Shoot What You Have, Shoot Where You Are

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One of the lessons that I’ve recently learned and have tried to take to heart is a simple one… just shoot. Don’t obsess over having your entire lens collection with you so that you can get the “perfect” shot for any circumstance. Chances are you’ll miss the shot while you’re fumbling with a lens change, anyway. And don’t forgo taking the shot if the light isn’t “just so”, shoot what you see. You’re there, you have the opportunity, and even if conditions aren’t perfect (when are they ever?) there is still value in the photograph.

It was with these thoughts in mind that I set out with my husband last weekend for a bit of an in-state adventure. I challenged myself to stick with “one camera, one lens”, so instead of loading up my bulky gear bag, I set out with just my Canon 7D and… get this… the 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens that the camera came with. I usually have my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS affixed to my camera, but I wanted a longer range and am currently lacking anything in the line of telephoto lenses. I hadn’t used the kit lens at all, so I thought I’d give it a chance.

On Saturday my husband and I took a day trip to the historic Western town of Prescott, which is about two hours away from our home in Arizona. Then on Sunday we traveled the 28-mile length of Four Peaks Road, over the mountain range itself, bumping along the dirt “road” (and I use that term loosely) in a Jeep that we’d rented for the weekend – a six-hour round trip (I’m not done post-processing those photos yet, which is why you only see one photo from Sunday in this article). On both occasions I happened to be shooting at and around noon, in snow, under hazy atmospheric conditions, and even through the windshield of the Jeep. Usually I shot in Aperture Priority, but sometimes I switched to Program mode, or even Creative Auto, just to see how the camera would capture things. Also, based on what I learned by watching the Kelby Training video with Jay Maisel, I spent most of the day in bright conditions shooting at ISO 800 or 1600.

All of these things are habits I don’t generally practice, photographically speaking. Yet, it was rather freeing to know that I was approaching this photographic weekend casually, with fun in mind, just wanting to create memories of where we’d been and what we did.

It was extremely liberating. And the resulting photographs weren’t half bad. So, I challenge you to give this free-wheeling style of photography a try. If you tend to be somewhat of a control freak in the approach you take, try letting go and just snapping pictures. You’ll remind yourself of what you may have forgotten – this photography thing that we all tend to obsess over? It’s supposed to be FUN. Don’t get so hung up on the “artistry” of it all that you lose the ability to shoot for the express purpose of being able to say, “We were there, and it was fun!”

Photo credits (all): Tiffany Joyce. In order of appearance:
- Four Peaks Road, with the Four Peaks Mountains in the background. A very hazy day that was somewhat improved with some judicious levels adjustments and sharpening in Photoshop.
- A shot of my husband’s beer (and my husband), in the reflection of the mirror behind the bar at The Bird Cage on Whiskey Row in Prescott. EXTREMELY dim lighting conditions, but we were there for the beer!
- A mural of historic Prescott by a local artist, hanging in the dining room of The Palace Saloon and Restaurant. If you go, you MUST get the bacon cheeseburger!
- The Town Square in historic downtown Prescott. The square is surrounded by lovely old Elm trees that must look stunning in the spring and fall.
- My feet. I felt the need to prove that there is snow in Arizona. My husband went off in another direction and pretended he didn’t know me while I took this shot. Well, I warned him I would!

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  • http://minimalistphotography101.com Steve

    You have just summed up my photography philosophy to a tee! always good to read writing by someone who actually gets it.

    The high ISO sunny day trick is one that I’ve used for years to get shots out of moving vehicles and the results are generally really good. Once the shutter speed is up over 1/1000 pointing the camera in the right direction becomes the only concern.

    I have a relatively cheap Canon Powershot (A3100 IS)as my second camera and I leave this on its nightime setting which reduces the image to 2mp which allows it to use ridiculously high ISO settings. Due to the MP reduction it also makes focusing much faster and it has to be said, more accurate. Point being that I can just grab the camera point it and fire in just about any conditions and I will get a photograph that is more than usable on a screen.