Field Trip to Santa Cruz Beach - Pelicans


The Art of Seeing


Lesson Info

Field Trip to Santa Cruz Beach - Pelicans

judging by everything that was being said online in our chat rooms and on social media in that last seven people are just so inspired by what you're teaching with us here on creative lives I want to say thank you for being with us my pleasure but we have a lot more to get to in this second because we're going on another field trip now we look to the elkhorn slough yesterday which for english fuses the alcalde slough but for today we actually took the beach trip to santa cruz so yes we are so let's get started on that to do it behind me is one of my favorite places on the planet it's not the syrian getty it is not antarctica it's a beach close to where I live just north of santa cruz and I love to take students here because every time I go here I find something new and this afternoon we're going to explore what the sea gives us you were going to look at landscapes seascapes and maybe we'll find some things close to our feet as well because the tide is just going out so we've come to the...

beach and now it opens up there's a great landscape over there with hundreds of goals and what a beach stretches away on that end yeah there's lots of rocks at the tide line the tide is going out so what are we going to choose we can just pick one thing at a time I'm going to see for a few minutes what the light does and what the patterns are and then we'll make our move our mind and we'll go to work every time I come here it's a bit different so I like to study the situation and come up with a plan that optimizes what is here you know sometimes it's the goals sometimes it's the waves sometimes it's the lights sometimes it's the surfers look at him over there they're part of the scene but you will leave them off to decide this is literally what I'm doing in places that I know and it's really wanted a benefit of picking a place and going back time and again because you begin to recognize is the patterns before you even take a single picture you can already judge oh this is better than I've seen it before you know there's mohr gulf so maybe that is the thing to do that morning or maybe the waves are a bit more unusual maybe they're more force in the in the surf so it I can't emphasize how important it is for each of us to adopt at least one place that we make our own no matter where it's that city park of it er it is a local beach it doesn't matter what the specifics are just find something look for a minute at the gulls over there and just imagine what we could do if we were to go in that direction and then I'd also like to imagine what they could see and what we could do if we had in that direction the only one thing at a time so the tide is going out what we're going to see it yeah amore amore rocks exposed and we can plant our cameras there on tripods and we can start doing things that long exposures and we can start looking at the details of the type who'll steady will emerge but I'm also tempted by all these gulf there on the beach and the light is very nice it's really nice to see them you know on that bite in the beach and then there's also quite a few of them on the rocks we're just gonna walk along the tide line here and then we're gonna work our way up the beach two under the cliffs and look every minute there's mohr and mohr gold scattering here so it's gonna be cool what have we seen what is it that strikes your eye here ok ok what are you seeing that what strikes your eye virgil's booth yes I see all of those things too and in addition what I'm seeing is you know that a pattern of the birds and the way there curving around with the landscape and then look at those cliffs there's sandstone cliffs it's not just a gathering of goals we've got goals in an amazing landscape and look at that the sun is coming from you know we've got a ninety degree angle then the sun can if comes at that angle it strokes to surface of things and it helps enhance the texture of the surface quality and that's exactly what it doesn't know sandstone cliffs and it also helps delineate all these gulls you see there's a light on the right side and their shadow on their left side so it helps upto separate them a little bit and that is what we can work with here let's get a little bit closer and there we'll put our tripods up and we'll start composing if we get up a little bit higher we see more of the landscape what if we're trying to compose a shot right here because you see now we see the beach just a little tipsy verte how am I handling my tripod here I start with the lowest legs and I do one leg at a time and I can do to have it out even looking at him you know it's a very simple twist I really like those get so tripods for that reason is very simple if you start with the lowest legs first in a sandy environment it keeps the locks in the higher lex intact and clear of sand just a little tip the surf the sea the gulls and we see the clips behind and you know what else because of a ninety degree angle we can actually use are polarizing filter to help enhance uh sky and create a bit more definition in it when I put a polarizing a polarizing filter on I usually take off my regular filter I have a uv filter on all my lenses to protect the coding against the elements but if you put too many sorry one other thing uh tripods just look a t I don't know if we're going to see the tripods