Last week, I had a question from a blog reader asking how many images I take from one spot while not moving my tripod. A good question! I will start with today’s main blog image as an example. When I saw this scene, I looked around without a camera for what I felt was the best position. I was looking for separation of elements, quality of reflections, background elements, distractions, white spots where the overcast sky was, etc. I settled on a spot and took a shot. I quickly realized there was spanish moss hanging in my frame from a close by tree. This forced me to lower my tripod enabling me to shoot underneath the moss. Next, I realized I wanted more reach than I had with my 70-200mm lens and added my 1.7x teleconverter. At this point I was ready for my next and final image.
I guess the answer to Henry’s question is, I try and look at the scene without a camera or tripod first. I move left and right and sometimes up and down until I feel I’ve found the best spot or that I’m doing the hokey pokey especially well that day….. Most times I’m looking for mergers and moving to eliminate them. Other times I’m moving to get closer or further away or to change my perspective. Once I find my spot, I set my tripod down and carefully assess the scene through the viewfinder. At this point, oft times I’ll need to move my tripod a bit to finalize the composition and make the image. As with most things in life, there are exceptions. In the dunes for instance, I did all that I just stated, however, once I found a good spot, I found looking though my lens for various compositions more productive than moving.
I still employed all of the above, all that changed was my ability to find more compositions from one spot. This is in large part due to the subject matter.
Another example would be the silk mill where I was photographing the tool caddy (see below). In this case, I would take a shot and evaluate it on the LCD. I would find that I missed a merger and moved the caddy just a bit until it was in the right position. I believe I did this three times until I liked what I saw. I also moved the caddy a couple of times to change the direction it was facing to see how I liked it that way.
Henry, I hope that helps!
Thanks for the insight to the behind the camera thought process.
You’re welcome Diana.
Thanks for sharing your process of how you go about interpreting a shot. In doing so, you have made me think more about “merging” of elements. Perhaps I have unconsciously been doing that, but now I am looking at opportunities with that more in mind. Again, appreciate your willingness & time to share your journey.
Most photo how-to’s fail to properly emphasize the fine-tuning of composition using a tripod provides. It allows you to literally fix your decisions for a series of steps. Good for you.