I had a great morning today shooting Portland Head Light and Spring Point Lighthouse. Today I decided to slow things down...literally. I was shooting long exposures on a tripod with a 10-stop filter and a couple of Graduated ND filters. I created roughly 100 shots and had a roughly 30% "keep" rate - which is better than I expected while experimenting with filter stacking. You can see the best shots in my "Featured" Gallery.
Anyways - as I was packing up at Spring Point, I had a stranger ask me if I had any advice on taking a great photo of the lighthouse.
My response was: "Slow down and take your time."
He replied, "OK - and I bet good glass helps, too," as he eyed my 14-24mm lens.
-- Unfortunately this is the way many new photographers think - so I gave him a couple more tidbits. --
My response was probably not what he expected:
"Today I'm shooting long exposures - I'm stopping down to f/8 and f/11, so fast glass isn't as important as a steady tripod - I'm using this lens because it gets me the wide angle I'm looking for.
"If you want the best advice I can give you, it's this: your eyes are the most important tools you have - not your camera. Try to see the lighthouse in a unique way... look for a way to photograph it in a way that isn't expected. The difference between a snapshot and a photograph is the creative mind, not the equipment used to create it."
He then asked how I dealt with the wind for my long exposures.
"It's calm - my tripod is sturdy enough to handle the occasional light breeze," I explained.
"Thank you for the advice," the stranger said, "I'll try to do something new today."
As I headed back to my car, I couldn't help but watch the stranger - I think he really was trying to see the lighthouse in a new way - I saw him getting low to the ground, shooting from different perspectives, and maybe even taking the time to think about what he wanted to do next. Hopefully he remembers my advice down the road - the next time he's making photographs.