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Planning and Serendipity

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Photography Blog for Feb 10, 2014

To plan or depend upon Serendipity for Photo Opportunities.

It was some time in the 80's, can't remember the year, and I had my trusty Canon Cameras with me as I drove around Northern Saskatchewan selling Pharmaceuticals for Smith Kline and French. The idea being if I saw something interesting I could take a picture of it and get something unique and beautiful. I was relying entirely on serendipity. Schedules got in the way, there was never any time to stop and do a good job, I never had the right mix of equipment for the opportunities that did arise and more often than not the lighting was poor. In short my lack of planning yielded very little in the way of results.

I still carry my camera with me and sometimes something interesting happens but more often than not the photos that I really enjoy are the ones that had at least some level of planning involved. A recent example would be a trip with my family to Lake Louise in Banff Alberta. I had spent many hours in this area hiking and taking pictures in the past and I knew a little of what to expect. I checked the weather because I knew that the sky could become dramatic if the right kind of cloud cover was expected and I also knew that at the height of the winter months the sun barely rose above the mountain ridges to the south of the lake in a sense making the whole day the golden hour. The family wanted to take the trail up to the tea house which allowed a view of the mountain ridges to the east and south of the lake nicely framed by the tall stands of evergreen that grew near the trail. I planned to bracket my shots and use HDR techniques to bring out the colors of the rock, the ice and the trees which when viewed with the naked eye can be quite monochromatic at this time of year. Other things that I knew I would need included a back pack for the various lenses, a tripod and a camera harness that would allow the camera to be ready and available but not swinging all over the place while I walked. As it turned out I was able to get some very nice shots for the day's trek.

So the planning involved a variety of issues: a. Knowing my location, b: knowing what kind of light to expect, c: knowing what kind of equipment I would need to get the shots that I envisioned, d. checking the weather to further help me with what to expect and finally planning ahead of time the post production techniques that I would need to produce the results I wanted.

All this doesn't mean you can't be successful using serendipity but I believe you up your chances if you spend time planning a shoot.


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