Different Aspects of a Good Image


The Art of Seeing


Lesson Info

Different Aspects of a Good Image

I've been introduced as a photographer but I really consider myself a story tel aviv a camera and I'm going to share lots of stories with you about the making of my image is what inspires me how I make him and my goal is to help you make better images for yourself so you can tell your own stories let's take a look at the first image this is deceptively simple there's nothing seen here specifically is just unopened beach with a long shutter speed so that all the details are washed out the ways of rolling back and forth sometimes the best thing in photography is to delete details just like a sculptor starts with a lot of raw material and you end up with something that is utterly simple this is actually an image that I'd made thirty five years ago in a slightly different matter whenever still living in the netherlands was lying flat on the beach kept my aperture wide open I wasn't so interested in the specifics of the landscape I was interested in evoking a mood of solitude and then I mov...

ed to california thirty five years ago and started a new life gone were the moody skies of western europe and optimism and the glorious landscapes of the west coast began to inspire me but I'm going to share with you in the course of this workshop is what makes a good image now implicitly we all know that you'll be recognized a good image when miss yvonne in this case that's the big sur coast I'm going to share with you what I think makes a good image it can be because the subject is compelling as in this case a big cat of cougar which I photographed it was a captive cougar photographed in police in central america I sat for hours with this male puma until his expression relaxed to the point that he was still staring at me but he wasn't so obsessed with me anymore another way in which an image can be memorable is if you're able to express an unusual perspective and I would offer up that this is an unusual perspective these air water lilies in botswana's okavango delta I photographed him from underneath instead of from looking at them from a boat I slipped out of the boat I had my camera in an underwater housing I held my breath I would be able to spend sixty seconds at the bottom of the swamp looking around a bit then had about fifteen seconds to actually make an image then have it go up for a breath of air and I would go down again and I did that for two days until I had it figured out the crocodiles were a minor part of the equation there another reason by an image can be memorable is if it has a very strong composition and I think this is a good example of that I made this photograph in tehran capital of iran where there are a lot of surreal murals that had been commissioned by the city government and one day as I was driving by in a car I saw this a woman dressed in black who was passing by this mural with the stern faces of the current supreme leader of iran and it seems such an interesting juxtaposition she and black he even his long beard and then this very different scenery another reason an image can be memorable is if it's got great light and of course photography is all about capturing light I think that is what makes this image special I made this in the desert of namibia in a place called seuss's flavor there's dead trees standing on a clay pan surrounded by very tall sand dunes it's quite a famous landscape many photographers have been there so I went there and my mission was to show a different point of view so I studied the landscape in the way the light painted the dunes and they came up with this idea I waited until the sun was reaching the bottom end of the dunes and just it before it could begin to illuminate the clay pan that was the perfect moment clay pan in shade dunes in some it looked almost too good to be true and in fact when the images published in national geographic venn viral everybody thought that it was a painting or that I had doctored up in photo shop no it's just a single frame I waited for the perfect moment now waiting for the perfect moment is of course another reason by an image can be memorable f fade and be there that is the motto of photojournalist who are always looking for that brilliant moment that is what I was doing here I spent a month camping on sea ice next to an emperor penguin colony I'd studied the behavior of these birds so I knew that when the parents would come back together to join their chick that there's a short moment and they bend their heads down and there's a greeting ceremony and I was waiting for that moment but I could not have envisioned is that at the perfect moment the chick would lift this little flippers and of course now it became a symbolic image of the happy family but all these qualities that can make an image interesting or memorable are things that you see on the outside ultimately an image can be memorable if it touches someone if it has meaning and an image can have meaning for you personally when you make pictures of your own family or other attributes of your life or it can resonate that a lot of people than it is part of a shared reality this is a complicated image I made this in the desert of australia or I collaborated with a famous aboriginal artist the concept was to create in one photograph to different perspectives an aboriginal spiritually way to express landscape and a western optical way the artist created a painting which we put it the base of iraq's that told the whole story and then I brought in a lizard as well to complement the landscape and to animate the whole scene it has meaning a different levels so you do need a subject in order to make a photograph this's a bonobo relative to the chimpanzee relative to ourselves I'm gonna tell some more stories about these creatures compelling subject you need a camera to make a good photograph and you need a photographer those are the three ingredients I spent a lot of time and people who take pictures and I've often