The best photo opps don’t always happen at opportune times

by Guest Contributor

posted Thursday, November 26, 2015 at 6:57 AM EST


By IR reader Peter K. Burian

Whenever traveling in a group with my wife and our friends, it's tough for me to get away for serious photography at certain times of day; frankly, they expect me to be there for breakfast, dinner and other gatherings. And yet, the best light or the most interesting situations often happen at exactly such "inopportune" times. While I certainly got some nice photos with the group while touring Europe in May, it would have been great to be out shooting at 8am or at 7pm, as well. I'm sure that other group travelers' experiences also mirror mine in this respect.

Occasionally however, I was able to get out with my camera at 6:30am and at 9pm, when my travel companions did not expect me to be available. This night shot was made on the famous Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic at 9:30pm on a rainy evening while our group was huddled in a tavern. No one else was willing to go exploring the city again, but they had no objection to my heading out for an hour.

Nikon D800, Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 DI USD with VC stabilizer, hand-held;  f/4 at 1/13 sec., ISO 1600. RAW capture converted and tweaked with Photoshop CC. (c) 2015 Peter K. Burian
[Click image for access to a larger version.]

Aside from the fact that the lighting was entirely different at this time of day, the reflections from the wet pavement added to the overall atmosphere. And because distant thunder hinted at a heavy storm, this was a rare occasion when the bridge was not jam packed with tourists. Fortunately, a few brave souls stuck it out, and this human element -- especially with their umbrellas -- added a perfect accent to the otherwise medieval scene. The actual photography was simple enough, and my well-sealed, pro caliber equipment withstood the gentle rain; I did not risk taking my metal tripod at a time when lightning was probable.

Although I don't exhibit many of my thousands of images, this one looks great as a 24x36" plaqued print on our living room wall, confirming the value of getting out to shoot at inopportune times, even in inclement weather.

[Peter K. Burian is a stock photographer and Contributing Editor to three photographic publications in Canada and one in Australia. He was also the co-author of the National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Secrets to Making Great Pictures.]

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