Photographing Exteriors of Location
Travel photography has a different set of rules than shooting nature, landscape or a lot of other genres, portrait photography, in that the lighting in most cases isn't gonna be very controllable. You're going to have to most likely work with what you have and especially if you're shooting an editorial assignment, you simply have to embrace it for what it is and work the scene as best as possible. We're here in Seattle, Washington, and of course, it's a little cloudy and a little bit rainy, so we're gonna work with this light, and when I get inside it's gonna be great because the window light itself will work as a giant softbox. And I'll talk more about that when I go inside the Salmon Bay Cafe. But from the outside, I have to try and make this look interesting. And so ultimately there's only so much you can do. You have to accept it for what it is. And look at the shot, try and get the exterior, figure out what is the character of the place. It's kind of a gray fisherman wharf. Is the...
re a way to bring in the boats, the bay? Maybe not, maybe it's just the parking lot and the cars lined up along with the cool red door out front. So you can't try and create something that doesn't exist, and I think a lotta photographers might say, okay well let's wait for the sunset or the perfect lighting. You're not gonna have that opportunity, and especially if you're traveling, you might be on a schedule or maybe you're shooting an assignment for a magazine and you don't have a lotta time. You've gotta deliver by the end of the day or within a day or two an entire series of images. And ultimately that's the goal. The goal is to shoot an entire series of images beginning with the outside, slowly working our way in through all the different elements and scenes so that when you see everything put together in a single spread in a magazine or on a website or wherever you're gonna post your images, you'll really understand the true sense of the place. So working with the overcast light, I'm simply going to embrace it. My settings for today, at least outside, are gonna be very different from what I would shoot inside. I don't necessarily need to be as fast. There's plenty of ambient light. The light is very even in general, and so as I mentioned it's like a big softbox so there's not harsh contrast or harsh shadows. So I'm gonna go to ISO 400. I'm not gonna choose 100 because I wanna still hand-hold, I wanna make sure that if I do shoot in a darker situation or with a longer lens that I'm not gonna have too slow of a shutter speed. So with a camera that has great sensitivity, I'm not really concerned about noise. For something like this I'd rather play it safe and make sure that I have sharp images. So ISO 400 allows me to have a very sensitive sensor to light versus 100. And it allows me to get those faster shutter speeds. And if you take a look at some of the other boot camps that I've done, The Outdoor Enthusiast's Guide to Photography, or the National Parks, I go really into depth in ISO. But generally speaking you're gonna work within two or three different ISOs when shooting a travel story. It'll probably either be about four or 800, and in extremely dark situations and rare situations, you might go to 1,600 or 3,200. But you do sacrifice potentially having a lotta noise in your images. So for the exterior I'm gonna go to 400. I'm gonna shoot in aperture priority, so I'm gonna set it on the AV which is what is is on the Cannon. Because I wanna be able to choose my depth of field. I might wanna go all the way down to 4.0 to start because more than likely to keep the scene interesting, I'm gonna wanna have elements that are a little out of focus. And I'm going to wanna think about changing my perspective as much as possible. I'll probably shoot a few just straight on, very stereotypical types of shots, right, just getting right in, framing it up, taking a picture, moving around, and getting a few different angles, working the exterior scene. I'll then wanna try and change the view, maybe stand on the bench, get real low in the parking lot, and shoot with the ground a little outta focus and the title in the top. But either way I wanna kinda work around, make sure we have a lot of options, so we're not gonna edit in the field. We're simply here to gather the content, pull together all of the raw elements, and to figure out how that story will fit together best later. But in the meantime, we're gonna do our best to get a lot of different options right now. So ISO 400, 4.0, probably go a little bit, a little bit more depth of field as well, might go to like 8.0, get a lot of sharpness throughout, or 11. I've got my image stabilizer on on my lens, so if your lens has a built-in image stabilizer or some camera bodies have image stabilizers built-in, I recommend putting 'em on especially if you're hand-holding. I'll shoot with auto focus on. I've got a lens hood on, not really too worried about sun. You wanna keep all of your base settings figured out so that way you know where you're working from, especially if you're gonna change quickly. Keeping where you are on your settings, your ISO, your aperture, all of that good stuff, you wanna keep that in your head so that you can make those changes. So if I go indoors I don't wanna be like, oh what did I do? You know I can just quickly dial it in. You wanna get to the point where you're not even thinking about your settings. So let's try and get some interesting compositions and work around the area here. So I'll get the stereotypical stuff first, right, you know that eye level (camera clicking) nothing too crazy. And in general we're gonna wanna shoot a lot of different images, (camera clicking) just to have some variety of options. So with these big bright white skies, there's only so much you can really do. (camera clicking) And then I might wanna try and just get a little outta focus. I'm not gonna crawl around on the ground in the parking lot. I can simple either turn on the back by hitting start stop. I can actually just turn on the screen. Using autofocus I can see what I'm getting, make sure it's a level horizon. And it's a little bit more interesting. The other thing you wanna do when shooting is remember especially if you're shooting on assignment, editorial for a magazine of a website, shoot both horizontal and vertical. You wanna have options for everything because you don't know how they're going to fit together in the spread or the final layout. And you know if you're really lucky, you never know, one of them could end up becoming the cover or opening spread of the story. So doing the vertical (camera clicking) as well. Looks good but I'm a little outta focus, so what I'm gonna do is half push the button a little bit, get all focus, lock, lower the camera, so then I'm focused on the name, not the parking lot. (camera clicking) And then fire a bunch of frames. The reason I shoot a lotta different frames too is because I'm hand-holding. Usually if you shoot three frames rapid fire, the middle frame will be the sharpest. It's because the camera's firing, the shutter's up, the curtain's up, it's doing its thing real quickly and so you get a nice sharp frame. So you wanna shoot a lotta frames. The one thing you will really notice throughout this entire class is that I'm shooting a vast amount of content, a lot more than I would shoot if I were shooting a landscape photo, where I might slow the process down, put up the tripod, get the filters. Here I'm just gonna be firing away. I'm gonna try and photograph people, food, interiors, and you're gonna have a lotta different things happening, mouths moving, eyes blinking, dishes moving around, lot of different emotions and humor and so on that I anticipate, and so you don't really wanna have one or two frames to choose from. You wanna have a variety of work to choose from because people's faces and positions may not be in the ideal situation. So just shoot a lot. You're shooting more than likely if you're shooting digital, you're gonna have an opportunity to just keep shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting, and then make your decisions later. Don't edit in the field. So I'm gonna work my way up to the front door, and then I say we go inside and find out what kinda stories there are.