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So You Can’t Find Anywhere Good to Photograph in Your Local Area

Landscape or travel photographers can always find great places to shoot when they’re travelling overseas or interstate. We’ve all seen the well-known tourist destinations, snapped by thousands of smart phones or that famous icon everyone rates a ‘must-see’; but what are you able to photograph in your local area?

Photography close to home can offer its share of challenges, assuming of course you don’t have a stunning waterfall or the Eiffel Tower in your backyard. When you have the opportunity to shoot some outstanding landscapes, seascapes or the like, often what exists in your local area can seem very mundane or boring. But, with a little bit of effort there are many positives to shooting locally; not the least being you don’t have to travel far and apart from a bit of petrol, it won’t cost you anything. Let’s have a look at a few things to keep in mind in order to find some of those local gems.

In tidal areas sometimes you must visualise what an area will look like at different times of the day

  1. Mrs McGillicuddy was right

In Grade 3 at school when Mrs McGillicuddy said ‘You’ve got to do your homework’, who knew she’d be right!

One of the best ways I’ve found to find great local places to shoot is to have a drive around when you have some spare time. Don’t just look for a subject, but search for things that will make an interesting foreground as well. Once you’ve found a spot visualise where your light will be coming from - will this spot make a great sunrise or sunset shot? Will you have to wait a while after sunrise for the sun to peak over a mountain or ridge line? 

If you have the luxury of choosing the time for your drive-by, anytime between 10-3pm suits me as outside of that I prefer to be shooting or preparing to do so.

2. Remember where you’ve been

Make sure you have some way of recording the places you’ve visited or plan to shoot.This may be in the form of a spreadsheet or database, or some type of electronic map if you are a bit more tech-savvy. However you record it, don’t forget to include things such as location, best time to shoot, appealing weather conditions and you may even want to include a snapshot of the location (depending how you record your information)

3. Don’t re-invent the wheel

Talk to other photographers in the area, or visit their websites to view their work. Be careful though, the last thing you want to do is simply copy someone else’s work. Let’s face it there is no value of 10 people shooting the same waterfall, with the same composition, there is however, value in photographing that waterfall using a unique composition or different perspective. Use the work of others as inspiration and then create your own image with your vision.

Often shot and wanting something different, I picked my time and used two flashes with coloured gels to get the effect I wanted

A different perspective

4. Google is your friend

A simple Google search along the lines of ‘best places to photograph in …’ or something similar can often yield some really good results. Google Earth can also offer a different research perspective.

Another place to search, particularly in a holiday location, are the local real estate windows as often they are as much about selling the local areas they are a particular house.

5. Follow your feet

Get out and go for a hike. This one is particularly useful if you live near a forest or National Park. Sometimes a view from the outside of a park or wooded area can mask a multitude of gems and opportunities.

The difficult to get too, or areas that require a bit more effort, often produce some of the best results as you’ve got a great chance your shot will be unique.