Inspiration at a Boring Location

7 Building Blocks of Photography 2

How many times have you gone out with camera in hand but can’t find anything interesting to photograph because you’re in a boring location? It happens to us all from time to time. I’ve heard it called subject failure.

How can a subject fail though? Surely that’s not possible because a subject is a subject and it’s you and I who chooses what it is. So it’s not the subject that has failed ­ it’s us. Our imagination as photographers isn’t running on all cylinders.

As photographers we are the only person or thing in the world that’s responsible for out images. Sure it’s easy to find excuses like “I had the wrong lens with me” or “The light changed” or “I was in a hurry because my friend was getting bored”.

So ask yourself, who is responsible for taking the right lens with you? Whose job is it to wait for the light to change back to being appropriate? Who could have said, “You go on ­ I’ll catch up in a minute”?

Who chose this boring un-inspiring place as a location to photograph? (Humph mutter mutter scowl!!)

It can be difficult to get excited and inspired about photographing somewhere we’re all too familiar with and have photographed to death. I promise you there are images everywhere just waiting to be picked. They are harder to spot in a familiar location because we stop looking, but beautiful images are there and it’s up to us to stop being lazy, stop procrastinating and go look for the,

The big advantage to repeatedly photographing the same is that you become an expert on it. You start to notice when the light’s going to be at it’s best for it, what effect changing weather has on it and the best angles to shoot from. Over time this can grow into a stunning portfolio.

My friend Jurgen Zarsk lives on the small lake of Pfäffikersee Near Zurich in Switzerland. He helped me set up my Photography Masterclass there. Every day he takes a walk by the shore to unwind, catch his breath and he always takes a camera. He is an expert on photographing Pfäffikersee and has hundreds of breath taking images of it as a result.

So, taking my inspiration from Jurgen, I went out into the forest where I’ve lived for more years than I care to mention to see if it’s possible to become self inspired and capture images of somewhere I’ve photographed to death.

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3 Landscape Tips

vietnam-txt-streamLandscape photography is one of those areas where patience, thinking it through and taking your time pays dividends.  We have all seen a scene we want to capture but sadly we’re in a hurry, so we leap out the car and just grab a shot without giving it too much thought.

This may or may not result in a great shot. But have you thought to ask yourself if there’s more to be had from a location than the obvious? You have to build upon an initial idea. Explore possibilities.

I was in Vietnam driving through the mountains when we came upon this amazing view of rice terraces. We stopped so the film crew could shoot some aerial shots with their drone so Simon and I took the opportunity to look around and shoot this video.

As we drove up the hill I’d noticed one of the little paths that wind their way through the paddies so we went for a walk to see what it would yield.

Almost straight away we came upon some greenery we could use as foreground, which can frame a scene and give it more depth. In some cases just finding a bit of foreground can make or break an image.

But don’t forget to look around you. It’s all to easy to miss a beautiful detail of the landscape that’s right next to you because you’re absorbed by what’s in front.

You have to concentrate and really look at a scene. In the first shot of the last scenario there’s a stick poking up on the left. I didn’t really notice it to begin with. It wasn’t until I checked the shot in the LCD it became apparent.

So how do we remove it? Well obviously there’s Photoshop but I’m lazy. A few steps to the side will change the geometry of the image. It makes things align differently so you can lose unwanted clutter from the composition.

So besides making sure the light is appropriate for the scene, here are 3 landscape photography tips to consider.

  1. Take time – think of other possibilities for the location
  2. Find some foreground. It could make a world of difference
  3. Look to the side as well as in front. You might have missed something

These things are not functions of your camera. They are functions of you thinking like a photographer.


3 Landscape Tips

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