I sure have!
Over the years, I have dialed into a very systematic approach, but keep in mind, that the harder you work, the luckier you get! This is NO JOKE!
Can I be brutally honest? There is no way to just decide one day to go take a great photo. There is a saying, “Even a blind squirrel can find a nut!” and with that being said, you may snap a pretty good photo here and there. However, to capture photos over and over again takes a lot of practice, a lot of work, and actually some luck!
I will not be sharing photography tips and pointers in this article, but moreso how to find and line-up great shots, presuming you are putting in the practice and learning all you can on how to take various types of photos and ultimately fine tuning your style!
As I am going to travel to or through a certain area, I first Google the area, then start refining my searches with other keywords. These keywords are not the “key” but they should be geared towards your “style”.
What do I mean by this? For me, I love long exposures, night photography, star trails, etc. So, If I am heading to Jacksonville, Florida, I would first start with a photography search for Jacksonville. This is simple, correct?
Step 2. I then start adding in my keywords to see what type of long exposures or night photography have been taken in the area. What will happen, is I will see certain photos that capture my attention. If you toss enough mud on the wall, something will stick, correct?
Step 3. The last thing I want to do is simply duplicate someone else’s work. What good would that be? As I find the photos of locations that peak my interest, I will follow those photos to the photographers website(s). If they have taken one photo I love, maybe they have more…?
Step 4. Often, this process causes me to see a location in a much different light. In this post you will see this cypress tree as the center focus. Well, I found this exact tree on another photographers website. It was the ONLY photographer or photograph of this particular tree I had seen. I FELL IN LOVE! I immediately knew this cypress tree taken by another photographer at dusk, could look out of this world with some star trails or some long exposure clouds streaking through… (my unique twist, right!)
Step 5. Here is where the hard work can often lead to plenty of luck! In this case, of this particular tree, is that in the photo I saw online, it looked HUGE! The photographer only noted this particular lake as the location. So, I arrived at the lake and started driving around. I thought, how hard could it be to find this massive cypress tree?
Well, it turns out, this tree is 1. NOT all that huge. 2. It was not all that easy to find. 3. It was all private property and paid camping sites all around this lake. 4. I just happened to catch a glimpse, by total luck, through some trees and there she was. 6. It turned out to be accessible at a campsite that was NOT occupied or I would have been S.O.L., literally!
Would you like to read a major bonus?
Knowing what you are doing and truly thinking through your shot can mean and make all the difference. Taking your time and knowing what you want to capture can also make all of the difference. This is why.
- At this location, about 2 hours before sunset, I took photos from a variety of spots and so few had the angle I was looking for. Most were cluttered with foreground scrub. The taller section of grass/scrub to the right of the tree was “in the way” or taking away from the tree.
- The tree branch in the top of the photo, is in the way if you are standing normally.
- Ultimately, I had to walk about 10-15 feet out into the lake and set-up my tripod with my camera just a few inches above the water. Yes, inches!
- Then, I set the timer for taking a photo every 10 seconds, then waited!
- When the scene finally got dark enough, I hiked through some thick brush and tree branches to pop my flash onto the tree and light it properly.
- This required checking the shots and adjusting, so hiking out in the water in the pitch dark was required.
I hope you found this article insightful. Combine some internet searches with your twist and style of photography, of course a little bit of “luck” and voila!