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FAST CLASS: The Outdoor Photography Experience

Lesson 7 of 13

Pismo Beach - Focus Point

Chris Burkard

FAST CLASS: The Outdoor Photography Experience

Chris Burkard

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Lesson Info

7. Pismo Beach - Focus Point


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
2 Pismo Beach Walk Gear Duration:14:30
3 Yosemite Trip Gear Duration:08:27
4 Water Housing Photography Duration:33:39
5 Shooting in the Water Duration:08:41
7 Pismo Beach - Focus Point Duration:10:38

Lesson Info

Pismo Beach - Focus Point

How and what we would do to shoot surfing up here. What would be the optimal system? Well, the nice thing is since you're so close you can really shoot with any lens you want, right? You can shoot wide-angle, you could get a big overview shot. You could shoot pretty tight if you wanted to. Usually it just depends on, for me at least, how the waves are, how the action is, what's actually happening? So framing things up for me I would probably first start off by trying to shoot with this guy. Now, the beauty of this lens for me is that it's pretty big perspective. You can shoot all the way from 70 to 400. Which is probably excessive for up here, but I think more towards the initial end of 70 to 100 is a great perspective. There's a couple different ways that I would approach this. It's lucky because we have this whole entire beach. Like I said, you could walk 100 yards down the pier and shoot looking up this way, it would be a lot cleaner, but I love the fact that this light is kind of c...

