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Adventure Photography

Lesson 26 of 32

Big Sur: Surf Beach

Lucas Gilman

Adventure Photography

Lucas Gilman

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Lesson Info

26. Big Sur: Surf Beach

Lesson Info

Big Sur: Surf Beach

A lot more big sir to show. So are you ready to sort of set us up for the for the video? You know, we has essentially moved on and this is a really, really, really scenario from the sunrise shoot we went to the next step, which was to go when shoot some surf action on what I'm looking to you when I'm shooting action photography isn't looking to go out and freeze those decisive moments. You know, those those peak action moments? Uh, choosing a lens in this case, we use the nick or eighty two, four hundred long lens and one four converters, so we're actually shooting a six hundred millimeter focal length and anybody who's really interested in shooting action photography? The first thing they need to do is when they're going to go as they either need to purchase or rent some sort of a longer lens. If you're not sure if this is something you want to do consistently there's a lot of places online, local rental houses that you could get a telephoto lens, and when I say telephoto, I mean like...

three hundred millimeters and above because really that's, how you bring yourself through that magnification, you get those shots of the guy out there on the wave um, so we're going to show you video it's well, the serve video so you psyched down the beach and waves are pretty small but we're going to hopefully get something there's maybe a little air section and this is just kind of this process where you're not always getting the best surfing but you still go out because you know you don't know if in thirty minutes the waves were gonna get a little bit cleaner uh we're lucky because there's no wind right now uh, you know, I'm gonna first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna look at a couple of backgrounds he was possibly the cleanest, most interesting background on then you know, in a big part of that is choosing a lens specifically for sports you know, you typically want a longer lens for surfing I really like the new knick or age of four hundred millimeter lens it's a four five, five six but being a foreigner millimeters and being able to be relatively small, you're able to hand hold it so rather than have something super big and clunky it's nice built this role pretty lightweight ah and then occasion I will throw converter on it t c fourteen e which allows me to have around it's like a six hundred millimeter basically at that point so we're gonna go out eric's going to get changed out in his wetsuit and we're just going to sort of start shooting pictures and hopefully arkan make something work the waves aren't super big, but this is just what you d'oh uh, faras, what am I trying to do as faras my, you know, objective I'm trying to, you know, basically get the sharpest, most dynamic pictures possible, so the images really stand out. I'm looking for first of all, a dark background, if possible, sometimes that's impossible being on a beach, but we're in sort of a cove here, so I'm gonna try to place myself in a position where I can have some rocks in the background. At least I'm going to use a long lens like I said, eighty four hundred probably put the converter on it's going to be around a six hundred millimeter, which I'm going to handhold, but the most imperative thing, this is a this is goes back, teo what's the most important thing about, you know, this particular shot? Well, in this case, I'm going to a run on the sake of having a very, very fast shutter speed. When I say fast shutter speed, I mean around three thousand of a second, faster is typically where I like to be when you have a shutter speed that fast, every water droplet is really like, frozen, you don't have to worry about motion blur on really, it just allows you to have a really dynamic image people uh you know they think five hundreds of a second we'll do it you know I you know honestly try to shoot three thousands or higher but I don't ever want to go less than a thousand if I have a choice I'd rather go up and I s o to go under one thousand there's not really me giving eric direction except for if there's a choice of two two spots you know all typically you know tell him what I feel like is a better background but usually the wave sort of will dictate you know what, what your choices are um you know, sir photography is not glamorous it's a lot of standing on the beach for eight, ten hours I mean, I've been you know, on a beach standing standing on a bluff shooting eric for twelve hours wearing sunscreen completely sunburned you know drank all my water but I don't want to leave because the next step might be the wave of the day and it might be the shot of the day so you know adventure photography is not glamorous yes it's fun to be outdoors but uh to really get these dynamic and amazing shots, you really have to put in the time to make those really workout this's what I was so, uh process photo setting seven changed from you know we're still exposing for these you know, the bright area out here he's mostly silhouetted here but it's just a nice sort of image that sort of you know tells a little bit more of the process you know getting ready you sort of quiet moments in between you know, basically I'm just capturing what's what's in front of me eric's just going out uh you know, getting ready to get in the water and I'm just you know, working with a clean background working with rule of thirds