Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge:
Create “How to Work a Scene”
Working a scene is part of the creating process. Few photographers can walk up to a scene, snap a shot, look at it, and say, “Yea, that’s it” and move on. Working a scene takes patience, practice, and remembering a few tips.
Here’s how this article is going to work and help you take better images. We actually start at the end.
- Above is the finished image after many preliminary shots.
- Distractions gone. Both lions are included.
- I shot this final angle to highlight the stairs and create interest. ”Where do they lead and what are the lions guarding?” Plus, there’s great color, detail, and contrast.
- Share ideas on how to work a scene and tell you why a certain shot or angle doesn’t work.
Have you ever driven down a road and up ahead, ”BAM” there’s a possible shot. Or, you are walking around town, turn a corner, ”BAM” there’s a potential shot. With camera in hand, you walk up to the scene, snap a shot, looking at the LCD on the back of your camera, and say to yourself: ”Hmm, that’s not it! This isn’t the image I saw in my head.” This begs the question: Have you ever struggled with a shot?
I’m not talking about knowing and applying the “Rules of Photography.” Read more about that here: “The Art of Seeing”
There is more to working a scene than just taking one or two shots. Something attracted you to shoot the scene. There’s something there that has potential. Do you “click” and say “ugh” and move on? It is easy to do, to be impatient, and move on.
How do you know you are done shooting a scene?
You are standing in front of something that you thing really looks great, but you just can’t get the right shot you are looking for.
Work the Scene
- Try shooting at different angles.
- Zooming in and out.
- Shoot wide and shoot full frame.
- Try moving a few feet one way or the other.
- Get down low or shot down from high up.
- Sit down.
- Lay down with your camera.
- Tilt the camera.
Be Hyper-aware to Distractions
In the field you need to be a good editor. My most often comment when critiquing images: “Be hyper-aware of anything in front of, around, and especially in the background that is a distraction from your main subject.” Eliminating a distraction may take nothing more than moving a few feet to your left or right.
Take your time scanning your shot, first without looking through the camera viewfinder. Finally, using the viewfinder, let your eye scan clockwise around the scene.
Lions Guarding – Take #1: I’m driving, see this potential shot, and pull over. I take out my camera and start snapping images. Distractions in this shot:
- Three pink puffy flowers on the left.
- There’s an “ADT” security sign on the right.
- Hmm, the stairs are sort of interesting, but not at this angle.
Work the Settings
- Vary the white balance.
- Vary the f/stop.
- Vary your exposure compensation.
- You will not know if you like the scene, dark, correctly exposed, of lighter until you see the image up on your computer monitor.
Lions Guarding – Take #2: I’m still looking for distractions. Trying different f/stop. Make a slight adjustment in exposure level.
- Still those pesky puffy pink flowers. They are even worse here as two of them merge into the stone.
- At the top right there’s an opening that shows the background and is not part of the rock wall.
- I cut off the top portion of the archway and the address is not seen very well.
- Hmm, at this angle the stairs are now not part of the shot and are uninteresting.
Work for Sharp Focus
Don’t immediately attach your camera to your tripod. Why? With your camera on a tripod you’ll most likely find that you are limited to where and how you shoot. Walk around with your camera trying different shooting angles as I did in these images. Once you find the shot you want set up and use your tripod to ensure sharpness.
Lions Guarding – Take #3: Distractions still priority. Continue with trying different f/stops, angles, white balance, and exposure levels.
- Puffy pink flowers! Can’t get rid of them (-:
- “ADT” sign is still in the picture.
- Now there’s a puffy pink flower near the ground and laying against the stone in the foreground stone.
- I don’t like this! The front lion is merged into the archway.
This is an exercise on how you think and look for subjects to shoot.
Answer this question: “What is a really great shot?”
Go find your favorite photographer’s website, go through and find the images you love. Next, write down what you like about them, such as: Wide angle, black & white, shot low, close-up, full-frame, or backlit.
Now, stop and think what your photography looks like vs. the style you love.
Ask: “Am I shooting and creating the wrong images?” Learn what you like and go out and make shots you love.
Practice by working hard enough to always get the image you really love to create and want. Take the time to really work the scene!
Thank you always for taking the time to stop by. Hope you can take something from this article and use it the next time you are out shooting.
~ B E S T ~