What’s involved in a shoot?

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I get asked quite often especially on social media platforms on all kinds of different advice ranging from how I get certain effects to what I do at the post processing stage after the shoot has concluded – usually performed late at night after a long drive home from somewhere dreary eyed after belting out tunes in the car stereo.

I thought I’d spend a bit of time to write some words down on not necessarily one topic (well not today) but what’s involved in a typical landscape photography style shoot. I’ve been pretty slack on the blog side of things lately and mainly because I didn’t want to go for a run tonight as it’s currently 7:45pm and still 40 degrees I thought I’d exercise my inner wordsmith capabilities – or lack thereof.

It all starts usually the night before when I think to myself hmmm haven’t got much on, maybe I’ll go for a shoot tomorrow night? At this stage I’ll usually make sure my camera bag is packed, batteries charged, memory cards formatted and put back in the camera, tripod packed, footwear and clothing choice and the list goes on. I don’t usually decide on where I’m going to shoot until the day of the shoot so quite spontaneous – I find it keeps me on my toes and makes the shoot more exciting.

For this shoot at Tenby Point I didn’t decide on where I was going to shoot until about 30 minutes before jumping in the car, how do I choose a location you might wonder? Well it can depend on a range of things but usually as you’re probably well aware I love to shoot seascapes so the main concerns are the tides (a must check when mangrove trees are involved) the wind, sunset time, distance from home, in which direction does the location face? It might be into the sunset it might be backlit or offer both.

After having dinner at my folks place (love a home cooked meal as I don’t often cook myself) I headed down to Tenby Point with mum who also happens to be a keen photographer and probably the sole reason I got into photography. She gave me a hand me down camera around 8 years ago that sparked something!

Tenby Point is basically near to nowhere. For the Melbournians reading it’s on the way down to Phillip Island on Western Port Bay and is probably one of the few places in Victoria that has awesomely photogenic mangrove trees which I have a bit of a fascination with. Upon arriving I feel my tide guesstimates were a little off, it was significantly lower than I had thought and at this stage (8pm) there were no trees out in the water. I had little expectation of firing any magic tonight but I was pleasantly surprised.

I always try and arrive at my location around an hour before sunset (or sunrise) but I felt we were a little rushed when we got there. The first mistake wearing brand new white Nike shoes and not packing a pair of thongs.. doh! I’d been to the spot a few times and figured that bare feet would be fine for the job at hand. As soon as we walked down the gravelly track to the beach and walked west towards some pier remains there appeared to be a minefield of rocks. Not ideal!

Footwear choice aside the conditions were nice and calm and as soon as the sun lowered to the horizon and below there were some beautiful purple and pink hues and combined with a full moon I knew we were on, there was potential here! Upon arrival the tide was low, as sunset approached and went the tide started to come in fairly fast and before I knew it mum and I were both submerged in knee deep water / mud. The little mangrove stalks are bloody sharp to walk on too! I think the footwear choice is imperative here!

Before you head out and wade through the water it’s optimal to decide on what lens you are going to use and stick to it. 90% of the time I use my 17-40 on my Canon 5d mk III as I love shooting wide. Probably not as amazing as the 16-35 but I couldn’t afford that at the time and have found the 17-40 to be pretty awesome for the price. My next few pieces of equipment that are crucial to any shoot are my Manfrotto tripod – carbon which is nice and sturdy, durable and doesn’t bite through gloves on below 0 mornings. I’ve had it for around 5 years  have done a self service on it once and other than that no probs! Next are my Lee Filters, probably my most favourite equipment.. until you drop one on rocks and realise that you just lit $130 on fire. Look after these suckers! A shutter release is imperative and my cheapest and most critical piece of equipment is a little hotshoe mountable spirit level that looks like a piece of high tech surveying equipment, quite often I do a level run with it just for fun – geomatics reference for the university nerd still hiding somewhere in me.

Packing the mosquito repellent (thanks mum) was a wise choice, walking into a spider web wasn’t. It also turns out that not wearing shoes wasn’t much better. A couple of little friends (a splinter and some gravel maybe?) found their way into my feet but don’t worry people. At Giant HQ today @coachboomtime was prepared with the medical kit, a pair of tweezers and he pulled the suckers out.. legend!

When you’re standing out there at the time though on a warm summer’s night, barely a sound and no signs of human life apart from mum saying “Shit, I’m shooting with my filters on upside-down” things can’t really get much better than that!

Before I knew it darkness had set in, the exposures were getting longer, the ISO higher, and apart from something nibbling at my leg it was bliss. After a difficult walk in the darkness back to the car and a 105km drive back home I slept like a baby. The things we do for a shot hey?

To keep up-to-date with more follow me on Instagram @alwilsonpics or “Like” my facebook page at Alistair Wilson Photography

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2 Comments

  1. Sam January 15, 2014 at 6:59pm #

    Nice work mate.

    • Alistair February 21, 2014 at 2:12pm #

      Thanks mate, getting a little more active on the blog/website front lately. Was about time!

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