trying to keep him in the left or the right side but in this case the left side because you've got this big sweeping uh sort of bay here so now that he's out I'm gonna go ahead and switch up lenses to the age of four hundred and go with a little longer lens because we're gonna start shooting action so we're just swapping out lenses were with us twenty four to seventy and now we're switching out to an eighty two, four hundred typically if there's any breeze whatsoever you're always putting your back to the breeze or you know, protecting the camera. Ah now I've got the new uh silent wave eighty four hundred f s from nikon and a one four converted which gives us essentially a six hundred millimeter handheld lens which is really cool because being ableto handhold a six hundred millimeter and be able to walk out here without carrying a huge piece of glass or spend thousands and thousands of dollars this allows me to go out and document surfing and do something kind of cool for, you know, a relatively low price point. The first thing if you're really interested in shooting sports or action is you need a lens with a little bit of length. I mean the minimum you could get away with this like a three hundred millimeter lens. I prefer something four hundred meters in a foreigner millimeters and above uh a four hundred is great because it's lightweight it's, very travel friendly on allows me with the converter to be shooting six hundred millimeter lens and what's the most. The most important thing to me is it has fast auto focus a cz well as it's really, really sharp. So those are the two things that I would look for in a lens on and you know it. I know it's a big investment to buy a telephoto lens for for anyone and the first thing I would recommend you do is you go out and, you know, basically tested go too borrow lenses, dot com or, you know, lens reynolds, etcetera and go out and test lands and make sure it's something you really you first of all, uh, works in your work flow as well as something that is, you know you're gonna be able to use consistently because if you're not using it all the time it's better just to rented them to purchase it so go out and make sure that you're actually going to use this uh you know more than ten times a year and it's going to be something you use consistently personally I only go with nick or glass and the nikon converters there's no reason for you know I feel like they make the face faras the cameras and such there to specifically for these bodies you know? So I've always been a proponent of going with uh the camera lens of the manufacturer of the of your camera I feel like they're just optically paired better onda system works better as a whole there's no work around uh and you know, having you know, having everything consistent is really something that is important because you spend all this time getting out to a location and you don't want to have uh you're here you know, falling down and not working for you so having consistent workflow is well is choosing the right glass is imperative to getting you know, the best images so the first thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna figure out what I s so I need to be teo get that shutter speed which is important to me of uh three thousand the second or faster so um I'm gonna do that real quick I'm going to be and I saw a thousand thirty two hundred I'm going to be on shutter priority because again shutter priority in this sense is what was important the shutter speed is what's important to me I'm gonna let the camera do the calculations the only caveat is I'm going teo under expose or tell the camera to under expose this by one third of a stop and the reason I'm doing this is because hole on eric sits on a wave here the reason I'm doing that is because the cameras seeing all this dark blue water it's wanting to bring that exposure up tio basically middle gray so it's going you know in that can and that sense sometimes the highlights to get blown a little bit so I'm just saying underexposed by one third of a stop just to get myself a little more leeway especially since I am shooting him on a relatively dark background but again shooting on an automatic mode son's not going to change a lot we could also shoot on a manual mode but it just uh something where you know once you know how your camera performs in situation I know it the exact mosher that it's going to do with that automatic setting and I'm just using the exposure bias to bring us in line just a little bit more so I'm gonna frame erica uh same same thing basically I've moved myself in a position you know I see where the waves are breaking I found a really clean background and I'm gonna put eric not in the middle I'm going put him on the right third on the left third I'm shooting a horizontal frame on basically keep him in that on that auto focus point and as he moves he's going to stay consistent that frame I'm pre planning and this is very important I'm preplanning where I think he's going to do some sort of an aerial maneuver because I've been watching him and where he takes off on a wave and where he ends on away uh so now he's heading towards me here will air there and so I'm basically hedging my bets that he's going to do something in a specific spot lined up on my background so I've moved myself to where I feel like he's goingto basically surf into a position that's advantageous and make something interesting we're shooting fully uh at six hundred so with the converter were foreigners millimeters and with the converter were six hundred millimeters so fully extended we're shooting a nice angle just looking