At some point on my journey across Africa, I realised that I need to put more effort into my landscape photography shootings. This also goes hand in hand with exploring and traveling even more. We are earthlings and the earth is home. Not your place of residence or your hometown e.g. country, but the outdoors. Simply getting lost and capturing what nature will unfold in front of our eyes. It will not only help me to find myself, but also help to improve my photography tremendously. So when I settled down in Switzerland again, I started looking for places to go shoot. Long story short, I decided to head south to Lavertezzo and Locarno, two very beautiful places in the canton of Ticino. I spent the first night in Lavertezzo, followed by two more nights in Locarno. I was there from the 1st till the 4th of October. Therefore, in contrast to my previous approach, I precisely planned this trip and I would like to focus on this very aspect of photography. Planning a landscape shoot.
The first step is obviously to find out where I am heading. This comes down to two factors: time and budget. I usually try to go on a shoot for two or three days and I set a budget accordingly. An attitude that shapes time is also the routing. I try to keep it to a minimum as there are a lot of amazing landscapes anywhere to be found nearby where I live. Sometimes I want to capture something very specific and then I go the extra miles, but this is not the norm.
I use a few tools to find out where I want to head for a shooting. I always first seek some inspiration and ideas. I especially like to use the map of the photo community 500px in order to find images from other photographers. This gives me a good idea of where to shoot and what images I can expect. To have a comparison I use Google Maps Street View, which also comes with a great feature called Photo Sphere. They are displayed as blue dots on the map. It is basically a 360 degrees’ image, providing you with a panoramic view of the particular place. I find Street View, including Photo Sphere, tremendously helpful. As soon as I have my shooting locations restricted to a specific area, I like to get a first idea of the hikes I need to take. For that, I use Google Terrain. It can be activated in the menu and basically shows you the topography and height. Additionally, I use an extra hiking map as Google Maps doesn’t include all hiking routes, especially if the place is a bit more remote. After I made sure that they are accessible, I think about accommodation. I reuse Google Maps to picture a location for my stay. I want to reach the particular places to shoot within approx. two hours of my accommodation. Therefore, it is crucial that the lodging is situated accordingly. I mainly use Airbnb for my stays and if not available, a hotel. This time, I first booked an Airbnb in Locarno and a few days later, as an outcome of planning, a hotel in Lavertezzo. The simple reason was that I couldn’t´t reach Lavertezzo by public transport on time for sunrise e.g. sunset and a hike takes a couple of hours one way. After receiving a confirmation, I use a hiking app on my smartphone in order to create very precise hiking routes. You can use any particular hiking app as long as it has a route planner included. I also check the weather forecast several times and if necessary, I make usage of a rain radar. Lastly I need to find out when the time of shooing is. For this, I use an extraordinary powerful tool named The Photographer’s Ephemeris. It calculates the sunrise and –set times and also shows how the light falls on the location. This means you will exactly know from which angle you need to shoot to achieve the image you have in your head. If you are interested in the tool, please use the web and look for tutorials – there are dozens out there. Also, in order to visualise a trip, I get a map of the area and start to mark and record everything I just mentioned.
This, in a nutshell, is basically what I do and the process I take. It is not very detailed on purpose, as the notion is to give you an idea of what work is behind some of my photographs and for those thinking about getting into landscape photography. And remember, if nothing works out as planned, be flexible. Always make sure you head out there. You never know, maybe you get a photograph of a life time! To give you an idea of the results I was able to achieve by planing, attached a few images.