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Thread: How do you find and choose photography locations?

  1. #1

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    How do you find and choose photography locations?

    This question pertains more to landscape photography, but not limited

    I was curious how all of you find these fantastic locations to shoot at. We all take photos on vacation, but what about typical day to day shoots? Do you drive around aimlessly until something catches your eye? Do you get travel mags and plan exotic trips? Do you revisit the same locations over and over getting different shots?

    So, how do you find and choose your locations?

  2. #2
    Henrik's Avatar
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    Re: How do you find and choose locations?

    If you were Steve at www.steves-digicams.com, you would probably live near by a beach with always spectacular canoes - like Florida.

    But frankly speaking, I have had the same thoughts as you.

    In my own case I deliberately went for places in my summervacations, that were pictoresque. But on a day to day basis I don't come at such fantastic places. I like getting some fresh air bringing a camere, and I take some pictures. But they are not from the middle of a desert or the like.

    Maybe the "value-adding" process could take place in the "developing room"?

    Regards,

    http://www.steves-digicams.com/2004_...s/IMG_0020.JPG
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 27th October 2009 at 06:39 PM. Reason: Changed to a link instead of the large inline pic we don't have copyright to use

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    Re: How do you find and choose locations?

    yeah holidays is a big part, or while visiting relatives etc. But more locally, just keeping an eye out while im out and about for whatever reason: "oo that looks nice, ill come back later/another day to d that shot", or maybe browsing flickr or similar, or the panoramio shots on google earth to see what other people have done close to me

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: How do you find and choose locations?

    Quote Originally Posted by wjh31 View Post
    ~ or the panoramio shots on google earth to see what other people have done close to me
    Now that's one I hadn't thought of, thanks Will.

    Cheers,

  5. #5
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: How do you find and choose locations?

    I can't get around easily since my driving license was revoked on medical grounds; but generally I already know the local spots, and can catch a bus if necessary to nearby villages I also know.

    When I've finished practicing on the nice spots I might choose some not so nice ones; the place I live is a giant brewery with the odd shop in the middle and isn't the nicest place to photograph, the council is really good at messing the landscape up, with a giant concrete road through the middle of parkland, and I heard they are disputing that they should clean what's left.

    However there is a few castles, a cathedral and a lot of sleepy villages.

  6. #6
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    Re: How do you find and choose locations?

    Looking around and thinking well about what you want to shoot is quite important to me. Most of the time I see a spot when I pass by and return later to go for that one shot.
    And remember that a location is so much different in different circumstances. Rain, mist, sunset, sunrise, bright sunlight, soft streetlight. Every one of them makes a photo so much different form eatch other.

    You can also think of how you could reporduce some scene as you saw on the net near your own house.

    Be careful when you say you know the local spots because a little "out of the box" thinking could give nice surprises

  7. #7

    Re: How do you find and choose locations?

    I'm very fortunate to live in a beautiful area (West Wales). I am also fortunate to be married to a great woman (but I may only be saying that as she's in the room). We have great locations around us. Within one hour we can get to 170 miles of glorious coast-line with a continuous coast path access. We have mountains, beautiful valleys, everything really. However, I always think about what I'm going to shoot before I do it, as timing is often important (weather and tides mainly). I haven't flown in 14 years, and I don't really want to. But I can understand that many people live in areas that are not great for outdoor photography, and need to travel further afield.

  8. #8
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: How do you find and choose locations?

    Some thoughts. I am predominantly a landscape photographer and yes I like travel but I class myself as an opportunistic photographer. I do not sit for hours on location waiting for THE shot.

    I use a technique to hone my vision that I developed that works for me. I do look at any image I can find but when watching movies the film director will often hold a scene for a couple of seconds for impact. I try to evaluate that scene in the time I have to determine why they did it, what composition techniques did they use, did I like it and if so why or why not. I have found over time this has improved my vision so when I am driving around I almost sub-consciously notice images. Do they all work – no, but then I evaluate why it didn’t. Was it the time of day, wrong light, poor composition or it just was not a shot that was going to happen. Sometimes the shot is right but I need a different sky or time of day, so I go back. There is a high rail bridge (quiet historic) near where I live. It is a boring shot but everyone asks if I have a photo of it. So I went out when the light was right but more importantly when there was cloud to fill the expanse of sky. As I said I am an opportunistic photographer and sometimes lucky – just as I got my camera ready a train come over the bridge.

    I do continually watch the light and sky and return to locations at different times of the year, as they do present differently with the seasons. We have been in drought for 8 years but recently had some good rains so I was out at the local cascades, rivers and waterfalls to add images to my list of these places I had taken in the dry.

    A good exercise is to go to a local town, park area and try to come away with 3 images that represent the place to you. A town may have botanical gardens, rivers, old buildings, etc but try and come away with 3 images that convey what the place means to you. As you improve your vision go back and add to these images and in no time at all you have an exhibition of images about the places in your area.

    Good shooting.

  9. #9
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    Re: How do you find and choose locations?

    As I tell my students, you must always bee looking for something to shoot. That is the easy part. Then you have to teach yourself to SEE. The photograph is in the camera. The picture is behind your eyeballs.

