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Adventure Photography

Lesson 23 of 32

Big Sur: Sunrise Lit Tent

Lucas Gilman

Adventure Photography

Lucas Gilman

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Lesson Info

23. Big Sur: Sunrise Lit Tent

Lesson Info

Big Sur: Sunrise Lit Tent

Hey, soren, big sir, just before sunrise and we're just looking to really sort of round out our shoot here, so we're gonna start any introducing some props today? Uh, we've got a tent here and we're going to sort of be balancing that, uh, ambient light, which you see here, the lights coming up slowly. Uh, and we're gonna add a little bit of light to the tents we have a glowing tent. Uh, in addition, we have ah, our surfer eric sort of off in the distance and he'll be sort of silhouetted on the background and make for another graphic element. So we're really trying to add layers to these images again, starting from the background, the things we've talked about before and just sort of building forward, so we're going to pick a really clean, simple background, which in this case, is a beautiful coast going down here in big sur and just sort of again add those elements props ah athletes, eccentric center building those layers we're going to actually like this tent with just a small led uh ...

little man proto led it's about the size of three or four packs of gum together, uh runs on batteries really expensive, but a really nice way to have that ambien glow inside the tent you know costs less than a strobe and it makes it super simple because you sort of see what you get is opposed to a stroke which is very, very fast so it'll give us just a nice ambient warm glow uh and you know makes make for a little bit more dynamic image this's just ah ah little man photo led light here super small and it runs on double a batteries it's great because it's adjustable you can see and we're just going toe ahh this is one of the things I always have my camera bag because they're great for these kinds of chutes were just gonna throw it inside the tent facing up to just give it a little bit of ah of a glow from inside and it'll give us a nice sort of sort of look as uh a light comes up perfect um this guy's dead basically so we're just going to go with you some led lights that we have but we're going to see if we have enough like uh this one as well uh if that doesn't work we've also got strobes that we can put in here you know the best laid plans um the career but it might just be we're low on juice because they're rechargeable you could really use any light source or just looking for something to illuminate the tent and at this point uh were you know anything could be used uh the only thing you gotta worry about it's like they're lights coming up pretty quickly we don't wanna overpower it, so having something with low enough light setting eyes kind of important, we'll just put it sort of put in this tent into this sort of landscape here to give us a sense of place and we're gonna use our live preview to give us a riel sort of sense of what we're getting uh and I want to worry about I'm gonna want to be a longer exposure, so maybe like two and a half seconds. So at this point, it's telling me s o two hundred about two and a half seconds is where we're at, but of course we'll do a couple test shots and see we're at before we actually do a final final image first thing now that we're on location, we're sort of getting our camera set up first thing I like to do is just start with a fresh battery uh, make sure that we've got plenty of juice also fresh cf card. Ah and my little trick for the batteries I put him in all these little carriers uh when they're done, I put the contact side out so I know that the battery is has been used and if it's the other way other way it's still fresh, so little tip there and we're just going to get set up here and we're gonna actually since we don't have an led light that's it's powerful enough right now we're just gonna have a throw it into the tent yeah so let's go ahead and, uh set that surf stuff up uh we're gonna actually have you sort of standing there like you're just out getting ready for a morning session for my card. We're used one of these pro photo be ones which are great they're just little aa battery pack units that you can, uh take him to the field. The great thing about them is that they have basically tl setting or emmanuel setting that you conspire directly wirelessly from the camera. We're just going to use these to fire from the from the camera um and you could turn down quite a bit, so I'm just placing it on the side of the tent because I want to get a nice glow through the tent we can't really see it, it'll be out of frame and it's just gonna light up as you can see the power. The great thing about these uh, pro photo units is that can actually dial the power up and down from this unit, so as a slight comes up we'll be able to sort of increase the power to go out and start doing a couple of test shots we're to start out again an aperture priority because I wanna keep my aperture consistent and the reason I want to do that is because I'm using strobes here and we're gonna let the shutter speed change so I see here quick test so I'm gonna start out it'll lower eyes so two hundred and I'm gonna be on after priority, which is an automatic mode and I'm actually going toe I want to start off with my ambien exposure my exposure for this light coming in the sunrise to be about one stop under uh I'm gonna start at five point six and sort of see where we're at from their test all right? So we're getting and the reason I want to be about a stop