We have been living in Louisville for about 2 years now, and at least 5 times a week I pass under a bridge that crosses over the I-64 highway. Being someone who loves to shoot long exposure work, I regularly thought about how and when to shoot this location. I would envision shooting it in the middle of the night, at sunset, and even during the day with a heavy neutral density filter.
Recently, I was able to devote an evening to shooting this location and capture the images that I had been envisioning for the last 2 years. This process taught be quite a bit about shooting and scouting locations:
1. Look for shots even when you don’t have a camera
I recently heard a photographer talk about the need to take ‘mental photos’ when you are out and about. This process makes you realize that the great shots are not all in exotic locations; there are great sights all around you. It will also help train your photographic mind and vision as you think ahead and carefully evaluate how you would go about photographing a certain setting or scene.
2. Pre-scouting locations leads to greater photographic success.
There is something about looking at a location multiple times before actually shooting it. You begin to notice the small details of the scene, you understand the mood of the scene, and you really understand the area you are going to be capturing. So visit a location multiple times, look at it on Google Earth, and really get to know the scene.
3. Be open to change
When I came to this scene, I was expecting to shoot facing west into the sunset. I started shooting as the sun was setting as I worked on framing and exposure time, I just wasn’t all that satisfied with the result. Granted, I liked the shot, but after a while, I turned around, crossed the bridge, and started shooting east. When I did this, I started to get shots that excited me and made the evening worth it (opening shot). When you are at a sight, don’t get too focused on what you predicted that you miss the great shot that is behind you.
Let this post move you to start looking around at the sights and locations that you pass by every day. That road, that building, that park that you overlook each day may be a fantastic location to shoot. Also, start scouting your locations ahead of time and start developing a vision for what you seek to achieve, but remember to be open to something different at that scene.