    Landscapes are a little tougher than everyday pictures. However, if you look at some scene which catches your eye, you will learn how to evaluate different angles, lighting and activities to make that scene glow or tell a story. Sometimes, you just can't get the scene you are looking at to become a picture. All that means is that you will have an excuse to come back later and shoot some more photographs.

    I shot one many years ago which was just a rock on a glacier. I probably shot half a dozen of that rock before I taught the camera to see what I was seeing. (Half a dozen doesn't seem like many, today. However, I was using a 4x5 SpeedGraphic. That is 12 photographs.)

    One of the field trips I am scheduling for this semester is to the local library. It is a pretty mundane building, until you begin to really see it. It is made of rough split basalt rock. I enjoy wandering around it under different lighting and getting pictures of pieces of it. It will be interesting to see what my students make of it.

    Pops

  10. #10

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    Re: How do you find and choose locations?

    Locations are where I stand - or sit.

    Sometimes I feel it would be easier to take good pictures in special places, well, the picturesque places. But then, it is the place, which makes up the picture, not the photographer.

    Of course, I take pictures on vacation because I am stimulated by the new surrounding. The pictures I take then are not better for that. Even on the wonderful shore of wet Wales, it is possible to take a lot of bad (banal) pictures.

    My ideal would be to turn any place into a landscape or a cityscape. The pictures I prefer are those, which convey the impression that they were shot in some insignificant place, which the picture turns into a special one. This is why I like the landscapes of Robert Adams or Raymond Depardon. That's the kind of picture, which shows the craftsmanship of the photographer.

    I takes time to 'see'. Walking by, you have to take the opportunities; stopping gives you more chances to create opportunities.

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of days where I am just blind and all walking and sitting does not help.


    Reto

  11. #11
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    Great shots...

    Great shots are not usually accidents and are most often the results of planning. Great landscape shots are a function of not only the area in which you are shooting but, of the time of day, angle of sun, season of the year and the local weather.

    If you live in an area and are able to choose your times and are able to repeat your visit, if necessary; you are one step (or actually several steps) ahead.

    As an example, the San Diego, California, near where I live is always beautiful but, there are definitely times when it is better photogenically due to color of the sky, angle of the sun and whether the air is clear or misty. Just popping down to the Bay during one day of a vacation may not put you in a place for a calendar quality shot. Research can help and there is one book that is designed for photography in the San Diego area that gives you recommended times of day for shooting interesting sites.

    Generally, mid-day shooting is not the best time for most landscapes.

    Often very early morning and late afternoon is great for photography.

    Cities are often great at night.

    My darling wife is extremely patient with my photography but, I have traveled with some companions who were not as accomodating.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 4th November 2009 at 11:02 PM.

  12. #12

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    Re: Great shots...

    KentDub, I swear I had the exact same question in mind before seeing that you beat me to it.
    Thanks for asking
    great tips here,
    gotta agree with the fact that a scenery may change completely with the seasons, especially winter..
    Last edited by Zephyrize; 4th November 2009 at 10:59 PM.

  13. #13
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Great shots...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zephyrize View Post
    gotta agree with the fact that a scenery may change completely with the seasons, especially winter..
    and during the day!

    The key light moves between 120 and 200+ degrees (my rough guess) between sunrise and sunset, depending upon the season (and your latitude). Three hours is 45 degrees (where-ever you are), so if you are anywhere and the sunlight is not quite right (or shining where it shouldn't), work out when to come back later that day - or earlier the next .

    Cheers,

  14. #14
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Great shots...

    I live in an area with a few natural attractions (Niagara Falls, Lockport Locks) and I like to spend some time photographing these areas. One other activity I like to use to find good photo opportunities nearby is to take tours of my area. Taking tours provides me with additional history of my area and allows me to hear different perspectives of my area from other tour participants.

  15. #15

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    Re: How do you find and choose photography locations?

    Hi,
    Sometimes being under some thoughts I look for a photographic solution.Of course some of them (majority?!) have no meaning for onlooker.That is wrongly for me because I had not the capacity to tell the story.Below is an exemple.
    whobreakstherules.jpg

    Thank you for reading
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 24th December 2009 at 04:03 PM. Reason: add image inline

  16. #16

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    Re: How do you find and choose photography locations?

    Living on the UK south west coast and being partially retired, most days are a holiday now! But I like to keep within about a 30 minute drive and watch the parking costs which can be anything between £5 and £10 for a full day. Fortunately there are a few National Trust sites with free, albeit limited, parking within a few miles; but a little stroll along rough tracks with a bagful of equipment is necessary.

    Once that some possible areas have been earmarked the difficult problem is to be in the right place at the right time; and I find the best option here is to frequently be in the right place at the wrong time, until occasionally everything falls into place.

    Watching the clouds and wind etc before starting out gives the best opportunity of getting an above average chance of success though. Sometimes, however, I do think that the elements are deliberately out to get me. Especially when I leave home in bright sunlight which turns to heavy cloud and showers as soon as I am in situ; and of course, becomes a beautiful day again as soon as I give up and return home!

  17. #17
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: How do you find and choose photography locations?

    Cityscapes are another good location and theme to photograph; from the air or a boat. The time of day, reflections from the water or a building, can all be explored from one's home base.

    There are numerous themes that can be found inside a cemetery also. Depending on the landscaping, you can find water scenes, architecture, sculpture, and depending on its location a view of the city from within the confines of the cemetery gates.

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