under so I really want to hold this color, which is going to be coming up pretty quick so we're getting a you know, a nice little bit of glory to the sky here I'm gonna change my framing just a little bit give me a real sense of, you know, a place here and I'm gonna start placing eric and just a second. The next thing we want to dio is after taking this first test shot for ambient light, for this is just our exposure out here is we're then gonna add our strobe and see what kind of power setting we need to be able to balance those two things out so we're gonna go ahead and do that, and we're getting not enough light out of that tent, so we're going to go ahead, and we're going to increase our power setting by about a stop plus one I'm going to take one more test shot and see where we're at. Uh, ryan, could you tell me what, what unit the unit it says behind the uh says, eh? Okay, so we're going to increase our our power on a to go one stop, so there's different channels, this is just a wireless transceiver and it's talking to this strobe over here and I wanted to basically you can see that it got much brighter there, I want to increase that power so that all of a sudden we've got this really nice glowing tent. We're letting the camera makes the automatic decision for the ami exposure and then we're we're having this just light up the tent here, so we're getting a nice flash inside that tent, which then makes it look like we've got sort of, like, almost like a night scene here, uh, we're starting to get a nice quo. I'm gonna go ahead on a increase, the energy, even mohr, about two thirds of a stop, so now we're getting a really nice clothes you can see now I'm losing a little bit of my background here miami is a little bit dark so what I'm gonna do is on this exposure compensation I'm just going to dial that down a little bit so no, I'm only under exposing by about a third of a stop it's looking good I've got a nice scene here glowing tent the next thing we're gonna do is at our athlete eric so eric uh let's go ahead and have you uh just sort of lets have you with the surfboard just sort of standing out there just sort of hanging out the other thing we want to think about here is what are seen looks like we don't want anything stacking on top of each other because you want to have these layers sort of working throughout so we don't want to have a bag in front of the tent and so on and so forth so eric, we're going direct you if you can go a little bit this way and just find a comfortable spot there maybe up on top of a rock that's good perfect and I want you to be sort of looking down the coast this way so your your surfboards mohr flat towards me? Yeah, there you go so you're looking down at that break down their cool all right looking good got r strobe going off in the tent it's actually lighting eric up a little bit um I'm gonna go ahead and change that exposure just a little bit cool yeah, it looks like we're you know basically almost the middle of the night we're getting a beautiful color in the sky we've got a glowing tent here and it's looking really good so on aperture priority shooting raw five point six and when you're shooting with this strobe ah you know I got the strobing a manual mode right now what the strobe works with is your aperture it's that really flat fast flash duration so keeping that apple sure consistent whether five, six, three, four in this case we're five six um I want to you know, be able to you know, have this have that stroh be consistent so I'm not changing all the settings and things are changing the whole time typically you know, I would probably go to manual mode right here and, you know, basically scent of the needle and when I mean center the needle mean, get my exposure right in the middle at five six and s o two hundred and just sort of see what this test shot is due another one real quick leave already we've already done this and now we're getting just a little more light on the horizon and we'll just start working through this process uh nice glowing tent it's consistent and now that we've got eric in place we got the ten in place we got his wet suit um eric let's go ahead and put the surfboard on the other arm and then do you have your cup of coffee there sort us again trying to trying to add these levels like you know eric just woke up he sort of waiting for the surf to come in here we're gonna go ahead now that we've got this sort of set up I'm gonna go ahead and actually zoom in on the shots and make sure that there's nothing I'm missing you know our were sharp we've got a good exposure we've got eric in place um and at this point he's a pretty good element and now we've got to get wave here so now we're looking at the background we're working through the process and with all these layers were being we're being you know, just sort of open minded so what's going on because you can see all of a sudden we're getting beautiful light in the sky which we weren't getting just a second ago so I'm probably going to change my framing just a little bit because all of a sudden over here we got beautiful color and over here not so much so I'm actually gonna swing over here and shoot from this angle because all of a sudden there's beautiful color in the sky so let's see let's have you eric sort of ride over to the left? Maybe that little open sand spot there just a little bit of height here um just a little bit different perspective because all of a sudden if I'm down the rocks too much um it's going to be I'm not going to get us much of the sky, so I wanted to get as much sky as possible uh, ryan, if we could move the strobe to the other