131 Making Photographs

the checklist I use for every scene

When I was out there in the wilderness shooting just about every day for four weeks, it dawned on me. I should turn this into an episode. The process I use every time as I’m setting up a scene and planning a photograph. So here we are. This is Latitude Photography Podcast, Episode 131 for November 1, 2021

Jump right to the blog post mentioned and grab your PDF checklist!

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Story and making photographs

I love this topic. 

Recently, Kirk Keyes made a mention in the facebook group about the interview I did with Erin Babnik a few months ago. As I was editing my images from Isle Royale National Park I came across an image that made me think about the value of an image and the story it tells.

Image Descripton

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MAKING PHOTOGRAPHS: the checklist I use for every scene.

  1. Always keep my “why” in mind.
    1. This is certainly a very large and foundational idea that is important to understand.
    2. Understanding who you are and why you click that shutter button will help you achieve a consistency in your image making.
    3. If you don’t know your fundamental purpose for why you create the photographs you make you should spend some time contemplating that. 
    4. Certainly be open to experimenting with other purposes too!
  2. Identify specifically what intrigues me about the scene
    1. Whether it’s a concrete object or an abstract thought or idea, work to have clarity of purpose for the image or scene.
    2. This is the first step to establishing your composition. But it’ll be revisited again and again in the next step.
    3. For now, boil it down to one word or phrase. I often find myself sitting and waiting for inspiration too. Sometimes it’s not obvious. Sometimes it doesn’t come to me and I just move on.
    4. Having clarity of purpose is key!
  3. How can I strengthen the composition?
    1. Now that you’re clear on what the most important thing is about the image you’re making, it’s time to work it over. Consider your main subject in the context of its surroundings. How can you make it better?
    2. What design principles are present? Contrast, hierarchy, lines, patterns, textures, balance and a whole lot more. Each has it’s own effect on how your photograph is interpreted.
    3. Learning to emphasize and use these design principles will help you achieve a stronger composition for your photograph.
  4. Confirm the Technical Parts
    1. Turn off all preview items in your viewfinder or screen. 
    2. Really look at the scene. Revisit the previous steps as needed.
    3. Are you achieving your goals and is there anything that is distracting?
    4. Search the border for visual tensions or distractions.
    5. Check for mergers.
    6. Verify your exposure settings so you capture detail where you need it. 
    7. Think about aperture and Depth-of-Field and what the chosen shutter speed will do for your subject too.
  5. Make the Exposure!
    1. Hopefully the light hasn’t changed drastically since you first set up the camera and tripod.
    2. Take notes in a journal as needed to revisit your thought process when you’re editing these images. Remembering why you made certain decisions will help you hone your craft and help you make even better decisions when you go out next time.
    3. Once you’ve made the exposure, now it’s time to work the scene. Modify at least ONE item in your composition and make another exposure. Do this over and over until you feel you’re wasting time.

Resources and Links

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