When photographing a landscape or a building or some other location you ask yourself: what is the thing about that place that makes it that place. A place that isn’t any other place.
While driving aimlessly in San Diego last month, I came across an open spot in the Torry Pines Hills. It provided a view looking out over the beach at La Jolla. An impressive view at that.
I also noticed there was nearby parking. Parking had been a challenge all day so that made an impression.
I decided to come back closer to sunset and see what the conditions would be like.
Late that afternoon I set up the camera on my tripod at the viewpoint and waited. And waited. And waited.
I never did get the conditions I was hoping for but, as usual, I took about a hundred photos as the light changed through all it’s gradations as the sun went down.
I ended up with two photos of La Jolla that seemed to me to be fairly representational. The one above is the one I would choose to represent the place. It invokes for me the feeling I had when I was there.
The second photo (below) is more true-to-life. The first image is more photoshopped than the second. Even so, to me it says “California sunset at La Jolla” more than the other one.
why? I’m not sure. Maybe you know? Maybe you disagree?
Everybody takes an evening skyline photograph of San Diego from the exact same place. There’s no option — there isn’t any other good place you can shoot a skyline of San Diego from in the evening.
So I shot it from the same place as everyone else. You may say why bother? Fair question.
It’s hard to shoot some places without doing the same photograph everyone has. After all, how many shots are there of every square inch of the Grand Canyon?
It used to bother me to shoot something that has already been, pardon the pun, over-exposed. Then I realized something. When you go and shoot the same location that so many others have already shot, you learn a lot. You have to.
When you make your photo, you are hoping to bring something to the shot that no one else thought of. Sometimes you are fortunate and it happens. Most of the time you only wish you were so lucky. Either way, you learn a lot just from the mental exercise.
On the other hand, you always get the chance to compare what you are doing with what someone else did. You might say to yourself, “hey why can’t I get that color in the sky like so-and-so did?” Dozens of questions like that crop up as you work. They trigger new ideas for angles, settings, lenses, etc. that you take with you to the next shoot and the next..
So, go ahead and shoot the Grand Canyon just like everyone else. Maybe you’ll hit paydirt and come up with something completely new. Either way, I guarantee you’ll learn something.