Look Through Your Lenses to Help Plan Possible Compositions
With practice, a photographer can get a sense of what a scene might look like at different focal lengths. Still, I find it to be helpful to get out my camera and lenses when scouting to see what actual compositions might look like. I sometimes find that what I think looks great to my eyes looks far less interesting when I actually take a look through the lens I intend to use. I would rather know that a concept will not work while scouting rather than returning during better conditions only to find out that my idea doesn’t translate very well into a photograph.
Take Notes or Sample Photographs
While I am not much of a note-taker, I do take a lot of reference photographs with both my iPhone and my dSLR. Going through this process can be helpful in developing actual compositional options for multiple directions or different subjects, reducing the need to scramble around looking for a last-minute option based on evolving conditions. By planning compositions, taking reference photos, and then returning to view them, even just a few minutes later, you can often see how well a composition might hold up. And, longer-term, I find it to be helpful to return to these reference photos when planning a future trip or deciding that I want to return to a specific spot under better or different conditions (and sometimes thinking about what I should do differently next time around).