A Quick Photo Tip – Use Your Feet

A Quick Photo Tip – Use Your Feet

By |2014-10-02T08:49:58+00:00Oct 2nd, 2014|

The impetus for this photo tip came from standing at Oxbow Bend in Grand Tetons National Park last week during sunset. I had come to learn that this area is very popular for photographers because of the way the Snake River meanders through, while also providing a picturesque reflection of Mount Moran. On this particular afternoon, though, it was quite clear that sunset was likely not going to be a jaw-dropper. We had a really thick layer of low-hanging clouds that ended up blocking a good amount of the sun’s glow. Still, we were steadfast in capturing whatever we were given.

About 30 minutes before the actual sunset, though, I noticed a firing line of photographers begin to form around me and some of my fellow workshop attendees (we had gotten to the spot about 90 minutes prior to sunset). What surprised me was that once these photographers placed their tripods down, that is where they would stay. Now, I fully understand the importance of securing a good location to frame up a strong shot… if the conditions were looking to be ideal. However, when it is clear that the sunset isn’t going to amount to much, why not work on diversifying the photos you take home from that shoot?

If there’s one thing that creates a wave of disenchantment over me, it’s coming home, importing my photos, and seeing that 98% of them… are exactly the same. That’s why, as I was standing here at Oxbow Bend, I made it a point to try different spots. Even if it meant giving up the perfect location, I’d rather have variety. So, my simple advice to you is to keep a mental clock going in your head. Unless you absolutely have to be standing in the very same spot with a very good purpose, keep a timer going and after so many minutes, try moving around. You never know what you may end up seeing as a result.

This is a three-exposure HDR image created by converting them into a 32-bit TIFF file using Photoshop’s HDR Pro and then saving it back to Lightroom for editing. Kudos to Rob Sylvan for showing me that trick. I used my Sony A7r and Sony FE 24-70mm lens on my Really Right Stuff TVC-34L/BH-55 tripod. The height that this tripod afforded me allowed me to clear my view of the distracting objects in the foreground. Stylization was done using Analog Efex Pro 2.


  1. Sandy Foster October 2, 2014 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Great advice! Yup, I get caught up in that “this is my spot; I was here first” mindset sometimes and am also disappointed with the results back home. Thanks for the well-written reminder!

  2. Rob Sylvan October 2, 2014 at 8:57 am - Reply

    That is one of my favorite spots in that park. I really need to get that taller tripod. I can see the difference in your shot on the reflection.

  3. Jay Patel October 2, 2014 at 8:58 am - Reply

    Nice shot.

  4. Erik Kerstenbeck October 2, 2014 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Great tip

  5. Paulie Grugan October 2, 2014 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Great shot, great spot. Just the tip.

  6. Lorri Eastin October 2, 2014 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Rob, I really want to get the RRS tripod too but will also need a step stool :-)

  7. Brian Matiash October 2, 2014 at 11:15 am - Reply

    That would be an awesome accessory, Lorri! What do you say, Mark?

  8. Mark Gvazdinskas October 2, 2014 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Just do a one-arm pull-up on the tripod apex as you compose the shot :)

  9. Mark Gvazdinskas October 2, 2014 at 11:22 am - Reply

    But with liveview or bodies with articulating screens the tall tripods are definitely more user friendly. I took the monster TVC-44 on a recent trip, stacked some rocks to stand on and was able to get compositions over a cliff I’d never before seen.

  10. Mark Gvazdinskas October 2, 2014 at 11:30 am - Reply

    This looks like a good solution, too. haha ok I’m done trolling your post!! http://amzn.to/1x3zl4C

  11. Brian Matiash October 2, 2014 at 11:40 am - Reply

    Ordered! :P

  12. Rob Sylvan October 2, 2014 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    Paulie, I saw what you did there. lol

  13. Paulie Grugan October 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Haha. Just heard on the radio that Jackson hole is covered in snow

  14. Brian Matiash October 2, 2014 at 2:39 pm - Reply

    Figures, Paulie. :)

  15. Rob Sylvan October 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Yeah, it does look a little more snowy than what we saw http://www.nps.gov/grte/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm

  16. Paulie Grugan October 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    Well that doesn’t look like what the radio said.

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