noticed that quite a few people feel inhibited by their cameras they feel trapped by you all the different possibilities of digital cameras my goal but you is to show you how you can avoid getting trapped I believe that most of the important decisions that lead to the making of a good photograph are made before you even touch your camera it's all about what you think about a scene and how you develop your own personal perspective a lot of those decisions are made better then you don't get distracted by the camera in your hand so often I walk around in a situation because I know as soon as I pick up the camera I begin to think about shutter speeds and f stops and all those technical details but ultimately an image has to work in a way that goes beyond all the technical details let me give you an example this penguin's been waiting patiently to be talked about uh this is an emperor penguin in antarctica if you've ever had the pleasure to encounter penguins down south this is probably similar to the way you photographed your first payment in the centre you get so excited you can't help yourself your camera's on auto focus let's get the frame not a very interesting picture there's million seven how about this as an alternative point of view this is the contacts within which I photographed that previous image so my point is that it is really worth to consider what your physical point of view isn't what you narrative point of view is so even then you're interested in wildlife don't always use the longest lens don't always put the animal in the center look out of the corner of your eyes let me give you some other examples I spent a lot of time it's scientists in the field they are my best friends of his outfit a botanist in a forest in central america his interest is bro amelia t collects these poor amelia to it a telescopic pole and this is one of the first images I made of him not quite that interesting it shells him it tells the forest that shows the tools of his trade and then I thought maybe there is another point of view there's another perspective so I climbed into a small tree climbed up to a premiere elliot and then I waited for him to reach out with this pole so instead of looking at him now I was looking back at him from the perspective of the bro million and I use a different lens and became a bit more interesting visually remember photographing animals many of us like to do these compelling close ups I was a bit of family of cheetahs in the serengeti a mother of its six cubs and here she is kind of studying potential prey on the horizon and the cops are trying to look just a serious as she wass but they were still learning they didn't really know that not yet about howto really hunt as a cheated and I found that this was a more interesting perspective actually you know they're looking in the same direction as she does she's on the right the two cubs are off to the side so I moved my vehicle behind him just as much as I said in front of them so think about this think deliberately about your perspective what is it that I'm looking at and might there be another vantage point I find too often photographers a tether to the tripods they have their cameras on their back and they look a little burden what I try to do when I'm out with other photographers and of course of workshops or when we take them to interesting places I try to loosen them up put your pact to decide leave you tripod alone if you photograph them something small get down on the ground this is a group of photographers stretched out on lava rock in front of a nesting cormorant and when you do that your image becomes more intimate I believe in getting down to eye level that animals it makes your poor threats more intimate it shows them the way they are I made this image of someone who joined us for one of our workshops from beaver in a redwood forest not far from santa cruz and I suggested that if you're looking at big trees that you can make them look even bigger by lying at the base of him and then looking up at them made of wide angle lens and you end up in an image like this leave her out in a botanical garden made a group and then one of the participants came up in a novel way to photograph a bush with flowering proteus by putting his camera on a tripod putting it on self timer and then he raised his tribe out to see that he couldn't see that his feet on the ground a new idea I hadn't even thought of it myself another interesting perspective this photographer was running through a field of wildflowers with his camera in hand and while using a slow shutter speed he created a blur on impression if you will of those wildflowers so I matched him by running alongside and I use an equally long shutter speed of around the native a second motion is something I use a lot there's a concept for interpreting things in nature that are in motion like a leopard walking through told grass in botswana I panned the long bit the cat as it was moving in front of me the shutter speeds it's probably around the fifteen to the second I've been practicing that approach to photography the impressionistic approach to rendering subjects emotion for a long time this is one of my early experiments a picture I made back in the nineteen eighties when this was considered a radical way to schobert in flight in this case I had my camera steady and the birds were landing and as they were fluttering as they were coming down to a field with wheat they were creating their own motion back flapping here monarch butterflies in flight they gathered by the millions in a forest in mexico in this case I was lying flat on my back put the camera in my face and then I let the butterflies flutter all around me in the shutter speed was even lower than in the previous picture this's probably around a quarter of a second every subject has its own unique ways in which it can express its motion so if it moves slowly lou you use a longer shutter speed than if you try to create a blur of a hummingbird in flight there probably