What to Photograph When There’s Excessive to Photograph

Last year, We wrote an article about getting subjects to photograph when there is not anything obvious to capture . That’s a common situation in photography: not enough good subjects. Sometimes, however , the contrary is true, where there’s a good amount of good subjects and not sufficient time to photograph them all.

It sounds like a great problem to have, and of course it is better than the alternative. But it is still a problem that can result in missed opportunities and a lack of success from your shoot. I’ve had my share associated with failures in promising locations because I waste time, stop putting thought into the compositions, and/or settle for “good enough” subjects.

I just returned from one of those locations: a shoot from the Liwa Desert during our own Middle East workshop (hence the lack of articles this week on Photography Life, and our apologies for that). It’s a beautiful desert that comes across as being endless, both in its vastness and in its photographic opportunities.

Even so, I discovered myself wasting time having a lot of weak photos, maybe because the number of subjects to shoot was so mind-boggling. After processing my photos and figuring out what proved helpful and didn’t, I’ve been a better sense of how to proceed next time in locations such as this – situations where there is almost too much to photo.

Table of Contents

1 . Do not Get Stuck on Any One Subject

If you’re at a typical, common location as a photographer, generally there may only be a number of good subjects at best. The secret in cases like that is to see them and take your time to catch them as best as possible. It works well normally, but in overabundant locations, it can be a bad technique.

During among our two sunsets within the Liwa Desert, I spent most of my time taking photos of the same subject with minor variations of light plus composition. It was an interesting subject, but it was still the waste of time, because there were a dozen other (often still better) subjects I skipped shooting in the meantime. Not to mention that I actually took the photo beneath – my favorite variation out of dozens of nearly identical shots – near the very beginning, so I didn’t have any cause to stick around so long.

Sunset in Liwa Desert with Good Subjects
Sony A1 + FE 20mm F1. seven G @ 20mm, INTERNATIONALE ORGANISATION FÜR STANDARDISIERUNG 100, 1/20, f/16. 0

In case your approach to photography is like mine, where you prefer to steadily refine your compositions , it’s easy to get stuck on subjects that are “good enough” or “refinable. ” You’ll find yourself no longer looking around for anything better or even for a greater variety of pictures, instead seeking to improve the subject matter you’ve already got. That mindset can lead you to capture just one good photo in an area where you just as easily could have taken half a dozen better types.

Once you recognize that you’re in a place where you can “close your eyes, placed on a random lens, and get something interesting” (as one of the photographers on our workshop phrased it regarding Liwa), it’s time to change your approach. Do not spend all your time on any one subject. I’d also recommend limiting yourself to a specific number of photos or a time frame, like a dozen shots or 5-10 minutes, before moving on.

2 . Predict How the Light Will Change

During a location with a million great shots to take, the  best pictures will still change since the light changes. Maybe just before sunrise it’s an intense blue hour silhouette; at sunrise, a classic wide-angle landscape chance; shortly after, a macro photograph or telephoto abstract.

My advice is to think about the path of the light and how your scene will look next, especially from different vantage factors. Try to move around so that your placement is always in sync with the light. The goal would be to stand in the right spot just before the best conditions occur, hence maximizing your utilization of time.

This really is another thing I got wrong from one point in the Liwa Desert. I found a really murderer sand dune and got a series of abstract photos of it, some of which are even amongst my favorite photos from that will day. The problem? I missed the sun dipping below the particular horizon because of it.

Eye of the Desert
Sony A1 + FE 35mm F1. almost 8 @ 35mm, ISO 100, 1/4, f/16. 0

As you can see, the particular sand dune was in the shade even while I was shooting it. So while I really loved the subject and feel happy with the photo over, I easily could have moved away from it, taken photos of the sun setting for a couple minutes, then returned to afterwards to get simply the same photo. It would have already been nice to have some sunset shots from that beautiful evening as well.

That’s why it’s therefore valuable to think about how the lighting will change and where you ought to be as it does. It increases the variety of shots you’ll be able to capture at the optimal moments, helping you maximize your possibilities.

