I mentioned last week the process of virtual scouting that I use to help me find interesting places to photograph and to make sure that I am there at the right time of day to achieve the photograph that I am aiming for. The image above was the result of spending an hour or so looking at the satellite map within google maps to find and interesting collection of rocks at the waters edge. It was then a relatively simple task to work out what days I could expect clear morning skies and what the tide would be on those days. I arrived here when it was still quite dark. As the sky became lighter I was able to get a better sense of the beach and how I might photograph it. Starting on the beach I made a series of images that had me getting closer and closer to the water until the final set, of which the above was the best, where I was stood on the rocks in the breaking surf.
I was recently describing my process of scouting locations to one of my friends and their response made me think that it would be worth sharing here. My process is evolving but here is how I’m currently approaching things.
I’ve been working on a project to photograph rocks at the waters edge. My first move was to find some places where there may be suitable rocks. For this I turned to google maps in the satellite view and at a decent magnification scanned the coast line close to home. Here’s a screen shot from google maps:
Once I’d found a good location such as the one above I plugged the location into the photographers ephemeris an iPhone app. The app lets me work out the location of sunrise and sunset. I realize that I could probably use The Photographer’s Ephemeris to fill the same function as google maps, and I may well transition over at some point, but I feel like I have more screen real estate with google maps than I can have with The Photographer’s Ephemeris. Here’s a screen shot to from the PC version of the Photographer’s Ephemeris that can be found here.
Since I’m dealing with the ocean I check on the tide table to see whether it will be high tide or low tide. There are lots of resources for this information. Because it’s handy I generally use the iPhone app Tides. There may be better applications for this available but this is easy and it works for me.
Then finally I check the weather using either the 10 day or hourly forecast on the weather channel website.
I’ve tried winging it many times and I’ve had spotty success. With the process described above I’ve had a little more consistent success.
Sometimes I head out with a clear idea of the photograph I want to capture. Other times, I don’t have a good idea. On those days I’m not sure why I even head out of the door, especially with the kind of weather we’ve had here in New England in recent weeks.
After finishing up at the conservation area, and getting the image that I showed last week, I headed over to Scituate harbor. I’m not sure what I was expecting – the sky was white, heavy with more snow, and so I had low expectations of making any photographs. Nevertheless I drove over to the harbor to take a look. I was surprised when I got there. The sky had begun to light up and was drawing quite a crowd. Although the photograph doesn’t quite do the scene justice it looked as though someone was shooting a giant laser into the sky. Pretty amazing!
When I was on vacation with my family last summer I came across these interesting pilings at the beach. I felt that this would make a good subject for a photograph but didn’t have an opportunity to return to make the photograph I had imagined. Fortunately we were back in the area recently and I made the most of the one morning that we had clear skies to make the image above.
I have family that live out on the end of long island. The most relaxing way of getting to the end of long island from home, just south of Boston, involves taking the ferry from New London to Orient Point. The ferry ride breaks up the trip nicely and gives me an opportunity to stretch my legs. I always debate whether I should bring my camera along with me on the ferry ride, that is, not leave it in the car and I generally do opt to take it with me unless it is raining. On this occasion I had stopped in Greenport on the way to Orient Point to poke around the docks looking for anything interesting without any success. As I approached the ferry dock it looked like rain and so I was very close to leaving my camera in the car. At the last moment I decided not to. As I waited for the ferry to leave, the storm that had been brewing blew through. On the leading edge were the tremendous cloud formations that I spent the next 10 minutes photographing. Never have I been happier to have my camera with me!