On Location Scouting Location location locaTion

Everyone likes to travel, well... not everyone. But I do and so does my wife. We try to use the opportunity of my travels to plan some getaway time for us as a couple. My wife, like most travelers, loves to find souvenirs unique to the destination to bring home as a memento of her visit. We bring home all sorts of interesting items from our travels, but I never buy things for myself... my souvenirs are the images I take. That is what I want to bring home. I think most photographers are like me in this regard. But I don't just like to bring home photographs of interesting things in interesting places and images of landscapes. I also like to bring home locations. That's right, I collect locations, like some people collect coins, or wood carvings, or even photographs. Even if I don't have a model with me, I am looking at places as opportunities for stylized photoshoots and collecting them for some future use.

What? You aren't studying the landscape as an end in itself? Well, yes. I can multitask. When I come across a great landscape of a beautiful scene, I am drawn to it just like the next photographer, and I make the best of the moment, but while I am there, I may as well collect the GPS location and add it to my little box of digital map pins.

Choosing the right bed and breakfast is essential. It must have sheep nearby.

When we were discussing the details of our planned trip to London and Scotland, my wife (who is the trip planner) asked me where I would like to stay and I told her that when we were out in the rural communities, staying at bed and breakfasts that I would like them to be very rural. I told her how I pictured waking up and walking down a dirt lane with sheep wandering across the road, complete with bells and an old scotsman following close behind. I know, it's very naive and silly, but that's just the feeling I had in my head.

Apparently, my wife emailed to confirm with each location that there would be sheep in nearby fields, so I got my wish... kind of. No old Scotsman shepherds, but plenty of sheep grazing in the pastures around our lodgings. There was no question, she did her homework, inside and out. They were great locations, great rooms, wonderful hosts and definately rural with sheep.


None of us had ever been to Scotland, so we didn't know where to go or what to expect, but I did ask for one day, in Scotland and an evening in London dedicated to a styled photo shoot. And since we wanted to see castles and the loch Ness and such, we joined up with a small tour guide. It was a bit touristy, but we all had a nice day, saw some fun places and the entire drive from place to place, I was logging locations with my iPhone (GPS tagging on) noting places I would like to come back and photograph the very next day.

Blurry photos fill my portfolio with the sole purpose of logging interesting places I have seen. Sometimes, I just don't have time to stop, sometimes I am looking down on them from a window at 30,000 feet in an airplane, and sometimes the light just isn't right, but I know that something great could happen there. Grabbing a shot with a GPS enabled camera phone is the simplest way to log the locations you have found. Some of you reading this may have a GPS enabled camera (like the EOS Canon 5D Mark IV) . That is fantastic. Use it. But keep in mind that it burns batteries, so watch it... I'd rather miss the GPS location than miss the shot because of a dead battery. For those of you who don't, a smartphone with GPS tagging on your photos and an Adobe Creative Cloud account will take care of your location logging needs.

Because Lightroom Mobile (on your phone) can automatically import your geo tagged photos and upload them to my creative cloud account, which then sends them down to my Lightroom catalog on my computer, I can simply open up the Map Module in my Lightroom catalog anytime I wish and see exactly where I was when I took any location scouting images.

Making use of the geotagging option in my phone and the maps module in Adobe Lightroom, I can collect all of my favorite locations in a visual way for future use. Even when you are on your photo shoot, a quick shot with your phone in each location will allow you to borrow the GPS from the phone and apply it to your images in that location later on in post production. Now all of your images can be perfectly tagged.

The day after our "location scouting" tour, we set out to shoot at the pinned locations on my map. It's always a snap to get there again, no fussing over which way I turned the last time. Just follow the maps to our destinations.

We lit the shoot with a few Canon 600RT Speedlites and secured the images on the CRU Tough Tech Duo RAID 1, which gave us immediate backups of everything we shot (you don't want to go through all of this work to lose the files).

Like I said, when I travel I like to collect souvenirs, just like the next person... my souvenirs just happen to be photographs. Plus, as close as this raven was willing to get to me, I don't think I could have taken him home as a souvenir.

Hark, tis the raven, and nothing more.

I am constantly location scouting. I location scout on my way to and from any place I go in a car, in an airplane, on a train, and I am even location scouting from my computer when planning a trip by using google earth, google maps and google photo searches. If I am planning a trip, I will have a very good idea of where I need to go to find what I want to photograph before I ever get on the plane.

This is a panorama stitched in Lightroom into a RAW panoramic image. It has never seen Photoshop.
Here's a thought. What would your vacation be like without your camera in hand? I've done a few days on each vacation without a camera. It is unnerving for the first few hours. But I have found that that feeling goes away and you become normal for a while, buying ice cream, looking at shop windows, reading historical markers, and talking to your traveling companions. Try it once in awhile, it's a valuable experience. But you'll be so grateful when you pick up the camera again... that's because you're an addict!

All photography and text © Jared Platt

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Jared Platt

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