Second Chances – The Benefits of Scouting out a Location in Advance

Earlier I read a post on Out of Chicago that asked whether or not photographers search for other photographs before going to an unknown location. If you recall from my earlier post where I described things I do in advance of taking a trip this is something I do regularly – especially when visiting a location I won’t be able to get back to in the near future, if ever again.

We were in the Grand Canyon for a few days and while I do at some point in my life hope to get back there again I can’t be certain I’ll be able to. Life takes us in many different directions and perhaps my path will never intersect with the giant canyon ever again. As a result I researched a number of locations that I knew I wanted to take pictures of along the South Rim. One of them was Yaki Point for Sunrise which many consider to be the best place to watch the sunrise. The unique views both East and West of the canyon and the view of Vishnu Temple are often cited as the key reasons for this being the best viewpoint. However, the actual ‘Yaki Point Overlook’ is not the best spot but rather a cliff that juts out about 300 yards to the east of the main point. The first morning we were there I woke up early, bundled up (it was in the 30s in the morning while climbing to the 80s midday) and headed out to find my spot. Yaki Point is not accessible with a car, instead you have to wait for a shuttle bus to pick you up and drop you off. I caught the second shuttle that morning with three other thru hikers so I was the only one to get off at Yaki Point. With my headlamp on I wandered off to the east to locate the spot that I read about online. I heard voices as I approached and was disheartened to find that there were a group of about five photographers who apparently were on the first bus and beat me to the overlook. I wound up taking some other pictures and was happy with the shots but knew that I wanted to make it back to that point later in the trip. Two days later I caught the first shuttle (with a handful of photographers again) but this time I was ready and once the bus let out I quickly moved into position where I was able to capture this shot (and many others).

Photo of the Day – Dawn of Day in the Canyon


In my opinion, doing research in advance – especially if you are unsure if you will be able to go back to the spot – is a smart idea because you want to get the best possible shots for your portfolio. Now this doesn’t mean you straight up copy the other angles someone else took (you can if you want – just try and credit the original as well) but you can find positions and angles that work on your particular day. That is the great thing with nature photography – each shot (even if copied) will always be different because nature will never be able to perfectly recreate itself. It will always be slightly different and we are there ‘pausing’ the action so that we can remember it as we saw it.

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