again in the same view so I just wanted to stop things here you know I'm using a tripod for the centre column so that I can you know micro maneuver I first set up the tripod with the three legs extended and I make sure that you know I'm a little bit below the optimum level and then I used the centre column to come up with the exact height andi noticed that militia does not have a center column here but you have ah leveling hath right at the base so you always do things without the daughter center column I think I actually I think that was a borrowed tripod mind does have the centre post on it okay so you have a really good one it looks like this hole was made by really write stuff I know that tripod is mine that's yours ok so sandar queue you have you have the best kit there really write stuff legs a leveling base and then and then a tripod head right yes I also have the centre post that I take it or not depending on what I'm going to be doing okay if I wanted uh I thought that on this trip I might uh be going really really low and the problem of center console tripod or center post is it limits how far how low you can get up so so I took it out this time so ah good thinking because often then you end up on the beach you end up yo you know thinking really low so it's important when you choose a tripod that you you you pick one that does not have connecting braces because that really inhibits the tripod from being able to spread its legs so you can get very low so keep on that legs that give you individual freedom that can be moved you so you're flat on the sand that leveling base is very interesting accessory because that enables you to very quickly adjust a tilt of your tripod head but of course if you use a mon herbal you can also use that achieve the same goal video tripod head and I'm a firm believer in in amman herbal as opposed to using a tripod head with different handles because you know I could be much more quickly in in my in my in my operation that way and notice that doug and I both used the same tripod head it's a b h fifty five made I really write stuff the banks that yeah that all three of us are walking around with our made by goro gear and you know I really like them because they're lightweight and they have a unique opening system instead of having one zipper that your forces you to open up the whole pack it opens like butterfly wings so I could keep one part closed and one part opens and that's very helpful if you're working in situations that inclement weather so I'm not everything is exposed at the same time they come in different sizes you'll probably see some more footage of us walking through the sand dug melissa use a smaller version and I always end up dragging everything to the beach I've got the biggest one and that is the one that also fits my two hundred four hundred millimeter lens and even a five hundred millimeter lens goes in there so that is the bag that goes with me in the plane then I travel abroad I use a set of wheelies so I don't have to you carry it all in my hands and it's just small enough to fit in the overhead so you use the thirty two well yes I knew using the eighteen l melissa yeah thanks for that specific a question yet they're thirty two l's the biggest one and then there's two sizes smaller which I also use for local field trips to lose the optical quality of the lamps what do you see wait there's a lot going on way we've got the goals we've got the curve in the beach we've got the surf hitting the rocks you've got the sandstone cliffs and then in the distance we have the rest of monterey bay stretching away and you've got that big c start it's almost too much and yet I think we can cover it all in one composition our telephoto zoom is perfect for this we're just gonna have to come up with a composition that balances everything out now you want to be sure that your horizon is level here and then you want to start looking for how you pull these elements together into one competition also start looking at your polarizing filter make sure that it's in a setting in a position where you get the maximum effect me now now it's playtime huh it's it's playtime so we've done all that really curious to know if he can tell us exactly where we are friends what what is this speech the art of beach just north of senate cruise on dh that is where I like to take students because there's so much you know from big open scene ix to wildlife and you know I never know what I'm going to walk into their fashion called four miles called formal beach it's also popular with local surfers and I'm a bit reluctant to give the name out like that but the secret's out now so don't write don't tell anybody yeah yeah yeah what time of day zit on this is ah early afternoon great thank you for myself but we got to the beach the lightest grey the birds of their surface there so now we're going to start studying all the details you know what do I know one of the details I really like this that sure of hitting the rocks so that gives it a little extra that creates a bit of a highlight and a little bit of action so I'm gonna start paying attention to death and I'm gonna start yeah triggering my shutter when that next wave hits the rocks okay so I've got my composition yeah that's was a good moment there's just that highlight you know what I think we could do better if we get a little bit higher still because if we do that we're going to be a little bit