Core Photo Ingredients: Light
Like indicating a particulate er mood or emotion quality of light window are opening in a wall like we're going to add light to subject without light photographs did not exist, right? So if we're going to talk about like, what are we talking about? Well, we can control the mood of a photograph of you are like, right? And we can also focus on the quality of that light doesn't get any better than this sunrise over amount. Fitzroy conservatory in uh, patagonia, that is the optimum moment. How often does that happen? Not a lot. I mean, we strive to be out there. Five a m we strive to be out there until dark at ten o'clock at night in summer, but does it the light always look this way? There's a quality to that, right? That is, that is the best light you're going to see and for me, it's a matter of standing in that meadow watching what's going on, I knew from the night before because the light, the clouds and the rain storm started clearing that this was going to happen. So it became obviou...
s to me that I needed to get up without coffee and get out there, because nobody's open. You know, nothing's open here in patagonia at that hour, I'm going to stand in that meadow with the wind howling at thirty miles an hour, and I'm going to wait and see what happens and it's either going to be hit or miss and this day was hit. Now, how do we start progressing into being there at the right time of day? You wake up ridiculously early, you get to the top of some ridge in complete darkness, and I watched the way the sun is going to come up. Yes, I have an app that tells me exactly what angle that sun's rising and where it's going to track across the horizon, but at the same point nine times out of ten, that app doesn't work when I'm in the wilderness, right? Because I don't have a cell signal so it's, based on location where I last had a cell signal, and if I'm in thailand, that was two weeks ago in jackson, wyoming, which doesn't help me in thailand, right? So I'm paying attention to what's going on, I'm like, ok, that son is going toe pop up on that horizon kind of in that zone right there where its brightest, how can I use this advantage? How can I use this? A place where we're at right now because things were going to go down fast this is summer that sun comes up bam and within thirty minutes you're done shooting because the light goes really harsh really quickly in summer, right? And there it is there's after the fact a little further down the trail how can I engage the moment at which that sun pops through the horizon and I've got a friend slash athlete raring to go? We're going to take shots this morning at sunrise this is our goal we're riding a trail that we've never photographed on before so what's, how are we going to make this happen? How we're going to monopolize this situation he has an extremely busy schedule I do we get together on the one day that both our schedules work we can make things happen right? We got to get shots there's no point in wasting this moment so you know it's five o'clock in the morning in the summer I'm looking for subjects how can isolate the son? How can I utilize him notice he's blurry even in today's marketplace crazy digital sensors I don't have enough speed to stop it and here's another thing that I kind of realized over the years of photographing adventure sports is that if you're athlete isn't performing the way they perform at their top level, it looks thick imposed so he's gotta ride fast where he looks like he's riding slow so he's gonna crank through that frame really fast and within ten frames he's gone same location but in the middle of winter now I get to sleep until six you know and I could spend an hour getting up there and then kind of figure out where I'm going to shoot the diagonal lines in this in our next segment we're going to talk about graphic design and the element of line there power lines and I just like the way she was bending over to buckle her boots and that son just kiss the rise in right there members talking about winter like noon right angle dramatic shadows again finding the dead tree in the middle of nowhere, ski through it around it over it go here do this do that fifteen ways this sunday until there's no snow left the next people that come through there like what happened here but to me it was about that shadow line being cast by the tree and the way the sun was right at the horizon at that time of day. So yes, with the with the general that was actually the bottom of the frame with the sun coming through the tree stump in a sense or even with that there's snow shot are you doing a burst or you just like I got one shot and here it is now in that in that first scenario I'm always shooting with my motor drive activated the only time that I turn the motor drive off is when I'm shooting with flash because typically I'm only going to get one shot of a flash so just motor driving it's like one frame is successful and the rest so I kind of mentally I turn the motor drive off in that scenario so that okay you got a time this you've got to be when that person is in the right spot and we're going to see that here momentarily you click the friend but in that scenario I was probably on not the high speed you know I'm not shooting twelve frames per second for that sunrise moment I'm probably shooting the low speed which is like four frames