Finding Places to take Photos

One of the things that can be quite difficult when visiting a new place is figuring out where to take photos.

Since I am currently in a new place, I’m going to write down some of my thoughts while they are still fresh.

This is my advice for finding places to photograph once you arrive.  Preparing for the trip is an entirely different topic.

The easiest way to find out what areas of a new place can make a successful photograph is somewhat unexpected — look at postcards.  If the area you are visiting has any kind of tourism, there are likely postcards everywhere.  A local (or in the case of a National Park, ask the Ranger) or Hotel Receptionist should be able to tell you where the picture on a postcard was taken.  At the very least, it will give you a place to start.  Then buy a few postcards to thank the photographer (or buy them on the way out, after you’ve captured the photos you were after), and because postcards are a lot of fun.

The next method I use to find photos is to ask a receptionist, tourist information, or park ranger for advice.  Often the well known areas are a good place to start.  Famous buildings and parks are famous for a reason, and visiting the obvious places can act like a good warm up for the trip.  Notre Dame (Paris) has been photographed to death.  So I would visit it for your photo warm up day will help you get ready for the other things you will see on your trip.

Next person to ask is a local.  Bars can be great, especially if they speak your language.  You may also get lucky around the city if you look for other people with the big cameras.

Finally, just walk around, you never really know what you will find.  A few days ago I set off in a general direction in Helsinki, and ended up finding some amazing wild flowers by the side of the road.  It was not my intention to find them.  I made a wrong turn while heading to my target location.  But the initial results look great.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts.  Happy Shooting!  No photo this time since I’m in a hotel waiting for batteries to recharge.

-M

The Compulsion to Click the Shutter

This post is not about the desire to go out and make photos, it is about the compulsion to just click.

About a year ago, I was attending a workshop in Oregon.  I drove down from Seattle (about a 5 hour drive from where we were) while the rest of the group had flown in from the east coast, most from near DC.  So for me, there was significantly less planning required to get to where we were currently shooting.

On the 3rd day of the workshop, someone made the comment that I was almost always the last person to set up and start shooting.  To which I added, that I would also sometimes not even get my camera unpacked.  I realized that if I found something I liked, I could fairly easily get back to the location at a later date.  The others did not have that luxury.  For the others to return to that spot, they would need to catch a once per day, 5.5 hour flight from DC to Portland, OR, rent a car, and then drive 3 more hours.

This was the first time I had thought about it, but after this moment, all I could see was everyone else running from the cars and shooting their cameras in all directions.  I did not have the desire to shoot for the sake of shooting and look at it all on the computer with the hopes of getting something good or the fear of missing something important.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly had good photos come as the result of the shotgun approach in the past.  But knowing why I hit the shutter every time I hit the shutter is good, and this was the first time I realized I was slowing down and looking.

I am not talking about playing with a scene.  I’ve certainly felt like I saw something but couldn’t put my finger on what I wanted, so I set up the camera and took a shot to see how it looked.  I find this helps me compose the image.

With that, here is one of my favorite images from the trip.

-M

Leaves near Elowah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Charting New Territory

Hello Internet!  (side note, CGP Grey is awesome)

I’m restarting my photo blog.  And this is the first post.  For some reason every time I restart my blog I name the first post Charting New Territory.

Anyways, I have plans this time.  Or at least ideas about where so many photo blogs fall short.

The thing is, I am nobody special right now.  My thoughts and ramblings may be meaningless.  But I hope to change both of these.  I have a short URL and big plans.  Let’s see what happens.

-M