There’s a pithy Ansel Adams quote that internet photography communities love to cite: “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
For some photographers, that means literally standing somewhere precarious — at the mouth of a volcano (or a polar bear), aloft a rickety suspension bridge, or directly in the path of a tornado. The risks can lead to a once-in-a-lifetime shot.
Investing in first-rate equipment, too, can yield exceptional photographs. Even a cursory Flickr search for photos taken with the new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR camera brings up a plethora of insanely striking images — scenery and cityscapes, arresting portraits, and even eagles dueling, suspended in movement. It makes sense: The camera boasts features including a 30.4 megapixel full-frame sensor and 7 fps continuous shooting, allowing users to capture fleeting moments they might otherwise have missed.
There’s also the ridiculous. Several years ago, while home for the holidays in the Rockies, I drove past a magnificent buck, alone and perfectly poised atop the snow. By the time I turned my car around to confirm it wasn’t a hallucination, a photographer had suddenly appeared with an elaborate lighting set-up. The deer was a fake prop, and the dude was busy snapping away from various angles.
Even as a hobbyist, I occasionally do absurd things for the sake of nice photos. Dangling my feet over canyon rims, for instance. (Cliché but irresistible!) Hiking to catch a summit sunrise in spite of frostnip. Or making my cat listen to Boards of Canada in order to capture her hilarious facial expressions.
What lengths have you gone to for a great shot? Tell us in the comments!
Angela Wang is a Senior Writer for Studio@Gizmodo.