side of that tent so it's facing me but firing into that tent uh gonna level a tripod and I'm gonna be on a sixteen sixteen millimeter lens here so really wide and when I'm trying to do is make sure we get a cz much of the sky as possible make sure we got a good clean horizon line and do a quick test and I'm gonna go two thirds of a stop under what the exposure is telling me here quick tests again. All right, we gotta get glowing tent uh, eric, if we can get you uh over you see this big rock over here on um over here on the left you think there's a flat spot for you to stand on there? You have a big rock there what I'm trying to do here is bring eric up into the sky just a little bit more there we go perfect looking really good you're actually looking off this way yeah, um protest yeah it's looking good um we're going bracket a little bit here when in this sort of situation we got some consistent light eric just sort of over there you just want him to stay still and you start working through this process um a little bit under right now I'm a five six one one twenty fifth of a second because I really want to hold that color and I'm gonna goto one eighth of a second here which is opening up just a little bit get a little more exposure in the sky um orion, can you turn this ten just a little bit towards me uh mohr facing this direction and move that light and the reason I'm doing that as his tent looks really sort of narrow here I'm gonna go a little more three quarter ah and it's just really a preference thing um because I don't want it I want it to stand out so all of a sudden now I'm getting more of the wide side facing towards me and uh and then if we get a stake that out with a rock so the tents taught there we go and we'll put you back in the same spot, eric in a minute again we're working with our rule of thirds and if we could put the light on this side uh going through on the broad side facing this way yeah be awesome tell me when you're good so don't blind you alright protest all right we got a nice glowing tent eric's looking good let's go and grab one more strobe out of there um do you want with eric eric put down here for me looking really nice just wait in this way the crash in the background and it's looking really nice the only thing we want to add in addition here we've got our glowing tent we got our night sky eric's a little dark on the horizon so we're gonna have one more stroke come out and I'm actually gonna have him just hold it out of camera and we're going to use a uh a grid to be able to just have the light directly on him s so there's a grid on the very end here and we're on unit c on this guy so I got a grid here which is a honey comb grid and this is going to be our unit ceased we're gonna be able to control this one independently of that one so that that exposure going to say the same and I'm gonna have a ryan come over here and basically just point this right it eric's head um so that we can add just a little bit out light to eric the only thing grits were changing here in this sort of scenario is that we've now added another lights you eric all right somebody changed exposure and you walk towards him and keep walking, keep walking, keep walking and stopped there and come back a little bit come back, come back, come back, come back and good and so what I'm doing here is trying to get that light is close to pot erica's possible without having it be in the frames because I want to have as much power coming out out of that as we can go out and raise the energy on that one all right as you can see, all right, eriksen fully lit were to dial that down a little bit now that we know were at so we're getting a nice school in the tent he's illuminating eric and we're just gonna keep shooting here looking really good you know, I'm waiting for the set to come in but uh I wanna flip it over coffee in this hand yes and now we're going a little wave crash here it's looking good I'm gonna move my position just a hair so that it's a little more down the coast again just reevaluating the light's going to change really quickly here just makes you worry everything's in focus so the sort of checklist is you got our exposure sort of set because nothing's changed we're on manual exposure five six one sixth of the second we got uh this on near full power we got this other pro photo on about a quarter power and that's lighting up the tent and that's lighting up eric we're getting a really nice uh exposure here cool um the only thing I might want to add we've got a nice little mix of stuff here got eric got him over and sort of thirds here um and we might just zoom in just a little bit just to mix up our are sort of focal lengths a little bit make it a little bit more immediate so when I zoom in on eric is going to give me a sort of ah quicker sense of what's going on again using our horizon line built into the camera uh, one of my biggest peeves is tohave caddie juan pus horizon lines on uh oceans and such so just make sure you're straight on that you got our exposure right? And we're just sort of working through this process I'm gonna go ahead we're getting more like is obviously the sun is coming up so we're gonna gonna thinks I'm gonna go ahead and increase the shutter speed uh way keep coming up so that we don't lose any of that skye we keep that really beautiful gorgeous sky um let's go out and try something a little different a ryan if you could come over here and I'm gonna have you actually be at this angle you're shooting that way it eric just so that we don't have is much reflective quality on the board so you have to think of we're shooting a wide angle lens