down the beach the thing that I really want to stay away from if it all possible is having guy on sky as I call it and that's just having a surfer just on a blue sky or whatever it is it's just super generic I'm always trying to find some sort of a background such as rocks or something like that hopefully a little darker so the water in the way of uh splashing pop off of that but my least least I think strong image you can make out here is just shooting straight out to sea so I'm always looking for a way to get this surfer um onto some sort of background ah lot of times they're also looking for foreground elements in this particular scenario way that ways are actually getting big in this particular scenario we don't really have a foreground elements should be able to do anything with so we're just you know, basically waiting for these moments that happen um which just takes time you know, top athletes do things consistently over and over the same way so by noticing these things and putting yourself in a good situation and knowing that the guy on the green sir forward with the white stripes likes to go right you already know ahead of the game that he's probably going to be looking for a right and you're going to be ready teo document that or photograph it it's just a lot of study on dh watching the nuances of the sport and learning what people do over and over you know, once I get to a surf break you know, we've talked to the athlete we know if it's breaking left or breaking right and we know sort of the zone that he's going to be surfing in from there I'm gonna put myself in the best spot for the background and then I'm basically in a camp out there as long as it takes it could be that it happens in fifteen minutes it could be five hours later uh it just really depends on the day we may get skunked and we may get nothing it's just uh you really don't know until you know you're out there and you're seeing it way yes that's what I'm waiting for us is there to do something dynamic like that and he got some good air nice clean background on and you know, it doesn't happen right away and uh you know, I will say the more you put into uh, your outdoor photography whether that's you know, climbing or surfing kayaking the more time you take and the more you wait for these moments toe happen the better your images will be you can't just show up at the beach and expect within the half hour few hours in one day to be getting portfolio pictures and then again it may happen you may just get lucky but more time you're actually out here, the better off you're going to be I mean occasionally you khun you can work with an athlete and if you're on a shoot for a commercial client you know a sponsor or something like that uh you will be able to sort of, you know, use hand signals teo teo tell them you know where you want them to be or sometimes I can see something that he can't see because the horizons changing a lot for him and all of a sudden there may be a way breaking over here sometimes they khun they can see you sometimes they can hear you but you know he's way out there right now so you know basically I'm I'm here just documenting what happens on that's part of the sort of joy of it is you know, I'm putting myself in the best position to get good pictures but there's no guarantee that it's actually gonna happen so that's where you know the sort of excitement of being here and you know, putting the time in and having it all come together really sort of shows through in there some waves and it's there decent size so uh with a little bit of luck we may get a decent shot today once I've got my settings dialed in you know I may literally move about five feet in five hours but the sun's going to be in the same spot just slowly moving over uh you know I'm not changing anything I'm just doing a one first thing I do is I get a test shot I find a background I like get that exposure dialled typically like I said shutter priority I'm under exposing by a third of a stop eyes what the nikon d eight ten I feel like does a good job it's got great dynamic range but finder exposing that third all this dark water just sort of brings that highlights in the line a little bit more andi, I'm just you know, putting that auto focus focus point on the bottom left hand side where eric's going to be because he's been going to the right so I want to have him uh basically on the left side of the frame, giving him somewhere to go on that's very important in all kinds of action photography you want to see either where they've come from or where they're going uh typically with, uh with an air or something like that, I want to show where that they're going todo as a poster where they're coming from because typically an air shot they're not coming out of amazing barrel or something like that if it was an amazing barrel shot uh, I would probably want to show where he's come from and show that whole barrel but uh, it's one of those things where you want to either give them you know, some breathing room on either side showing you where they've come from for they're going same thing with, uh what they call vertical sports, snowboarding, skateboarding you want to show where they took off because you don't want a guy just in the sky uh same thing with this I want to show the wave and where he came from I don't want to just have a guy floating in mid air because it gives it no context so by having those anchor points is there called it will allow me to tell that story and more dynamically buy you know having where he's come from or where he's going and you know all have summed up in that image so that it's