When a new place is to be photographed, doing a great job on the first and only visit to the place is indeed rare. I know this from first hand experience. Whenever I visit a new place, I rarely succeed making a great image on the first day. Usually, the first day is spent in just acclimatizing myself to the new location and developing a broad idea of the possibilities of the place. On the second and third days that I am in the new location, I start to make images. When I visited Yellowstone for the first time, I made good images on the second and third days, not the first day that I got there. When I photograph locally around my house, a bulk of my landscape photographs are made over the weekend and typically one day of the weekend (such as a Saturday or a Sunday). Therefore, my best local landscapes are made when I revisit the same location three consecutive weekends.
Earlier this month, I photographed the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, which is located about 90 minutes from my home in San Jose, CA. On my first visit to this place, I hiked with a friend and my son for several hours and had no images taken. On our return, just by luck, I found a tree and the surrounding forest interesting and made a vertical panoramic stitch. I would have been perfectly happy not making a single image in that visit, but I took advantage of the opportunity and made this image.
This image was made by shooting several vertically overlapping images that were stitched together in Photoshop. Not a bad image for my first trip, but most people expect a lot of images from just one trip.
Now, on the way back from this first trip, I observed that the morning fog had settled on part of the road and furthermore, since the sun had risen quite a bit by our return, we also witnessed godbeams in several parts of the road. However, due to earlier commitments, we could not stop to photograph. I made a mental note of the location on the road and the time we saw that light, promising to come again soon.
The next day, I made my second visit to the same location, timing myself based on the previous days’ observation. Lo and behold, the same light appeared on several sections of the road and I was able to make several images with greater ease and higher success. Here are a few of them.
These are just some of the images made during my second visit. It was much more successful than my first trip.
Interesting thing is that I noticed a great vista point in the location that had bad light when I was returning from both my first and second visits. To photograph from that vista point, I decided to make a third trip.
The following are couple of images I shot from the vista point, on my third visit.
My last keeper image in this series also happens to be my favorite image from the series. To reach this image, I had to make three visits.
In general, if you are looking to photograph a new landscape location, give it at least three visits.
Several things happen as you advance from the first to the third visit:
- You get very familiar with the roads and the access to key locations
- You get very familiar with the photogenic possibilities of the location
- You get very familiar with how and when the light is going to start and advance
- You get time in between the visits to pre-visualize a composition
In summary, allow time for the new location to grow on you. Give it at least three visits.
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