here the strobe was over here on our left and it was it was flashing directly at that board so we want to have it at an angle where the reflective qualities going to go off and be out of camera so that we don't have that in so again we're going to the same thing quick test and since we moved to ryan further away from eric we now need to increase our power we've done that you know it's just a guess but typically I'd go by about two stops to start because we've doubled our distance but it's really just a guess there's no like it's this much these air five hundred watt second strobes so you know it's it's there's not like a perfect answer essentially see just minor changes here and where we replacing erik making sure he's sharp because after we focus and this is the thing we focus we don't need to change our focus again we've got our manual exposure five six s so what do we got? Two hundred and we're one hundredth of a second we got this drove on manual this struggle in manual so the only thing is changing is the lightest coming up and we're just sort of changing our shutter speed a little bit faster a little bit faster to compensate for that light coming up it's coming up a lot so let's go up to one sixty the second we're increasing that shutter speed which is dropping the overall amin exposure we got a nice wave here and we're really just looking for a perfect barrelling waves so we've got all these things sort of set up now uh, one thing is faras are white balance here tradition I would be either on a flash white balance or sonny white balance no, they're sort of the best two for ah shooting strobes and if you could so ryan just raked the light up just a hair cool and down just a hair down a little more so that with that green and the whole point of a brid is really toe funnel that like so it doesn't spread out so we've got a ten degree grid on this uh pro photo and it's really keeping that light in a very, very small space. The further light goes it it spreads out, but we're not getting any spill in the rocks and we're trying to keep all that light on eric ah the reason I would you sonny here is because I'm trying to balance uh for our our dominant light source or one of our dominant light sources, which is the strobes uh and there they are daylight white bowne so if I had for instance uh you know, ten thousand kelvin or something they would be very, very, very warm it might look pleasing and that's something that we can do real quick we can go ahead and check that and see what that would look like go to ten thousand kelvin it looks cool looks like sunset but it's not really the look I'm looking for I'm looking mohr for that sort of surreal uh because the sky is sort of warm we're getting this nice warm glow from the sky and the strobes are balanced properly so I'm gonna go back to our uh normal white balance which should be sunny or flash and just sort of keep shooting through this looking good all right let's go ahead and switch everything around uh we're getting some good color down the coast and I want to sort of look down this coast here so ryan, we're gonna have you come over here and now we're going eric over there yeah let's let's grab your backpack and throw that in the frame. Eric yeah that's fine let's move your wet suit maybe lay it out over some rocks or something again we're gonna sort of check we're gonna have you probably be maybe over there we'll just sort of see yeah, a little bit more just just laid on the rocks past the tent there there you go right there that's fine uh let's go and get you over here somewhere on the left yeah right right around there is fine and uh max gonna have you go down orion just out of frame and good you're good right there and just again lighting up eric just looking down like the barrel of a gun almost just looking right down and lighting erica and we're gonna go ahead and change the light on eric because we've now moved eric closer to this strobe which is our sea bank that ryan scott sort is going to turn that power down and I'm just gonna guess I'm gonna turn down about a stop and do another test here and I was just a little bit too much more perfect yeah you could get higher that would be good further away you see that rock there it's like flat just about fifteen feet out that'd be a good one perfect actually can you get to that other one just there the biggest one you see right there further down towards the beach yeah, perfect and ryan if you could move down towards the water a little bit we're going to turn up the power a little bit we've moved eric further away so you know eric I'm still working with traditional rule of thirds are right and you two go out they're just a little bit further back back, back, keep going, keep going, keep going. Perfect. So basically, I've got my basic background here and I'm putting eric in sort of this third quadrant over here, and I got the tent and this sort of right quadrant over here, so I'm trying to build sort of it's sort of structuring or stacking of layers we've got the coast coming up here, that's our real simple background again going back to that very simple background taking that test shot first, getting our exposure dialed and then from there adding one element. The first element we added was a tent got the exposure right for that, uh, out of that strobe and then adding a little more death by adding, eric is the next thing um and I'm gonna go ahead and there's enough ambient light coming up now I'm gonna go ahead and turn off. See? So I want you know, my is a photographer. I'm always trying to tell an authentic story. Umm you know these air, you know, I'm using elements