One of the rules about taking more interesting photos is to stand in front of more interesting subjects. Or as a buddy says, put yourself in the path of greatness and be ready.
All of the 4 star photos were taken during road trips, one with Sean, and 3 other with Neil Zeller tours. They often put people in front of interesting things, or in the path of greatness. (Or Sandhill Cranes, as was the case in the most recent tour.)
That part is all well and good, but what happens when people post their photos from the tour, is that many of them look very similar. After all, there we are, standing within a few metres of each other, pointing our functionally very similar camera gear at the same scene. We generally follow similar rules about editing our photo, so of course lots of shots look the same. Although some photos get converted to black and white or sepia, and look quite different.
I'm not particularly interested another of the same (or really similar) photo. Even a great image of a great scene isn't so great when it shows up with several near twins. Although the people that only see my photos on the blog are going to shrug their shoulders and say, "what other photos?" Several of my readers will see similar photos in other social media places. (Following other photographers is a good way to learn to take better photos.) I really like it when a really good unique photo shows up from a tour. I try to take those, but it's a work in progress.
Second Runner Up
This was the last photo of the secret places tour for me. We were trying to capture the Calgary Tower and the skyline, with a side of bus light trails. That scene just wasn't working for me for whatever reason, though other people got some quite nice photos out of it.
People were walking back to the van when I noticed this scene off to the side. It took only a few seconds to set up and shoot.
First Runner Up
I struggled with this choice. Yes it's a great scene and those clouds were AMAZING! And yet, it's a little bit cute, and every other person on the tour has a photo that is essentially identical. It was really hard to edit to balance the colour in the vegetation, the buildings, and that sky. The first version turned out lurid and overdone.
My thoughts on editing generally run along the lines of tweaking it to look like what I saw, plus a little tiny bit. Normally the advice is to look at things like grass or other vegetation, or the sky to see if the editing has pushed things too far. We know what those things normally look like. And yet in Alberta, there's times when the light is such that it looks slightly unreal anyways. That's the case with this scene. The grassy foreground and hills really were that colour. And the sky! I've never seen it look like that.
Image of the Month
Other people have a very similar shot, plus or minus the extent of their zoom lens. I have other shots as well, one in particular zooming into the elaborate folds in the hills out toward those tress. But when I composed the shot I was pretty sure it would be a finalist because it spoke to me much like some of the scenes in Yukon did. I took it as a panorama, but cropped it to 9x16. It would print out about 3 feet x 18 inches.