Big Sur: Lifestyle Afternoon Shooting
We got our dear friend eric soderquist here eric spent a great great friend for many years we've been toe ison together we launched the d a ten nikon campaign together um a professional surfer back in the day all kinds of crazy stuff but he's going to be our model in our athlete and people go well I don't have models I don't have athletes what do I do and I say well you know there's everybody has either you know some sort of recreational center near their home there's climbing shops there's gear your place is skateboard places you know go in what are you interested in if you're interested in shooting climbing, go into the local climbing gym find find somebody is really good at that sport put an ad on craigslist for me I've I've been lucky enough to work with some of the best athletes in the world but we've all got to start somewhere on you can start locally and start thinking mork globally depending on where you're going so luckily enough we have eric today and we're gonna go and we're...
going to show you some amazing locations here in big sur california and we're just gonna have a lot of fun anyone starting out in photography the first thing that you notice about somebody that's just getting into it is their backgrounds are horrible typically they're person is standing in front of telephone pole there's things growing out of their head ah, the very very first step in making your pictures better is to start with that background and what I mean by the background is something that simple doesn't necessarily have to be the grand canyon it could be something as simple as a bush or a tree, but you're looking for something that's consistent not distracting that is giving you a sense of place but is not overwhelming you is the viewer ah, the next thing you do is are we at our subjects and we start looking at where the light falls on them obviously you know, light is very important in photography and we're going to start working through this process using the light we're actually going to use some other, uh, light uh reflectors and things like that too, you know, draw attention or subject as well and just work through the process and look through the lens and sort of see what we get using depth of field using magnification such as the three hundred using a wide angle lens to show large expanses and really sort of working through this story ah and really telling the story of our road trip and our athlete eric so I've changed cameras uh and I the d seven fifty is sort of my go to camera it's sort of a great entry level camera but I'm not using the d a ten which is a thirty six point three megapixel camera ah, little bit higher megapixels and the reason I picked this camera not only does it have what I feel is a little bit better dynamic range, but those thirty six megapixels really allow all the details of shining when I'm going to show this little person big landscape or which are some of the shots we're going to have eric later, I wanna have his much detail there's possible, so going a little bit higher megapixels going, going to allow me to be able to possibly crop in or, you know, just be able to show that detail in all its glory. So we found our first spot on dh again. I'm starting background first, we've got this beautiful blue ocean here, we've gotta look going down the coast, but more importantly, we have this this perfect trail here, which is going to give us a sense of place in an area for eric to go. Ah, the other thing I'm looking at is this beautiful grass that sort of grown up. I've got a three hundred millimeter lens so it's really good to compress this and give us a sense of immediacy. Um, so I'm gonna have eric probably walked back about so let's, say twenty, thirty feet and then just work back towards me and I'm actually gonna get a little bit low because I really like this grass and when we compress his grass it's going to give us a really interesting foreground and it's really going to give us the sort of really interesting sense of place which is big sur so if you could just go down about twenty, thirty feet uh typically sun's out here and I'm just started a low I so probably around one twenty five to two hundred um and I want to be in a pretty wide aperture it's like this is enough for land some to say like five or so and I'm gonna be on an aperture priority and the reason I like aperture priority in this sense is because, you know, the camera does a great job of exposing but what's important to me here, I want to keep that wide open aperture because I want the background to really fall out of focus because we're compressing it. So having aperture priority, I know everything is going to stay consistent as he walks towards me and it's going to make those calculations and the shutter speed calculations for me. So it's one less thing to think about is the beginning photographer people a lot of times we'll say, you know, I'm just not comfortable program is really all I do and you know my my advice is be in charge of one thing what's important to you is it shutter speed if you're trying to shoot action or is aperture you're trying to tell a story through depth of field for me in this sense right now amateur is the most important thing I want to keep the consistent amateur the backgrounds falling out of place and I'm just going to have eric walked towards me so eric if you could just go ahead and start heading towards me so typically I'll do a quick test ah and a lot of times we didn't do it in this sense but I'll get out of going to one test that will be taking a shot of the background all right we got a good background clean there's nothing distracting all right now we're gonna put eric into the scene so eric walk back if you could walk back another probably twenty thirty feet so basically I have so I put my subject quinn stop there I'm taking my picture the background so I know what this sort of blank canvas is going to be before eriks even in their the next thing I dio is I place eric into the frame and people go well he should be walking towards me well what do I do? Well, I just moved my auto focus point to the spot in the frame where I want eric tow line up on that background so is he walks towards me the camera continues to focus and I have consistent shots as he works towards me. Cool, perfect. So