The Importance of Scouting Out Your Photography Location

In my latest video I’m discussing the importance of planning a landscape photography shoot and the benefits of scouting out your location so that you can be ready when you get the right light to capture your image.

Lily Agnes (Boats at Morecambe Bay) by Robert Bishop

In the video I’m at Morecambe, where I spend most of the day trying to find a good spot to take my shot at sunrise later that evening. Even though I had a full day to search and found some good locations, I was still left feeling that I hadn’t quite found the perfect location. I think that only emphasises the importance of planning, and the more you can do, the better your image will turn out.

Here are my tips for planning your shoot:

  1. You can plan your shoot before you even get to your location. Look online to see what other people are photographing in the area and use apps like Google Maps and Google Earth to view the landscape from the comfort of your own home. Apps like PhotoPills and The Photographer’s Ephemeris will help you to work out how the sun will be lighting up your scene at any given time.
  2. Give yourself as much time as possible. Go earlier in the day, or the day before to scout out potential locations for your photo. Better yet, why not spend a few days at your location and really get to know the area?
  3. If you don’t have your camera with you, use your phone to take some shots of your potential scene. This can help you to form your composition, so that you can quickly set up when you get there for the actual shoot.
  4. Pay attention to the weather so that you can plan the optimal time to take your shot. The best light is often during golden hour – either the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset. You can use an app like Clear Outside to help predict heavy cloud cover, or other weather that might not be good for your shoot.
  5. Once you’ve decided on your location – stick to it! Don’t make the same mistake that I did in my recent video and keep changing your mind. It’s easy to lose track of time, and Golden Hour can seem to pass very quickly when concentrating on your shot. If you change your mind, by the time you’ve moved to a different location, you may have missed the best light.

At the very end of the day, once I’d packed my camera away, I took one more shot with my smartphone. Ironically, I thought this composition was one of the best from the day. That’s when I realised that my scouting wasn’t really finished and there’s always a new scene to be found.

Sunset at Morecambe by Robert Bishop

So I’ll have to go back again at some point and capture this scene with my Z7. That’s half the fun though!

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