One of the challenges traveling to a new and unfamiliar location is knowing where to go, how to get there, and most importantly, when to be there.  When possible, it's always a good idea to return to locations - in different seasons, at other times of days.  And sometimes, when traveling like I was, that isn't possible.  Before this trip, I did a fair amount of research on the area.  Search the internet, browse flickr, look for books - whatever you might think of that will give you some familiarity with an area.  Another thing I did before my trip was make a list of locations, print a map of the area and place locations and notes on the map.  As I was planning shoots, I could see which spots were in proximity to one another.

One amazing tool when planning a shoot is The Photographer's Ephemeris.  There is a free app for desktops, a paid app for mobile devices.  I cannot recommend this application highly enough.  Pick a date and location and see when the sun (or moon) will rise and where.  Want to know where the sun will be at a particular time of day?  Or the length of shadows?  Or just about anything else?  It can tell you and all presented on a satellite map so that you can see features like jetties or roads.  Almost every time I head out to shoot, I check this application.  With the shot above, I knew the sun would be rising at an angle to the beach.  While I had never been here before - and was exploring in the semi-dark - I had some rough ideas what I wanted to try.  And any of you who shoot sunrises or sunsets know that preparation is key - the sun arrives and disappears very quickly.  In this instance, it took only two minutes for the sun to appear then rise above that lower branch.

What do you do to prepare for your shoots?