more above the birds and they're also going to be able to do more of it that sea stack in the background yeah the way I see it its goals in the foreground bench lands in the middle and the sea stack in the background should we tried out flow things are really happening I've put an eighty two four hundred lens on and that gives me the ability to get close to that scene I see goals in the foreground a nice line that extends to the tide line and there's a curve of the beach sweeping away and now I'm watching for these few dynamic moments that can make the image even more interesting I see rays hitting the rocks I see goals going up there's more gulls coming in this is really the pacific coast that it's best I've closed my aperture down two eleven so that I get a really good definition of the situation I've got an extended at the field my eyes so is at five hundred and that still gives me a shutter speed of about eighty eighth of a second which is enough to freeze the motion of the goals when they're sitting on the ground but when they're flying I'm going to get a little bit of a blur from the edges of their wings which I like it has a little bit more of a dynamic element so of course you can also keep the shutter speed at five hundred you know that is that is a deliberate creative decision do you want to keep everything sharp or do you want to see a little bit of a blurry edge to things and you know below five hundred of a second you know the birds will begin to yo to shove a little bit emotion and the same thing that the waves on you I try to divide gonna feel the way expressed water between making it all crisp or you're giving it a little bit of an expression of motion which happens below our thirtieth of a second but we'll talk more about that later on of course you can never tell exactly what the right your position's going to be of all these girls coming and going so by now we've really framed very interesting landscape and let nature add the element of serendipity I love this so no I'm gonna check to make sure that I'm not just talking myself into something I need to look at what I've got here in the back of my camera so I'm gonna put my loop moment this is a gizmo that goes everywhere with me it's a loop made by company called goodman and when I put it oh my lcd screen it screens out all the ambient light and it magnifies the image and its sharpens it so I can really analyze it more critically no photographer should leave it out yeah this looks good so let me check the history graham history graham is nice it's evenly distributed you know nothing's pinched night or in the shadows nor in the highlights I can see my settings I'm over exposing now by a third of a stop because that creates a better history graham just another detail here I've often noticed that your photographers who you have a long lens on the camera on dh put the camera on the tripod using a plate that is attached to the camera body instead of attaching the lens collar to the camera tripod and that really undermines your sharpness your ability to keep the whole rig very steady so always do it this way and you see that I have is I have a plate on the body that has already set up for then I'm working the divide angle lens which doesn't have a lens collar on it and every one of these particular lenses requires it's ah it's its own plate that is connecting that the tripod head and there's a couple of companies that make them kirk makes them really write stuff makes them because it just all gizmos that at two the usability of your lenses in your cameras so what I'm looking for on the back of my camera not so much for the color I'm looking for the history graham and what it's telling me about my exposure and notice is to know camera strap so I know that when I go to the speech that I'm not goingto carry a camera over my shoulder it all stays in the backpack do you have a shoot macro and do you have any advice for shooting macro with this spear situation where you ever would can we come back to that a little later because once we get a little bit farther around to the beach I think will come into a close up situation q the zone and now it's just a matter of waiting for something that happened that can turn it really into an amazing shot I started that a white composition but now I'm going to come in a little bit tighter and I'm looking now for the one or two goals in the air that can punch it out that shouldn't be too hard because there's so many of them coming and going this is a scene full of detail so I find that it works well to start start a fight and you begin to see what the patterns are that work officially and other things that I have a certain rhythm and then gradually I getting closer and often I end up doing abstractions once I've spent a little bit of time there on dh notice to death that he didn't press too close to those gulls we kept at a safe distance from them because it would have been tragic if we got too close and they would have taken off we would have lost the whole situation and see here's a nice frame um yeah just these two girls in flight um you know just enough separation that it adds a nice highlight too so now I'm in the zone so I'm not holding back I'm just gonna trigger two shots one after the other there is no need to put my finger on the trigger all the time but I just want get enough frame so that I can select the final one that appeals to meet him oh that was a good moment