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Fine Art Landscape Editing

Lesson 1 of 4

Class Introduction

Blake Rudis

Fine Art Landscape Editing

Blake Rudis

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

(audience clapping) Okay. So fine art landscape editing, this is my place. And nothing against portrait people but this is my thing. When I first started shooting just to give you some background on who I am, where I came from, I was a traditional print maker and sculptor. That's what I got my degree in in college, and then I moved to California. I had no friends, I had no family out there 'cause I took a job out there. So I had nothing to do. Except for play a lot of video games and that got really old really quick. So I started doing landscape photography on the coast, 'cause I lived in Santa Clara. But my time to go out there was around 9 o'clock at night. I actually wanted to go after the sun had set, after golden hour and do some long exposure stuff. Now, let's go back though. I knew absolutely nothing about photography. I would just go out there because I think it was just an excuse for me to drive on the coast, with my thoughts, with my loud music, with my base blarin' like th...

e teenager that I was. I think I actually then I wasn't a teenager but, like the teenager I felt like I was. (laughs) And just be with the landscape. Just be one with it. A lot of times I wouldn't even go out there during the day. I'd take my camera, I'd take a tripod and I would just try to take the pictures that I saw on the internet at the night sky. They were horrible. (laughs) They weren't good. But it got me out there, it got me feeling it. So then, I started to do painting. So what I would do is I would go out and I would take pictures of the landscape, I'd bring them back into my studio, which was in my second bedroom in my apartment and I would paint the things that I saw with my camera. So there was a weird transition in there some where where I actually started to get really good at photography or what I thought was really good at photography, and my painting I was less really enthused about. And the thing about that was it was actually about my style. Looking back now, I know my photographic style really well. And you know you know your style really well when you stop asking how did you do that? How did you do that? How did you do that? And you start asking why did you do that? And then after you've asked why I did that you start implementing that. That's how you know 'cause people always ask, how do I know my style is evolving? When you stop asking me how to use a luminosity mask or how to use a curves adjustment layer, now you know that you're getting to the tools that are gonna help you develop your work flow. So I started to get a lot better at the photography stuff, and I was kinda disenchanted by my painting style, because I was wanted to be like Van Gogh, and I wanted to be like Dali, or Duchamp, or all these painters that I aspire to be, but the thing that I was forgetting about there in that whole process was that I am Blake Rudis, right? I'm not Duchamp, I'm not Van Gogh. I don't paint like them and my brain and my hand don't work like their brand and their hand work together so I will never be them. I never really understood that. I just figured I can paint like them because someone else has painted like them right? So you see how this can work with your photography. You might be thinkin' the same thing. You're not gonna do the same thing I'm gonna do. I know that for a fact. 'Cause I used to do this thing called HDR Concert where I'd give all my brackets out to all the subscribers on Everyday HDR which was my blog before F64 Academy. And these are people from Italy, Germany, France, all over the world that were taking the same brackets, and doing the HDR process with them and all of us were coming up with something different. Why do you think that is? Because they put themselves into it. They put a piece of themselves into it that made that image theirs and not mine anymore. So, I stopped painting when I started HDR stuff. I started doing HDR stuff and I remember I was talking to my wife and I said, I'm putting all my paints away. It's all goin' away. I'm divin' deep into this HDR thing 'cause it's awesome. Now I'm a very analytical person if you haven't realized that from some of my other classes. I like to dig into the numbers, I like to dig into the weeds and HDR was a way for me to do that. It was a very systematic process and I'm a very systematic person. So it's really cool to kind of bring that to the table with my art. But with landscape editing comes a lot of those emotive feelings. Comes a lot of that finding your style. So the nature of the way this course is gonna go after we get through this little keynote presentation here is that, you're gonna see I'm just gonna do like stream of conscious edit on these images. I want you to see what that process looks like and feels like with a work flow that I've kinda prescribed for myself, that you can adapt for yourself as well. But just to kind of see how this whole landscape editing thing goes, and I'm gonna tell you this is more of a emotive type class than it is, okay do this. This is how you make a mask. No. That's not what this is about. This is about drawing up and pulling up those emotions that you have within you, to share it with somebody else. I mean this is like art therapy in a way. (laughs) Going to the trenches. What's the difference between fine art landscape and regular landscape? Well, really, the only thing that really separates the two is the artists vision. Is the person that's creating that. That's what separates what someone would call like, a Peter Lick type beautiful landscape, and the picture that you took when you went there. There's that difference. The difference between a snap shot. This happens all the time. My mom travels a lot and she shows me here pictures and they're great, but I don't have the feeling that she has. She's oh look at this one. And the crazy thing about that is the way our brain works. Our brain and the way memories will be drawn out by the things that we see. So if I have been somewhere and I felt it, and I've put my mood into that by being in that location, feeling it and smelling it and touching it and tasting it, then when I see that picture, those things are gonna come back subconsciously. So you show that to somebody else and they're like oh great picture. What? Why don't you see what I see? Well they don't see what you see 'cause they didn't experience it. You have to make them experience it. So you have to be able to incorporate that vision. That thing that