Shoot while waiting

September 05, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

So last week we looked at positioning the sun at an exact point in time. That image started about two hours before sunset as I arrived at the location and started scouting for a sunset composition. But now that a suitable composition has been found and we still have one to two hours to burn before sunset, what do we do? I always use this time for three things:

1. Look for secondary compositions. I always try to find two or three additional compositions. When the sun dips below the horizon there is still enough light to shoot for some time. That light fades fast, which does not leave enough time to find new compositions. With two or three more compositions already lined up (during the waiting time), I can move quickly and take those images thus converting a one image shoot into three or four images.

2. Look for future images. I spend some time looking long into the future. What if I could get the sun at this or that angle, months later? What if I could place the moon here or there. I start working on future possibilities because you have heard me say (often) that I go back to the same location over and over. Once I get home, I will open the Photographer's Ephemeris and work out when the sun and the moon will be where I need them to be in the scene (if at all).

3. I shoot. Yes, even in not-so-good light. Why? A number of years ago most cameras could only "see" 8 or 9 stops of dynamic range. But today's cameras can see 14 to 15 stops of dynamic range. Furthermore, today's HDR software is great. What this means is that we can get images that were just not possible (or nice) in the past. You can sometimes even shoot directly into the sun and include the sun in the frame in less than good light.

This is not a great image but it is not terribly bad either. I would much rather have this image than sit in the car and wait, doing nothing. You will be surprised to find out which images sell and which do not. I have given up predicting image sales. I have sold images like this and I have also not sold images that I thought were great and would sell well. Therefore, I don't want to lose any shooting opportunity by idly sitting waiting for time to go by and the light to change.

          Now, this does not mean that I am willing to shoot horrible images due to mid-day harsh light. What I am referring to here is shooting starting perhaps an hour before that perfect moment. The light is already beginning to turn. The sun is already less harsh. The shadows are no longer pitch black. Just shoot and see what you get. I have found that in the process of so doing the creative juices start to flow. I start getting into my shooting mode. I start to see more images. On quite a few occasions I discovered better compositions that I had originally decided to use for "the" sunset image, thus changing my final grand attempt for the better.

          In short, I very seldom just sit and wait. Get out there and practice our art.


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