Shoot the scene, and then shoot it again, and again

I firmly believe that the fewer shots we go back home with, the better. That being said, there are situations where no shots should be spared.

Yesterday, I woke up at 5 in the morning to go on a little photography trip to the town of Lugo: I wanted to be there for sunrise and capture the fog (I was assuming there'd be fog after checking the available weather data, but I had no guarantees) and the spectacular 1,800 year-old Roman Wall that surrounds the downtown area.

In photography, we can control natural light showing up at certain times of the day - assuming the sky is clear, this is. If there's any weather at all, light can be totally unpredictable. With fog, it's just impossible to know what's going to happen.

I ran into some scenes yesterday that I loved and started photographing. And then I shot them again, and again. I had no idea when the best light would be, when the fog would be thicker or thinner, or when the birds would decide to take off.

Below, a few examples.


Birds, old building and the Sun

Contact sheets, click to maximize.

One of the things I love the most about heavy fog is when the Sun shows itself through the droplets suspended in the air. It's one of those rare occasions where you can see it in all its glory.

Don't get me wrong though! Don't stare at the Sun, ever. I'm not sure whether the fog blocks the bad stuff along with visible light or not, but just be safe and do not stare. Do it through the viewfinder of your (mirrorless!) camera, or your phone.

They are usually boring photos though, you need something else. In this case, I found this old building under construction and a bird that was hanging out on top of it.

I stopped there for a few minutes and started taking some exposures. Then the bird took off and I got a shot I loved.

I knew I had gotten something I would like, but I kept shooting for a few more minutes. If you are in front of a scene with elements that keep changing (here, not only the birds but also the Sun), be patient and insist on the composition.

In this case I didn't get a better photo than that one, but it's worth spending the extra time, just in case.


The Cathedral

I went to Lugo without any compositions in mind, but I had a few spots I wanted to check out - the Cathedral was one of them.

When I got there, the fog was pretty much gone. The Sun was rising behind the building, which was perfect for making an image of the silhouette.

I wasn't sure about the composition I wanted though. There were a ton of birds flying around as well, so I just went ahead and shot a bunch of pictures changing ever so slightly the composition and waiting for birds to enter and exit the frame.

At the end, I didn't love any of the images. I still wanted to show you the process here though.


Countryside road, trees and fog

That sounds like a perfect combination, right?

I spent quite some time on this road, looking for isolated subjects like trees, fences, gates, houses... These two trees were the most interesting thing I found.

Normally, I'd work the scene a little bit more and wouldn't take so many shots of it. But even though this was a countryside road and there was no traffic, I don't like to have the car parked on the side for too long, so my time was limited here.

That's why I shot everything I thought could make for good compositions, and I'd choose the best later at home with more time.

I did choose one.



As I said before, shooting less can be a good practice to improve your photography. Work on fewer compositions, and reflect on those you've made.

Once you found one you like though, feel free to take as many shots as you need to create what you saw on the field. And then select that exposure that represents your vision the best.

Remember that this, like any other information on this blog, is just general advice and you should take whatever you think it might be useful to you. Don't follow what I say literally, but rather treat as food for thought.

I'd love to hear what you think about this, please drop me a line with your thoughts!