Having time to get out and shoot can always be a challenge no matter how much you love photography. Luckily, a lunch break is almost always free and a great way to sneak in some time you might otherwise never find.
February in western New York can be a difficult time. We have usually been dealing with snow and freezing temperatures for weeks. The feeling of needing to get out is at a yearly high. The sun is long gone by the time you are out of work. This is when I chose to pack a lunch and spend my time taking photos instead.
I work about 30 minutes from Buffalo, so I don't really make many trips there just to take photos. On this day, I knew I would be up in the city for the morning, so I brought my gear just in case. My plan was to shoot Buffalo City Hall and the McKinley Monument. These are both iconic Buffalo landmarks and have been photographed by everyone toting a camera in the 716 area code. Some people skip the obvious and cliché locations, but I enjoy the challenge of making a standout shot. It's kind of like doing a cover song well enough to make it my own, except I can't play anything or sing.
Since cities can be busy. I don't want to wait for people to move or clone them out of the shot, so I use a neutral density filter and a long exposure to make them disappear. This also gives me the bonus of being able to capture the movement of the clouds.
Bringing a camera up to your eye is a great way to attract attention. After shooting a ton of weddings, I have completely gotten over the fear of people watching me while I shoot. This comes in handy. I used to rush through shots or not take as much time to compose as I should have because I felt eyes on me. Now, I find complete comfort in the art form and almost enjoy the interest.
After grabbing a few test shots and getting my settings, I decided I wanted to be in one of the shots. This is not something I do very often, but jumping in the photo is a great way to add a sense of scale. Also, since I was pretty far away from the camera, the tolerance for movement was pretty high, even for long exposures of 30 seconds or a minute.
Taking advantage of this small window of time made me feel very accomplished and refreshed. I easily could have wasted another lunch break eating and scrolling through my phone. Instead, I created new photos and grew a little bit as an artist. If you are hungry to get out and shoot due to a busy schedule without your camera, I highly recommend trying this sometime. Have any of you traded eating for shooting? Let me know in the comments that I'm not alone.