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Always be prepared

They say that as a photographer, you should always have your camera with you in case you come across something or someone you want to photograph. This is sound advice. Yes, it does make sense to be ready, particularly for us photographers, as we work with some elements beyond our control. But a walk I took the other day made me realize that there is more to it than just having a camera.

So a couple of days ago, I decided to take an evening walk downtown. I did not have any intention of taking photographs. Still, following the advice of having a camera with you at all times, I took my Sony with my 24-105 mm lens attached to it. As I walk past a cathedral, which I often pass by, a photo idea popped in my head. The idea was to take a slow shutter speed image of the Cathedral with the street in the foreground. Using a slow shutter speed would allow me to capture the light trails of the passing cars.

I crossed the street to compose my image, and thus when I was faced with two problems. The first problem was the lack of a tripod. When shooting with a slow shutter speed, the camera must be steady when the shutter is open. Any camera movement at this point will result in a blurry image. Without a tripod, it would be impossible for me to hold the camera steady for the duration of the exposure. I was able to fix this problem by setting my camera on a ledge and using the camera's self-timer. But that was not all.

I quickly realized that the lens I had was not wide enough. At 24 mm, that's the widest it would go, the lens could not capture the scene without capturing the tree branches in the foreground. While zooming in took out the tree branches, the resulting image was neither what I wanted nor was is esthetically pleasing. So I had no choice but to incorporate the foliage in the picture. I was left very dissatisfied.

Even though I was presently surprised by the images, once I uploaded them to Lightroom, the walk taught that it is not enough to just bring your camera. It is essential to keep in mind where you are going and what time of day it is. Had I taken time to think before leaving home, I would have realized two things. One that it was evening time, and therefore I will be shooting in low light. As such, shooting handheld would be difficult hence the need for a tripod. Two that shooting in the city more or less require a wide-angle lens. With a wide-angle lens, it is easy to capture tall buildings where space is limited. So now always take a wide-angle zoom and medium telephoto zoom with me. And by the way, I have also invested in monopod!

Talk later.

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