Prepping a Scene

In landscape photography, it is seldom that we come across a scene that is absolutely ideal.  Often times, it takes a bit of time to prepare a scene prior to shooting.  If I invest a bit of time in preparing a scene for a photo, it means I can save a lot of time removing a stray twig or leaf after the fact.  I try to keep my prints as true to the original scene as possible. In an ideal situation, I should not have to do any tweaks to the drum scan. Prepping a scene for a photograph initially sounds like it goes against everything that Landscape Photography is suppose to represent.  However, I find it to be a necessary part of photography.

When prepping a scene, I do not do anything that will permanently affect the area.  When shooting in a desert region with sand, I will often times throw a fresh coat of sand to disguise footprints.  I don’t have a problem with temporarily moving a distracting subject from the scene. If there is a loose tumble weed, piece of dead wood, or other “mobile” distracting element in the scene, I will often times move it out of the way for the photo. For these objects, I will return them to their position when I am done shooting.  On the other hand, I feel that moving a subject specifically into the scene (a piece of dead wood, or a stone) usually looks contrived, and obviously placed there by man.

When shooting at the beach, I remove stray seaweed, or other elements that will wash up on the shore.   I am not too concerned with returning seaweed to its original position though.  The next high tide tends to take care of that anyway.

I do not believe in setting up a shot that did not exist in the first place.  Moving rocks or other objects seems to go against the spirit of landscape photography. I find joy in stumbling across a scene where the elements are very photogenic, and placed there by nature (hopefully not by another photographer in the days or months prior to my visit).

2 Responses to “Prepping a Scene”

  1. Sharon Van Lieu Says:

    Ben, I share your viewpoint. I will gently hold long grass away from the front of my lens but don’t like adding things to the shot.

    I’m enjoying your blog.

    Sharon

  2. Ben Horne Says:

    Sharon,

    Thanks for the comment. I find that as much as I try, I cannot replicate what Nature can do with the forces of wind and water. I have tried to “cheat” nature in the past by setting up a scene, or staging a shot, but the final result always seems to look contrived. Of course, who is to say that a scene I stumble across was not staged by another photographer.

    Ben

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