you felt while you were there into the work that you do. You're gonna see that in a lot of these pieces I'm gonna show you here. But before we get to that I want you to start considering yourself an artist. I say this a lot in my classes. I say how many people in here say I'm just a photographer? Please don't raise your hand. (laughing) There's nothing wrong with that. But I want you to start considering yourself an artist. I want you to imagine yourself at a Chamber of Congress meeting and they give you that little sticker that you put on your chest that says your name, I want you to envision that says hello my name is artist, I am a photographer. Okay? So you're an artist first, that's your name category, your subcategory is photographer. So if it was hard for you to kind of think about that now, it's really easy. You're an artist. You just so happen to work with the tool that is the camera, not the tool that is the brush or the tool that is the pencil okay? So, artists are just creative problem solvers. That's all we do. We have a problem, we solve it. It's really simple. I can do some really cool things with duct tape, just ask my wife. (laughs) I creatively fixed that garage door didn't I? (laughs) It might not work tomorrow but works right now. But if you've ever done something with Gaff tape, well if you're a portrait photographer how many portrait photographers have done some really clever things with Gaff tape that you told your friends about after you were done? Whether that's putting it on the clients mouth or maybe putting up a reflector somewhere. That's a creative way to solve that problem. So, if you're having a hard time and you're struggling with the term artist, how can I consider myself that? I'm gonna challenge you and say if you've ever done any creative problem solving at all at any point in your life, you're an artist. There are people that are artists of communication. They just have the ability to just communicate. And they don't necessarily consider that an art form 'cause they just think it comes so naturally to them. But that's an art form in and of itself as well. We know as artists, we know no bounds when it comes to what we need to get done. We do it creatively and whatever needs to get done, we do it. We know no bounds, it doesn't matter what it takes. So if a landscape needs a new sky, drop one in. You now know no bounds. Do you know how hard this was to type? I was like you now, know, know, know, no, no, no, no. (laughs) I was hoping I wouldn't butcher that. And I didn't but yeah. You know no bounds so you can do whatever you want to make that image portray the emotion that you had inside when you felt that onto that canvas. I'm gonna give you some tools and equip you with how to do that 'cause it's a lot harder than it seems. Here's a perfect example. This was in Yosemite where I work shop and we were waiting for sunset as landscape photographers do. There's a lot of waiting involved, where especially if you go to Glacier Point, get there about two hours early, stake your spot and elbow anyone who comes in your way. Literally. 'Cause photographers are gonna show up there right at sunset and they're like hey you can I get in here? You're like no you can't. It's my sunset shot. The thing that you, we're like surfers. It's territory man. You do not touch my territory. No, you can be nice. And there's actually ways to get the spot that you want. So I'm not that photographer that likes to go up to people and say hey can you two move? 'Cause I'm a photographer and I can get a better shot than you two love birds kissing right there. So, really good story about this is, we were out there at Glacial Point and there's these two really nice people next to me and I always bring a Polaroid camera with me when I go on these workshops. Like an old vintage, basically what Hansel Adams would use. I don't know if it makes me feel any better but, it's just the idea that you can get an immediate print. So they were sittin' there and I was hey you mind if I take your picture? And they're like oh cool. So they thought maybe give me your cell phone and I was like no here, so I pop the Polaroid out and I took a picture of 'em, and I was like here. In half an hour it'll be ready. And they're like, oh that's cool. Like he just took a real picture of us. So then I started talkin' to them I befriended them. They left before sunset as most non-landscape photographers do. They don't know the right time to be there, so when they left they say hey do you want our spot? I said yes I do. So that's a clever way to get the spot that you want. When there's people there that aren't necessarily photographers okay? So we're on this work shop, we're looking out and the moon is right above these mountains, and this is about a 300 millimeter lens. And just the way everything was just kind of set up. I was like you know what? That would be a great black and white photograph. But when I was on that scene I said, that's gonna be a black and white photograph. And this is the picture that it came from. Eh. Really? If I showed you this would you feel this? No. Right? I have to make you feel that. I have to make you feel what the feels like. You have to taste and touch and feel it like I do, through the image. It sounds crazy but these are the things that we have to do to make someone say, oh wow that's a beautiful image. So here's another one. We were in Hawaii and we're on the northern coast. This was crazy because on the northern coast of Hawaii the waves were crashing with 50 foot swells, and when they would hit this rock, they would shoot up about four or 500 feet. So this is like a 16 to 35 millimeter lens at 16 millimeters, and that's how big that wave is crashing up back there. In perspective that's huge. So unfortunately there was a helicopter crash a couple days before that so they were looking for a couple people out there. So they had some C130's flying through. Now the C130 was flying through this image. Not through this image but at this location. But, just not at that time. Okay? But I wanted you to feel what I felt when I was there. To see that giant magnificent wave and see that C130 flying through to trying to look for these individuals. So where did this images come from though? Is this. Do you feel that magical sunset that we were having? No, you don't but here you do. I'm making you feel that. You can almost smell it, you can almost taste it, you can almost touch it with the richness of the colors. The things that I'm exaggerating and telling you to feel. You're feeling them 'cause I'm telling you that. There's a communication process that happens with your image. And that communication