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How to Get Started in Nature Photography

Lesson 8 of 12

How To Prepare For Your Shoot

John Greengo

How to Get Started in Nature Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

8. How To Prepare For Your Shoot

Lesson Info

How To Prepare For Your Shoot

Let me talk about process and I do not mean processing your images in light room were photoshopped or anything else I'm talking about the process of getting out of the car and taking that bag and starting to walk and look for photographs what is the mind process that you're going through so for me I call it the photo five step all right the first part is probably the hardest part and that is subject identification what am I shooting a picture off what is it that is deserving of a photograph and that sometimes takes a long time after that it's a matter of where can I stand and you would be surprised being out in the open environment rather than being constrained in the studio you know you could go anywhere now no the trail only goes here there's a cliff there there's a gigantic rock and the way they're the ranger says I can't stand over there there's a rope that says do not cross here you are highly limited on where you can go in many cases out in the world but you got to figure out wha...

t you can do and where you can go that's where the tall tripod comes in handy next up get a formula set up what am I doing here? Am I doing shallow depth of field of my doing great depth of field what's what's that whole thing that I'm going to set up after that focusing, where am I going to focus that hyper focal distance that we just talked about? Where am I going to focus? How much depth of field toy need? And then once you get all those settled in then it's working the composition now be honest with you, you don't always work through these in this order sometimes things air set well ahead of time you know exactly what composition you need and after that you'll figure out focus and exposure, but generally it goes figuring out what your subject is figuring out where you're going to be and then it's a combination of the other three from there the problem with showing your photographs to other people is that they don't know what else is going on they don't know how you were feeling they don't know what else is around and so you have to really pick the box that is the most interesting because that's where your story is and that's all they get to see and one of the best ways to think about your objective the object is not to capture one big photo of everything you see but rather to find a frame that tells a clear story so what is your short story? You are the director of this story you get to choose what the content iss a number of people they get enamored with the first thing they see this this is the first flower I saw. This is amazing and that's what they pull out their camera and they suddenly start to shoot anytime you look and you find something good, what you should immediately do is stop in your tracks and look around and see what else you can see in that area that might be a good inspiration. Maybe you're on the lead of something. The chances that you actually stumbled across the very best of that little item is highly unlikely. It may be the case and maybe that's why it popped out at you. It may be the case, but you have to find out. Is there something better and so better walk back on that trail? Did you miss something earlier? You weren't paying attention? Walk a little bit further on the trail, investigate for a few minutes before you start jumping into it. Does anybody here watch the reality? Show the voice? But here watch the show we got some people in, you're not too many people, if you don't know, I don't watch the voice, but I've seen it and I understand it and there is an element that relates to photography. The judges on that show are watching contestants, and they are judging these contestants from what I can tell off of two criteria. And it's the same thing that you're going to be judging your subjects with and that is first off how good a subject is this what's kind of the natural ability of this subject how good is it just on its own but the other aspect they're looking at because they're picking them to be on their team in the show is what can I do with this subject? What lenses do I have? Where can I stand? What creative ideas do I have to bring to the table to do something great with the subject? Because I found subjects that other people walk by and they don't think they're special but I knew that I could do something with it that maybe they haven't thought and that's we're having a very creative imagination knowing your equipment works very well in short the elements that work very well for nature photography, vibrant colors, distinctive patterns and a sense of order nice clean clear subjects one way to categorize your images is into three different groups of them the first the grandiose grand landscapes this are the ones that sell landscape photography this is what you see on the cover of the magazines this is what gets all the wilds this is what gets all the likes but there's also intimate landscapes and when the clouds come in and the weather is not so good and you know it's maybe not the best time of year there's a lot of great intimate landscapes typically in these you're not going to see the sky you're going to see a little bit tighter in detail smaller areas and then you go and even tighter for the very specific details and so it's just a story on different levels and there kind of interesting because you go out you intend to shoot certain types of shots and you end up going with something else according to the conditions let's jump in and start talking about subjects and so just kind of some quick quick tips on shooting different types of subjects and so obviously here in the northwest we love to shoot mountains if you shoot mountains don't just shoot the mountain find some foreground elements within this is worth going vertical I'm going to talk about this in composition at the end is very important really works really well with sidelight I love shooting mount rainier because where you can shoot it from most easily has very good sidelight both in the morning and in the evening very good place to shoot and this is where you want to pull out that polarizer and so this is a great example of using vertical reaching from the foreground to the background so I can show those flowers with the mountains an example of sidelight getting that sidelight shows the texture and kind of that real surface area that slope going up to the mountain the polarizer really healthy get some beautiful blue out of the sky and the water and even better green in the tree in this case, if you're going to go into the forest great place to shoot on a cloudy day so go in there when it's overcast just after it's rained perhaps and if it is sonny try to get there before the sun gets too far up in the sky I love looking for open spots you know there's about fifty meters that opens up you can use a telephoto that lens like I did on this shot in this case and then using a polarizing hearings I talked about the polarizer also works in the forest, the redwoods sunny all the time I got up really early in the morning at a little bit of room to back up shot this with a seventy millimeter lands we're not gonna talk too much about black and white, but black and white could be great. This is another case had an open area was shooting at about one hundred fifty millimeters here's an example of not using a polarizer let's put the polarizer on and look at how much difference we have. Big difference huge alright let's try another fit fan favorite here so waterfalls obviously going vertical with this shooting tight, you don't need to show the top