not a guest by the viewer way really nice light though I mean this is the perfect time of day to be here um you know, the sun's raking across this background we've got some nice texture you know? Everything is really working we're just waiting for the waves tio hopefully come together but we're in a really good position now all it takes is time so we sort of just rolled down here from the car if this is you know, my typical shoot and I was just out on my own I totally missed the bus or the boat and I forgot uh typically bring a little mini beach chair, bring water I bring snacks and even maybe a little umbrella and I would just post up here because literally I'm gonna be sitting here foran hour six hours could be eight hours you just never know really depends on the waves so anything you can do to make yourself more comfortable the better off you're going to be because instead of worrying about my feet are going to sleep for my back's starting to hurt you're comfortable in a chair you're just sort of hanging out and you're focused on the task at hand which is capturing these moments which are sort of few and far between and they're fleeting you know I can't be like oh eric, that air was perfect can you go do that again? I mean like that one wave might be the wave of the day so um you know, you have to be ready for that and the more you can make yourself comfortable uh, you know, the better off you're going to be because you'll be able to focus on the task at hand uh, this morning, hopefully we'll get something quickly and, uh, waken move onto the next scenario the ocean is, you know, basically there's all kinds of different swells there's, ground swell, there's, wind swell um and they're they're swell direction there's all these different things I am by no means any expert on, you know, waves and his cars, you know, surfing and so on and so forth I rely on the athletes teo really read those charts, but you know, what you have to remember is that the ocean is consistent, there will be periods of larger waves and periods of small waves there will be pulled pulses where things basically there'll be a set of you know larger waves as well as a bunch of small wave so so just because all of a sudden they're small waves doesn't mean that it's over you know there might be more swelling the horizon and just threw patience and perseverance are you going to be able to go out and capture all of that a little trick uh you know, mostly he's longer lenses come with a tripod foot uh when I went in transit transit I usually take it off but the foot's got a secondary purpose ah usually I have a wedding type of belt and when I'm not shooting it's nice to be able to sort of hang this camera here so I'm not holding you know, a lot of weight on my elbow all day so this basically hook this on the belt and let it relieve the weight uh well I'm standing here waiting for these, you know, hours for the images to sort of happen god move down just a little bit uh looks like the sand bar sort of, you know, they move and then there were the way of peaks you know and that's where the way will break, it'll break laughed it'll break right and eric's been going left consistently it looks like he's moving down just a little bit I'm gonna move down with him just so I can keep this background uh right behind him oh so close we're in a really good spot the way just wasn't that great uh eric would had an error on that would have been really dialed for a good one we just need one wave uh this is a really good background we've got this sort of jagged rock in the background uh and eric looked at a couple ways they just haven't been really that good uh they've been a little bit crumbly little mushy so you know we're just waiting that one wave and hopefully we can get one good air shot out of this session this morning if I walk away with one good shot in a morning session or even a whole day I'm really excited you know these things take time and I'd rather spend all morning making one really sort of amazing shot then be running up and down the beach making a bunch of ok shots which really don't amount anything so for me spending the time getting in place and really being patient is what's the most important thing uh these sort of scenarios I'm just looking for that really one dynamic pique shot because I'm typically my clientele is a little bit different it's not endemic to any of the sports like photograph you know I photographed kayaking and photograph surfing a photograph skiing all these sort of outdoor adventure sports, but I'm looking for clients that are not endemic there, you know, it's, the the verizon wireless or the you know that the company is just looking for that feeling. I'm looking, teo impart a sense of emotion. Uh, I'm looking to tell a story, share the journey and those sorts of things, so I'm not looking for that endemic like, okay, I need to have the sequence he's gotta land it. What should be traditional, uh, in the industry. Nice, blair. You know, I'm a little bit different than a traditional, sir photographers who's out there, pipeline on the north shore jaws and now and they're looking for, you know, the athlete to go out and have everything be perfect. I'm mohr looking to go out and tell these little stories these little vignettes and make interesting images was interesting backgrounds and, you know, have those b'more approachable to say the common person and feel, you know, as though you could be involved in this scene, it wasn't something where somebody's dropping off, you know, fifty foot wave it's more something like, oh, this is something that was really cool that we saw