even a two hundred fiftieth of a second is enough to create a bit of an interesting blur in the wings but it's not just animals that move water moves of course this is an image I made on an island south of new zealand torch antarctica the beautiful landscape there's pigments in the distance but I was keen on capturing the energy of the water that was washing back and forth through a title channel put the camera on a tripod added a polarizing filter to create mohr saturation in the kelp in the foreground and take the sheen off the surface of the water and then I experimented with different shutter speeds and this is probably a full second and even in a subject doesn't move you can still create an impressionistic rendition of it I was walking through a forest in the hawaiian islands one day and nothing really inspired me so I ended up doing experiments with moving my camera mounted on a tripod up and down along these tree trunks in ako of forest and this is what I ended up it now this is the opposite approach this image I made in an attempt to capture the ultimate detail the texture I would consider this the classic way in which photographers have been capturing nature for many years there was a school years ago to which ansel adams belonged called f sixty four your clothes your aperture all the way you get an infinite depth of field and you express all that detail that's what I did here camera on a tripod very carefully I had measured the distance from my lens to that fern to make sure that the trees in the distance we're also contained within my depth of field in this case yeah I'm hanging from a helicopter I'm photographing the okavango delta from the year one of the most beautiful places in the world in my opinion all the details are expressed here the water yvette land step islands with the palm trees all the details are there in this case I had to keep my shutter speed very high because I was in a moving helicopter so I try to keep my shutter speed to atleast a thousandth of a second and then my aperture can match whatever light is available to me I keep the I s o to atleast four two eight hundred so depending on the light level I can still squeeze a little bit out of my depth of field if you want to photograph things this way you want to be very careful you want to make the most of your depth of field as I just said and in the case of this peacock displaying I made sure that I was exactly perpendicular to that amazing male who was spreading his tail in order to impress a female you make the most of your depth of field at any given aperture now I can emphasize the texture in a situation by looking for a certain kind of light I'm going to talk about that a little bit more later on in the program in this case I use a flash off to the site which could have strokes the subject have a struck by the fine detail in a lady's dress and the way it is mirrored in the lace curtains and her hat and her skin texture as well and that flash gave it just a little bit more texture on the surface so you can focus on the motion of a subject you can focus on the texture of a subject but there's another approach as well that I often look for and that is to render space in my early days as a photographer when I was still photographing in black and white I made this image very simple subject a sparrow in a willow tree I developed the film and then I printed my own photographs I was very inspired by oriental art in those days now try to evoke some of thes pen in ink drawings that's for this image came to emulate serengeti plains is full of animals but it's not always necessary to have the animals on the plains that grass that stretches forever and ever gives me a sensation of a boundless space and that is what I was trying to capture here a photograph this landscape it a long lens three hundred millimeter f to wait wide open I sat in the grass I focused on the trees in the distance the foreground fizzle blurred out and your eye goes all the way to the distance because there's no details in the foreground in the same serengeti plains have photographed this lion at twilight he was with a pride of females who had already come and gone past me he was always the last one up the last one out so I could predict his motion I moved my vehicle into position I climbed on a termite mound so I could raise myself a little bit above the grass and then I waited for him to come I could have used a longer lens but I found it interesting to express him as being part of the landscape lions like most big cats really do not want to be seen that was the idea behind this image the blue cast is not something that I created after the fact that is actually the effect of fading light then light fades away from the sky it turns bluish we'll talk more about what light does in different parts of the day later on in the program and then the finishing touch and this image of us a little bit of flash that hit the back of his eyes that hit the readiness of his eyes and that created that clover that makes the image quite special in my opinion

Class Description

Join world-renowned National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting for two days of instruction and inspiration that will change the way you look at photography and what you can do with your own camera.

With experiences from three decades of work in wild places – from the Amazon to Antarctica, Frans will introduce you to new ways to capture the wonders of the natural world with a camera. His class includes presentations about creative ideas and technical skills, and also features landscape and wildlife photography instruction during special field workshop sessions at prime photographic destinations along the California coast — Frans’s home ground for the past 30 years. The course will conclude with a critique of images submitted by viewers.

If you’re passionate about nature photography and want to improve your own photographic vision, you will be inspired by this unique course from a master photographer and teacher.