that he would really have, you know, he's gonna have a ten he's going to have a back back he's gonna have his wet suit. He's gonna have his surf or this is sort of ah if we were on this road trip and we're going to go back to this sort of like road trip a lot you know, this is something anybody can do is go out and have a road trip um I'm trying to have these be authentic elements that air storytelling that are part of this sort of outdoor culture and part of what we would really do all right? Eric, can you move that strobe a little bit further towards the back side of the tent there. We're just came in a little bit further back. You go right? There's probably good. So I've been, you know, up and down the coast, probably sixty times I pulled over here, son sunset I've been here at sunrise. Um typically, you know, I have a pretty good idea of what's going to go what's going to happen as faras where the tide's going to be, we look to the tide tables and we knew that it wasn't to be real high tide, so the water wouldn't be all the way up here. Um and we're just going to continue to shoot throughout the morning here, a sun comes up and eventually it's gonna peek out over, you know, over these mountains and we're just going to try to teo you know, make this more uh you know, add more layers until these waves come in which then we can actually go on then shoot some action. Alright, eric, you come or charge me so just straight, actually directly towards me. Yeah, just like right over here's fine, yeah, yeah. All right, orion, come over here a little bit for me and so I shot a bunch of shots there of eric just sort of walking, but to me, that really feels authentic. Uh, come on over here, ryan and right behind him and just write it eric's face there, run dial the power of on the sea channel, which is the one that are ryan's got alright, little more and there's no, like, you know, perfect. I mean, we could we could go and he did a chart we could measure the distance between the strobe and ryan and we know exactly what the power setting would be, but to me it's easier just to sort of threw a little trial and error look at the screen and be like, okay, we got this guy exposed right? And now we're going to dial the power up or down uh, for for eric here, if you're starting out with strobes, you know, I think the biggest problem with people that are trying to use drugs all of a sudden they wanna have like three strobes out there they're going to you know they want to have the tent they want out of this one let's start with one start simply light up a tent get comfortable with that and then once you're comfortable with that uh at a second strobe and then maybe a third and you want to really build it's the same thing with shooting outdoor photography where I start with the background first at a person or an athlete you know you want to continue to add these elements that when you get into trouble is when all of a sudden you have all this stuff and this isn't working that's not working and you don't know why so by adding one thing at a time be it you know, one stroke, two strokes three strobes that's how you're going to be the most consistent and make the best photos and learned the process to where you can walk up roll down to the beach and within a couple of minutes be pretty dialed on your exposures uh and balancing the ambient light for uh you know your subject as well as using strokes all right let's go and just have you put the board up like set it up somewhere and then just sit on iraq yeah anywhere that you think you'd be safe and again this is where we're going to defer to the athlete you know I may think that the board would look good like laying on its side over here well, you want it to look authentic so if you know somebody you really surf saw this they'd be like nobody ever put their board like that so by me asking eric hey, where would you actually put your board in this situation it's going to look the most authentic s so then just sort of find a spot maybe there with your wet suit sitting down having your coffee just right there is fine and again orion just right at him and you had to sort of hanging out exactly and this is looking really good and the reason it's looking good is we've actually increased our shutter speed um up to about two hundred and fiftieth of a second and are tense glowing and we've got a second light which is our sea bank there's no reason it's rc bank it's just when he pulled out of the bag it was on the c channel or c bank uh it's lighting eric so it actually looks like the tent is lighting eric up and it looks really authentic and that's really the point um we wanted to look like this is glowing uh this is sort of a natural scene yeah, I mean it if you're just going out with a friend and you're running a surfboard um you know, maybe the best thing to do is pick up magazines, whether it's uh, you know, going on surfline, dot com or surfer's journal, you know, go out and get some magazines you're interested in a sport climbing or surfing or kayaking there's lots of magazines out there go out and look at the kind of pictures they publish this is who you want to work for, study that figure out, you know, what works, what doesn't and sort of, you know, work through that and don't necessarily copy that, but you know what that is in the basis of that, eric, what do you think about the waves pretty small? You could turn your body just a little more towards me cheated just a little bit, so you're looking down that way, there you go and your face sort of like, right off this cliff there you go and the reason I'm I'm doing that I'm just cheating him