Much of getting a quality photograph is in the planning.
- The week before your shoot:
- Contact the golf course and get permission to be there before the crack of dawn.
- Talk to the Superintendent, this is when the team is out on the course working which can be a conflict for both photographer and maintenance crew.
- Scout the course. What hole(s) do you want to capture. The golden hour, daybreak is very short, you won’t have time to be messing around trying to find your camera angle.
- To start with I recommend you pick 1 hole, find the perfect spot, and focus on getting 1 amazing image.
- The night before:
- Charge your camera battery
- Make sure you have freshly formatted memory cards in your camera, and backups in your camera bag
- Pick your lens, and make sure it is properly attached and clean. The traditional lens for landscape is a wide angle lens, but I often break the rules. Btw, I never change my lens out on the course, too much of a chance that dust will get on my sensor
- Select your camera settings so you don’t have to be fooling around with them in the dark. I pick the lowest native ISO my camera offers, aperture priority, F11 (although I shot this at f/22 to get the star effect from the sun), and bracket a minimum of 3 stops.
- Pack a tiny flash light, or if your phone has one that can work too.
- Set out water repellant boots because you are going to be walking in wet grass
- Take kleenex, the cold morning air often makes your nose run.
- Pack a bottle of water
- Wear layers, it often starts out cold and gets warmer as the sun rises.
- Get your tripod ready, and attach the quick release plate to the bottom of your camera or lens.
- Attach your cable release to your camera. Since it’s day break, you’re going to be shooting in low light part of the time. It may seem obvious, but don’t swing the cable release, or yank on it or jiggle it. You want the camera to be very still.
- Be at the course with your gear 45 minutes to 1 hour before sunrise.
- Get a golf cart go to your shot location and get set up
- If there is trash, such as a plastic bottle in your shot, go pick it up so you don’t have to fix it in post.
- Set up your tripod
- Use a cable release to prevent camera shake.
- Tuck your pants into your boots, I’ve ended up with creepy bugs inside my pants, only made that mistake once!
- Take pictures of the putting green. That’s what everybody wants to see.
- Try to capture shadows, they show the 3 dimensional aspect of the course.
- Get the whole putting green, if you don’t it creates a feeling that something is missing.
- Shoot from the time you can see the green with the naked eye, until 45 minutes after sunrise, then stop. Anything after that isn’t going to be your best shot. Remember you are looking for amazing, not cute.
If you’d like to see a more thorough version of this article you can find it Updated Article on Golf Course Photography.
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