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Advanced Lighting for Adventure Photography

Lesson 2 of 35

Evolution with Lighting

Michael Clark

Advanced Lighting for Adventure Photography

Michael Clark

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Lesson Info

2. Evolution with Lighting


Class Trailer
1 Class Introduction 03:25 2 Evolution with Lighting 04:44 3 Why Use Artificial Lighting? 06:43 4 Pre-Production and Pre-Visualizing 07:16 5 Equipment: Overview of the Gear 25:28 6 Equipment: Selecting the Right Gear 24:05 7 Strobes vs. Speedlights 08:01 8 Lighting 101: Flash Sync Speeds 14:35

Lesson Info

Evolution with Lighting

My Evolution With Lighting, and just give you a little foreground. This is also kind of still a little bit of the introduction. I wanna emphasize here that lighting is a long-term learning process. It's not like you're gonna come out of this class and know everything there is to know about lighting. I've been using artificial lighting for 12 or 13 years now, maybe a little bit more than that, 14, 15 years now. I started out, I've been working 21 years as an adventure sports photographer. I started out as just shooting rock climbing, pretty much was my sport I photographed all the time. Then I moved into mountaineering and ice climbing and at some point just decided I'm gonna be broke the rest of my life if I don't start shooting some other sports and burgeon out into this bigger world. And it was about that time I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I've been living there for the last 20 years. And there's a gentleman named Rob Haggart. Some of you may know him. He runs the blog of photoedi... He also runs, which is one of the premier pro website companies for templates. And he was the photo editor at "Outside" magazine, which is maybe the biggest outdoor magazine on the planet, for five years. So I used to meet with him once a month every once and a while for lunch or whatever. And one of those meetings he told me, this is about I think 2001, 2002. In one of those meetings he was like, "You adventure photographers, you can't light your way out of a paper bag." He's like, "For me, I can't hire you because you can't come back with a decent portrait." And I was like, whoa, okay, that's pretty serious stuff. And he's like, "My advice to you is go by a hasselblad, go buy some lights, and figure out how to shoot a decent portrait because if you can do that and capture the action, then you'll be way more useful to me." And he's like, "Right now I would rather hire the fashion guy than you because at least they can cut a decent portrait. And the action won't be as good as what you could get, but they'll get some action." So that was pretty direct. I mean, he said that very boldly and bluntly because he knew. This was his job, finding photographers. He knew a bunch of the photographers in the adventure sports world as the photo editor of "Outside" magazine. So a few months later, I saved up some money. I went out and bought some lights and I bought a used hasselblad, whatever I could afford. And this is back in the film days, early 2000s. And I started trying to figure it out. And for like two years I perfected the one light thing, at least for the exposure. I wouldn't say I perfected it on any level, but I got about as far as I could on my own before I needed to get somebody else in there. So I ended up taking Joe McNally's workshop. This is like 2004 I think, 2005, which was great. Joe was an awesome instructor. He's one of the best workshop instructors on the planet if you ask me. Incredible guy, super nice. He's here at Creative Live because he just did something a couple of weeks ago. And I learned a ton about using one light, multiple lights, and just the whole basics of lighting. And from that I could experiment a bunch on my own. And I switched to Elinchrome at that time just because it worked better for the outdoor sports that I shoot. And I continued to learn on my own, and then I also continued to learn by taking other workshops. I worked with Andrew Eccles. I took a workshop last year actually with Albert Watson. So I continued to learn myself. And I work a lot in the studio to perfect these lighting techniques so that I can take them outdoors and apply those studio techniques in the outdoors as well. So I just want to emphasize that it's a long-term process and I've still got a long ways to go before I consider myself good at lighting. I don't feel like I'm a lighting master by any respect. Every time I shoot, I learn something. As you'll see in these videos, sometimes I don't think it all the way through, and like, oh, well, I gotta switch to this or that to figure it out. But just so you understand, this is the beginning of a lighting, a beginning of your evolution in lighting, not necessarily the end or the middle. And I think for any of us that are photographers, lighting will take our photography to a whole other level 'cause it'll force us to look at light in a different way.

Class Description

How do you freeze action, create motion blur and showcase the strength and style of athletes? When you introduce artificial light into your adventure photography, the opportunities are endless! It’s easier than it looks, and once you master the technical aspects, lighting on location can unlock tremendous opportunity for capturing portraits and action.

Red Bull Photographer, Michael Clark, joins CreativeLive to break down the barriers that are keeping you from letting your photography stand out. In this course, he’ll cover the basics of gear, incorporating flash, finding unique perspective and so much more.

Through demonstrations in the field, Michael will work with incredible athletes in a variety of lighting scenarios to show how to capture the heart of a sport and the spirit of an athlete. If you’re looking to make your mark in the world of action or sports photography, this course is a necessity in making your work compete with the best in the industry.

Michael will cover everything:

  • Location Scouting for your camera and your lights
  • Packing and gear tips for various locations
  • Scouting the best point of view to capture action
  • Safety and considerations for working with athletes
  • Strobes vs. Speedlights
  • When to use High Speed Sync, Hi-Sync (HS) or Leaf Shutters with your flash
  • Getting into the business of adventure photography
  • Creating tension in your photos

Michael will be working with professional athletes like trail runner Dylan Bowman, cyclist Tim Johnson, and incredible rock climbers to give you a rare and one-of-a-kind look into the world of adventure photography.

Submit your work to the Student Gallery for a chance at feedback from two of the best adventure photographers in the world, Michael Clark, and Chase Jarvis. 


norah levine

This is a course that I could watch repeatedly and be able to learn something new each time. Michael is a truly an expert in his field and is so generous with his knowledge. This course really breaks down the process of adventure photography, but it's more than that. I don't think you need to even be an adventure sports photographer to get tons out of this course. Michael is really good at breaking down some very complicated technology. Thank you!

a Creativelive Student

Great course that combines the technical aspects of shooting with light in different situations, with the art of making a great image of athletes. Michael is a great teacher and I'm sure his lessons will continue to help guide over and over again!

Jeph DeLorme

Great class with dozens of tips, ideas and lighting strategies for tough outdoor lighting challenges. Advanced class taught in a way that allows even a beginner to get a handle on lighting tough situations. The location videos provide real life examples that make this class a definite must have for my Creative Live collection. Thank you Michael Clark and Creative Live! Jeph DeLorme