Chapman Fall, East Haddm, CT

Move Around for the Best Shot

Move around for the best shot? What are you talking about, Mark? How can you get a quality picture if you’re moving around? Won’t it be blurry? No, I’m not talking about moving around as in dancing in place while taking the picture. I’m talking about looking around, seeing if there’s a better angle or spot to shoot from. Let me explain. Last autumn, Nancy and I went to nearby Devil’s Hopyard State Park to take some photos of Chapman Falls, a multi-cascade waterfall that drops about 60 feet. With the leaves being in full color and rain the day before, I knew there was a chance for some good photos. What I didn’t count on was the 100 other people there with the same thought.

After eventually finding a place to park, we made our way down the main trail to the foot of the falls and was surprised to the area full of people. With so many people around, I did a couple things to get my pictures faster and to avoid hogging the prime spot for too long, which brings me to a quick rant.

I try to be polite all the time, and when I see someone taking a photo, I wait for them to take their photo. When I see they’re done, I ask them if they’re done because I don’t want to move in if they’re going to take another, but so many people are not this way. They’ll just walk right in front of someone taking a photo, sometimes spending several minutes there, when the photographer only needs a couple seconds to get their shots. It reminds me of a recent experience pro photographers Rick Sammon and Juan Pons had on one of their workshops with some folks exhibiting rude behavior.

Anyway, I didn’t want to hot the prime spot for too long, so I did some things that any photographer can do in situations where there are a lot of people vying for a small spot. I stepped aside and got my camera set up with the settings I wanted to use before moving in to take the photo. With waterfalls, a slow shutter is needed to blur the motion, so a tripod is a must. When a spot opened up, I moved in, set up my tripod, quickly composed the shot and took a picture. I did a couple more with slightly different settings and different angles and moved out. Total time in “the zone,” less than a minute.

Chapman Falls, East Haddam, CT
Chapman Falls, East Haddam, CT

I was able to get the shot at the left, which I like, but I wanted something better, which I couldn’t with so many people around. I figured the pictures I took were the best I’d get and hiked back up top, but when I got to the top, I started looking around and noticed a different trail heading down the opposite sides of the falls. I had to be careful because it was a little precipitous from the recent rains, but I ended up having the entire area to myself except for a girl sunbathing on a nearby rock.

It was great because I was able to set up my tripod and move around wherever I wanted and spend as much time as I needed to make sure I got the shot right. I ended up getting the shot at the top of the blog post, which I like a lot more than shot of the entire falls. Others feel the same way because that photo had a pulse rating of 91.5 versus a 59.7 on 500px.

Sometimes when we take photos, we may get so focused on what we’re seeing that we may forget to look around and see if there’s a different way we can take the photo, but I so glad I did because if I hadn’t seen the side trail and moved over there, I wouldn’t have been able to get this one. There’s always a lot going on when taking photos, but looking and moving is something that can help everyone take better photos I think.

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