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Thread: Landscape photographers -Do you scout first?

  1. #21
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    I also support William's ideas on setting up the night before if you are going out at dawn. I even go a bit further and use a custom setting on the camera to ensure that the ISO, mirror lock up, f stop etc are all ready to go when I turn on the camera. I think quite a few DSLRs have a custon setup option now. I use a second custom setting for multiple exposure shots, which are often useful after dawn when the shadows are more prominent.
    Rod.
    You can see some of my photos at Flickr

  2. #22
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    In addition to the Photographer's E[hemeris mentioned above (an amazingly cool program) you might also like SunSeeker if you have an iPhone. It's free for the 'lite' version or about $10 for the full version and not only gives you sunrise and sunset times and angles, but if you hold your camera up to the sky it will superimpose the arc of the sun onto what you see! This means you will know exactly where the sun is and when and can accurately predict where it's going to pop up over the horizon so you can place it perfectly in your composition just behind that tree, or in that valley, or at the end of that pier etc etc. The full version will also show you this information for all times of the year as well, so if you think it'd be really good to get a sunrise when the sun is 'a little further to the left' you can look ahead to when the sun will rise in that spot, set an alarm to remind yourself and head back another time...it's just great. We use it a lot at work shooting breakfast TV too; very useful to know when and where your light's going to be coming from.
    Andy

    Nikon D7000, 70-200mm (newly obtained...no pictures up shot with it yet)
    Olympus E-420, 14-42mm, 18-180mm, 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 (shutter has died on this one )

  3. #23
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    Sorry I hadn't seen further posts until now, there are more great tips and useful information...thanks all


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  4. #24
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    G'day Birdman

    I have followed this thread for a while and noted some of the interesting responses

    fwiw - I have had my eye on a certain part of my local coastline recently for a sunrise shot
    Over the past 3 weeks I have got up an hour before sunrise on about 10-12 days and driven down the road to this location, then awaited the sunrise itself ... wanting the beaut rich colours etc etc on the clouds against my chosen background

    Some mornings it has been raining - so back to bed & don't bother driving; other mornings it seemed okay while it was black as pitch, but with the dawn there was no clouds at all, so no sunrise in the clouds either

    Still waiting for my sunrise ...
    Regards, Phil
    Of all the stuff in a busy photographers kitbag, the ability to see photographically is the most important
    google me at Travelling School of Photography
    images.: flickr.com/photos/ozzie_traveller/sets/

  5. #25
    i like to spend a lot of time on google maps checking out coastal locations, then check tides and sunrise/sunset times.

    not really sure if that scouting though.. lazy me!

  6. #26
    some great info here

  7. #27
    ya, i second using google maps, surprising how much info u can get! i then usually scout the place out with a p&s if its not too far away

  8. #28
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    I mostly use Google Maps to scout a site remotely, and read the Free Photo Guides if it's a new (to me) location and a guide exists. I also look at other photos of the place on Flickr; often seeing those alone is what sparks my interest in a site.

    When we were away after Christmas, I did some on-site recce at a few places. I returned to one the next morning. It's otherwise quite rare for me to visit a site during the day to scout it. It's more convenient for me to do my research online, and between Google Maps, other people's photos and the wonderful Free Photo Guides project, there's a lot of information available to you right from your computer.

    Once you get experience with a few locations, you may find yourself returning to them again; some I have visited four or five times.

    I use various weather sites to see what the conditions will be like, too. One of the most useful to me is SkippySky, which provides a visual representation of forecast cloud cover. Clouds are very important in seascape photography, as they make the sky interesting, produce the most visually dramatic results (colours and patterns), and also make exposure easier. If the sky is going to be cloudless (or contain very little cloud), I won't bother heading out.

    In this thread a few people have mentioned issues relating to safety. It's probably a good idea to discuss that issue more, as seascaping can be quite dangerous at times.

