Working a Scene

As I mentioned earlier this week, I just returned from a multi day shooting trip last week in Japer National Park. After 4 full days of shooting, I came away with quite a few images to process and have been working my way through them this week. Those of you following along on Google+ and Facebook (if you aren’t, why not?) have already seen a few of these as I’ve been posting them there over the last few days. Wayne has been sharing some great stuff as well (follow him of Facebook and Google+ too) and also on his blog so be sure to check that out. I thought I’d share some of those images here along with a few new ones and take a minute to talk about working a scene.

As you may have noticed, most of these images appear to have some of the same mountains, river, and other features in them. That’s because they do! Of the 4 mornings we were out shooting at sunrise, we spent 3 of them at the same place. After our first morning at this spot where we really didn’t have very good conditions at all, we realized there was a lot of potential there and figured it was worth coming back to. The following morning we had uniquely different conditions from the first morning with some broken clouds and colour in the sky, and then on the last morning things were different yet again and we had perfectly clear skies. As the conditions changed, so did our images. Even those that were composed very similarly have a completely different feel and look to them. A good lesson here is that it pays to repeat a visit to a promising location, especially as you build familiarity with the area and know what you have to work with.

Another thing to mention is that it pays to really look around and explore the area. So often I see photographers pull up to a scene and unload their gear, only to set up their tripod at eye level right next to the car and then just stay in that one spot as the light changes. Now, I understand that in some (rare) cases, maybe that is the shot, or the one most worth taking, but most of the time it’s far from it. Taking the time to have a good look around before you start shooting, and continuing to explore as you work, is a great way to get beyond the obvious shots and really find the gems of a scene.

In the case of these images, we walked about 100 meters down towards the river from the roadside turnout (where most people stop to take the “tourist shot”), and then explored up and down the shoreline. All of these were taken within just a couple hundred meters of each other over the course of two mornings of shooting for a couple hours each day. By moving ourselves around, up, down, looking different directions, changing focal lengths, mixing up horizontal and vertical orientations, over or under exposing for mood, changing shutter speed for the effects on the water, using filters, etc. we were able to create quite a variety of images in just a short time. Even with that said, all of these images are still just basically wide angle landscapes and were shot with the same lens. There’s even more that could have been done by switching up to a longer telephoto or macro lens for example.

So, do I consider all of these to be 5 star images that will end up in my portfolio? Probably not. But there are definitely a few I like in there and a couple I’m actually pretty proud of. Others may be more suited to stock sales, advertising, instructional material, etc. The point is that by exploring and working the scene, I was able to bring home a nicely varied collection of images that will serve a few different purposes for me.

There’s still more to come from the trip, so stay tuned!

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