Skip to main content

Adventure Photography

Lesson 24 of 32

Big Sur: Sunrise Portraits

Lucas Gilman

Adventure Photography

Lucas Gilman

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

24. Big Sur: Sunrise Portraits

Lesson Info

Big Sur: Sunrise Portraits

Look it's really great stuff being able to watch you right there on location on the beach doing your thing on dh we're goingto about q set up our next video for us yeah, so we've gone out, we're on the beach, we've used a couple strobes were for steadily progressing from using available light to now we're using strobes in to enhance our photos. What we're going to do now is use some light modifier specifically that sameera thirty six inch octa box, which you guys saw this morning one of my go to because it fits in a backpack lightweight, etcetera, etcetera, but we're going to go and we're going to start doing some athlete portrait ce which again, I want to reiterate this a soft box this big eyes not a soft light source unless it's relatively close to the subject, so again, it's the size of the light source in comparison to the distance so if you have a very little soft box that's all you have in your kit, you don't have to go out and buy a big soft box, but you just need to remember th...

e closer that soft boxes, the softer that lights going to be in more pleasing so we're going to see some shots we did with our athlete eric, where we use the soft box teo basically all the lights behind him again he's in the shadow and we're just filling in that light it's a one lights set up pretty simple but I guess we're gonna roll that let's roll it so we're going to go ahead and and shoot like a quick portrait here we're going to use ah soft box this is humira soft boxes thirty six inch soft box um and I prefer round or octagonal soft boxes because it's a it's a really pleasing light in in the cat sites in the eyes and the only additional day want to use release the same strobes used for the pro photo be one is going to use this grid here and the reason we're uses creative because again we're going to want our light to go where we wanted to go and not what we don't know where it's going to go on the subject and not anywhere else and he's just delker right in two he saw fox is here if you haven't used a grid in a soft box before, it will really take ah your porch it's the next level because it really allows you the utmost control of the light ah just a quick note this great is made by light tools out of canada they are kind of expensive but they last a lifetime and if I was to pick one piece of lighting gear besides, you know my proto be once it would be one octagonal soft walks and one grid that would be something I could do ninety percent of my, uh shooting with because you really just do a lot of things with this and the reason that we've chosen a soft box as opposed to a reflector per se is that we're looking for that large light source and why do we want a large light source? We want a large light source because the larger the light source the soft with lights so we want to have that really flattering pleasing like you can think about it like if it's not a cloud in the sky and the sun's out really harsh right shadows everywhere but if the clouds come in all of a sudden there's no shadows and lights very, very soft we're trying to sort of replicate that was a little bit brighter light and control that buy, you know, having like go where we want to with our with our soft box here so perfect could bring this guy up so you're just going to basically go like this. Um I've been shooting a sixteen to thirty five millimeter lens all morning on the d a ten I'm probably going to change thio niko or twenty four to seventy twenty four to seventy is a great sort of all around lens because it allows me to have that little bit of ah zoom range and you know, seventy millimeter, you know, it's it's, good for portrait's, but I also have, you know, that ability to sort of back out without physically moving my body, which, you know, I do use a lot of primes, but when you're an environment like the beach here, sometimes you can physically move yourself to the position where you want to be. But you are able to sort of be ableto move yourself out by zooming out or zooming in, right? That c we're gonna do this this portrait, the exact same way we've done everything else, we're gonna start with the background first. Eso eric, you can actually just step out. Um, can you turn this guy off quick? And we're gonna get an ambien exposure for our background, all right? And I'm gonna be about I'd say a stop under ambient, so center the needle and I'm going to be best stop under ambien. The reason I want to do that is because I want to create step separation, and I want a little bit darker background. So basically you've got our blank palette. We're about to stop under ambient. Uh, the next step is we're going to add this first light with this tent, so turn that guy on here and our exposure is it were seven one, two hundred fifty two the second at s o two hundred? You could be at four hundred and five six, like there's there's no reason that I'm a seven one it just happens to be what the available light is here right now. Uh, so we've added our tent light here and now we've got a nice glowing tent. I'm going turn it up just a little bit like I said, there's no right or wrong here is just trial and error. Yeah, just a little more light. Got a nice glowing tent. I'm happy with that. All right? We're going to bring eric in here and you sort of have you stand right about here? Uh, yeah, just just write about their perfect actually go back about three feet. We're gonna add eric, we don't even know we're not even have a light on eric here. We're just putting him in the scene uh, we're gonna have him sort of in this left third so eric's basically a silhouette now, because there's like behind him, but he's not really getting light from the sky it's looking really good the coastlines looking good go and bring a ryan in with another light so come on in and what I'm gonna have you d'oh, orion is get is close to erica's you can without being in the frame and this will be really sort of ah all this have been movin keep going keep going and stop and go back out alright quick test shot here looking pretty good if you can come my way just a little bit come my way there you go just a little americana nice spot in the background and half setback orion and looking off my shoulder just over here turn you turn the board just a little bit more towards this way this way they got exactly like looking directly in the light pretty much and we're having oh so much fun this is the best this part is where you've got direct them a little bit because you got to