    A couple of years ago I published an article on Tips for Safe Seascape Photography. Here's a re-publish of it:


    Tips for Safe Seascape Photography

    In light of the recent rock fishing-related deaths and my own potentially dangerous encounter with the ocean at Kiama not long ago, I felt the desire to compile and post some tips for safe seascape photography.

    Now, admittedly I do not practice all that I am about to preach, but my experience has prompted some thinking, I am much more conscious of the safety issues, and I will be putting some of these measures into practice. Knowing that I could get injured or killed and never be found again is a frightening thought, and it's not just myself to consider.

    So, here is my list of tips, in no particular order.


    1. Tell someone where you're going.

    It's a good idea to tell someone where you're going, especially if you're going at dawn, dusk or late at night when such places are more isolated, or if they're isolated locations in general.

    Many Sydney seascape locations such as Turimetta Head (Warriewood), "Canyon X" (further north of Turimetta Head), "Devil's Cauldron" (south of Whale Beach) and Cape Banks are quite remote, can take a while to reach, and can be dangerous to reach (Canyon X in particular).

    If you do get into trouble, it could be difficult if not impossible to find you, so tell someone where you will be and when. Arrange to call someone you know at a pre-determined time to check in and advise that you are safe and well, and make sure you do make the call.

    On that note...


    2. Make sure your mobile phone has sufficient charge.

    Ensure your phone has sufficient charge so you can make your pre-arranged call, or in case you otherwise need to make a call. Of course, if you're in a location with no mobile coverage (generally not an issue along Sydney's coastline), that's a risk which requires mitigation.

    3. Never under-estimate the power of the ocean.

    The ocean is very powerful, and its appearance can be deceptive. Don't assume that an area is safe because it looks safe. Study the ocean for a while; observe its patterns. It has a rhythm to it, and every so often, larger waves will come in. I've been told that every 40 minutes or so, a larger-than-usual wave (I'm hesitant to call it a rogue wave) comes in.

    Look for signs of recent water contact from splashes and waves as opposed to a previously high, outgoing tide.

    Be aware of the tide. Know its direction and when it will be high, as it could leave you stranded. I use the Manly Hydraulics Laboratory to check the tide, and I also have the Pocket Weather AU app on my iPhone, which sources data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and in the paid version, provides tidal information.

    Never turn your back on the ocean; a "rogue wave" can come out of nowhere and pound you. It happens very quickly. Keep an eye on the ocean and be prepared to retreat.

    Having experienced the fury of the ocean on more than one occasion, I can relate personally how powerful it is. The velocity of secondary water contact (ie, splashes after a wave hits a rock) can knock a person off balance. The volume of water can be huge, and will thoroughly drench a person and everything nearby.

    The danger also lies in the fact that the water must recede back into the ocean. The "rock current" can be quite strong, and its speed, combined with slippery rocks and unstable rock shelves, can sweep a person into the ocean. There could be jagged rocks on the shoreline, or submerged dangers. A strong swell can pound a person into those rocks and cause severe injury or death.

    Don't put yourself in harm's way; a fall or a powerful wave can mean the end of you.


    4. Watch your step.

    Seascape photography often involves navigating rocky shorelines, often in darkness or near-darkness if you're a dawn or dusk shooter. Dangers include uneven terrain, slippery surfaces from moss and moisture (some moss is black and hard to see), crevasses, rock pools and other pot-holes. It is not difficult to mis-step and scratch a leg, or worse, sprain or break it.


    5. Be visible, and be able to see in the dark.

    Wear high-visibility clothing in case you do run into trouble. Wear a battery-powered headlamp for navigation in the dark. This is far superior to a hand-held torch, as it keeps your hands free (which you need for balancing or carrying other gear) and also points where your eyes point. These are essential for navigation in the dark, and can also assist with autofocus.