process should be me talking to you. Remove me, replace image. Okay? That's that communication. I have to make, I have to be able to communicate with you those things that I felt when I was there without me actually being present. That's a lot harder than it sounds. Here's another image. I went to, I was in Oregon for like one day. I had one day where I could break away from something I was doing with this offer company, so I drove from Portland to Cape Disappointment which that's about a three hour drive. But I was like I gotta get out, I gotta see Cape Disappointment. When I got out there it was a Blake disappointment. It was 12 o'clock in the afternoon. I was expecting, I had these delusions of grandeur if you want to call them that. Just of how beautiful and magnificent this place was gonna be. I got there at 12 o'clock. There was zero clouds in Portland. They had beautiful clouds coming through that I knew I could use if they were on the coat but they weren't. So I get to the coast, and it's 12 o'clock in the afternoon. So I started to just kind of play around. So instead of just being like, oh my luck let me go do something else. I put a 10 stop MB filter on there. And then a 6 stop MB filter in there. So for 16 stops of MB light coming through. (coughs) So, broad daylight mind you. About 12:30 in the afternoon at this point. It looked like, what happened with the water, what happened with the clouds in the background, it looked like a night sky image. So like how cool would this be to turn this into a night image? And this is the image that it came from. How do you get that feeling of that night time feeling you know? Yeah it's contrived. There's some parts of this that are contrived. But it still makes you feel like it's a night landscape. And this before image doesn't quite show that feeling but that's what I was there with. So instead of being down on my luck and saying well, you should have gone at another time Blake, you can make that time your time. You just have to be creative enough to, or daring enough, or know Photoshop well enough, (laughs) to get across that. So with this, the common thread between all of this is pre-visualization. Is knowing what you want that person to feel based on what you felt while you were there. What you smelled, what you taste, what you felt. If you're a person that likes to write, I highly suggest you bring a notepad with you, and when you're there if you're a landscape photographer, we spend hours waiting for the thing to happen. And I'm like, this is my typical landscaping just showing up on a scene. I show up, backpack on, tripod over shoulder, I look around. I might do that for 45 minutes, 'cause I'm gonna get there a lot earlier than sunrise or sunset. So I'll just stand there and I'll just look around. I'll see what's happening in that landscape. I'll find what I think is the best vantage point, but at the same time I'm also taking in the things that I'm feeling. I'm basically putting those emotions into a bottle so to speak so that when it comes time to shoot, I know what I felt and I know what I want you to feel when I'm editing that image. And yes it is a process that starts from the very beginning. Are some things dumb luck? Yeah. Let's just be honest. But there's those times where I'm on a workshop and I get that shot I'm like, woo! That's it. That is it. That is my shot. I got it. It's right here. Come over, come over, come over. So everyone comes over we take that shot, and sure enough I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it. That's the shot that we process and that's the only shot I need period. I'll be out there, I'll take maybe 500 shots of the exact same thing at slightly different angles, and the one that I want is the one that has the good light, and is just, it's just right. And then you'll feel it. You'll feel it when you click that trigger. You're like oh that's the one. Even as a portrait, I do portraits, there's times when I'm like oh that lighting's perfect, that's the one. And that might be the only one that I need. That's why I don't really like doing client work. Well I want 65 images. I go, (exhales) you realize I'm a landscape photographer? You're only gettin' one. (laughs) It's gonna be one really good one. (laughs) Can we just be good with that? No they usually aren't. So I knew what I wanted. I knew what I wanted you to feel. I felt it so I could reproduce that feeling. It's more than just reproducing what the person, what seeing when you're on that location, it's also reproducing the feeling of being able to go into those dredges, into those pits of your emotions and being able to put them onto a piece of paper or if it's just digital into the digital world. Emotion is the key. So, (clears throat) you have to imagine that finished product as that encapsulation as all those things that you felt. So that conversation that happens between me and you without being present with only my image in front of me, can give you all the things that I felt when I was there. And we do that through color grating, we do that through the decisions that we make with the dynamic range. Through high key, through low key, through all these different tools that we have in Photoshop to get that across. Sometimes it's not about making a technically perfect image. If it was about making a technically perfect image we'd all be technicians of photography, and we'd all be just little drums that do what we do. And there'd be no reason for us to do anything that anybody else didn't do. Okay? We're artists. It becomes no longer about the place, but how that place made you feel. Okay? There's other times, this is a great point here. One of the lasts days of my trip I took out to Moab, I just was not feeling it that morning. We had the best sunrise that we had throughout the entire trip I was there, and I shot it but I just wasn't feelin' it. And I had not processed a single image from that morning. And even when I go back to try to process them I'm like, I just, I know there's something there I just can't do anything with it. I don't feel it. What is it that I don't feel about this and why is this not coming out? It was the best sunrise we had the whole time I was in Moab in Arches National Park but, for some reason those pictures I just had not done anything with. Because I don't feel anything when I look at them. So it's very hard for me to go back to that and say, okay let's do something with this. If I had to maybe I could, but man you wouldn't see that conversation happening. You wouldn't see that love that I have coming through for that image, in that image that I have for you. This is an example of one of those times where, it's