on our vacation or on the california coast, for instance, it's just it's exciting to go out and work through this process with an athlete where you're really sort of you know you've got skin in the game you're vested, you know you're standing here for hours to go out and work with somebody on a one on one where you've made some cool portrait. So you set up a camp scene, you've got all this stuff together, whether it's, your buddy or somebody found at a local climbing gym or a local surf shop, you've gone out and you've worked through this process to make something cool on that's what's kind of exciting about photography, especially, you know, once digital came in, you know, it's very approachable we talking this visual language now and being able to go out and share that really readily, whether you're doing it on instagram or facebook or your own blogger or in magazines, you're able to share these images very quickly and very easily, and it doesn't take that much effort to go out and find somebody you know or even just take a friend and go out and produce a shoot where, instead of just going on a road trip, you're all of a sudden thinking about some locations you're thinking about wardrobe, you're thinking about some props to really make something sort of interesting and unique you're putting yourself in the best position to get good pictures by going at it sunrise or going out at sunset and key locations and just, you know, working through that whole process, we're just sort of waiting around for something to happen, but I'm still shooting some test shots every like, you know, if nothing's going on every five minutes or something, I'm going to shoot a test shot, make sure that our son, still looking the same nothing's, changed that I've got this background dialed in that my exposure on, you know, everything is looking super sharp and we're still in the zone there's no reason, I mean, obviously I can delete the pictures later memory cards or super inexpensive these days to just make sure that we're continuing to make sure we're getting what we want on that we haven't changed our exposure or something inadvertently is we're waiting around for the, you know, an hour for something to happen, and then we miss that perfect moment. So close autofocus is tack sharp, and the way that, you know, I've found to separate myself from other photographers is not only embracing technology but to go out and use the most important tool, which is, you know, what's between here on go out and look for different things because, you know, anybody can go out and buy a new nikon d for s or a nikon d a ten or five d and pull it out of the box and stand next to you and make the exact same picture you're making the thing that separates you is a photographer and as an artist is going out and being able to produce images which are thought provoking because you've thought through the process and you're noticing the way the light falls you're working with shadows you're using lights and you're using all these tools to differentiate yourself because you know honestly anybody can come down here and stand next to me with the same land the same camera and probably get the exact same shot but what I'm trying to do different is I place myself in good positions where I have interesting backgrounds ah and that's just your many years of trials uh figure out what works that you start noticing these things and that's what separates you from everybody else so we're doing is we're just sort of working our way is is erik moves I'm trying to keep myself in line with where I want him to line up on the background because basically the uh tide is just sort of pulling him down the line and I just want to keep him consistent on that same spot in the background uh and it's nice because of actually getting a little bit closer so I'm able to have a little bit more flexibility and not necessarily be exhumed all the way into the six hundred with one four converter in the eighty two, four hundred so it gives me a little more flexibility as faras framing goes uh we're just gonna continue to you know, wait and wait for those moments on a rare occasion I'll get in the water uh I wouldn't say I'm a water photographer it's um whole another skill set uh you know, typically I'm looking for there's more scenic shots as opposed to barrel shots um if you if you want to be a water photographer you know the best place you know toe live is in hawaii or in micronesia water's cold here sharky um two things I don't particularly enjoy too much so I typically stay on the beach uh and or a mountain a boat or on a jet ski we're having a lot of clothes out waves right now on the way it works is you wanna have, you know, basically a peak where the wave breaks in away breaks in two different directions and you wanted to have that long consistent continual breaking and that's what allows eric to get the speed so that he can go up and do you know an heir uh and or serve so having that consistent non close out wave uh just helps you make the pictures a lot better unfortunately, we're getting a lot of just you know, close outs which happened a lot of beach breaks because he sandbars theyjust get pushed around and what happens is you'll see where they where they initially start to brake that's where the peaks of these sandbars are so it's slowing down the way there in that zone but if it's not consistent, it doesn't allow eric to go anywhere and he has to just sort of, you know, bail out because you know, that's just what he's stuck with so general I wouldn't go out and shoot a group of surfers uh you know, if they are in a group and