    6. Protect your gear.

    As I've experienced, electronic equipment tends not to like being wet. Invest in a weather-resistant camera bag, and also carry plastic bags which can cover your camera in case it rains or in case a splash makes contact. Use zip-lock bags for smaller items you wish to protect from water (eg, mobile phones, GPS units, wallets, keys, remote shutter releases, memory cards, etc.). Bring towels, a chamois and other drying equipment in case it's necessary to dry yourself or your equipment. If you're not using some item in your gear, keep it in your bag; this will prevent it from being lost or damaged if water comes into contact with it.

    Insure your gear, and make sure your insurance policy covers accidental damage, and also covers your equipment while it's out of your home. Having it insured only while it's in the home is useless for a device that was intended to be portable.


    7. Go with someone.

    Seascape photography can often be a solitary hobby, but being alone in remote, dangerous locations in the dark can add to the general danger level. It is better to go with at least one other person. If either of you runs into trouble, the other can lend assistance.

    Having a mate with you can also be handy if you encounter other dangers, such as aggressive, drunken fools out in the streets (or partying in an isolated location) after a Saturday night on the turps. You're less of a target to would-be attackers if you're not alone.


    8. Dress for the occasion.

    It is essential to wear shoes which both provide grip, and can get wet. Hard-core rock fisherman have metal cleats on their shoes which provide good grip. I personally have a black pair of Dunlop Volleys which have good rubber grip, are inexpensive, light and can get wet. I throw them into the washer and dryer with no problems.

    Now, I have slid on rock shelves whilst wearing these; they're possibly not the most effective shoes for rock-hopping, but they do a fairly decent job.

    Wear shorts, not jeans or other heavy long pants. I wear shorts even in the winter. There are two benefits. Firstly, you can be knee-deep in water without having drenched clothing. Secondly, if you do get swept into the sea, it's less weight to restrict your mobility or weigh you down. The down-side is that your legs are exposed to the cold, and to sharp rock edges which could scratch or gouge you. A light weather-proof jacket is a good idea, too.

    Seascape photography can be dangerous business. Hopefully the above advice will prevent you being injured or killed.

    You may like to view Brent Pearson's video on extreme seascape photography at Devil's Cauldron to see how dangerous the ocean can be, and how suddenly it can lash out.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    Just to add a little more , Birdman I dont know how old you are , But as you get older it is a good idea to roughly set up your camera the night before
    My standard practice is to always keep my camera at an optimal setting.

    In my case, exposure mode is manual, ISO is 100, aperture is f/2.8 and shutter speed is 1/200th or so.

    Now, I'm naturally not going to shoot at these settings during dawn light, but if I need my camera at some other time, it's not set to some whacky long exposure or higher ISO.

    I always restore my camera to this kind of configuration as part of my post-shoot cleanup. My gear gets cleaned and re-packed in my bag, ready for the next shoot.

    I generslly don't need to touch my gear before heading out for a shoot; the only variations to that would be battery charging the night before and reformatting the flash card, which I usually do after I've transferred my images and backed them up to several disks. It's a good idea to start each shoot with a freshly-formatted card.

  10. #30
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    Some great, useful info there Xenedis, I have seen that video of Brent and it is a reminder to be careful.

  11. #31
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    Yes, the ocean sometimes does remind of us how small we are.

    I've had a few close calls myself, and lost thousands of dollars worth of gear in a split-second.

    The ocean can be deceptively 'calm'. It does have patterns, and every so often a bigger set of waves will roll in, and these can be the most destructive.

    The danger is more the surge than the wave itself (unless you take a direct hit). When you're on rock shelves, a 60km/h surge can easily knock you over, especially on rocks where traction is lacking.

    A pair of spiked reef boots is a very wise investment. I've been meaning to get a pair of these for a while now.

  12. #32
    Member lovethebush's Avatar
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    Scouting is half the fun i reckon. It makes me excited to get back there with my gear and see if what id scouted actually was worth it once the photo's aare taken.

  13. #33
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    I am more worried about access and making myself familiar with the surroundings so in the dark may not struggle so much. I even check direction of the sunrise or sunset using an app on my iPhone.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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    http://www.wix.com/dwarak/landscapes

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