an unexpected thing. This wasn't one of those times where I was waiting for the perfect light at the perfect place at the perfect time I got the perfect picture. This was a time where we were actually walking to Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park. And you go underneath 101 and on the other side of 101 there's this tree, that if you're actually driving on 101 going this way, that tree would be on that left hand side. People pass it every single day. That's the view that they got of this tree every single time that they drive past it. So we walked past it, you go around here, you go about a mile here and you're at Marymere Falls. Shot Marymere, shot Crescent Lake. Wasn't feelin' it. But this tree, we had like a good make out session. I was like alright dude go for it. Not dude 'cause that wouldn't be right. I was like alright girl, it's me and you. So I got a 10 millimeter lens. I got a 16 millimeter lens. I got 12 millimeter lens. I got a 24 millimeter lens and I'm goin' all around this thing and the buddy on that shoot was like can we go? He wasn't feelin' this. So he didn't even shoot it. But I was feelin' it. And this is the only shot that I got that day. The whole day. This is the one shot that I was like, this is it. I felt it, I knew it, and I knew when I was in that moment that this is the shot that I was gonna capture. (audience member coughs) So how do you get to that point? How do you get to that point of knowing that? Where you can actually decide okay that's the shot and this is the place that I need to be. Well it's a tale of two sides. You've got the technical, I can't use my pointer. (laughs) It's just goin' right to the wall. (laughs) You've got the technical, and you've got the creative. So the technical, those are the things like your gear, your camera, and capturing the photo. On the creative side, you have your vision, your knowledge and making the art work. Capturing the photo, equivalent to making the art work. This stuff right here on that creative side, to me happens in post production. I don't try to get too techy with my creative stuff. I don't like to use lenses that alter my image. Like with like blurs and stuff like that because I am a data collector. I go there to collect data. And I take that data and I do with it what I want to do with it. So, when I show up on these places I can take a kit, three lens kit. I could do a 16 to 35, 24 to and a 70 to 200 and be perfectly fine, on a good camera. But you have to know your camera too. That's a huge thing. You have to know your camera. You have to know the limitations of that raw file. That's huge. So, you can't just be all of this. And you can't just be all of this. If you're all of this, and you forget about all the stuff that you need to know over here as far as like how far can I take this raw file? You need to know that stuff so that when you go into the creative mindset, you can say okay yeah this exposure was purposefully shot in negative two, because I know that that raw file can handle me boosting it up without too much noise increase. And if I do increase that noise, I know how far I can push that noise. So it's about knowing your gear. It's about knowing your camera, it's about knowing how to capture the photos. And you can be great at this. But then you're just a technician with a camera. That's all you are. So now you gotta transition from this point, to this point where you have the vision that helps you with that process. You have the gear that helps you with this process. They all work cyclical and you have to know both of them at the same time. Many of you are probably sitting on this area right here. And you're very comfortable here, and there's nothing wrong with that. But this creative side, this is our artistic side. This is that side where you're pushing yourself and you're pushing some of these creative tools. So some best practices, accept your vision. Accept your vision. Be in touch with your emotions. This is a lot harder for me than it is for women, especially when it comes to the arts, to be able to talk about your art in a way where you can convey love in a photograph. I mean how many men can talk about that kinda stuff? (grunting) Give me a tool you know? But if you're a man and you're watching this, you've gotta be in touch with those emotions. And part of that is being able to have those deep conversations with the people that you love so that when it does come to creating your art, you're better at that and you can be better at both sides. So there's a life lesson for you too. Drop the mic I'm done. Okay so (laughs), embrace your style. What'd I tell you at the beginning of this? As a painter, I was not embracing my style. I could not progress as a painter, because I wasn't embracing who I was. Likewise when I came into the HDR World, who was I trying to be like? I was trying to be like a good mixture between Trey Radcliffe and Matt Klaskowski. 'Cause those were my mentors. But I could never be either of them because I'm Blake Rudis. So I had to embrace my style. I had to embrace what I brought to the conversation. Otherwise, have you ever had a conversation through another person? Have you ever used another person as a puppet to speak? That's exactly what we're talkin' about there. If I don't embrace my style, then how can I have that conversation with you through that piece? It doesn't happen. We don't conversate through other people so why would we do that with our art? Don't try to be somebody else, or in the process of trying to be someone else you're not gonna find yourself at all. It's just not gonna happen. And fear nothing in the process. Accept your vision, be in touch with your emotions, embrace your style, and fear nothing in the process. That's a big thing. Because if fear ever comes into accepting your vision then you'll never get to the point that you need to be. If, when you get on that location, that vision is the thing that you're trying to convey in that art. So this is more on that emotive side, it's more on that touchy feely type stuff. But it's important. This is something you have to bring into the conversation with your photos. And if you're watching this and you're like I'm not a landscape person, well I don't know why you're watchin' this in the first place but, you know (laughs). If you're watchin' this and you're like well, how do I do that with a portrait? You do that with light. You do that with shaping that light and we're gonna talk about that when it comes to dodging and burning here. Are you ready? Ready to watch me just kinda go? I'm just gonna like just unhinge, take the chain off and just kind of have some fun on some photos.