3. Ration Your Time

Much of what I have said so far is about using your time wisely, but I would like to put a finer stage on that tip. Photography in general requires a lot of little time-consuming activities, from changing your camera settings in order to changing your lens. Inside environments with too much to photograph and not enough time, I suggest trying to keep these things to a minimum.

For instance , rather than using manual focus and/or exposing manually, instead use autofocus and aperture priority. Rather than reviewing every single photo and zooming into check sharpness, just do this occasionally. I’d also recommend using a zoom instead of a set of primes if you have the option, because it minimizes lens changes and often lets you carry a lighter, more maneuverable kit.

Even though I’m the landscape photographer, and much of what I’ve said over may seem like it’s geared toward landscape photography, this applies to anyone trying to get a wide variety of shots in a time crunch. It is why wedding photographers so often have two camera bodies with various lenses, or why animals photographers might wear a photo vest instead of a backpack to quickly access their components.

Wildlife photography with a short telephoto lens
NIKON Z . 7 + 70-200mm f/4 @ 200mm, ISO four hundred, 1/800, f/4. 0

When great subjects are abundant, usually the most limited resource you will have is time. Make the most of it. This is true for the two other tips so far – not getting stuck on any one subject, and coordinating your shots to the preferred light – as well as not wasting times on the small things.

4. Figure Out the Scene’s Best Qualities

There’s usually grounds why a particular, promising place works so well pertaining to photography. In the Liwa Wasteland, it’s the wide variety of fine sand dune patterns, from close-ups to classic shots. In a single of my other favourite locations, a grove associated with aspen trees in Co, it’s the colors and exactly how many abstract patterns can be found.

When the amount of good subjects seems overwhelming, I encourage you to get stock of the place you are photographing. What is it about the area that makes it hold so many good photos? If you can pin straight down an answer, you’ll have an idea associated with what to prioritize photographically.

For example , one of my favorite hikes – the Narrows river hike in Zion National Park in Utah – is an abundant area for photography. To me, why boil down to two matters: how tall the canyon walls are, and how simple the stones on the ground appear with water flowing over them. When I went back there a few weeks ago, I tried to customize my compositions to include those two subjects prominently. I only stopped for photos (always a time-consuming effort in the middle of a river) once the combination of the two was especially appealing to me.

NIKON D800E + 20mm f/1. 8 @ 20mm, ISO 100, 2 mere seconds, f/16. 0

Another time a couple of years ago, on the rare possibility I had to photograph Iceland’s glacial rivers from a good airplane, it felt like I actually kept seeing something fascinating no matter what direction I pointed my telephoto zoom. I needed to narrow it down in order to get something good. This struck me that the defining features of these rivers were the vivid colors and how abstract they looked previously mentioned – hardly anything like rivers, in fact. This realization let me make the most of my limited time in the air and capture one of my favorite abstract shots in my portfolio.

Abstract Photography
NIKON D800E + 70-200mm f/4 @ 140mm, ISO 500, 1/500, f/5. 6

When there’s no shortage of things to photo, try to prioritize the topics that epitomize the area as best as possible. After all, if it’s a great area, there’s little doubt that those particular subject matter will be good.


It’s not the norm to have  too many good subjects in order to photograph, and more often the reverse is true. But I’m sure you’ve experienced those serendipitous locations as a photographer, where there are an unusually high number – even an overwhelming number – of potential subjects to select from.

As much as I love it when that happens, you won’t just automatically get good photos if it does. As always, it takes thought plus attention in order to steer the best compositions your way. Maybe much more thought and attention compared to usual.

Therefore , I hope the tips in this post gave you a good sense of what to do when it happens! Lots of it is about time management: not getting stuck on individual subjects, always predicting and following the light, and looking to minimize small time-wasting occasions. Beyond that, if you can analyze the scene and shape out  why it’s so good with regard to photography, you can tailor your compositions to emphasize those features in your photos.

If you do all that, you’ll be capable of getting a high number of keepers and good variety in your pictures rather than feeling like you missed a lot of good opportunities.

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