Landscape Photography - Inspiration at the peak


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3 Keys to Never Missing a Photo Opportunity


Expect the Unexpected - Don't Miss a Photo Opportunity

Thankfully the days of missing a photo opportunity are becoming more scarce. The introduction of mobile phones have ensured that all moments are captured both in stills and in video. A cat falling from a tree will never be missed again.

For many of us, the quality of an image from a phone camera is still not good enough when we are used to the quality of a DSLR. There are some good options with more compact mirrorless cameras, but I still like to maintain a close proximity to my DSLR. This leads us into the first key.

1. Preparation

Having your camera with you is a vital first step to not missing a photo opportunity. Sadly, this is not the only step and good preparation is not that easy. There is more to the the art of photography than pointing your lens at something and pressing a button. The skill comes with a carefully thought out and well composed image. Also required is the technical mastery of your camera to pull off the shot with perfect settings and exposure.

This is more than achievable given the time and space to do your work. However on so many occasions time is not an ally. Events occur quickly and unexpectedly and the last thing you want is to be fumbling around with your camera to the point where you miss the moment. So many of history’s greatest images captured a moment that lasted less than a second.

wright brothers

One of the best ways you can prepare yourself is to Subscribe to the First Man Photography YouTube channel. My free eBook, Understanding Exposure will also help you to capture perfect exposure every time.

Arm yourself and be prepared.

2. Anticipation

One of the best ways avoid being caught off guard is to use your observation skills and anticipate what is about to happen. This is particularly useful whilst shooting people who are moving around. It is often about waiting for the moment that your subject and your perfectly composed background fall into line. You will need this skill if you ever shoot things like sports, weddings or wildlife. The trick is to watch the action developing in front of you. Predict the movement and pull the trigger when everything falls into line. Try not motor drive because the second the buffer gets full will be the very moment you miss the perfect shot.

photo opportunity

I captured this shot, by being both prepared and waiting just until the plane crossed between myself and the sun. The time from first seeing the plane to it flying past was about 20 seconds.

3. Flexibility

Often we set out to shoot an image with best laid plans. Whilst planning is important unforeseen things will often happen; the weather will change, people will cancel or you will forget that vital piece of gear that tied your whole plan together.  This happens to the best of us at least once.

During my Scotland trip last month I had planned a night time shot. Hoping to use the very dark skies to capture the Milky Way, I had also been hopeful of the aurora showing itself. The weather had not been great but all indications were pointing to the Saturday night being clear. Evening came, the sky cleared and I became excited about the night’s shoot. Following some dinner and the onset of night we headed out with our gear ready and a spring in our step. Not two seconds from the door I realised my plan was ruined. The amazingly dark skies on offer in the north of Scotland were being ruined by an amazingly bright moon.

Not one to be defeated, I quickly googled moon set times. Google informed me that the moon would be setting at the not so ridiculous time of 2335hrs. We were willing to wait, knowing this was going to be our only cloud free night. After a short while I realised the moon was starting to go down directly in front of me and would set behind the mountains that were across the water from where I was stood.

Anticipating a great moment, I set my camera up, took a couple of test shots to ensure my focus and exposure were correct, and then waited. I have taken many sunset shots in my time but had never before been in such a stunning location ready to grab a moonset shot. I knew the flexibility I had shown was about to pay off. A few minutes later the moon set behind the mountains and I captured one of the best and unique photographs I have ever taken.

photo opportunity

Using the 3 keys in your photography will go some way to ensuring you do not miss a photo opportunity again. You will never be able to capture everything but will quickly start making many moments count that would have previously slipped by the wayside. This results in more spontaneous, natural and unique images that, like mine, could well take pride of place in your portfolio.