and the bottom of every waterfall you see once again I'm keep harping on this polarizer but it does help out and a lot of situations and if you want that really good blur, you're going to need a shutter speed longer than one second when I was in iceland I was very specifically composing this so that you could not see the top of the waterfall, it adds an element of mystery to the photograph here is not using a polarizer and I'll jump back and forth a couple of times notice how much glare it can take off the rocks and you get to decide how much glare you want maybe you like the reflections shutter speeds one second or longer if you really want that really really long where this isn't actually a twenty second exposure next up let's talk about flowers a lot of people like shooting flowers after all that's that color we talked about those vibrant colors they attract attention you know when you're driving in your car there's there's like three things that you don't pay attention to number one is the temperature or two is hills from a cyclist I know that and you also don't pay attention to how windy it iss and once you get out and you start looking at those flowers and then you become very critical of how much wind it is and I don't know maybe it's just where I live but it is rarely ever dead calm the wind is always blowing, which makes shooting flowers challenge almost all the time I think this sounds like a really good title for a movie don't shoot bad flowers I don't just sounds like a movie title to me on that's what I talked about not falling in love with the first flower you see look around find the best ones this is where that shallow depth of field look that we don't use a lot in nature photography can kind of workout this lens that I shot this with was a twenty four one four lens very shallow depth of field you know it's an unusual choice in some ways but I kind of like the way it came out and sunny days could be very, very challenging very very hard to shoot flowers and so you know here up to the tulip festival I'm looking for the best group of flowers that I can find the most colorable, colorful, vibrant ones that I can get to I'm using a really shallow depth of field lands because I want those flowers in the background just to add a palette of colors behind my subject sunny days just don't work well the shadows get two blocked up there's just too much of a contrast range look at the difference between the sunny day on the left and the early part of the sunny day on the right before those flowers are in bright sunshine and that is where you're going to get your best flower photos is when the sun is not shining on him. It's very exciting to the eyes, but it does not work well in photography. Everyone seems to pull their camera out at sunrise and sunset at least at sunset because they're out, then sunrise is a little bit harder way when I say meter a little away from the sun, that means get the sun out of the frame to get your light metering done because the sun is going to throw off your light meter. You're gonna need to scout your sunrise locations so that you could see it in the light of day. Where can I move? Where can I get my boots to to stand and shoot this shot? It could be really early sometimes for the morning shots, but you want to be there at least thirty minutes ahead of time to scout things out things it's, not sunrise that you're shooting it's the sunrise area that you are shooting, you want to shoot stuff before and after sunrise and sunset and what you want to look for, the greatest thing in the world is cloud cover with a break on the horizon where the sun's going to come down and illuminate those clouds from the bottom that's the best thing that you could possibly hope for. Scouting your locations how long does it take to get there? Where can I set up what's my plan? What do the shots that I want to get when the sun comes up looking for those clouds? Here's a great example of a break on the horizon, I got cloud layer above me you can see the sun is off to the left hand side and it's going to come in and it's going to illuminate this cloud and provide just an incredible lighting scene for me and it's that break on the cloud that really did it. All right, let me just kind of take you through a whole bunch of bad photos. They're not that bad, but they're not my favorite photos working in yosemite valley there's a place that tons of photographer stop at it's called valley view it's right along the highway, it's right along them or said, river there's a bunch of rocks in the river and I went down at seven twenty four in the morning to get there for sunrise to play around, and I'm going to move the camera around looking for different foreground elements. I'm going to switch to vertical so that I can reach even further from the near to the far the sun's coming up the skies, kind of getting blown out. I'm working the area trying to find different areas I found this one area that I kind of likes it had really calm water you can see the river moving faster in the background I'm getting nice reflections because it's protected water in here but sunrises just not the best time to be here at least this time of year on this day it's just not looking great coming back at sunset we're getting the light in on the mountains in the cliffs much more easily here six twenty five in the evening I'm going to continue working six forty got these little grasses that are kind of interesting I come back to my favorite spot I'm kind of like I really like this area and I think this is a good shot but I'm going to continue working it's like a golf swing you keep putting the effort and as you go through you never know when it's going to get to be the best and so I keep shooting and I keep shooting and now you can see the light's really starting to fade we're losing the intensity we're losing the color it's working its way up the the cliffs it's no longer there this is not a good shot anymore go back the best shot happened to be in the evening my favorite shot was at six forty eight p m and so you have to work through go back scout it over and over again

Class Description

Stunning nature and landscape photography requires the right gear, techniques and approach. In this class, John Greengo explains the tools and techniques required for succeeding in this inspiring but demanding discipline. You’ll get an introduction to the equipment, exposure, focus, subjects, light, composition and photographic process needed to get your start in nature photography.

Class Materials

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Nature and Landscape Course Notes

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Student Work

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Danette Zak

I got this course for free thru View Bug and John Greengo is an amazing teacher. He explains nature photography with a sense of ease and he really makes you want to get out there and keep trying to get THE photo, that the day you go out there may not be the right day or right time, but to keep trying and you'll get it! He also encourages you to get out there to the same places other great photographers have been and make it your own, to get your own experiences. Yes, I recommend this course and any courses he instructs, I hope to take another one of his courses in the near future!

a Creativelive Student

Very instructive! And John Greengo is a great teacher. He knows very well how to go deeply without putting you in a difficult situation. I have followed almost all of his courses, and this one is one of the best! Don't hesitate if you are a beginner or even and advanced photographer interested in Nature photography.

Vi Se

Perfect class, loved it. Short, concentrated, nice examples, pasionate speaker. Just want to grab my cam and go apply new knowledges.