Photographers Need To Look Down More Often

A feather, delicately positioned between rocks, lies in a shallow pool of water on Squeaky Beach in Wilsons Promontory National Park, Australia.

I made the above photograph after a difficult weekend. It was one of those weekends where everything goes wrong. A friend I was traveling with caused us to leave late resulting in a missed sunset opportunity. The weather turned and our photography adventurers for the rest of the weekend were severely curtailed by heavy rain and ferocious wind.

Yet, despite poor weather, it's still possible to make interesting images.

Embrace Poor Weather And Feel Alive

The joy of travel and being out in the landscape calms the mind and refreshes the soul. I’m always invigorated by a day in the landscape, regardless of the weather. I drink deeply of the beauty around me and revel in the light, if and when it appears. What's more, after a day in the elements, boy do I sleep well.

Photo Opportunities At Wilsons Promontory National Park

Wilsons Promontory National Park is the southern most region of the Australian mainland. It’s a huge area, much of it wilderness. The areas frequented by tourists are easy to get to, yet very beautiful. One of these places is Squeaky Beach, famous for its rounded quartz sand which literally squeaks when you walk on it.

Light At The Edge Of Poor Weather

Weather at the prom is fickle and rain can come quickly and, seemingly, out of nowhere. However, the light that exists either side of such storms is, perhaps, what I most like about Wilsons Promontory.

The above photo was made, just as I was about to drive back to Melbourne at the end of the weekend. I only had a few short minutes to explore the beach. It was windy and very cold. I was forced to take shelter between some large rocks at the end of the beach. I looked down, to turn my head away from biting rain that had begun to fall, and noticed this delicate and tranquil scene at my feet. I set up the camera and made the photograph which, for me, made the whole trip worthwhile. 

It's Fun Bringing Your Old Photos Back To Life

The photo at the top of this post is a relatively old one, at least in the world of digital photography, having been created in September 2006. It's a reminder of how making that extra effort, despite being battered around all weekend by inclement weather, allowed me to make a photograph that finished the weekend on a positive note.

The photo was made with an original Canon 5D camera and Canon 180mm f3.5 Macro lens. This is a relatively specialized lens, which I didn’t use a lot. It was razor sharp, but big and heavy. Unfortunately, it did not include any form of in-built image stabilization which made using it, up close, difficult.

Because of the closeness of the lens to the subject I choose an Aperture of f/20 to provide the large depth of field (DOF) I required. I like the way the surrounding rocks frame the feather, lying delicately on a diagonal axis across the image.

A moody, birdseye view looking down a narrow stairwell at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

Extra Effort Is How You Make More Interesting Photos

One of the secrets to making interesting images is to take a physical approach to your photography. Instead of instinctively bringing your camera up to the height of your eye, try bringing your camera and eye to where they need to be to make the photograph. Sometimes that will require you to stand tall. Other times you'll need to bob or lay down low to achieve the perspective needed for the photo in question.

Both of these urban scenes explore the notion of a birdseye viewpoint. Reaching over the railing to make the image at the Arc de Triomphe allowed me to explore the circular, even corkscrew, nature of the structure. Likewise, photographing downwards into the narrow Melbourne laneway below allowed me to explore the canyon-like nature of that particular environment.

  A  birdseye view  onto an  outdoor staircase , with a  seemingly flat ascent , in the city of  Melbourne, Australia .

A birdseye view onto an outdoor staircase, with a seemingly flat ascent, in the city of Melbourne, Australia.

Next time you're out and about with your camera try taking a moment longer to put your body where it needs to be to make more compelling photos.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru