Shooting Close to Home
by Steve Fagan
While reviewing my photos for a website update I noticed that most of the images were taken either while I was travelling to other countries or while on a photo workshop. Between these photo opportunities there was often a lengthy void with very few photos. I did notice though that a few of my favourite images had been taken just outside my door, often within a 10 minute drive from home.
For those of us who struggle to find the time to get out shooting on a regular basis, “Shooting Close to Home” is an excellent way to keep up with our love of photography. There are many reasons to make it a part of your practice.
- It can take as little as 1 – 2 hours.
- You can be very flexible, deciding to go on the spur of the moment or to go out as you see the potential for excellent light developing.
- You can shoot from the car.
- It can add spontaneity to your photography. Quite often you will jump in your car with no plan to photograph anything specific, but just to shoot whatever catches your eye.
What to carry on these short drives? That’s an easy one. I usually grab my full camera bags plus a tripod and place it all within easy reach of the driver’s seat. No need to worry about the weight since I won’t be carrying the gear. Since I don’t know what I will be shooting I want to be sure to have the right equipment to photograph anything from landscapes to action to close-ups.
A few tips about equipment preparation:
- If you have the choice, bring two cameras. I’ll usually have my longest lens on one body to be ready to capture birds, coyotes, deer ... from a distance. A shorter zoom will usually be on the other body to catch those closer subjects; either a 70-200mm or a 100-400mm works well.
- Keep the wide angle lenses close at hand for landscape shots.
- A flash (and extender) can be very useful to add a little fill light for birds.
- A tripod is necessary for those landscape or close-up opportunities and also for the Wimberley head to allow for action photos such as birds in flight.
- A good bean bag is essential since most of the photos will be taken through the car window.
It is surprising what you may photograph on these brief trips. I have ventured out intending to photograph birds but instead spent a few hours capturing images of horses, cows or farm equipment. There are times I come back from these drives empty-handed, having not even picked up the camera. Even during these times I enjoy the experience and find that by constantly looking for interesting subjects I see far more than if I had not had the camera in the car.
So the next time that you have a spare hour or two, grab your camera gear, throw it in the passenger seat and hit the road. Hopefully you will capture a few great images. If not, you will at least have had the pleasure of some peace and quiet while enjoying the environment near your home.