Ansel Adams quote is as true now as it was then; shooting in a good location is the starting point of any great photo. Our nemesis is that finding locations for photography is a challenge, especially when you are unfamiliar with the location. Location scouting is a skill that needs to be developed, if you want to bring your landscape photography to the next level. In this blog post am I going to share some location scouting tips.
I am going to take you on a planning trip I recently made for my Seattle visit. I wanted to shoot a Seattle skyline at night including the needle…
Web pages and Mobile Applications
The biggest aid for location scouting is the Internet, accessible everywhere as web application and smartphones. It is an endless source of information which can help you plan your photo adventure, but not a substitute for the hawk eye of a keen photographer.
Online photo flashing sites like google maps, Flickr support geo-tagging. Inspiration can easily be found through databases such like shothotspot. I generally use the site when I come to a new place to gain an overview of where people previously have been shooting pictures with luck. This allows me to harvest on local knowledge of photographers that have the luxury of shooting at the location again and again.
I searches Seattle, Skyline and took interest in the Gas Works Park, loads of people had taken their matrimonial shots there, the space needle was clearly visible and so was the skyline over a body of water (marked with the green triangle). At the same time it didn’t seemed to be over photo’d.
I wanted a body of water in front of my skyline, panoramio was the place to go search for photo examples
Google maps and The Photographer’s Ephemeris is essential tools to help plan your shot further. Where google maps gives you an idea of how it is to stand at the location, can Ephemeris help you visualize how your shot will be in a particular location. You can see how light falls on your spot, both day and night, by the sun and moon location calculator.
From there I took my search to other media’s, 500px, flickr trying to harvest ideas of previously photographers. This gave me an idea of the potential of the site.
Eventually with loads of research I found a small hill, overlooking the skyline and the needle. It was very windy the day that I arrived in the location. So I wouldn’t get the reflections that Stephen King did in his photos. Yet I was still pleased, and it is absolutely a location I am going to revisit on my next travel to Seattle, and maybe then I’ll even remember my tripod so I don’t have to put my camera on a bench in the park J.