As a Leeds based commercial photographer, the brief was to shoot high-quality panoramics of landmark locations for the NatWest (RBS) branch refurbishments, around Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.
Time and budget did not permit visiting each town or city to identify potential locations for the photography in advance. The criteria were strict in terms of what could and couldn’t be photographed and the style, too. To overcome this, I used a number of online tools to assist in identifying potential locations.
For a given town or suburb, I would first start by visiting the local Tourist Information website, or just by typing the place name into Google and looking at the resulting images that the search served up. I then compiled a list of 5 or 6 good locations to investigate further.
Some cities and towns were straightforward when identifying good locations, such as Sheffield City Centre. In contrast, the Sheffield suburb of Crystal Peaks was more of a challenge. Once potential locations were finalised, I then had to work out the optimum time of day to photograph them and in what order.
In the summer months, every photographer knows the best light is early morning and from late afternoon to dusk. The brief required me to avoid cars, people, etc, so on several occasions, I found myself shooting between 4am and 8am in a city or town centre. On the plus side, you can park almost anywhere without fear of a ticket, however, delivery trucks were an issue. They always seemed to arrive just as I’d set up the camera on the panoramic tripod head; I was then left waiting for 20 minutes whilst they unloaded. Frustrating but all part of the job.
Not all locations were suitable to be shot in the early morning, but APPS such as Sun Seeker and The Photographer’s Ephemeris allow you to identify where the sun is at any given location/time/date of the year, invaluable! However, the good old British weather is always an issue; I have 4 weather APPS and only when there was a consensus between them would I head to a location, although even then they were not always right.
My advice is if you are travelling to unfamiliar locations, spend time researching and check the weather forecast, you will be much more likely to achieve some great photographs.
Just after 4am, I was on Cleethorpes Beach waiting to shoot a panoramic of the sunrise. Looking at the final photograph, it appears to be a peaceful tranquil beach scene, however directly behind me, loud music is booming from a nightclub and rather inebriated clubbers were spilling out onto the promenade. A few shouted, “Can I have my picture taken mister!”
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