I look for locations and/or light. If the location is not getting good light, I try to figure out when it will. Equally a so so location in great light becomes the priority as the likelihood of it being repeated is slim. If light is bad, I often take a record shot, jut to have a look at, so I can think about if and when to return.
One I have a scene, I figure out what I want it to look like and then look for the vantage spot. I tend to be able to guestimate what kinda lens I'll be needing most times. I too find sometimes it takes 2 mins and other 30 mins and I still cannot get a harmonious composition. Just depends. Normally it takes only a few minutes.
On the subject of chasing light.......once I got into LF, I got better at reading the weather and spend more time looking up than out at the scene itself! (I also know my hunting grounds far better and how they will appear in at different times). I dont often chase the light, preferring to figure out if the scene I want is going to get it. If there is a fair chance (cannot ever be sure in the UK!!!!!!) I wait. I often prefer changeable weather and waiting often results in great transient surprises. I get more great shots by slowing down (I should say being slowed down by the kit) and waiting, having very carefully considered what I am doing, than I did with more nimble kit chasing it (you rarely win in the UK!). Sometimes when I just miss something and it does not return I curse and I wish I had Mamiya 7.......but then I think of those I got when I resisted the urge to pack up and run after the light! My conversion rate is now much better and I end up with a much better 'feel' for the subject. After all If you wait for 30mins, what else have you to do apart from look about, explore other angles (without camera as that is already set up).....take in the smells, sing silly songs to myself, have 38 cups of tea, wonder why I am so obsessed with photography.......
I am a waiter, not a chaser.........Ole, your 5x7 point and shoot sounds interesting? Not your technica then?
I never use any visual aids of any kind. My photographic experience, at any location, begins when I set up the camera. For most photographers, it seems, the process ends at this point. I may be under the dark cloth for one or two minutes or twenty. But my images are conceived, gestate and are born on the groundglass, and only on the groundglass. Once my head comes out from under that cloth the act of composition has ended for that particular image.
Originally Posted by Loose Gravel
To quote one of the most masterful photographic composers ever:
"Although I view things on the ground glass as if they were abstractions, I am always drawn first to something very recognizable and specific before I set up my camera. It may be an object or the spaces between objects, but as soon as I start looking on the ground glass, the scene before me is transformed. Now the looking becomes a new adventure. The subject matter that drew me in is no longer of primary importance as I am making discoveries of visual relationships that I would not otherwise have made."
--Paula Chamlee, 9/29/1991
To me the only purpose of a subject is to catch my eye enough to convince me that I need to set up the camera and begin looking. The photograph I come away with, if I come away with anything, never has anything to do with whatever caught my eye in the first place. And the operative word here is 'never'.
The very same. I just suddenly one day stopped aiming, framing, obsessing etc... Instead I put up the tripod, screwed the camera on, selected a lens from my "small field pack" of two, focused, exposed. Two minutes from unpack to moving on, which is why I call it "point-and-shoot".
Originally Posted by Tom Stanworth
Then I moved five meters, changed the lens, took another holder with BW film in it, and got another great shot. This one took a little longer as it's more difficult to focus a 420mm f/11 than a 165mm f/6.8!
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I agree with Les on this one, when the canvas is continually moving there isn't a lot of time for composition. Maybe that's why I like street shoots so much, as they go with my lack of patience and any exposure longer than 1/30th seems like a lifetime. I do try to guestimate the composition when I see something happening or about to happen, but that is usually only for a second or two before taking the shot.
Originally Posted by Les McLean