Interesting Locations – Art Model, Susan

Sometimes you just have to get off your ass and go. I’m still harping on the “Regaining the Passion” that I started earlier with  “Why You Should Shoot for Yourself More Often“. I followed that with an article on Flash and then again with Ambient Light as some easy alternatives to help you blow on those embers that could ignite your photo passions again. LOCATION is what I wanna cover at the moment. Why? Cuz its easy. You simply get your ass up out of the house and go someplace with the explicit and direct intent to photograph something.

Sometimes people will tell you to start in your own backyard. Nah. Not good enough. You are still too comfortable in your own house, yard, or neighborhood. I don’t see that as “blowing on any embers”. To fan the flame, you have to go beyond, but you still need a place to start. Downtown is okay as a beginning point if you like. I lived 12 years or so in Las Vegas, so downtown is the Las Vegas Strip. Or so you might believe! Actually, downtown is FREMONT STREET! It’s a little different but yet similar to the Strip. A different kind of folk walk those streets and a many of characters will present themselves for your photographic pleasure.

But there are still other urban areas in Vegas and you have them where you live too. Well, unless you’re living out in the sticks, in which case you might have a further drive than most. Street Photography can be the thing you need to rejuvenate and get a fresh start in photo again. Look up some examples of popular street photo work. Not to necessarily copy or emulate, but rather to just see what the possibilities are. Walk around first before you even pull your camera out. Observe. Listen. Smell. See the potential scenes that lie before you. In the Army, as we’d begin our patrols, we would stop a few hundred meters in, take a knee and become familiar with the sights, sound, and smells, of the environment we were about to immerse ourselves in. We called it SLLS, or sills. It’s the same thing here. In this case, it can help you see and anticipate events that might be developing and thus better prepare you to capture that decisive moment. This can make the difference between THAT shot and JUST ANY OLD shot.

You can pick a theme to help you focus and look for something. Shooting the homeless has been very popular, but I find that to be a tough one sometimes, personally. Photography fundamentals and principles still apply. Look for and utilize shadows, repetitious and geometric shapes, reflections (in windows or puddles), or maybe practice a theme of minimalism. You can also change your perspective a little. Everything doesn’t have to be done from an eye level! Get down! I mean it. Get low to the ground and see the world how a dog might view it. Or change it up and shoot from above and get a bird’s eye view of things. Just do something differently or unexpected, so things don’t get predictable or boring. You may do photo for yourself, but you still want others to see it. Show them something fresh.

Art Model, Mary 

Out and About in Nature

I can dig some urban, but now we’re getting into my scene! The woods! The desert! The mountains! As well as the BEACH! Natural surroundings appeal to me most. Especially spots where I have to get off the beaten path a bit. Over the last three years, my ongoing travels have taken me through Central/South America and now Vietnam. Seeing new things in God’s creation can heat up the coldest of passions and make it blaze. I’ve been to spots that make you want to put down the camera and just keep that vision all to yourself. If you can, bring a friend along whose company you enjoy OR somebody who knows the area and can be a guide of sorts. It’s not always fun to get lost ( though sometimes it can be!). I can’t tell you how many people I’ve taken out into the boonies… who have lived nearby all their lives… and yet had never previously seen the beauties that Red Rock has to offer. Or Lake MeadValley of Fire, or either of the hot springs near Hoover Dam at Goldstrike and Arizona. All these areas are within a hour of Las Vegas.

Art Model, Mary

You’ll have to find out what appeals to you in these natural settings. For me, I can say a good, unique landscape vista is what I find most captivating. On the other hand, you may be more interested in the wildlife or birds. Photographing big horn sheep will be vastly different than photographing hummingbirds or egrets, mainly in the lens choices. You’ll need some telephoto action, but you don’t have to have as fast of a lens as you might with hummingbirds. Flowers are highly popular to shoot. Again, lens choices come into play. If you like to shoot a field of wildflowers, a normal zoom or better yet a wide-angle lens would work. However if you’re wanting to get close enough to depict the petals and stamen of the Angel Trumpet flower, then a macro lens is your best business. You may also need to be on a tripod in many cases using a remote switch/cable release.

Go Out at Night

Art Model, Anne

Whatever you do when you are out in nature, do it again only this time, after dark! Venture out to the same place and see what adventurous landscape shots you can find. If you have a model, try some unique lighting and poses with the stars in the background. Okay, so it’s a bit more work. You’ll need a tripod and likely a source of light, but that can be a torch, headlamp, or the moon! An 8-second exposure will give you good illumination on a decent full moon. You’ll need longer if all you have are stars. But still… that can equate to some excellent landscape work. Practice your Milky Way shots, or maybe time-lapses. 

Art Model, Covenant

Make sure you consider the area you visit. Safety first! Have a friend with you or at least let someone know where you are going. Try camping in a state or national park near you. I didn’t grow up visiting many national parks, but I did explore the woods around my house as well as some much further away. Read up on the area you wish to visit and educate yourself about the fauna and flora that could pose a danger. Be conscious of the weather! Avoid areas and seasons that are prone to flash floods. Carry the appropriate gear, water, and food you need to keep you warm, dry, safe, and comfortable.

Book a Flight

Art Model, Trixie

You’re not gonna do photo without spending money. So either come to terms with that notion or take up treasure hunting with a metal detector on the beach. Some people find that very soothing and quite rewarding. Ain’t no shame in that. Photo may not be the thing for you. Me…? I just want you to be happy. Get a camera, take some pics. If you find that it’s not for you, take up dance lessons. But my purpose is to holla at you about photo, so that’s what I’m about. It’s all about choices and what you choose to prioritize. You can make getting that new car stereo for $600 your priority if you so choose. You can also get a new wide-angle lens for your crop-sensor camera for even less than that. 

Granted, you have to do this with a pandemic in mind, so do what’s best for you. Book at trip to El Salvador for that same $600, and forgo the car stereo. I’m not asking you to go somewhere you can drive to. I want you to book a flight somewhere at that you’ve never been, preferably out of the country and do it specifically to shoot photos! Get a passport and go! If you can’t leave the country, pick a spot within YOUR country that you’ve never been to that is 100% unlike where you are now. Fly there with the resolved intent of shooting. Whichever will be the more rewarding experience… that’s what I want you to go for. Now get to it. You can do this.
Art Model, Emma