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How to find photos at bad time of day

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Photographers often ask what to do when they’ll be visiting somewhere they want to photograph, but at the wrong time of day? The best time to shoot photos is when the light is appropriate for the location or subject. If that’s a town, city or landscape that’s usually when the sun is low in the sky so you have shadows and highlights.

Popular locations can get packed out with people you don’t necessarily want in your photos. So beginning and end of the day are usually the best times to shoot.

But what do you do when you’re on holiday and are passing through. You don’t have the opportunity to come back at a different time when the light’s better or the place is less crowded?

I was in Eguisheim, France one afternoon on a hot summer day in the middle of the holidays and thought it was a great opportunity to share some photo tips about this tricky subject. Eguisheim is exactly the kind of place this will happen.

To begin with, spend a bit of time looking around. Before you can compose a photo, you have to get your head around a location. Resist the urge to shoot hundreds of 1st impression shots. Walk around and look about you. Imagine how something would look with a picture frame around it. Shoot a few test shots and see what happens.

If the place is busy with tourists, look for photos that are higher up so you can avoid streets packed with people in shorts and ‘kiss-me-quick’ hats. You’ll be amazed what you can see when you look all around you, not just in front of you.

Block 1 of The 7 Building Blocks of Photography course is all about you, your brilliant brain and how to use it to think like a photographer, instead of a tourist with a camera. Remember, camera settings won’t help you out much with this scenario. You can change the exposure, depth of field etc, but there isn’t a ‘better light’ or ‘lose the crowds’ setting!

Windows with brightly coloured shutters, flower boxes and other details can often get across the feeling of a place better than a big wide open view. If you spot an old church, pause for a moment and think what you could do with it before you raise the camera to snap it.

Ask yourself what it would look like from a different angle, with the sun behind it instead of behind you. Then go take a look and if it seems likely, that’s the time to begin putting the other 6 blocks of photography in place to get the camera settings you need for the shot to look how you want it.

Vive La France!

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