one more time. So now that I've gotten that taken care of, I want to move on to the next step, so I have variety to look at, so I'm not looking at three hundred frames that are identical in exactly the same. I'm gonna move about fifteen, twenty feet that way, and there is going to do the same thing here. So you just straight back, and as you can see, I'm still shooting, even though eric's walking away with his back towards me, it's one of those things where? Just because he's not facing me doesn't mean I have to stop shooting. Some of the most interesting shots are where you're giving the viewer a sense of place, a sense of where he's going. So, you know, be be congressman of look, always looking for those shots where they're walking away from you as well, because it looks from this angle is, though he's going down to a surf break, and we will be surfing later on and in tomorrow, but at this point, the light's not very good. Ah, the waves, unfortunately, not ideal at this very moment, so really working with what we've got and that this scenario is, is kind of the only thing we can do, because it's like five o'clock the lights not ideal but this is the one angle that we can still shoot something so we're sort of maximizing the time that we're out here and working to the process eric head up relax your hand there you go look the other way cool perfect let's do that one more time and when you're when you're about halfway here I don't need you looking this way because the ocean is that way so I want you looking off down the coast sort of the brake when I place a subject in the background um I'm generally and this is a one hundred percent but I'm generally working with the rule of thirds ah that for me is one of the strongest and, you know, sort of timeless formula rule of thirds typically is your strongest frame what I mean by that is it would be if you would put a grid on a horizontal frame that those thirds were these correspond that spot right there I want to have something be in that third uh and that's generally the strongest now that rule is meant to be broken you could have him dead center in the middle but that's generally the first rule that people that are getting the photography is everything is in the middle of their frames so by just moving the auto focus point to the right it's the left the top the bottom we have a stronger frame, so typically right now, I'm having the left side of the frame be sort of the coast going down and on the right side is eric, so I have something moving towards me and he's in that rule of thirds, yeah, board on that side's good. Yeah, because the sun and the reason I'd have the board on this side, eric, is because the sun's falling this way and it's not going to cause a shadow on you. All right, son, this is basically due west here, and the sun is falling a craze, so he across eric this way, so he's basically side lit, so we're using the sun to the best of our ability, um, we could work into another little scenario here. We might actually do that right now where we're actually going to use a light modifier to throw a little bit of light in on him so that we have him little little bit more evenly it's a little more advanced technique. But you could do this, too, with just a small lot of ah, light modifier and a friend or something like that on on this trip. So I think we're getting pretty close, you know, I really like the fact that eriks sort of in this third quadrant, you know, he's lit he's a little it's a little bit hatchet light, which means he's lit on one side. I wanted to be a little higher in the frame, so I'm probably gonna have to do this one more time. You know, I'm gonna want to have this this focus point b right over here, if we're going to be looking at this this sort of frame as he walks up, so we're gonna have eric do this one more time, and I think we're probably going to switch lenses. This's a three hundred, which is pretty tight. We're really compressing that will probably go to that sixteen to thirty five and really give this nice open landscape to give it a little room to breathe. So one more time. All right, eric, you stop right there. So this is one of those prime examples come on back a little bit for me, where I I just directed him to go do something, and he did something naturally, which he was walking away from me, and he turn just a little bit to the side. And all of a sudden the light just sort of raked across his face, so come towards me just a little bit and go ahead and turn around, yeah, and then I'm gonna have you you know, just walk about two steps and then just sort of swing your body just a little bit this way like you're looking down the coast because it actually looks really good and it's a little more cool yeah looks really good right one more time this way I think we're good cool all right? We're really, really looking good so photography and outdoor photography specifically is really kind of a dance uh depends on who you're working with whether it's a model whether it's, napoli and it's really a given take you know, I've known eric forever and and I it may sound ah, you know, to the audience as though I'm being a little bit bossy, but I'm known eric for years and years and I'm being sort of like do this do that whereas if you're just meeting somebody and you've never worked with somebody before, maybe it's a little bit more like, hey, what do you think? And you know, you're sort of getting to know that person so you know me knowing eric and eric would tell me if you didn't want to do something right away, it would be one of those things where you know he'd be like, yeah, no, I don't think that looks good or whatever, but you know if you're working with someone for the first time be cognizant of that tell him that the pictures are looking really good he knows that I'm a good photographer but they may not know you personally so really you know it's sort of a dance is a little bit of give a little bit of take and you know you have to really work towards a common goal so typically the best practice of change of limbs outside in the field um if you're doing it on your own it's it's one thing but having a friend there is really helpful so this is our assistant here orion awesome guy and typically he will take the cap off. I will hand him the other lens I keep the camera