really gnashing against the shore line one goal writing from nice trying to vertical but I'm not loving it so I think I'm gonna shoot a couple but then I'm going back to the horizontal orientation most of the lines in this composition are horizontal it's the goals it's the cliffs it's the distant shore line so you've got to go with the flow polarizer back in horizontal position lens hood on so this is a pain in the butt to have to take a lens hood off to rotate your polarizing filter but yeah there's really no other way to do it because the lens hood is too long and if you start playing with your filter inside you end up smudging it so the drag back into business yes what question where a focused right now I am focusing on the birds were your pro focus somewhere like I was a good question andi can be come back to that then we're looking at an actual scene and then we'll analyze it now I'm seeing another way to frame it more that's good uh but moment just off a little bit see that if that byrd had been there would have been very nice so yeah I'm focusing about a third of the way in I'm using what is called you know the whole hyper focal distance the ability of a lens to maximize your depth of field at any given aperture comes from focusing a third of the way in and in of course in this case you know you want to be sure that the yeah that you're sharp at infinity and then you stretch it up the field all the way to the beginning of the gulls so there's plenty of light so I can shut the aperture I can close the opportune down all the way to eleven or sixteen and that is how I achieved that goal what else could we see here this once nicely yeah silhouetted by that crashing wife and you over just looking form or birds coming through here they have on has taken off so she it's punctuating the scene this is all figured out now we're just looking for these little touches and typically I don't see these things while I'm looking through the viewfinder as I was just commenting on camera I just let you know the frame's roll through the camera now ocean less land more surf this's another gizmo I really like it's an electric release when I put it on the camera and then I can trigger the camera without having to touch the shutter on why he didn't just own early owner shutter speeds that could make a difference in the sharpness of the image and I can in fact start to experiment with this no because when I changed my s o from the four hundred the set at initially and I bring it all the way down to the lowest setting I'm now at f thirty six and I've got a shutter speed of a half second so when I do that the water is going to start showing itself in a different fights going to express its own mode so I'm gonna be waiting now for another big wave to crash and then see what it looks like yes good another one another one but notice or you actually can't see this very well but when I started looking at these frames critically on my own laptop after the field trip I noticed that a number of them were really not very sharp anymore and has bombed out by it and I think it came from the fact that it was quite windy yeah our cameraman was commenting about that as we were doing the shoot they did a remarkable job of creating good audio but the wind is really your rocking the camera so you can't quite see it here very well on the screen but yeah this isn't quite sharp enough so technically speaking it was not a great success this morning we worked with wildlife close up but now we're looking at tons of goals in a really dynamic landscape so it's animals of any landscapes and shooting wider to let all the other elements fit in around the gulf and you can't control everything here and that's part of the fun of it you look for elements that are changing and then you captured a context and you let the ways kind of do its own thing so what are you looking for here what are you seeing that you like okay right now I'm looking for misleading them one of the goals around here especially I'm trying to time it where they get waves crashing on the rocks that's exactly what I was looking for so what shutter speed oun sixtieth right now my philosophy with water is I try to freeze it or I let it flow and I think that a sixtieth of a second you may be right in between so if you shoot it at two hundred and fiftieth or five hundred it's gonna be a really crisp when it hits the rocks but if you lower your shutter speed to something like a quarter of a second half a second then you're going to start seeing a milky flow where it washes around the rocks so do you wanna try toe so but by all means continue with some of the uh the shutter speeds in the middle of a well I don't want to talk you into something that you don't want to do in a situation like this you know we know we've got a really good scene so you want to start varying your composition various settings right because it's so easy to get locked into a particular view way need to vary it here you've got to polarize they're still on right so so where are we at now I s o two hundred sixth of a second it f thirty two if you want to push it all the way to its lowest possible shutter speed what if you take your eyes show down even more how low can you go get on fifty to fifty let's do it at lunch okay let's do it at fifty yeah no reason not to fifth eso eso fifty and now let's close the aperture all the way down f thirty two and now you're half a second so now