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Capture the Same Scene at Different Times of Day

By Ralph Velasco

In this post I discuss the importance of capturing the same same, but at different times of day, with any camera.

As a travel photographer and tour organizer I’m extremely lucky in that I get paid to travel the world to photograph and have simply amazing experiences.  And I often have the luxury of returning to the same place over and over again to experience it in different ways, such as:

  • By myself
  • With my local guide
  • With a friend or fellow traveler
  • And with the groups I bring back
Gorgeous Clouds Over Malecon - Havana, Cuba by Ralph Velasco
Early morning with clouds over Havana's Malecon, or seawall.

Sharing is Caring, and I Care

One of the many things I love about my job is that I get to share where I’ve been, what I’ve done, who I’ve met and more, with the people who join me on my trips.  Of course, I get to do this virtually, as well, either through social media posts, or now here on my blog.

Zero Clouds in Morning Over Malecon - Havana, Cuba by Ralph Velasco
There were absolutely no clouds on this particular morning.

Capture the Same Scene at Different Times

One tip I always love to share is the concept of capturing the same image, but at different times of day.

By this I mean that I love to find a great scene that I like, one that is interesting to me (which means it probably is to others) and, if possible, to capture at various times throughout the day.

Midday Clouds Over Malecon - Havana, Cuba by Ralph Velasco
On this day here's what it looked like at around midday.

This Can Be Done Over Time, As Well

Now this certainly doesn’t have to be done only throughout a single day, but it can be over the course of an entire trip on different days (and at different times each day), or in my case, potentially over the course of the many years I return to a place.

Needless to say I’m extremely fortunate in that I get to come back to the same place over and over again, often over the course of many years.

Late afternoon clouds and sun over the Malecon in Havana, Cuba by Ralph Velasco
Late afternoon over the Malecon. Difficult to shoot into the sun like this.

These Shots Are from a Single Visit to Cuba

That said, even though I’ve been a regular to Cuba over the last ten years, having organized and led 18 fully-license programs over that period, the images in this post were made over the course of a single week long trip.

Storm brewing on Malecon in Havana, Cuba by Ralph Velasco
There was a big storm brewing on this day.

Some Overall Tips for You

It certainly doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have in order to do this exercise, and it’s probably worth noting that all of the images here were made with my iPhone X.

These images were all made from the same kitchen window at my casa particular in Havana, Cuba.  Each day, at various times depending on when I was there, I’d look out and check to see if this same scene was different and at all interesting and worth adding to this series.

Gorgeous afternoon clouds over the Malecon in Havana, Cuba by Ralph Velasco
Gorgeous afternoon clouds over the Malecon.

Some Additional Tips

  1. Be aware of when the scene you’re photographing looks different from other days.  Perhaps there are great clouds, or no clouds, or it’s sunrise or sunset, or the light is different, or the season has changed.
  2. Do your best to capture the exact same composition each time.
  3. Try to keep the horizon in the same spot in the frame by noting its position in the viewfinder.
  4. Similarly, look for a specific point in the frame that you can keep there each time you make the shot.  Perhaps use the grid, or Rule of Thirds guide, in your camera for reference.  In that case put one of the four cross hairs on a specific building or other object in the frame.
  5. Shoot away.
Nice sunset over the Malecon in Havana, Cuba by Ralph Velasco
Not a bad sunset over western Havana.
All these images lined up in a row by Ralph Velasco
Now here's a thumbnail of all these images lined up.

Have You Tried This Exercise Before?

Absolutely anyone can do this, with any kind of camera, and once you get some great results I think you’ll be hooked.  Now that I think about it you don’t need a camera at all as you can simply notice the same scene and how it’s changing over time, but of course I think using a camera is better because then you can compare your images side by side later.

Be on the lookout for my next post where I’ll discuss this same concept, but not over the course of a single day, or even a single trip, but over the course of several years.

Hint: It occurred in Morocco and I was able to capture a once-in-a-lifetime series of images of the same scene.

Are you doing this when you travel?  Or maybe even in your own backyard or hometown?  Perhaps you’ve done it unknowingly and you have a series of images in your archives (or camera roll) of the same scene at different times of day, week, month or year?

Be sure to share your experience by commenting below.

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