I’ve learned a few things while taking outdoor shots for LHF backgrounds:
1. I should NOT use regular AA batteries or regular rechargables for my camera. My camera eats them quickly. Lithium ion ones are the best. Sources say that they last a lot longer.
2. I should not take pictures at night time. Pictures at night time on the street usually have two colors: black and BILIOUSLY YELLOW [from the streetlights].
3. There are four meteorological conditions that provide an acceptable substitute for night time: right around sunrise, right around sunset, cloudy [but not rainy] weather and rainy weather. All of these conditions balance my need for distinguishable detail with my need for a sense of dimness. Anyone who claims that sunrise, sunset, clouds and/or rain make backgrounds that are "too light" for my characters will be summarily ignored.
4. I should not take too many pictures with snow on the ground, since this dates the pictures too obviously in winter. Instead, I should take pictures with bare ground.
5. Pictures with green leaves can successfully signify late spring, summer and early fall. Green leaves have a broad applicability of dates.
6. Pictures with brown, yellow, red or orange leaves successfully signify fall and early winter. Fall leaves tend to date pictures too narrowly.
7. Pictures with no leaves can successfully signify fall, winter and early spring. Pictures with no leaves have a broad applicability of dates.
8. I should avoid taking pictures of people, but sometimes they will get in front of my camera. Fortunately, if they keep moving, they will blur, so they are easy to anonymize.
9. Pictures should never, ever, ever, EVER be taken inside a business, including one’s workplace, even with permission from the head honchos. Pictures may be taken inside the private homes of friends and family with permission.
10. Pictures at the following locations are best taken early in the week, when crowds aren’t so large: parks, gardens, squares, campuses, malls, stores, sidewalks and streets in general.
11. However, pictures at the following locations are best taken early in the morning on the weekends, when almost no one is there: subway station exteriors, subway station interiors, subway car interiors.
12. Cemeteries are in their own category as far as scheduling photos. The best times to photograph them are on weekdays early in the morning and early in the evening. The heavily trafficked Granary and Kings Chapel cemeteries in Park Street should ideally be shot just after opening or just before closing because, unfortunately, they are locked at night, and, during the day, they attract hordes of tourists.
13. Background shots should be simply framed from simple angles, such as front view, side views from both sides, back view and maybe some three-quarters views. Side views from both sides should be taken so that the characters can have some variety to stand in front of. Background shots are not about artsiness or individual details, but about a sense of place.
14. Background shots should capture the distinguishing feel of a place, but they do not need to be comprehensive. E.g., photos of Central Square do not need to get the Town Hall and the view toward Boston and the aboveground entrances to Central Station and all the bus shelters and the crosswalks and the painted utility covers and all the benches…. Likewise, photos of the Old Burying Ground in Cambridge do not need to cover every single inch of the cemetery.