you're in the zone let's write for a good wave to hit the rocks and then just triggered a couple of times I see you've got your leveller on so your horizon is really in a good position that's an interesting little gizmo that duck poodle nick's camera it's really helps when you're doing open landscape too strong horizons but there's also a built in tool in many of our cameras that you can apply you know it's an optional item you grit a grid display that you can switch on the raf att least that exist in in nikon cameras I imagine you also have it in canon camera said but you're so decent little external device works this is well there device I seed s o I'm using an electric release which is very compact dog you're using a cable release right hi yeah you like that better than electric release or yours are just certain things you can do with it it's what I got it's what you got so that makes sense so look he he's tied it to the to the head of the monte ball so it doesn't flop around too much that's ah it's a good application but you want to wait for the right moment it's all about the right normal so so I watched the waves coming in now there's a good one coming yeah now and again and again perfect and it's especially nice when the waves are crashing right behind the gulls because then you're kind of still awaiting the girls so if you have if you use a release you can do what doug and I are doing here you've got everything framed and then you can focus on what is actually happening in the scene and you can trigger you shots without being tethered to the camera that could be very useful yes there's a question yeah were you doug were you doing that as a burst or were you just individually triggering ah in this case I was doing an individual triggering that's how I would do it as well but of course you can also set up for burst your essay you every one of our cameras has different different shooting possibilities you can shoot a single frames or you can shoot in low frame rate continues oh you can shoot in high frame rate continues with my nikon d four I can shoot up to nine frames a second so that's kind of scary and you only want to do that then there's a lot of action otherwise you end up but so many similar frames that you know you spent a lot of time picking the final one so let's carry on so let's let's take your camera out of life you for a minute because we've got so much information on the screen that it makes it hard to adjust the competition okay let's go and look very simply at how you've composed to soothe whole frame I mean it's really clever of what you're doing good life you and all the surrounding information because in one fell swoop you could see exactly what's going on but now let's be critical what I'm seeing is that you've got a lot of empty beach in the foreground is that deliberate or is that a consequence of you wanting to see that whole line of the gulls probably because one of the goals yeah but yeah I'm so maybe you recall that when the camera focused on the back of ducks camera little early around he had a really interesting overlay of information there he was using life you and at the same time he had a display of certain image characteristics and that enabled him to see a lot of things at once on but it also made it more difficult for him to actually judges composition so that's why I suggested to him to take the camera out of life you strip off all the other information to just focus on the compass vision and then go back again to your other mode because we have talked about the wind there and then how tricky this is do you ever use weights to the tripods center column to counter the wind on location andi I do not because that means dragging more stuff to the beach which is fair enough you also we saw you adjusting your polarizing filter there why and when would you need to adjust your filtered uring use and I had to adjust my filter cause event from a horizontal position to a vertical orientation and then of course the polarizer doesn't do its job anymore after choosing your scene and your refining it do you ever then take your eye away from the viewfinder keeping your hand on the shutter watching the scene developed and then anticipate the critical moment yes I could do that or I can do but I just articulated which is you have one so I know how the shot is framed and I have a release in my hand I just look at the scene itself and I just wait for that wave to crash and that is when I triggered a shelter like I go back and forth thank you I also live you down here scared yeah I wasn't saying it that's that's exactly what I was afraid ofthe so periodically you want to take it out of life you so you can judge your composition critically of course you can shave off the bottom part of your composition and you'll end up with more of a panoramic style a composition but still I think you can probably tweak your cropping a little bit zoom in a little bit closer shave off a little bit on the right and at the bottom and you end up with a more dynamic composition is there any reason you've got to try about their slow yeah so you know what I don't know I like things at a lower angle also time I shoot that fishing okay sudden let me give you some let me give you some tips the first thing I see is that you haven't locked this down so and so let's lock this down because otherwise you're not getting the best stability from this from this tripod so now it's