make them feel comfortable I'm not that funny but you know, try to continue to have a conversation um make sure they don't have their hand although in their pocket it looks like they're their hands cut off so just, you know, real comfortable there you go you start working through it here quick attack and you get a little closer keep going closer, closer, closer, closer, closer, closer, closer stop and back cool so the reason I'm having him moved closer closer closer closer is I want him physically is close to erica's possible because again, the larger that light source in comparison to your subject the softer that lighter the more pleasing that's going to be so we're good there raise it up just a little bit all right, eric we're having so much fun where's it gonna be barreling today cool fun dial that guy down I know. Yeah, exactly. All right looking good looking good looking good. So I think we've got a really nice portion of eric he's. Well, let tense. Well, it we have a nice ambient light coming on in the background. We're still taking advantage of the fact that we're in sort of open shade here. The next step is probably see if we can, you know, either do one more sort of strobe thing or really just sort of check the waves uh with the waves it's sort of a trial and everything, you know, we could sit here for fifteen minutes and it looks like there's no waves and all of a sudden will be waves sort of rolling in. So, uh, you know, it's just something that takes some time and knowing how it sort of works uh, eric let's actually do one more thing while we're, um, while we're here let's go ahead and just do a little bit more of an action thing, you know, we've done these this sort of whole setup where it's pretty posed, uh, this morning, we're going to have eric, you're gonna have your surfboard down and were actually just going tio, have you? Ah, we're going to take the fly off the tent. We're going have you shaking out the tent just to make a nice sort of, uh, you know, more of an action shot like you just woke up he's packing his ten up and, uh, really getting ready to go out and go surfing s o as faras the scenarios go, you know, think through this, what do people do in the morning? They had breakfast, they have coffee, they packed up their tents, you know, these were the sort of scenarios that we want to work through because they feel authentic and they feel genuine, so we're going to grab this light out of the frames, you can go and set that one down, orion and good pop that fly off eric, and if we're lucky, we'll get this right it's, the sun's, peking or of this horizon, and it'll be something really nice, you know, as far as the number of porches idea in a particular setting, it really depends on, you know, art. Is it working? You know and what I say is it working? Is are you just very close? Is it just the nuances, the subtleties? You just waiting for that little bit of body language or that expression from your model or eric there's? Really? No right or wrong answer. Sometimes I'll spend all day on one particular portrait. Sometimes you walk up and you you you know, you have it nailed within fifteen seconds. So, uh, working through the process, you know, there's no right or wrong again. So just, you know, whatever feels right essentially this is a good process photo, erik sort of taking the tent down, so I'm gonna have you take the fly off here and then you just sort of roll the fly up off the side and then I'm gonna have you just pick the ten up above your head and shake out, you know, shake out the sand I'm gonna add just a little bit of light just a little kicker light is what I'd call it, um just on eric here just so we have what it looks like a little bit love light raking across the horizon here, but you want to have it turn so it be actually like it, have the door open a little closer, so open up the door so these were like the subtle details of things that you want to make sure you've got, um if you're going to be taking out a tent, make sure the door's open um you know, these are the details and then if you can have it sort of if you could hold it on one end so that it's sort of up asshole as you can uh yeah, but higher so hold it almost it like we're at the base of those two there you go yeah, there you go and I'm using our ryan here just that just a little kicker like not much light it all and write it up just a little bit typically on portrait I'm you know, my my biggest concern or the things most important to me out on a portrait is my depth the fielder, my aperture setting um, you know, I'm controlling in that sense you know how much I want to be in focus uh and that's where you know yesterday said you'd be in control of one thing I'm shooting an automatic settings I'm shooting an aperture priority later when I'm shooting surfing out, probably shooting and shutter priority and really what it boils down to is what's important to you about the photo princess if I'm shooting surfing, the most important thing for me is to get sharp uh images and how do I do that? I basically keep the motion blur to a minimum by using a very, very fast shutter speed when a portrait is being shot I'm more worried about what is in focus so I'm trying to control that depth of field and keep that consistent the shutter speed is not as important to me in that aspect yes I don't want to necessarily have a thirty second exposure on a portrait because maybe he moves a little bit but um within reason I'm not as worried about the shutter speed I'm more worried about how much depth of field we have got this up and you could actually ryan come right over here and shoot back this way for me to clean ten eric beyond clean all right and come back just right towards me even a little bit and actually just right here on this side for me the reason I'm moving orion around just a little bit here and there a cz I'm trying to get the light to fall on eric and just a really sort of pleasing and or natural way and just you know, just adding just a little kiss of light here and it may seem like I'm shooting a lot of shots and it's not that I'm doing something wrong or eric's doing something wrong I'm really just waiting for all of this tow line up I've got the light here I've got eric here and I'm waiting for that set of waves to come in so that there's a nice looking wave in the background so I'm constantly assessing all of these sort of things all of a sudden we have a way of coming in here are another good one here perfect looks good constantly assessing what's going on in the background because this is not a static background this is actually a living moving background so are assessing is the light changing? Are the waves changing? Where's eric lining up on this andi I'm moving