For example what factors are to be kept in mind while shooting:

  • sunsets/sunrise?
  • protest gatherings?
  • railway stations?
  • fun fair?

These kind of questions expect "tips/advice" as answers based on either "experience" or "references".

How should they be narrowed down as much as possible?
While answering please consider all the four topics, and demonstrate example questions for the same.

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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

They should address a specific issue. Demonstrate that you've put effort into the question yourself and that you're not just casting a wide net. If you're just casting a wide net, we're really not the right place - at least on the Q&A portion. Questions should ideally deal with a specific problem you're having.

Examples:

"What are tips for shooting a sunset?" is broad — we might take it, but its definitely a broad question. More specific questions might be:

  • "How do I avoid underexposure due to the sun in the frame?" or
  • "How can I reduce glare in a sunset?"

"What are tips for protest gatherings?" ->

  • "How can I protect myself and my gear?",
  • "Any tips to get a better angle during protests when I'm part of the 'crowd'?"

"What are tips for railway stations?" ->

  • "How can I deal with the darkness of the rail stations without a tripod?",
  • "Do I need permission to shoot in a rail station?"

"What are tips for a fun fair?" ->

  • "How can I deal with the fact that I want to make long exposures of a lighted fair ride, but there's no room for a tripod?",
  • "Do I need model releases for people I photograph at a fair?"
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rfusca and @forsvarir: What characteristics make a jump picture impressive? How to reach these characteristics when shooting the picture? Are these considered good questions for tips thing? How are these questions different from what I asked in the protest thread? –  TheIndependentAquarius Jan 6 '12 at 1:53
    
@AnishaKaul - That question is definitely a bit broad, but essentially those are the same question and its a question of composition. The broadness of questions is definitely a subjective thing, and thats why SE is setup for voting on such things. –  rfusca Jan 6 '12 at 2:02
    
Really? With that excuse perhaps I should frame my question like What characteristics make a protest picture impressive? How to reach these characteristics when shooting the picture? Now this question will fetch me 14 upvotes! Isn't it? :rolleyes: And pun aside, I know that broadness is subjective, that's why I created this thread - to "narrow" the broadness. So, that if next day a broad tips thread gets created, it should be closed and linked here. –  TheIndependentAquarius Jan 6 '12 at 11:12
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@Anisha Kaul: ‘Protest’ is not the same as ‘Jump’. You can’t interchange the two because a protest is an inherently larger subject so an impressive picture becomes significantly more subjective, which is why you need additional restrictions. Interesting things to look out for to photograph (there will be protest specific answers but may also be some general answers, crowds etc), how to compose them to increase the impact (this question/answers may not need to be tied to a protest, being linked to the subject of the shot rather than the context in which it is taken) etc. –  forsvarir Jan 6 '12 at 12:49
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Largely, I think @rfusca has summed it up by saying your casting too wide a net. Asking for general tips based purely around location or time of day seems too broad.

To narrow the questions down, you need to think about what it is you are actually trying to achieve. What is it that’s missing from your knowledge / experience? What have you tried in the past that has caused you issues? If you have no experience at all in a given area then what problems do you envisage based on your knowledge of the environment and similar situations you may have been in?

If you think about these things they will drive out a higher number of more targeted questions. Some of them should be duplicates that will apply in more situations and you can find yourself, because you’ve taken the time to think about the problem. Others may be new questions that can actually be answered well.

So for your examples...

  • Sunsets / sunrise. You may drive out questions about exposure, flaring, white balance, colours, framing for portraits, framing for landscapes. Each section as you think about it may result in even more, specific questions (How can I compose landscape shots to create a feeling of isolation when shooting during sunrise).

  • Protests. You could drive out questions about safety, shooting from within a crowd (how to prepare your gear, how to make the crowd feel at ease with your presence), how to get pictures of authorities without getting into trouble, positioning, how to convey different feelings from different framings.

  • Railways. You could drive out questions about lighting (underground / under cover / glass ceilinged / open stations). Interesting perspectives, how to convey the feeling of the station (targeting a stationary individual with a long exposure with everybody else rushing around for example)...

  • Funfair. Again, there could be lighting questions (is it a day / night time shoot)... How to create interesting effects from moving rides / light patterns... again, different aspects of dealing with crowds... etc... etc...

To answer your comment on @rfusca’s post: How is this a better question?

The question has several good attributes. It links to examples that demonstrate the types of shots the asker is interested in, as well as including an example photo within the post. The first part of the question (What characteristics make a jump picture impressive) focussed on one aspect (composition to create impact) of a specific type of action shot. This is a fairly tight question, but because impressive is somewhat subjective there is still room for different opinions (which is where the voting comes in from a community perspective and where the accepted answer comes in as it should be whichever matches the questioner’s perspective of impact). So yes, this is a good example of how to ask a tips question because it is asking about one aspect of the picture.

For me, the second part of the question (How to reach these characteristics when shooting the picture) may be widening the question up too much. It could be interpreted as asking for details (which may be technical, wide aperture, fast/slow shutter, flash...) for possibly diverse compositions. It’s likely that at least some of the ground covered to answer this part of the question well would already be addressed in other questions.

For comparison, I think the equivalent to your original questions would be something like Are there any tips/factors to keep in mind for taking impressive shots of people. This covers the same ground as above (one answer may be 'Get them to jump and ...') but also would cover completely different pictures like capturing the face of a firefighter as they leave a burning building. Or it could be answered in a totally abstract way (think about the depth of field, point of view, lighting, type of blur effect you want etc).

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