just a little bit, and it may feel weird to him because he's like, well, the ocean's out there it's really hard to tell where he's looking, but I prefer to get a little bit of the profile of his face uh, just you know, somebody can connect with that as opposed to just the back of his head, so by cheating in this way just a little bit and she just this way just a little more eric for me perfect, we're getting a really nice scene so we've just gotten some amazing shots and we're going to sort of walk through this the process we got we got to the beach before sunrise and people think this is a big mistake. People go to shoot sunrise at sunrise you go to the beach or wherever you're going well before sunrise typically you have a chance to scout out the day before that is best. We brought our props who brought a tent? We've got a surfboard, we brought our athlete and we sort of built the shot initially came in, found our ambien exposure and dial that in found the background, we wanted our canvas per se uh, background first on then we added the tent and into the shot, and then from there we added one light to that tent. We had a pro photo be one and we balanced that exposure of the strobe, which is flashing into the tent with the ambien exposure, and there wasn't really anything technical as faras well, it was, you know, I was at five six and this is how much power we had it's more about a trial on air process, you know, set the stroke to say half power if you've got too much power dial it down if you don't have enough dial it up and so on and so forth you know, after we got that that comfortable shot where the tents glowing we've got our amon exposure dial for the tent and our sort of background the next thing we did was we added eric because we're getting some color in the sky and he was sort of a silhouette because there's light out there and we're in the shade here so you know, we're again we're adding layers were building on our our background grabbing a one element than adding another element and sort of working through that process uh then to make it a little bit more interesting a little more dynamic we added one more stroke one more b one which you're fired wirelessly so I'm controlling them from the actual camera there's a module there we added the sea bank which there's no reason it was the sea bank you just happen to be that I have my strobes that channel one a b and c so that I can basically you know, control them independently. So we added that one we did a test shot with the power setting and then we sort of find two not adjusted that to the point where eric was looking good the on ly additional thing we added to those be ones was we added a ten degrees uh grid to the front of that and ten degree grid. What is a light modifier? Which is really one of my favorite tools in the bag for for getting these kind of shots, because what that does is it really channels that light and keeps it from spilling out everywhere, so it allows me to light a subject which is, you know, pretty far off, um and not have light spilling everywhere, so it looks like there's just a shaft of light coming down from over the over the hill side, essentially, so again, we're looking for that authenticity that looks even though it is lit that we're trying to make it look as real as possible. And so takeaways are start with the back from first, you know, at first element like that, that first element, and then add a second element such as, you know, surfboard or an athlete and then like that element as well, and by not doing it all at once and just, you know, having a light here and light there and just being like, oh, I don't know why it's not working and getting it very, you know, having be very confusing, we start with those elements one by one, you know, starting with our ambient background. Out in the element, lighting the first element and then lighting the second element. And if we wanted to add a third lighter, a fourth light. We would do that in the same way by just adding those step by step and layer by layer.

Class Description

Learn how to capture the intensity and movement of an epic experience in a single, still photograph with Lucas Gilman in Adventure Photography.

Lucas is one of the most celebrated adventure photographers in the industry. His work is infused with color and energy and in this class, he’ll show you how he creates his amazing images. 

You’ll learn: 

  • How to take powerful adventure and outdoor images
  • The key to selling to commercial clients
  • Gear and equipment essentials
  • Post-processing tips and techniques

Lucas will share the history and process behind some of his most challenging and exciting shoots. He’ll also offer tips on how to prepare for long stretches of intense outdoor shooting and how he keeps his gear bag stocked for adventure.

Let one of the industry’s most exciting photographers show you how to inject excitement into your outdoor images in Adventure Photography. 



This class is perfect at all things. The best class for nature photography with or without model. Personally for me this class is best of all because we have most practical learning, that is perfect. I have sense just like I am there. I am gladly wait for starting today class because this class is two days. Buy it that material must to watch and have it on your hard disk! Just perfect. Regards to Lucas and Creative Live.


Lucas is an amazing photographer. I love how he keeps it simple with the way he explains and shows things. This class is perfect for anyone with a camera, as you can take his teachings and apply it to not only adventure photography but to any style.