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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Keeping the slate clean

When you live and photograph in a concrete jungle you can pretty much walk and photograph wherever you like without fear of the dreaded footprint!

You know the footprint I mean. The one that magically appears right in the middle of a pristine landscape and totally ruins your picture. The one that transforms your untouched wilderness photo into a degraded vision of its perfect self.

And what makes it even worse is that footprint is often your own! So when you're photographing on the beach, or in the snow, you need to be very careful to walk only in places where you don't think you're going to point your camera.

Remember how I'm always harping on about looking behind you for different compositions? If everything behind you is blighted by big ugly boot prints you won't be a happy camper.

When I'm photographing on the beach I make sure that I walk along the beach as far away from the water as possible. Up in the really soft, dry sand, which is already pretty messed up anyway and my footprints don't really stand out.

Most beach shots happen down near the water anyway so as I walk along I keep an eye out for an area that might be nice to photograph. Then I walk in a straight line down to the water's edge, looking for compositions as I go.

When I've got what I want I walk straight back up the path I took, pretty much stepping in my own footprints. That way I have pristine beach to my left and right and have more options for compositions. (Of course if I turn around and look back to where my footprints came from and see something I like I'm in trouble but we won't worry about that! :) )

Try it next time you go to the beach. Walk along it as far away from the water as you can, up in the dry part, and only head down to the water when you see a spot for a great shot.

Of course if somebody else walks along the beach there's nothing much you can do except hope they have bare feet, a nice footprint, and a gait that will make a nice composition. Happy beach shooting.

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