oming in behind these waves. And so what happens is you end up being able to shoot something where a set rolls in like this, and you're seeing someone start to take off, and you can frame this up in really any lens length you want. You know, 100, 200, 400, sort of zooming in as their going down the line. Like this one right here. (camera clicks) As that person is going down the line I would be tracking them. And just so you guys know on technical settings, one of the things that I might do is I would probably put my tracking dot, you see that little tracking dot right there, I'd probably put it at the lowest one. The bottom? It's in the center line because there's multiple tracking points in here, but I keep it at the lowest one. The reason is because if I'm shooting the back of the wave and that's where my subject is, I don't wanna have my tracking dot in the center because I really wanna frame this up. I'm really big into framing things in camera rather than just cropping later, right? So I want to put my tracking dot in the lowest point that I can so that I can keep the wave in the bottom, and potentially have some whitewater or the landscape behind me. You can actually follow my screen here too. So a couple ways I might shoot this. I might shoot this kind of wide, wait for someone to come into frame here, have the wave in this section of the frame like this. Here's a person there. (camera clicking) You can see him coming through frame. (camera clicking) Like that. The nice thing is when he's this far away in here, I don't need to keep focusing. He's far enough away where I can just do autofocus single, and let it go because he's not really changing that rapidly. Now if I wanna shoot something a little closer and I wanna zoom in, so we'll wait for a wave to come so I can really show you on the screen, but basically if I wanna zoom in then I usually have to change it to auto-focus continuous because I'm gonna be continually tracking with them. And it goes the same. I want to keep my tracking focal point at the very bottom of the frame because what it allows me to do, like right here for example. This person's going, I'm tracking them, tracking them, tracking them. (camera clicks) Right, like that see? What happens is if my focal point is in the center, I might be hitting his body intermittently, but it would also be trying to fight for the whitewater behind him, which is really hard on the camera. So what I'm really focusing on is the contrast of this whitewater that's on the back surface of the wave. Which is all probably like mumble-jumble, not making sense but hopefully it is. But basically my focal point is there. So if I'm following along that line right there I'm gonna be able to give myself a lot more definite and good focal point when I'm following that subject. And this goes for anything you guys. Think about shooting bicycles, shooting any type of sport where you have a subject that's moving. You wanna find the biggest, the best contrast point that you can work with, and right here the best contrast point is gonna be the back of this wave. You see how it lights up and you have the whitewater right there? That's really your most defined point of contrast that your camera is gonna pick up. If you're trying to pick up the whitewater in the foreground, it's just a big kind of flat pool of light. I mean the f-stop in this case, because I'm shooting with a telephoto, is gonna be kind of minimized. If I was shooting with a wider angle the f-stop wouldn't make a difference as much because everything would be in focus right? But since I'm zooming in your focus is super important. Your f-stop doesn't make as much of a difference. Also because I don't have the opportunity to really shoot in... At least for me I'm shooting usually lower ISO which means that my f-stop is not gonna be super, super high like f/11, f/10. I'm gonna be shooting like f/5, f/6, f/ at like a thousandth of a second or something. I'm trying to freeze action right now. Now the farther that action gets away, you know if I choose to shoot the scene like this and zoom out, I can bump my shutter speed down because my action is not as close to me. The closer the action is, the faster you need the shutter speed to freeze it. The farther the action is away, the less shutter speed I need. For example this guy right here. I'm kinda tracking him, tracking him, tracking him. And the nice thing about this is since my center spot is here you guys, I can keep some perspective of this landscape up here. If my center spot was in the center, sorry if my focus spot... I don't know why I keep saying center spot, sorry about that. If my focus spot was in the center I would have to have my frame like this right? And I would effectively lose the entire skyline or I'd have to lock-off and go like this or lock-off right? So I'm keeping it down here so that now I can have all of those houses, all that landscape in the top part of my frame. Because when you're tracking a subject, it's not like shooting a portrait right? You can't just like lock-off focus, adjust your frame, fire a photo. I have to be having my framing the correct way it needs to be the entire time. Because I'm continually blasting off frames, and you're following someone all the way down the line until that peak moment happens, right? I hate tripods. (students laugh) I hate tripods for shooting action. And actually tripods are great, I'm a huge fan. I use them a lot for shooting night stuff. But one of my favorite things about these lenses, about these more handheld zooms, is that they have great vibration reduction. They have great internal stabilization settings. So for me a lot of times when you're tracking it's really tough to track a subject with a tripod right? Because they might be going in and up and this and that, it doesn't really matter. Unless you're shooting video and you're shooting a little wider, it's gonna be really tough to get exactly what you need in that frame. And I find to be the person where I'm kind of looking at my scene, and I'll be zooming in, zooming out, looking at different focal lengths while the action is happening. Because every shot is a little different right? You don't know what they're gonna do. For me at least when I'm working with an athlete or a subject and I'm like, "This guy's gonna go down the line, and he's gonna do a big air." Well I need to pull back a little more because he might leave the surface of the wave a lot larger, and I might need to pull back to get a little broader perspective. Then somebody who's gonna be cruising down the line maybe longboarding or something like that. Like I said a lot of these terms might not necessarily make sense, but I'm just kinda saying that I basically find myself not wanting a tripod so much because I feel like it really limits the creativity I could have with my lens. If I had a tripod I have to set it up. If I wanted to run down to the end of the pier, if I wanted to crouch down or something like this, the nice thing about having a system that's small and lightweight is that your legs are your tripod. You can run around, you can shoot. You don't have the ball and chain attached to you at all times. Because if you have a tripod there you kinda wanna use it. It's like why would you wanna bring it out there, take your camera off the tripod, and you just have it there as an ornament? So like I said, some of the key perspectives I would probably shoot this in a couple different ways. I'd try and shoot this with the houses coming in, the houses in the frame with the waves in the bottom. I might shoot this a little bit tighter where I'm just focusing on the wave surface. I'm shooting maybe at and I'm tracking the back of the wave. As well as if something happens way down the beach, and I wanna zoom way into that. Like, "Oh wow, somebody caught a wave way down the beach." Well I'm gonna zoom in at 400 right here, and try and get a perspective like this, and get this whole scene in there. That's kind of the traditional way I might approach a scene like this. Obviously as you get lower to the ground what happens is you have the ability to... Your subjects right now are kind of falling away because you're above them, but as you get lower to the ground everything kind of comes into the same plane. One thing that's really unique, we talked about that idea of shooting in sort of different planes of view, and what we can do to give our images more contrast, more three-dimensional feel. I never took any photography classes growing up, that was not really my forte. When I took a few courses at a junior college what I decided to study was art. I love the idea of studying art. One of my favorite things about art was the ability that it gave me to realize how to take a frame and put everything I wanted in that frame, in these four lines. And when I studied three-dimensional art I really started to understand the elements of what you can do visually when you're painting or drawing or charcoal to give your image depth because that is what all art suffers right? Is depth. You don't wanna look at something and feel like it was just pancaked onto a page right? It's the same with photography. Three-dimensional art, the study of colors and shapes and all of these things. And one of the most important rules is when you're shooting a scene, having colors that pull and push and pull, warm tones, cool tones. What do we have here? We have a cool, blue ocean mixed with warm, green and brown hills. That gives you depth right there. What is the number one thing you see photos of every single night? On your phone or whatever. Sunset? Sunset, right! Why are sunsets so cool? Because you have cool and warm and all these tones mixed together. It's instantly doing that thing where it's pushing and pulling, it feels three-dimensional right? Those are super huge elements, so by elevating ourselves we've created depth. All of a sudden our scene is falling away from us, and now we have hills in the background that kind of help it stand up and give it some structure.

Class Description


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