locked down but you think that being higher it gives it a better life well if you put it up a little higher first of all it makes it easier to look through it because you don't have to crouch down but also you're getting a bit more separation between the goals in the foreground so you might want to try that uh but what I would also let's take a look at your composition let's make sure everything is okay so okay so okay okay oh that's nice you really came in close so almost no landscape it's really the goals with you know the lines of the of the bench lands below see this one is not so dynamic in the foreground see it there's a lot of empty beach there so but what I suggest is that we get a little bit closer we really work this we could stand here for another two hours but let's move our position a little bit okay so we're in a different situation now the goals are taken off any questions from from the audience that we could take now because we're moving into a slightly different situation we've got lots of questions about gear do you want teo now francie I'm going ok we're I mean just needs to know what tripod brand you actually using for this shoot you can see from this shop I'm using gets her legs and ah really write stuff head and I've got many different legs and quite a few different hats I also use the legs made by really write stuff there's a two of the main try pot I use and I use mono parts made by get so and really write stuff and also men fraud owes a company that makes an interesting video mon apart that has three little splayed legs that that I find quite useful it's almost halfway between a month apart in a tripod thank you for that and if I can add to death on yet I use skinny legs when I go lightweight then I just have one cameron a small ends and then this is my medium sized tripe out which is perfect for a beach excursion when I don't bring anything longer than an eighty two four hundred millimeter lens and then I have really thick legs that that I used to support my long telephoto lenses in the video about elkhorn slough you could see some glimpses of that really big beefy tripod thank you for that and frozen pixels frozen pixel was asking what is the screen protector franz is using the screen protector on I mentioned earlier that I don't like the cheap plastic screens had come with the cameras on its a little gripe I have it uh you know that the camera manufacturers they make these fantastic cameras and then they're delivered with a cheap plastic screen s o I replace it that a third party screen I believed of once I use that present is are made by a company called fellow v e l l o that make lots of interesting gizmos including those electric releases so those are of higher optical quality I uh you know I attached him to the back of the lcd screen and they don't scratches easily and get they give me a bunch much better view quick question about the remote shutter you were using which was the brand that you were using for that I'm using different kind I used a kind made by nikon andi I also use another key kind made by fellow thank you for that and I I no longer use cable releases in the old days I had the first manual release is and then we had electric releases but I don't like the clutter you know that comes of it you have a cable this I could do remotely and that same release also makes it easy for me to trigger pictures of myself and others now we have about thirty minutes to to go to france way could definitely go along but so I think we need to keep moving okay let's do it one by one so you want to imagine what the shape of a goal looks like at a slower shutter speed frame at half a second it may be a little bit too blurry but at a quarter of a second it could look really cool and at a fifteenth of a second it probably looks even better look so good that's what I'm setting things interesting so it all depends on how the gulf allies and I'm adjusting the I s o again because I was really low I'm going back two two hundred eyes show and now I'm able to shoots at fifteen to the second at f thirteen which going to give me a lot of depth of field and the shutter speed that I know from experience looks really cool with a bird in flight going back to a really low shutter speed now I thought the girls were taken off but it's not happening so I'm taking the s o down again to one hundred and I'm able to expose at a full second at forty that means the water is really going to start doing interesting things when the ways are crashing ashore and goals in flight will become a comm liebler and gold standing on the ground too we'll start blurring themselves out if they do anything but standing totally still so I've got a lot of unpredictable motion here some frames they're gonna work better than others but that's just part of the game and these pictures are definitely not sharp can you see that on the screen so shutter speed was too long is too windy I I should have used a heavy a tripod or done something else to shield a camera from the wind we've got a great scene in front of us but as jamie's l once said and I really keep that in mind when things look good in front of you make sure you don't ignore what's behind you so what are we seeing there I see the tide still going out there still see these rocks stare I think it's time to make a move let's see what else we could find on the other end of the beach

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.