Planning for Photography

Getting ready for any trip or activity, one needs to plan on what you want to do, and what you want to see.   If you are planning on getting epic photos, you have a lot more planning to do.  If you are going with other people, you might possibly have some compromises you have to make. Figure out how you can you plan your trip or activity to incorporate the photos you want to take.

Below is a list of things I consider while picking locations and planning photos:

Timing: The best time (generally) to take photos will be at sunrise and sunset.  This will give you the softest, and possibly, the best light. Depending on what and where you are located, this might not be true for you.

Location: If it is an iconic location it has most likely been photographed thousands of times. Doing research will go a long way to help with cutting down on possible frustration, and help with your timing. This will allow you to capture the shot you have in mind.

Payoff: Is the location worth it? Asking this question might save you some time. Locations that have been over-photographed from every angle might not be all that fun to shoot. Think about your audience of the photo, and what you want to do with it. If you think you are going to be able to sell another standard shot of something iconic like the Eifel Tower, you may want to reconsider.

Getting off the beaten-path will give you more unique photos and experiences. It will also help your work standout, and keep it interesting for you.

Weather: The weather is always something you have to keep an eye on. It will have a direct impact on the photos you take, how you shoot, the gear you will need, etc. It is important to understand the location you are shooting and determine if there are any weather quirks that might undermine the photo you are trying to create.

Composition: Have an idea of the photos you want to capture. When I go hiking, or to the beach, or wherever it might be, I try to have some idea of what I want to take a picture of, and how I want it to look. This will also help ensure that I have the proper camera gear with me.

No matter what ideas I had before a trip, I am always looking for a variety of shots, good light, and interesting subjects.

Skill Development: There are so many different techniques, camera settings, tools, and options in photography. There are always new skills that you can work on developing, or taking those existing skills to the next level. I have a running list of things that I want to learn, and improve. 

When I go out, I look at my list, and depending on all the factors I listed above, will pick some skill from my list to work on.  The night before a photography shoot, I will read articles, suggestions, and watch YouTube videos for pointers on taking great photos.

For myself, YouTube is one of the best resources. It is great when you find creators that create content that is useful in your craft. Some of my favorite landscape, wildlife, and travel photographers that inspire me include Thomas Heaton , Brandon van Son , Peter McKinnon  and First Man Photography .   I encourage you to check them out for yourself.

Planning picture for Africa

Much of the skills that I am working on now are in preparation for Africa. I have some ideas of different photos that I want to capture, and want to ensure that I have practiced similar shots and techniques so I don’t miss that one photo when it really counts.

Four of the skills I continue practicing to make sure I am ready:

Panoramas, capturing super crisp, properly exposed shots. Using Neutral Density (ND) filters and polarizer. Also, making sure I have a good grasp on what will be required in post-processing, I need to understand and account for any limitations in post processing so I can adjust the photo while I am taking it.
Focus/Photo Stacking, where you combine multiple photos taken with different focus distances. This will result in greater depth of field.
Filters, practicing, and making sure I understand which filters to use and when.
Night time photography, photos of the night sky when there is little to no light pollution are stunning. While we are on the mountain at the various tent camps, light pollution will not be an issue, so making sure I have the techniques down and a good functional understanding of what is required in post-processing to ensure the photos are crisp.
Tracking, capturing the wildlife including the birds while on safari will require being able to track a moving target and ensuring that I have proper camera settings to get properly exposed and crisp images.

Check back next Thursday for: Night Time Photography: Skills Practice

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Thursday Skill Photo: Tracking

Many of the skills photos I take are out in my backyard or neighborhood. To practice tracking, I will look for bird, squirrels, and anything that moves fast. This makes my dog running and jumping good practice getting a crisp image. An issue I encounter often is motion blur in her tail.  It is something I am working on.  Here is a shot from this past summer. Second Image, tracking birds in flight is also a great way to practice. Here is a shot from a few months ago, out of the 300+ shots I took, this is one of the better ones. Definitely could be sharper. But was good practice.

250mm, 1/400 sec f/6.3, ISO 3600, Handheld, Tracking Skills

250mm, 1/400 sec f/6.3, ISO 3600, Handheld, Tracking Skills

250mm, 1/1000 f6.3, ISO 125, Handheld, Tracking Skills

250mm, 1/1000 f6.3, ISO 125, Handheld, Tracking Skills