Pre-designing your shot ~ the lost art of pre-visualization

When it comes to photography (and most other facets of my life), I tend to be a bit of a winger. Planning and pre-planning does not come naturally to this guy. More often than not, the only thing I know about my next nature shoot is the trail I am going to explore, and which flavour of Nature Valley granola bar I am going to take with me….almond. I must admit, sometimes this renders favourable results as I set almost no expectations, and usually come away with something good, sometimes great. However, I am quickly learning that the lost arts of pre-visualization and pre-planning need to be utilized on a more regular basis.

There are tremendous benefits to pre-planning my shot before I put my car key in the ignition. For one, it saves me time. Knowing what I am going to shoot before I shoot it? How could that not ensure I maximize my time in the field and get back in time for the next gripping episode of Dexter. There is also the challenge of it all, especially to a self-admitted winger. Planning and pre-visualizing my next shot puts me outside my comfort zone, and I like that.

There is a lake on Texada Island called Heyshelt Lake, or Hayshelt Lake, or Hoyscholdt Lake, something to that effect (the jury is still out on the name of this gem and it hasn’t graced any map I have ever seen). It should be called Holy Shit Lake, because once you fix your eyes on it you won’t believe that a place this overwhelmingly stunning actually exists.

quarry lake on my first visit in 2009

 It is a quarry lake, meaning that the rich minerals from the surrounding rock quarries are the reason this lake is the colour it is. Catching the beauty of this lake on camera, that was the easy part, real easy. I had been here twice before and knew I had to plan someting extraordinary for my third time around and I eagerly looked forward to the challenge. So, I pre-visualized.

I wanted to showcase diving/swimming in this island paradise, adding the human element (and thus creating a commercial/tourism ready image). The image became clear in my mind. I would be lake level and a diver would drop from the heavens overtop of me into the turquoise waters of Holy Shit Lake. All that was left was to catch the ferry with my models, and make it a reality!

This shot existed in my mind for months, now it's a digital file

After that pre-shoot visualization took place, other shots surfaced in me noggin that I added to my checklist before shoot day. I wanted to get a shot of the jumper backlit with the sun bursting behind him. Check.

sun bursting off of diver contemplating how lucky he is!

The jump

I also wanted a shot illustrating the romance of it all….two good looking models frolicking in the sexy waters. Done and done.

A couple that dives together....

Several successful images, all pre-planned, captured within 30 minutes of each other…allowing me enough time to take many jumps into the lake myself. Afterall, Dexter was on summer break 🙂

Dexter would want me to jump!

D

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Coast in Focus II ~ The Lower Sunshine Coast

It’s official! The Coast in Focus photography weekend workshop is coming to the Lower Sunshine Coast on October 1-3, 2010. Fall on the Sunshine Coast is an amazing experience. Not only are the colours beautiful and the light warm, there is also lots of room to move and explore as tourist season winds down dramatically in this region. This is my favourite season to get out and explore, shoot and enjoy this stunning region I call home.

This past May, we welcomed sixteen incredible individuals to join us in gorgeous Powell River for the first Coast in Focus workshop. Although the weather was extremely challenging (my hiking boots are still a little damp) the weekend was a tremendous success and I am still seeing dramatic improvements in the imagery our participants are producing. What an experience for all of us.

Coast in Focus participants after shoot at Stillwater Bluffs

There was great demand to see this workshop series come down south to the Lower Sunshine Coast…….and we concur.

So if you didn’t get the chance to join us in Powell River, now is your chance to learn how to vastly improve your imagery and photography skills in one of the most spectacular settings in British Columbia, or the world for that matter. We will cover topics including composition, lighting (natural and artifical), working with subjects, storytelling, essential gear, camera basics, aperture and exposure, and my favourite subject….how to infuse creativity into your image making.

Kelly and I are very excited for October. New this time around, is the proud sponsorship of Outdoor Photography Canada magazine, Canada’s coolest publication for all things nature photography! And best of all, included in this year’s package is a free subscription to the magazine for every participant!

Interested?

Click here for the full details. A little hint: this PDF is 4 mb, so please be patient as it downloads for you, might take about 1-2 minutes. While you let it download, you could always visit www.darrenrobinsonphotography.com or www.naturalwonders.ca and learn some more about the instructors. Or you could play Farmville. Whatever your pleasure 🙂