If you are anything like me, when you go out on a photography shoot, you end up taking many images and lots of different compositions as the light changes, and an inevitable outcome is a number of good shots but no stunners.
Whenever I can’t decide on a composition and jump from one to another, trying to get the best image, I end up disappointed but I continue to do it. It is human nature: as you find new outlooks and scenes, you tend to want to photograph them over the one you are concentrating on at that moment.
What I try to do is have a set number of locations that I go out to every year to shoot when the conditions are optimal. Sometimes this takes a few years, but the reward at the end is always worth it.
In the 21-minute video above, I talk about one such image and how it has taken me over two years to finally get the photo I was after.
Here’s the location I scouted when the light wasn’t optimal and the leaves were green and therefore didn’t contrast with the background:
But after patient waiting, here is the resultant image:
Here are a few tips that I use to help me concentrate on one composition:
1. Have 5 to 10 locations that you know well and that aren’t too far away from where you live. I have a one-hour rule for this.
2. Make sure you visit these locations 2-3 times at least and scout out one composition that you love. Take photos of it in different light and at different times of the year so you know when the best times will be.
3. Print out the composition on A5 paper and pin it on your wall so you can live with it and visualize when the perfect conditions will be.
Here are two shots of another tree I like at different times of the year:
When you have worked out the optimal conditions and time of year, don’t deviate from the intended photo. Just concentrate on getting that one photo no matter what.
Good luck, and remember: good landscape photography doesn’t come easy and while serendipity does play a part, it is patience that is the key to success.
About the author: Nigel Danson is a landscape photographer based in the UK. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Danson’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.