they're packed up I've definitely typically built a relationship with one or two or a few of the guys I wouldn't just go out and typically shoot random people because it's professional I rely on their relationships that I built s o that I have model release is that I have commercially viable images uh, you know if you're starting out though and you don't have those relationships bill the easiest ready to start that is to go out and start making good pictures and introducing yourself some people that are sponsored or maybe our you know, looking to get sponsored may need images and hopefully, you know, you can help somebody build their portfolio and, you know, build that sort of a lasting relationship one thing about shooting uh on the beach I'm always looking we've got a little bit of miss coming in here and it's basically to sea spray in the air. So I'm always trying to keep my lens basically pointing away from the direction of the wind, because I don't want that sea spray on door that salt in the air to be coating that front element. Because if you're if you're not paying attention, this, all of a sudden you're gonna look down. And you're fun elements when he covered in all kinds of, you know, sea spray and it's going to give you a really, you know, you know, unflattering out of focus shot. So every now and then, just checking, making sure, we gotta clean front element on looking to see what direction that wind is going just a little bit and trying to keep that in my back a little bit and just keep the camera protected. So it's not getting covered with, you know, sort of salt spray close out. Looks like he's done. Probably very nice. Dark background, eric's. Just sort of walking out of the you know the water a little modest tied they just started crumbling close out yeah like um there's a couple who were like so close you know, like I was like just don't close out and you know you're definitely forced there's a couple areas it's awesome background no I mean like that was that spire right there you know, I just I think later in the week with a little more swell you know write it like whatever nine ten whatever you know, obviously when that word when it's a little less minus tied hopefully be a little cleaner more swell really close yeah, I know it's like it's that close I was like, you know, I thought like he was gonna clean up but he actually seemed like it went the other way way better school with reflection yeah, I was just gonna say maybe you could get like, right here because that's a really cool background right there and just sort of walk through and I'll do a low angle shot I'm just walking this way because I want to get your reflection coming on this trip you know, like um get like so go all the way out uh I'll tell you when it's yeah way just notice that there's a really cool sort of reflection because of sand bars left this little bit of water sort of huddled up here so he was just there was just a nice little reflection shot you know? Just again we're just grabbing these little vignettes you know, when they're available we're just going where the shooting stuff because you know, the action doesn't always work out but what we can control is where we you know where we go we're what position we put ourselves in and you know, in all these other shots the action it will come it just takes time on dh not everyday or you totally successful but as long as you go out and you're working through thes other processes making these other shots these little vignettes eventually you're gonna have a body of work from the trip collectively which is we'll be really strong you know I'm not pressed or bum that we didn't get any shots it it's just part of the part of the game you know, some days the waves work some days they don't weii just try toe, you know, work to his process and uh I mean, that was almost working like crazy, but anyway it is what it is it's been a long morning got up before sunrise uh shots and portrait shot some sort of lit tents, shots and beach action we use fast shutter speeds uh use some available light stuff we use um strobes get all kinds of things were continue looking for these vignettes sees little small photos so grab shots basically where you know shadows are playing with you no highlights and so on and so forth we got a couple action shots here you know really focused on getting that sort of perfect you know peak action fast shutter speed we're shooting at one thirty two hundredth of a second shutter priority you know in the action you know I'm pretty pretty tough on myself you know you know I'm always looking for it to be a little bit better so I'm never just like oh that's perfect because if you're not your own worst critic and you just accept whatever images you get you never push yourself to get better so you know I think we did it had a great morning uh takeaways from this morning were get up early before sunrise gets your location get set up on start working through that process which is background first adding one element maybe adding a light to that element before sunrise tto make that element illuminated and he had a second element then add some light to that just working through that and again you know starting with that background we did the same thing we came out sir faction is way saw an interesting background then place myself in you know, in an area where I could have the action and the background hopefully correspond we've got a couple of nice shots of the waves don't always you know, work with you so you know, it just takes time, but we're gonna walk back and we're going to just continue to shoot and work to his