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Three Things to do Before you go do any Photography

This week's article is by guest author, John Davenport, and he discusses what you need to do before you go out to do landscape photography. I know you all love my articles, but I think it's also important to get different viewpoints and ideas from other photographers and teachers, so my aim is to bring you some guest authors from time to time here on Her View Photography. I also wrote an article on his site a while ago titled 3 Important Elements of Composition no one's Talking About.

Guest author John Davenport from Phograpathy

A little about John, he is an amateur photographer who shares daily photos and weekly photography tips on his website Phograpathy. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and Facebook. Take it away John . . .

Photo by John Davenport

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail

Benjamin Franklin

I know that every new camera owner wants to rush out and photograph everything and anything they can get their camera pointed at, I was once one of those people!

After work I'd simply drive until I found a location I liked, get out of my car, and start shooting haphazardly until the sun went down, or I got bored. This shotgun attempt at photography did result in some cool photos, but more often than not, the results were disappointing.

Make a Plan

I finally decided, that in order to successfully run my daily photography blog Phograpathy, I had to come up with a better way to capture photographs. I need to plan, before I even think about grabbing the camera. But how? What?

There are many ways to plan for a shoot, below are three of mine. I’d love to here some of your ideas in the comments at the bottom of the article.

  • landscape hunting
  • planning for the sun
  • planning for the trek

Virtual Landscape Hunting

With gas prices ever on the rise it’s just not practical to drive around aimlessly in search of places to photograph. This is where technology come in very handy.

I use a couple of different methods to find prospective locations. Google Maps and Google Earth both do a wonderful job at showing you where things like rivers and lakes are located. They will also give you the location of state, provincial or national parks, which are ideal for photographing wildlife and landscapes.

I also use Trey Ratcliff’s Stuck on Earth iPad app to get a really good idea of what kind of shots are available in a given location. This app is free and is a must have for any photographer with an iPad. Of course, if you don’t have an iPad there are other options as well. Flickr does a pretty good job at overlaying photographs that have been geo-tagged, as does Google Earth, but neither of those options are as fluid and convenient as the Stuck on Earth app (see screen shot from the app below)

Stuck on Earth iPad app

Planning for the Sun

Now that we know where we’re going, we need know where the light will be. I use another app on my iPhone, called LightTrac. This app gives me most of the information I need to make some preliminary decisions on how I’m going to photograph a location. LightTrac provides times for sun/moon rise and set. It shows you the direction they will each rise and set from, as well as their elevation at any given time of day.

Note: it’s also important to remember that depending upon where you are on the planet, in relation to the equator, the sun will rise and set at a different location on the horizon at different times of the year.

Planning for the Trek

Finally now that I know where I'm going, what I'm going to bring, and have a general idea of how I'm going to photograph the location, I need to make sure I'm prepared for the trek.

To do this I will use the internet once again. If I’m traveling to a state (or provincial) park or reservation there will usually be a website with a PDF map, as well as some basic information about the location. I’ll be able to decide what kind of gear I’ll need for the hike, how much time I’ll need to get to my shoot location, and most importantly if there are any dangers in the area to be cautious of.

Photo by John Davenport

There’s a lot that goes into planning photography, if you like this article you can read a lot more about it in this awesome Free eBook by Anne McKinnell – Before the Shutter, and of course I’d love to hear what you already are doing to plan your shots in the comments below.

Action Plan

As John mentions in this article planning is key to success in photography. Do share with us any additional tips you've picked up and use! Also please share your images with us.


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