In order to get the best you have to do the most
There are two things you have to accept about photography. One… You are going to take a lot of photographs. Two, you will get a proportion of them wrong. It’s a photographers lot. If you want to get the best out of a scene you have to work it until you get THE shot. Learning to work the scene is about learning to be a photographer.
Finding the scene
There are lots of ways to find a scene. Planning, knowing, researching, discussing… well you get the idea. However, the most difficult scene is one where you discover ‘something’. Ever had that feeling? “Here I am – I think I can make something of this”. If you are anything of a photographer listen to your intuition. If you have had your photographic eye attracted to a scene there is probably something there. Now you have to work the scene to pull off the shot.
Test the scene
Take a test shot. Just do it. Now you have to look at your picture and see whats there. Look at it, look at the scene, look at the shot. This process gets you into the idea of framing the shot.
Now walk around a bit. Look at the background. Look at the angles. See the foreground – look into the background. Consider your rules of composition. Decide on what the detail is you want. Decide on what to include or exclude. Too much clutter and the shot is ruined. Too little content and the scene is empty.
Work the scene
Pick what you think the shot is going to be and start to work the shots. Here is some things to try…
- Walk the subject – get all the distances
- Shoot from far away – from the sides far away too
- Shoot close up – from as many sides as you have access
- Shoot from different angles
- Take shots from high level
- Take ground level shots
- Use a foreground element in your photo
- Use a background element to balance the shot
- Work the light, try all the different ways to get the light on the subject
Work the camera
When you have the composition right – the elements in the right place – get your camera working…
- Change your depth of field (aperture)
- ISO… work the exposure brightness
- Time value, work the shutter speed
- work the sharpness -> pull out the tripod when you have your shot
The most important thing is to work it
Ultimately the shot is going to be about composition. When you are getting into the scene the composition is something you should study with total compulsion and commitment. Be obsessive. As you get a feel for working the scene you will gradually find out more about what works. However, even the most practiced photographer still needs to work the scene.