myself just suddenly that he lines up where I want him to on the background of one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to shooting outdoor photography is that is that things were constantly changing sun's going behind the clouds way have whether that comes in it could be rain it's hot it's cold there's there's physical elements which we're dealing with unlike a studio environment where you walk in you set the strobes the model walks in it's air conditioned everything is, you know, dialed to a t and nothing changes from beginning to end uh with, you know, outdoor setting, sunrise sunset you know this sunrise all of a sudden you're getting more like more like more like and you have to be valuing that a cz the light comes up, whether you're shooting on a manual setting or your shooting in an automatic setting you're having to sort of adjust the settings as the light comes up or goes down if you're in a sunset scenario. So just being aware and taking notice of where the light's falling on your subject, is it getting darker? Is it getting lighter? And then, like I said yesterday, uh, making sure that you at some point turnaround because all of a sudden there's beautiful light behind you ah, and not being so focus on this area all of a sudden, we've got, like, raking across this sort of cool and interesting rock uh, you know, I think we'll probably one more quick portrait of eric because all of a sudden, the slightest interesting to me, it's, not just all the same where over here, it's pretty much kind of the same and it's getting a little bit more boring, but now that we have light raking across this interesting sort of rock formation will probably one more shot, and we'll do the same thing we've done in all the other scenarios. We're going to pick our background, which the light looks interesting over here, we'll do a test shot get a baseline exposure could mean after priority or manual probably be an absolute priority because it's, that light's gonna continue to grow as we take shots. But I'm gonna be an aperture because I'm gonna and introduce some strobes the bi ones in this sense ah, and that aperture is going to stay consistent. So as long as that amateur say five, six it doesn't have to be five, six that's just a number and throwing out his long is that stays at the right aperture for the power setting of our strobes. Nothing on that is going to change as long as we don't move our strobes around. So, uh, again keeping those things consistent and working through the process so let's go over and jump over here, orion, if we could grab that uh, eric, get your surfboard. So we've got our based on exposure, how about a stop and a half under? I want these shadows to really sort of dark I'm gonna put eric in between this sort of area with it's getting dark and where uh where is going light we're gonna have a ryan come right over here. This is going to be more of a head and shoulders portrait here because I want to him have him really be close. So eric with the board on your other side and the reason I'm having eric had the board on this side is I don't want to have this light cast a shadow across him I wanted to look as natural as possible the sun is coming from this direction and we're gonna have you just sort of move in, continue to move in until I tell you to stop going to stop right there keep moving in and you're good there, erica. Right up into that light forming, smiling, having fun. All right, cool. Look good on me. A little more light. So we're just on our test exposure. You know, I had no idea what the light power is going to be. We're on manual on the light at a little more light little too much go back down again and now we've got a nice little, uh, scenario we've got our background light set for ambien exposure got eric place and now we're gonna have you moved ah, herr mohr towards eric this way there you go. Perfect and somebody take a half step back you go looking really good looking right up the lighter, smiling and I'm waiting for that beep that beeps telling me that we're full power again with the strobe I'm just going to start continued to work through this process, getting some nice shots of eric test eric looking at me, ugo looks good, the wider sea test their ego looks looking good and I'm moving myself just a little bit up and down left to right so he's lining up where it's sort of pleasing the background again. Ah, what's pleasing to me is not having something growing out of the back of his head, and he doesn't have any vertical lines coming out of his head or theirs on the horizon line, cropping through the top of his head. So I'm basically moving myself up and down, so that he's in an interesting spot in this sort of scenario, smiling, erich, I'm trying to look for a nice, candid expression, and it just takes time. Some people are more comfortable in front of the camera than others, and, you know, just talking to the subject and working through that hopefully will get the best response. So he just wrapped our morning session, the lights coming up, we've gone through picking a background, adding one strobe, adding a second strobe, layering our props into our athlete to make really sort of some pleasing images and drought. You know, some certain areas of the frame, the lights now becoming a little bit more consistent, it's going to come up over the horizon on because I've been to this location before and or have scouted, we know that the lights going to be hitting the waves, which hopefully we're going to get some nice surfing action next, so all of these elements that we've worked with, whether it's, the small person in a big landscape or the three quarter shot of erik with a surfboard, which is more of a traditional portrait, they're all elements of story telling andi, you know, I tried to mix it up a cz muchas possible? Uh, typically, I don't like my subjects looking at me or the camera on every shot s o by giving them some direction, having them look over your shoulder just a little bit, given them a point off in the distance, you know, francis, if he's looking down the beach, it feels really natural, uh, you know, it's one of those things where you wanted to feel his authentic as possible, but you need to craft that portrait and tell that story because your subjects not going to know how they look authentic in front of the camera, so giving them a place to look, whether that's there looking directly into that soft box or they're just sitting on iraq and looking down the coastline with a cup of coffee, these air both elements of storytelling, and it allows you to really sort of walk away with a large number of shots on hopefully, you know, have a very diverse shoot.

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.