someplace else. It’s all trial and error. Sometimes I don’t even take a shot! I know, shocking. It just didn’t speak to me.
So, what am I looking for when deciding if I want to take a picture?
- Lighting – is the sun leaving a pretty morning light across the mountain? Is there an interesting shadow being created? How is the sun/shade working together? For sunsets, I love looking for intense colors or clouds to make an interesting contrast to the sunset.
- Framing – what is in the photo? What isn’t in the photo? What story do I want to tell about this place? This is the creative part for me. I get to decide what you ultimately see. That port-a-potty is ruining this beach spot. How can I move to show you this beach but get the port-a-potty out of it?
- Subject – what am I showing you. I love to show oceans at sunset. I love waterfalls and volcanoes. I love seeing endless oceans but others want to see something in the water, a boat or whale. The subject needs to speak to me. It needs to be clear to me. If I take a photo, go to edit it, and can’t remember what I was shooting, I leave it out. Usually, with travel, the subject is fairly obvious. This mountain. This building. This national monument.
I need to see something in the time and place that captures my interest or imagination or I won’t click the shutter. I want to find a landscape that takes my breath away. I want to share my wonder, amazement, and love of the natural world with you.
What makes you want to take a picture when you travel?
If you liked this blog, you may also like learning how I create an image from start to finish.