The Thought Process of a Landscape Photographer (Part 3)

Become the Opportunist!

During Parts 1 and 2 of this series we discussed the advantages of thorough research, scouting and pre-visualization. There’s no doubt incorporating these skills into your workflow will lead to more opportunities and better landscape images. However one additional skill will see you plucking bonus images from nowhere and with little effort! It’s called ‘being the opportunist’ – simply being in the right place at the right time and capturing an unplanned scene in the perfect moment. But it’s often harder then you think.

Through the MalleeRight place, right time: On Route to a fishing destination, we stumbled upon this scene just as a storm was approaching. Luckily, we had packed our photography kit. You just never know when Mother Nature will hand you a gift.

There are two types of unplanned opportunities. Those opportunities you come across on a photography outing and those stumbled upon in everyday life. Problems often arise when you find a fantastic scene while on route to another location. Do you stop and attempt the shot or carry on with original plans? This can sometimes be a very difficult decision to make, particularly if on a tight schedule, and only you can make that decision. However, if on a photography outing, it often pays to abandon original plans.  There’s no guarantee of perfect light and weather at the original location and it’s often best to stop and capture a sure thing.

Never go scouting without your kit. We’ve had to learn this the hard way! Many times during unfavorable conditions we’ve left our kit at the car to go scouting only to regret later not having it when we find a scene ‘in the perfect moment’. This is especially true during changeable weather. It takes effort sometimes, especially if you have a heavy kit, but sooner or later you’ll be thankful you did. In addition, have your kit with you whenever on a road trip, not just a photography trip. You just never know when you might stumble upon a perfect scene.

Speed is often very important. Sometimes you don’t “see” a potential scene until the light or conditions are just perfect. These moments are often fleeting. This is when it’s a major advantage to know your gear backwards, having the ability to set up at a moment’s notice. On other occasions you may witness an unprecedented weather event such as a storm or rainbow but have no subject to photograph. When this occurs you’ll find yourself frantically searching about, desperate to find a subject. It’s incredible how one can scout all day for little success only to find the perfect scene in minute’s when under pressure from Mother Nature.


So keep in mind that sometimes chance favors the prepared mind. Don’t let your destination distract you from your current surroundings and always be on the lookout for that next shot. If something unexpected catches your eye, be ready and willing to diverge from the plan at a moment’s notice. Always have your kit organized, within reach and able to set up fast. Often, every second counts!

Cheers, Shaun and Kelvin.


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