down so that we're not having any dust blow in and in this lens he'll hand me this one match it up and quick is that, uh you can see ah, you stay on all the time and the first thing I checked like I mentioned before is it clean looking out dirty? This is crazy dirty. So the next thing I'm gonna do is make sure I wipe this down and get everything cleaned up with our trusty trusty micro fiber cloth so that we're all clean and ready to go, so typically when you're when you're changing lenses in the field, one of the things to think about in your bag is that you've got an easy space the lenses aren't jammed in there it's a little bit different if if you're working on your on your own or if you have an assistant but if you're on your own make sure that there's a space that's easily accessible for you to take this lens off put it into a spot and pop the other lens on as quickly as possible so that you can limit the amount of contaminants and such that air they're flying around the next thing would be to check the land's make sure it's clean on the lens hood lenses really optional for me most of the new lenses whether no matter what camera ran to use are usually coated with an anti flare type of coding which I kind of love and kind of hate there was something about the old lenses which had like this beautiful flair which I try to actually recreate sometimes on we'll maybe do that later today is well where you have that nice sort of glow ah and it's sort of like soft so let me sort of romantic dreaming you know sort of situation the light is really tough right now because it's still fairly high in the sky um you know there's there's a couple ways that we can combat this we're doing a straight portrait typically I would have my subject in the shade so that they're not you know being blinded by the sun ah but what's this this time of day ah we're not to the golden hour yet this really limits your angles that you can do unless you want to start shooting some sort of silhouettes and or bring any sort of light modifiers or flash into the situation we're gonna hold off on that now until maybe a little bit later but you know we're sort of limited by this aspect of shooting with the sun over my shoulder and falling on my subject which is kind of limiting ah but it also makes you sort of think a little bit more through the process ah and start you know, thinking a little more creatively so since we are limited by that we've shot a bunch of the three hundred which is a very long sort of telephoto lens now we're going to change lenses and we're going to be shooting with a sixteen to thirty five so that we're going to have a completely different look ah and a different frame we're going to using the same background but the difference in compression between sixteen or thirty five millimeter in the three hundred is like nineteen days we're gonna have a completely different look again move forward ah and use thes sort of foreground elements of this grass we see right here and shoot the same background but it's just going to be a wider interpretation of that ah and sort of work through that process go and come back for me so on this one you know I want to have it be really kind of ah really sort of ah I guess you could say artsy so I'm gonna go and actually eric if you can come up to about or this green ah sort of twig comes across not right there and I'm gonna get down and they're gonna be all kinds of junk coming through the frame is going to be all this grass coming up and everything and it's gonna look pretty cool but I'm not going to rely on the autofocus because the autofocus is not gonna be able to see through all this stuff so how do we do that? Well I'm gonna pre focus I'm gonna have eric walk up to the spot I'm gonna get eric there get focused alright focuses set I used back button focus s so now that I've focused its not going to read focus until I tell it to focus again so we basically pre focused so I'm now going to get down and go ahead and step back eric for me and you can walk forward now you go cool looks really good do it one more time for me and again I'm going to shoot the same zone so he's going to be in that field of focus and go and stop there and they go looks good we got some really cool shots now we've incorporated foreground element this grass and we've we've we've you know, basically instead of there being a problem, we've thought ahead and said, well, autofocus is probably not going to work so I'm looking through all this stuff what do we do? So we pre focus on knowing where it's going to be he's walking along a trail and all of a sudden we've made yet another picture same background and we've literally walked maybe thirty feet and we could continue to shoot not new and different things you know, typically when I would change from using, you know, auto focus is he's walking towards me and using, you know, continuous auto focus to using a single point or pre focusing would be in a situation where you have a lot of things between you and the subject that could be for instance, a chain link fence you could have a lot of foliage or something like that. So the easiest way in that situation is to make that picture and and know that you're not going to have an auto focus issue is to sort of pre focus because you know where he's going to be so just pre focusing on that zone, we'll give you the best opportunity to make a really solid and consistent photo and I think that's really the takeaway is to become a better photographer the more things you do consistently, the better photographer you'll become so if that's you know, knowing how your auto focus works knowing how you're how your ah you know your exposure work so on and so forth by knowing these things consistently all of a sudden you're able to think more creatively and start looking at the situation you're in and making better pictures as opposed to worrying about so I use continual focus single point you know do I use matrix you know all these different things so by limiting the things that could possibly go wrong you'll make better pictures so I think we've gotten some really nice shots we've got you know, a nice telephoto shot with the three hundred for we've gotten some wider shots with sixteen to thirty five so we've really used the same background into sort of unique ways we've used