Based on the title, you are probably getting ready for some kind of pep talk. Kind of, but not really. This blog is to help give newer photographers some ideas on the types of things they should be doing in order to get great pictures. Here are a few suggestions:
First, get used to laying on the ground or floor. Low perspective creates cool images. I took the next picture while laying on the floor. Don’t be afraid to lie on the ground if it will result in a great photo (yes, even in the snow or dirt).
Second, don’t put your camera away in bad weather. Bad weather often leads to cool skies. This picture of the Portland Headlight in Maine was taken during heavy wind and rain. I was sitting in my car waiting for the rain to die down and then realized I was basically being a wimp. So, I got out of the car and got my best shots during the rain storm. I was soaking wet and cold, but still had fun and it was worth it.
Third, get up early. Some of the best lighting happens around sunrise. This can mean forcing yourself out of bed early, often to be disappointed. This shot of Chicago at sunrise was taken on my 8th attempt. I went to that same spot on the lake for seven dull sunrises in the middle of winter in Chicago before getting this amazing sky.
Fourth, make whatever logistical arrangements are necessary. You won’t get great images by following the crowds of tourists around. This picture below in Namibia took careful research and planning. I had to make sure I stayed at the only lodge which allowed guests to get to the dunes at least an hour before everyone else. Then I had to make arrangements with the lodge for a driver. Then, I be-friended that driver and made sure to be the first one to the dunes and the last one out. I had this amazing place all to myself on several occasions (except for a swarm of very mean bees).
Fifth, get used to hiking. The image below is of a place known as The Subway. To get to it, the easiest route is about 9 miles roundtrip, mostly spent scrambling over large rocks, walking through streams and climbing up and down small hills. It is tiring (and hazardous) getting there, but an incredible place to photograph. Many of these types of beautiful outdoor locations require effort to get to.
Sixth (and almost last… trust me), stand in the water. I learned this one from Marc Adamus. If you are doing seascape shots, the better vantage points are usually from in the water, not on the shore. This isn’t always fun. Do remember that salt water kills cameras and also waves and undercurrents can be dangerous. My lawyer made me say that. Okay, I lied. I don’t really have a lawyer. But, if I did, he/she would have charged me $250 to insert that into this post. So, I just saved $250.
Lastly, be persistent! Just fifteen minutes before I took the following picture, my good friend Dusty Doddridge and I were sitting in the car while it was raining sideways. We had checked weather.com and noticed a potential break in the clouds, even though it didn’t make sense looking outside. We decided to take a chance and made the drive. The weather did break for 30 minutes and we got some gorgeous sunset photos. Nobody else was in sight, except a couple frustrated photographers showing up after it was too late. Persistence paid off this time.