Class Description

Taking a great landscape photo isn’t as easy as it looks. Getting that one, mesmerizing shot requires a whole lot of planning and waiting, not to mention a ton of wasted frames and brackets. But when everything does come together, the results can be incredible. In this course, Blake Rudis will take you through the process of creating the ultimate fine art landscape image, from pre-shoot planning to documenting the area to culling photos. He’ll then show you how to take your photo to ever-greater heights in post-production.


Adobe Photoshop CC 2018

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Blake Rudis demonstrates how to take an amazing landscape image (that SOOC would make your friend with a fancy phone and filter, envious) and then turn it into an image that evokes from viewers the emotion you felt when you first captured it. His teaching style is witty, thorough, and from the heart. As a portrait photographer, I was expecting to learn a couple of helpful post-processing tips that work across the board. What I actually learned was how to conceptualize, execute and process an amazing landscape photo that I can then blend with a landscape portrait to create a fine art image with storytelling impact. I am so glad that I have this class to re-watch while I'm planning, and then editing. Thank you Blake for a great class!


I thought this course was great. These editing techniques may be nothing new to landscape photographers but I'm actually interested to see how they transfer to lifestyle portraits. Might be nice to try on my portfolio quality images to give them more refinement.

Kaltham Ali

amazing- this man explains the process so clearly and rich knowledge, love his style and courses. defiantly recommend this course and all his courses, you learn techniques you cant find anywhere else.