Do Some Research Beforehand
Read as much as you can about the location before you visit it. Use Google Maps and see pictures taken by others to get an idea of how the place looks. Use desktop and cellphone apps like The Photographer’s Ephemeris and Photopills to check the timings and trajectories of the sun and the moon.
If you are going to the seaside, then having a tide timetable with you is very helpful. From your research you will be able to determine the best time to visit the place and get good images.
Visit the Place Without a Camera
Sometimes a camera becomes a distraction from really exploring and appreciating the beauty of a place. So when you have a location in mind, first go without a camera and just explore it. Look for interesting subjects and compositions and then return with the camera.
First Observe and Then Shoot
Don’t start shooting as soon as you reach the place. Give your mind some time to relax and open up.
This allows you to become more aware of your surroundings and you begin to notice little details and intricacies that you may have missed earlier.
Visit the Same Place in Different Settings
A forest, for example, undergoes a huge transformation with the changing seasons. You will get thick golden mist on winter mornings while in the monsoons, it is lush green everywhere with brooks and streams dotting the landscape. The more you visit the same place, the more intimate you will get with it. Some of the best landscape photographs stem out of a photographer’s love for the land.
Speak With the Locals
The best way to understand the lay of the land is to talk to the locals. They can give you valuable information about the best places in the area and when to visit them.
With their help, you can stay updated with the current weather and plan your photography outings at the right time.
This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Better Photography.