process. You know, photography is first is much technology is built into the cameras. I mean, these cameras, you know, I pull it out of the box, autofocus is perfect, super sharp, you know, the exposure is perfect, so all that is, like, you know, done for me, the real sort of magic comes when you when you think through this and you start thinking head where the sun's going to be placing your subject and such in certain locations to where you're maximizing that are making interesting images, so we're just gonna continue to do that throughout the day. Um, and, you know, it doesn't all come at once, and you have to remember that, uh, you know, sometimes, you know, it's, the old tortoise and the hare thing, you know, the, you know, the slow and steady wins the race on it doesn't all happen at once, so we're just going to keep working. Yes. So, I mean, there are certain times dae that you go out sunrise, sunset where things were changing pretty quickly, the sun's going down of the sun is coming up, and your exposures are changing. And you really in kind of you're almost like it's almost like a mad dash right? You're like okay, we need to be there, you know, because all of a sudden the light has changed in those fleeting moments or not there where is when we come out here and we're shooting this action which she seems counterintuitive there's fleeting moments as well it just takes a lot longer in between those moments so you just have to wait those out so you know the things that are guaranteed our putting yourself in good positions to make good pictures which are going out at sunrise and sunset the best times of day during those golden hours to make really dynamic images because the sun is low on the horizon thus making interesting light and or just going out and waiting it out and doing your research on this instance figure out when the tide is going to be at the best level a cz well a cz when hopefully there'll be a new swell coming in I became a photographer to take pictures not teo just sort of hang out so you know, shooting these images throughout sort of sort of the you know, it's almost like the snack that gets you on to the next thing so you know I'll be looking for those little things they may not turn into anything I mean there's some shots we tried where eric was walking through a pool of light didn't look that great but you know nothing ventured nothing gained so and it doesn't really cost me anything to shoot those it's just you know, thinking through that process and working with the athlete on making sure that you're not, you know, overstepping and making it takes too long because you know, you want to have it be fun for everybody involved, so maybe pick you know, pick your situations and make sure that you're not like, you know, taking a photo every six feet, for instance, but really picking those those prime times when you're seeing something interesting? Um, you're really looking for that light, all right? Lucas, thank you so much, really great stuff I want to welcome our internet audience back teo, back to our studio. So couple questions, my biggest takeaway for me personally was the fact that you really almost always shoot from the beach, you're not getting into the water, are there? Challenges are their challenge is to that there are because you're not as mobile when you're sort of anchored to the beach. You know, on occasion we'll go out in a boat or on a jet ski to give that you get that different perspective, we're down the line um but you know, like I said, I'm not a big fan of sharks or hold hunters so typically the beach and it's one of those things where I'm looking for that little person big landscape, those sort of scenic shots to really tell that story. So that's that's sort of where it goes, you know, throughout this process we've seen we've got nowt we've used lights and we've you know, that's like kind of guaranteed, right? You ugo when there's nice light before sunrise you had, you know, you have these elements and that's, like one of the is guaranteed things of photography, right? It's almost like a studio on location. We go out, we shoot action, we really have the waves are or what we have to work with. We're working with mother nature. Um it's the same thing in shooting, skiing and snowboarding. If the snow is not good, you're not getting the shots you want. So there's always almost, and it just takes a lot of time, you know? Welcome, teo, sir. Photographers life, you know, six, eight, ten hours on a beach uh, you know, sounds nice, but when you're actually just waiting on your focus it's like being on hold, you know, it takes a lot of patients, you know, so but we yeah, we walk through and we got cem cem okay, shots ah, you know, I'm gonna show some other shots here in a minute that they're going to show you some images, which are a little more successful. I'll speak, teo, sort of the action stuff. Okay, but, um yeah, nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was it's a learning experience every day, right? Exactly. And I love for in studio audience to think about some questions. If you guys have specifically shot surfing, I'll come to you guys in a bit, but I have a couple of technical questions over here, so talk to us a little bit about s o steve crowley asked, do you use a polarizer when the light is flat during your surfing shots? You know, I typically don't use a polarizer when it's flat on ly because I'm constantly trying to get to that highest shutter speed, and when I use a polarizer, usually you're losing a stop right away, so typically a polarizer is not something I use consistently. I have used