It's been a while since I took my camera out for a play, so I've been looking back at some of the images I've taken recently... Here's some of my thoughts behind composition choices.
You can often tell whether someone has thought about the composition of a photo, or if they have simply found the most convenient spot to shoot from. But, what if they were wrong with their choice? What if the perspective they chose at the time of shooting wasn't quite as they had envisaged? For some photos that wouldn't be a problem, you could simply go back the next day and try something different. Unfortunately you can't always go back easily, and the moment may never be the same again.
One of the most important things for me when I'm out photographing kayaking is to try and vary the shots I'm taking. Often there will be 2, 3 or even more people in your group willing to run a rapid, and probably quite keen to see a photo of themselves doing so. Rather than simply standing where it's easiest and taking the same photo several times (albeit with a different paddler), I usually try and change things between each paddler running a rapid - be that the zoom, the orientation, the composition, the angle. This not only gives me a better chance of getting a photo that I'm happy with (instead of 5 photos that look virtually identical in which the composition or the zoom is wrong), but it makes the set of photos more enjoyable for others to look at.
The following photos were all taken at the same rapid, within a 5 minute time frame.
For each photo I have tried to capture a different angle or crop, rather than simply repeating the first image which was the one I originally wanted to capture. Whilst the photos may not be the best, they are at least all interesting in their own right, and show the same small drop from a different perspective. Had I stuck with the original composition for all four paddlers, I'd have finished with 4 nearly indistinguishable photos, instead I have 4 different photos, each showing the drop in a different way and providing a different view of that particular stretch of river.
Unless there is a good reason for using the same composition (you didn't get the exposure correct first time, or you mis-timed the photo, or you're surrounded by bears and unable to move away from the small rock you're perched on), it always pays to change things up a bit between shots. You never know, you might accidentally stumble on the perfect composition which you didn't see at first.