People often ask, “How did you make this photograph?” There is no short answer, no secret recipe; I genuinely wish I could say, I did A, B then C and voila, photograph! To provide a truly helpful answer, I need to know where to begin, how far back should I go? Should I explain what I did after I attached the camera to the tripod? Or, should I begin with how and why I decided to visit the location where I made the photograph? The latter makes more sense; fast-forwarding to the moment I opened the camera’s shutter does not truly answer the question.
First step, select the location. I use online maps such as Google or Bing (before the web I used paper maps). I look for a variety of elements; I do not select parks or curated locations designed by city-planners for public use. I prefer locations that do not have many homes or private land. Lakes or the shoreline offer wonderful opportunities, as do forests. I avoid areas that are restricted; housing developments are often private and I obey the rules, I do not trespass. When I find an area of interest on the map, I switch to Satellite view and check out buildings, the type of road (paved or dirt), boundary markers, safety concerns and more. Google is terrific; on the bottom of the map there is an option to display photos of the area.
Second step, select when to go and do research. I use natural lighting and I must be aware of where the sun will be, what areas might be in shadow and the nature of the light, whether it will be a reddish sunset or a bright sunrise with intermittent clouds. I am not discouraged by rain or inclement weather; some of my best work has been created in light from overcast skies or during dramatic weather. If it is the shore, I track the tide. I also research the region, find out what is nearby or where will I stay if it is far from home.