Locations: Ait Ben Haddu & Taksang Monastery
Ait Ben Haddou is in Morocco and we were leading a tour, and it had rained just terribly the night before. It was kind of unusual. It just rained a lot, we went up in the morning, did not have much help, and there's this fortress that is kind of a spectacular fortress. And this was my first shot, and I am keeping the time down on the lower-left corner just to show you the pace of events here. Now as I'm sitting here and I'm looking at this, okay first I just want to get a shot off just in case they kick us outta here and for some reason we have to leave, I have a shot of it, and then I'm thinking, okay, let's make this a better shot. And I'm looking around, I'm like, okay, what do we got to work with? And I look down here in the bottom right-hand corner, and I see the puddle of water down here, and I'm thinking reflection. And so if we get down to the water, we can have some reflection since there's this whole river that we could work from. There was a whole group of us, about 12 of us...
, and there was room for everybody to work in the river, and you could choose any spot you wanted. And we're starting to get that morning light. Now notice where that morning light's coming from. 90 degrees to the right-hand side, which is the time you pull out your polarizing filter. Let's look what that does to the sky. Now we're starting to see some nice blue in the sky and some nice clouds in the sky. And so now we're just you know we've been here for about 20, 30 minutes or so, and I'm playing around. What exactly do I want in the foreground? 'Cause there's a lot of nice kind of random rocks. But what I ended up choosing was what we saw in the very first photograph, is these really smooth mud down here, which just has some really nice texture to it. And I love it because you get a little bit of the reflection, you get water in the scene, and most of the photos here don't have water. You're taking advantage of that unique thing that happened, that rain the night before, that you were cursing at, oh, it's raining, oh darn it. But as I said, after the rain there's some really good opportunities. And so consider where this photo came from over the course of a little over a half an hour. And that's why you want to get there early, kinda figure out what's working. Is this working? Is that working? What can we do to make it better? And that's what we talk about working the scene so that you can get the best image possible out of it. And so arriving early, well before you need to be there, time to move around, time to investigate and figure out what's going on. And it's okay that it doesn't have good light in shooting scout photos there. And once again, finding that good foreground. It can really add an extra level of interest to the photograph. This is in Bhutan, it's where I'm gonna be leading the next photo tour, and this is an awesome place. It's one of my favorite places. It is a bit of a hike up there, so for those of you who do like getting in a nice energetic walk, it is a couple miles up here, but it is this amazing location where there's this monastery up on this cliff side, this unbelievable cliff side. Now when you get up there, there are the standard tourist viewpoints, and as I've talked about those standard tourist viewpoints, it's not always my favorite place to shoot from. Sometimes you have to, but there's a lot of people up there. And so I'm always kinda working around on the different walkways, and this is one of my favorite shots because it's got a good view of the big open expanse that it's there. So you can imagine what it's like being in that monastery just looking out onto this incredible open valley as the land just falls away right underneath the building. Now, what you can see a little bit off to the left-hand side is the prayer flags, and so this had a lot of prayer flags. Hm, lines, color, those are clues that something might be there. That's a good element to work with. And so in this case, I'm trying to find a clean area where I can work with the lines and the color and the monastery in the background. And these are the shots that didn't quite work out. Now I did notice that there is this one really long strand and it was starting to go up the mountain. The winds were coming up this hillside and just blowing up higher and higher and higher, and then it's a matter of timing. Wait for it, wait for it, all the way at the top where it's nice straight line or you know, nice taut line over there, and this lasted for you know, 10, 15 seconds, and then the winds changed, and it all kind of flapped down and it wasn't there. And it was scouting out the right location, waiting for the right moment. And so as I've said a couple of times, the viewpoints are just starting, all right? Look for the clues. What are the things that would add to a good photograph and try to incorporate them, and wait for the right moment. And this is where, you know, I'll run, I'll run and catch up. If you know that something's gonna be good there in a moment, I would do everything. Don't worry, I'll skip lunch. This is coming, this is gonna be great. Waiting for those moments can be very important.