one, though, when there's a lot of glare, teo, sort of minimize the glare off the water to sort of minimize that contrast, I guess you could say instead of increasing that contract, sort of flattens out a little bit by cutting that claire, um, I hope that answers the question it's not I wouldn't say polarizer in my kid as far something is my first reach to you on a long lens got you and the folks wanted to know whether using spot or or multimedia ring for your love for your limiter I mean, what would be called a matrix metering? So that would be multi it basically sees the whole scene. The issue of spot is, uh the spot I'm focusing on the athlete which be eric in the sense and he's wearing black wetsuit and he's on a black background that spot seeing just this little piece of that and it's probably it's going to go we want to bring this all the way up to middle grain and all of a sudden, you know, he's going to be a crispy critter cooked, you know, the frame's gonna be like very, very overexposed getting that relatively full frame me tearing helps a lot and then then again either depending on your camera model by under exposing. If you're using an automatic mode by changing your exposure bias by negative a third so you're tryingto under exposed by a third or maybe a half stop that will I bring you into the sort of proper range because like I said, that camera seeing all this dark background, all this blue water is trying to bring that exposure up to compensate that to be middle gray cool and one let folks know because I guess it's not in the gear guide do you know the name and model of your sling back slink back I do not it's an f stop bag if you go the website uh have something here dot com they have sing bags on the site it's it's a very uh low profile bag it's easy to pack in the suitcase as well in case you don't carry it on the plane so it's one of those go twos for when you get there fantastic does anybody in the studio audience have anything that they're ready with all right well you mentioned that you're on the beach sixty eight hours maybe taking a shot how it's a talent hanging through those sixty that eight hours up there on the they're out there they're having a full on conversations they're they're finding the meaning of life they're just hanging out same thing though they're they're thirsty but they're just sort of sitting on the surfboard typically and you know they're getting a little exercise their paddling the same position but yeah when you go toe hawaii or something and there's you know there's big waves and there's actually some packs of guys out there there you know that the conversations were pretty funny on and I'm not typically out there but my friends and shoot water photography they hear all kinds of funny stories these guys are talking about so they're actually not catching waves for six to eight hours well, it just depends I mean it in this scenario eric was really working for us typically if you're not on a shoot and you're not out there trying to trying to produce something he's not going to sit out there for six or eight hours he's going to go yeah, the waves are so good I'm gonna go have some breakfast I'll go check the surf later on and sort of come back but if you're out and you got a deadline you've got a client saying hey, we need to get some surf action shots on it's got to be by next week that's where you're out there waiting for, you know, trying to have your athlete hopefully get something get get an aerial or something like that that would make something dynamic um I had one question someone's already answered asked it um are you concerned about your f stuff I know you mentioned you always such a shutter speed about thirty two hundred what about us? Stop just, uh you're getting really really sharp backgrounds here. Yeah. So answer you know, I'm shooting a lens where I'm sort of you know, if I was shooting a really fast lens say a six hundred for something like that uh, you know, I would have a much softer background, but you know, so there's um you know, you have to make that assessment where, you know, I'm using the age of four hundred, and I'm probably seven one f eight ish, so I'm getting that depth of field, but it's only because I've decided I want to carry a handheld lens as opposed to a behemoth of lens. If I was carrying a bigger piece of glass, that background would be thrown out. Uh, quite a bit more, but I'm going over convenience on form factor is opposed. Teo, you know the image here. So, you know, the backgrounds are pretty sharp. Uh, I would have less of that if I was using a faster piece of glass, but that's, the sort of compromise you make to being able to just walk around and hand hold this is opposed to having it over your shoulder on a mono pod and, you know, all those sorts of things. One more quick question. Earlier you mentioned having something in the foreground. What would you have in the foreground on on a shot out here on the beach? So on the beach, you you're really not able to have a foreground element. But if you're a, you know, there's a break where there's some, you know, some trees rolling down teo. You know, the beach or something. Ah, lot of times you can use. Those is framing elements. You get back behind them and then use a long piece of glass to sort of frame the action in that sort of zone.

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. 

Class Materials


Big Sur On Location Gear Guide.pdf


Ultimate Adventure Photography Gear Guide.pdf

Media Management Gear Guide.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



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.