Pre-shoot location scouts

Pre-shoot location scouts

It’s been some time since I did a post dedicated to some of the mechanics behind my photography, so I thought I might be cover some old ground again in regards to location shoots. Remember, the Light Scribbling blog (what you’re reading right now) has categories, so for posts which contain certain musings about technical/philosophical parts of photography, check out the Photo Thoughts category.

With the shoots I do, location is quite important. I tend to not use long and fast lenses which isolate the subject and blurs out the background – my style requires context, and the background needs to add to the narrative of the photo. I might have mentioned this before, but I am always on the lookout for new locations, since there is a constant flux in terms of which locations are “safe” to shoot in – some locations may seem like long-standing guarantees, but you may turn up one day and be turned away (more on this when I cover a later shoot).

In the case of the Madoka shoot, the location was not decided until quite a bit later. The brief was basically “magical girls fighting”. I extended the scenario to specifically have Madoka and Homura fighting against Walpurgis Night during one of the first time loops that Homura went through. The idea was that they fought through the night against the witch, at last defeating Walpurgis Night as dawn breaks, but resulting in the scene where Homura has to kill Madoka because her Soul Gem gets corrupted.

(Too detailed? Sometimes, such stories are needed for me personally to fit shoots into a wider narrative.)

While I was considering re-using the locations from the Tiger & Bunny shoot and the Darker Than Black shoot, it occurred to me that I had shot Durarara at this rather suspicious location before, and being under a bridge, and also offering glimpses of the city, it would be perfect.

The only time when I would be free to re-scout the location was after work the day before the shoot, so down I went. Of course, it being summer(ish) in Sydney, I still had some hours of daylight left.

I quickly found the location. Going past where we shot Durarara, I found a wider area with nice lines that really suited what we were aiming for.

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I used my phone for scouting purposes. It used to be that I would bring my DSLR or NEX out for such purposes, but the camera on the phone is capable enough for location scouts, and I can always use the data connection to directly send the pictures to the cosplayers to check if they like it or not.

I think the Galaxy SIII outputs 16:9 ratio photos, which is kinda weird, but definitely something I could get used to. Definitely better in the landscape orientation, but if I can make it work in portrait, it turns out quite special.

Location found, mission complete.

But I continued walking on from that area, since I was getting a good feel for using the camera on the phone. The casual way of shooting and the stretched ratio certain lends a itself to different way of picturing the scene.

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I used the Camera360 app for most of the shots, applied quick filters to the output, and quickly moved from area to area, shot to shot. Of course, additional processing for noise removal was done in Lightroom later.

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The flexibility of shooting with a phone is certainly alluring, and I can understand why so many people have got into the Instagram culture. You can get some pretty cool looking results quite easily. Of course, in some of the pictures, cropping to square results in an unacceptable loss in translation.

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With location scouts, or exploration, always be on the lookout for interesting places. That’s about it. I found a few locations simply by being observant and being willing to cross the road or push on a door. These will be kept in mind for future shoots, should such needs arise.

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Of course, the beautiful sunset on that day helped quite a bit with the output, though those clouds would later on that night bring on the rain which would plague the Madoka shoot.

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