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Thread: To shoot or not to shoot...

  1. #1
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    To shoot or not to shoot...

    I headed out for a dawn seascape shoot this morning, and to my disappointment, the conditions were appalling.

    The sky was mostly plain, with the fairly typical annoying clump of dark cloud right on the horizon.

    The very few patches of good cloud were mostly in the wrong places.

    The conditions, apart from being utterly boring, were extremely difficult for exposure, even with GND filters.

    I made the decision not long after being there, that I wasn't going to shoot.

    The light just was not right, and for some landscape/seascape and even wildlife photographers, the light and combination of sky and cloud, is crucial to the shot working or not.

    So, this raises the question: If the conditions are not right, should you shoot, or should you not shoot?

    Some people would take the view of making the best of the present situation, or shooting anyway, since they are already there.

    Others decide that good enough is not good enough, and that they want a certain type of image which requires a certain type or quality of light.

    I'd be interested in hearing what other landscape/seascape and wildlife photographers do.

    Do you press the shutter anyway and try to make the most of what is there, or are you sufficiently fussy not to bother shooting if the conditions aren't right for you?

    Note that there is no wrong answer. Different people have different approaches.

    For me, while the notion of making the best of a bad situation has a certain positive outlook about it and is otherwise commendable, I am extremely fussy about light and want a certain look, quality of light and feel to my images, so I elect to back off the shutter release if the conditions are unfavourable. I've noticed that the hard-core 'scapers whose work I follow, rarely ever publish an image captured in in sub-optimal light.

    I'm not a bird photographer, but I've also noticed that those guys are very fussy about light and tend to favour images of their favourite feathered friends basking in golden hour light.

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    Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch jim's Avatar
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    I shoot and delete.

    Waste of time, but there you go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jim View Post
    I shoot and delete.
    That was the case for me this morning.

    I shot one or two exposures, decided that it was utter crap and that I was flogging a dead horse, and then decided to try something else (a solitary tree on the hill, away from where the seascape stuff was happening).

    That pursuit turned out to be a dead end, too, so I wrote off the session.

    The few images I captured (multiple exposures of the tree) are still on the flash card in the camera, but those are going to be bit-bucketed soon enough.

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    As I am really amateur in photography still, I shoot away. Not necessarily to capture an amazing shot, but just for the experience. I can still work on my composition, framing and other aspects even if the conditions aren't ideal.
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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Shoot anyway. Yes, you have to work hard to get pictures you like when the light is not what you like - but that's all part of it. An honest portfolio takes pictures at all different times of day and captures all different moods. In the end, you get a more varioed, less sterotyped, more interesting result set.

    But isn't it really hard to take good pictures when it's a cloudy afternoon, or at midday when it's 41 degrees and windy?

    Yes.

    If it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    But isn't it really hard to take good pictures when it's a cloudy afternoon, or at midday when it's 41 degrees and windy?

    Yes.

    If it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing.
    If the look and feel is what you want, sure.

    For me, shooting in the middle of the day doesn't work for me, as I don't like the look of the light. Even if it were 'easy' to shoot in that kind of light, it's horrible to my eyes and I'd still skip it. :-)

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    By the way, a very large part of the reluctance bird people have to work in anything less than bright sunlight isn't so much a matter of taste and ambition, it's simply that (absent some very special gear that most don't have) once the sun goes in and the light levels drop you just don't have enough light to get the shutter speeds you need with a long lens and a fast-moving creature. There is really not much point in poking a 400mm lens at a small bird when you are already wide open at ISO 1600 and getting 1/200th - especially given that you are almost certainly going to have to multiply the noise by cropping.

    So yes, there is a reluctance, but that's probably 1/3rd of the reason. The other 2/3rds is simple practicality.

    And yes, you can switch to flash, but that's a whole different can of worms.

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    Shore Crawler Dylan & Marianne's Avatar
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    Since I'm there, I usually shoot anyway - I might try doing things differently as well or do some kind of fun self portrait for laughs!
    While we were travelling last year, our mantra was : "Boring light - stick on the ND500 and see what happens" ! or we'd play the one shot game (giving ourselves one shot at a location and seeing who gets the better pic)- anything to keep it fun and sometimes we came away with stuff we didin't delete!
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    If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.
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    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    You have made the effort to go somewhere, you may as well shoot with the intent of making the best of what you have got even if you choose later not to use those images. There are many times I have gone out and wanted to abandon all that I have shot and taken a painful path to salvage something to my liking. Quite often, you stumble across a hit even if it wasn't what you originally envisaged. Likewise there are often opportunities around that you are slightly tangental to your original plans. Take those opportunities.

    Photography can be many things to many people. For some it is capturing the moment, for others it is art, for others it is a quest for an elusive perfection, for others it is taking control of your environment and the general situation and making the best of it, etc.