foreground elements but you know again we're sort of saddled with this is us and the sun is still a little bit high for my liking we're waiting for the sun to get a little bit lower to be a little more interesting so we're gonna move down just a little closer we've got some green foliage here on were just continued to look at the sort of same aspect we were still shooting same direction but we're really trying to maximize his background using just sort of pieces of it to really sort of you know make a cz much out of this is we can before we move on to another scenario so we just went down the trail a little bit further uh I was hoping to see you know sort of why I was looking for another look a wide expanse we could see the ocean a little bit better and it really just didn't pan out so you know this is sort of you know always trying to maximize you know every location as much as possible but sometimes it just doesn't work out so we're going to try to move down the trail and hopefully find out a little bit different background uh same aspect with son but you know hopefully something with a little bit more of an ocean view so again we're out in the elements uh wall of poison oak which is like death ah I just found a tick crawling up my leg eric's just killing another one so this is part of the adventure of outdoor photography knowing the elements ah I typically rock flip flops and shorts about ninety percent of the year on dh I've been out here a bunch I've never actually had a tick and I know what poison oak looks like so I know not to go near it because its like death to me but knowing what you're in for is something that's really important typically when I go to a new location I do a lot of research on the area look att local photo blog's and so on and so forth but just really you know, do the research and find out what are some possible encounters for instance, I shoot a lot internationally on the cia uh fact book and find out are there any sort of bandits or any sort of possible you know, terrorist actions and so on so forth but you know, like always doing that research will allow you to be hopefully is safe happy is possible and tic free so my process is pretty consistent coming to a new area and the first thing I do is basically take sort of a landscape shot and pick my background um and from there, you know and what was the important things about a background? Well, it's, how consistent is that? How dramatic is it? What what aspect is the light falling? Um, so now we've turned just a little bit and now we've got a nice side light coming in again and we've got some waves off in the background uh hopefully we'll get some surfing later on, but you know, I'm giving this sort of us this flow out to the top of the ocean and I'm gonna go ahead and place eric in the scene, I've already taken my sort of test shot I know it's a pleasing image uh there's you know, there's some nice foreground element there's a beautiful blue ocean and there's a view down the coast and from there, you know, we're going to sort of now place our athlete uh, into the in the subject um so we'll just get eric there in just a second, you know, what is pleasing to me is something that's this consistent ah has good light, it has consistent light or it has some sort of interesting shadows um, I mean, just look back here this is this is big service is one of most beautiful places in the world, you know, I'm always looking for the most pristine looking images ah, that maybe tell a little bit more of the story we've got some waves breaking ah, you beautiful ocean and this this trail here is part of a storytelling element for me. It allows me to sort of, uh, you know, tell his story in a very simple way, and as a photographer, we're always looking to some some thiss whole story in really a moment um and this this is something that allows me to do that. So, like probably just like about where that shadow is right there, uh, we're going to have you sort of walked back and forth for us and again, I'm gonna move my auto focus point turnaround for mark a lot of auto focus point, but go ahead and put it in this instance uh sort of this top third of the frame if we're to look at the frame is going to sort of be in the top third right about here um and the reason I'm doing that is because again I want eric's face to be in sort of a strong area and yeah, the waves were really coming in and we've got this sort of sweeping uh half moon sort of circle going off the left side I'm just going to have eric sort of come towards me a couple times I'm on a typically shoot with uh continuous auto focus on a point on that in that third and as well as shooting continuously which means I'm shooting you know, five frames a second or whatever I'm just shooting every time eric gets into a good body language and I'm always looking where is he looking? I'm not just shooting to shoot but I'm also waiting for that moment that he's you know in a what looks like a natural position uh he's not he's not looking at me he's in his element a cz an athlete or just somebody out you know enjoying the great outdoors so we're gonna go out and work through this process perfect little more time and go ahead and look out down the coast line when you get about that shadow there yeah there you go look out for me again go mix it up a little bit I'm gonna go and move the auto focus point all the way to the left. We've got a nice frame of that, and now the left side of the frame is going to be sort of this side with with the ocean in the background, all right, ready when you are perfect, cool, cool that's a lot of me on camera looking at myself fun stuff, uh, you know, when you're out there, it's, you know, people go well, they're worried about all these elements, right? It's hot, like was on the roof earlier, and we get really overwhelmed. So that's, why, you know, I really you're talking about doing the research, a nap that I didn't mention up there before that I use for scouting specifically is called panorama eo on iphone app and basically anywhere in the world, it's all these geo tagged photos that people have taken everywhere and you zoom in on a map and all of a sudden hundreds of pictures show up and they're basically doing all your scouting for you, which is great, so a little bit of ah, you know, extra help is always good.