    Do what ever you want to but more than once I have abandoned a shoot as I didn’t like the weather or something only to pack up, turn my back on it and miss a brilliant opportunity that was just minutes away. I am sure we have all been there – I just prefer not to return too often.
    Last edited by peterb666; 24-07-2011 at 8:43pm.
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    Or, it is a reason to get out and smell the roses

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterb666 View Post
    Quite often, you stumble across a hit even if it wasn't what you originally envisaged. Likewise there are often opportunities around that you are slightly tangental to your original plans. Take those opportunities.
    Certainly some fantastic images can present themselves at unexpected times.

    Quote Originally Posted by peterb666 View Post
    more than once I have abandoned a shoot as I didn’t like the weather or something only to pack up, turn my back on it and miss a brilliant opportunity that was just minutes away. I am sure we have all been there – I just prefer not to return too often.
    I've been doing this seascape caper long enough to know that this morning's conditions were not going to deliver anything I wanted.

    While you were still down on the rock shelf I was up the hill experimenting with images of the tree (an unsuccessful experiment, which I later abandoned). The tree was the best opportunity in those conditions, but even then it fell short.

    It happens.

    Yesterday I thought this morning would be very promising, and I was keen to head out.

    Next weekend, I'll check the sky again before heading out, and if it looks bare like it did today, I'll go back to bed!

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    Not that I'm much of a landscaper/seascaper, but I will choose not to shoot the environment if the light is rubbish and I know that I'll just end up deleting the shots afterwards. I do however pack my macro lens as well, so that gives me another angle to explore if the landscape isn't working for me.
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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    Shoot anyway. Yes, you have to work hard to get pictures ..... but that's all part of it ... an honest portfolio ... captures all different moods ... more varied, less sterotyped ... if it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing.
    Mind you, I set the alarm for 4AM on Friday night with the intention of being away all weekend on a birding trip. Woke up, looked at the sky, checked the forecast again .... nope. waste of time. Went back to bed.

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    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    While you were still down on the rock shelf I was up the hill experimenting with images of the tree (an unsuccessful experiment, which I later abandoned). The tree was the best opportunity in those conditions, but even then it fell short.
    And I picked up some quite nice colour in the sky. I finished up around 20 minutes or so before I would normally and you may recall that as we were walking back to the car some very nice skies to the south. We just were not in the spot to take advantage of that but could have been if we kept our eyes on what was happening.

    Yesterday I thought this morning would be very promising, and I was keen to head out.
    Yet it didn't deliver in any significant way unless you think getting drenched is a fulfilment of promises. Certainly there have been more dramatic stormy skies and one far less wet. The thing is, unless you venture out you are never going to find out. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose – but you have to be there to play the game and be prepared to give it a go even when it isn’t perfect.

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    Bad conditions don't exist, just conditions that are not in line with what you would like. It takes thought and a creative photographer to make the best of any condition. Not shooting is missing out on a lot of opportunities.
    Ciao, Joost

    All feedback is highly appreciated!

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterb666 View Post
    you may recall that as we were walking back to the car some very nice skies to the south. We just were not in the spot to take advantage of that but could have been if we kept our eyes on what was happening.
    There were a few nice clouds around, but they were all in the wrong places. While you were looking east, I was on the hill looking west and south.

    Quote Originally Posted by peterb666 View Post
    The thing is, unless you venture out you are never going to find out. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose – but you have to be there to play the game and be prepared to give it a go even when it isn’t perfect.
    I'll trust my instincts on future occasions.

    Yep, I went out there this morning, but I recognised early that the conditions were all wrong.

    My photography is about landing the images I want.

    As such, it means it's not always possible to get them.

    But I'm not going to just accept whatever is thrown at me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jev View Post
    Bad conditions don't exist, just conditions that are not in line with what you would like.
    Yes -- bad conditions.

    A plain eastern sky at dawn is a nightmare when it comes to exposure.

    Quote Originally Posted by jev View Post
    Not shooting is missing out on a lot of opportunities.
    I am the kind of photographer who goes out for a specific thing rather than whatever happens to be there. Sure, sometimes a great image, that one didn't expect, can present itself. I've had that happen numerous times.

    I am willing and able to accept that some days just don't have the right conditions, and to simply not shoot rather than trying to turn nothing into something and settling for something that won't make me happy.
    Last edited by Xenedis; 24-07-2011 at 11:01pm.

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    Member eos's Avatar
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    I usually won't pack up and go home, shoot anyway and just attempt a few non traditional shots seeing as the traditional ones probably won't work out well anyway.

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    I would shoot any way as I am learning and all types of situations is all learning for me If I came home and only got one or none I still would be happy as I would have enjoyed the experience. However with all that said if I was using film that would be a different story all together due to the cost with digital its easy to take a chance and hope for the best in the long run yes I would still shoot as it cost nothing but time and I went there for that time to try and capture what I could Ideal or not ideal conditions
    All experts were once beginners

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