per second or five percent per second there's no reason to have thirty six frames of the sun cresting while she's bending down doing her boots now at the there are points where you want to get that which is you know she's buckling or boots now she picks her body up well there's a different shot now she grabs a pole or she bends over here to grab something else all of those same exposure right? I take those two because they're different forms in different actions going on that really could be successful in that area so motor drives typically running when I'm shooting the action stuff the might mount baker riding across the frame, getting air that is twelve frames per second there's just it is rampant uh, but on these more subtle scenes, it could be just one single shot where it could be low typically alternate so low you are pretty much says, let me row, let me roll trying to get that perfect moment, and we're going to see shots tomorrow when we showed some of the background footage behind the scenes stuff of me getting it where the athlete has actually screwed up like they've almost crashed, but there's one frame that looks perfect, so that's, where motor drive helps you it's that one second before they lose balance one second before they hit something that the motor driver really help you still maintain the shop and that's the way I look at it, so help questions that have a question from over here because it sort of has to do with that same sort of topic. How do you manage to think about these these sort of design ingredients when you're in a fast paced environment on dh when you think about clarity when you're flying down a hill, how does your brain work when you're when you're doing that is experience? It is truly just focusing on learning these tips and techniques and over the course of okay been teaching workshops for ten years, probably over the last three or four years I have really kind of generated this content so by generating the content means I've had to go back and kind of learn what I was doing to be able to teach it to other people so within a three year time frame I have kind of ingrained in my head oh there's power lines they're diagonal to my athlete that's going to work for a line composition so think about it in that kind of timeframe it's yeah I'm going to teach it to you in two days but three years from now you may actually be like there's complimentary color I've got greens and reds going or I've got blues and orange is going or there's the diagonal line you know so I can teach it to you right now but you may not truly be able to just stomp on it essentially when you're in the field without practicing it for a long time to our adventure sports photographers out there that is just getting started is practice practice practice practice you know focus on creating something different but also learn your equipment learn your learn ways of composing which we're teaching you here and then learn how to examine a scene in front of you before it happens you have to be really fast and I think that's kind of the key I have two little kids who run around maniacs nine nine times out of ten try to get a photograph of them when they're doing something they virtually and throw a ball if you know that becomes kind of my mission teo teo home speed don't answer that perfectly ok ok so optimum light what about overcast late the beauty of living here in the pacific northwest overcast light it's so awesome for saturating color right we don't need we can go out at high noon on an overcast staying at great compelling images that hike that I showed you with the wildfires will this is us at the trailhead somebody had reading glasses left reading glasses in where the sign out sheet was and my daughter picked him up and turned at me I just happen to have my camera in my hand picked it up and took the shop but I love the fact that she has this kind of weird look on her face like I'm going to really mess with dad right now so and again colors look at the colors, pop right I don't saturate my images dramatically I do yes, I do process my work I have to you know, if you shoot wrong, you have to think about the camera just creating a very mean toned photograph, right? Why? Because everybody shoots different things and not not all portrait photographers want to saturate the way nature photographers dio and vice versa, okay this was the same day that I shot that shot where I showed you the person off on the upper left again another zone further distance away what am I getting an overcast light a lot of white and the trees are very dark green and the trunks or gray so what happens if I pop a very contrast e black and white concept to my photograph I think it works as well too so I'm never set in kind of the way that I uh produce a photograph I'm I'm just help they're experiencing and nowadays we have two options to succeed that we can succeed in the capture the photograph and we can succeed in the way we prop snowing tram line jackson my kids air down here screwing around I see that kind of scene unfolding you see the way the snow's falling cool thing digital eye so thirty two hundred I just ramp up to that stoppings no I don't have to have streaks with my snow anymore because I've got enough ice so that I can use a faster shutter speed and stop action in ways that I never could before this is really cool late season mountain biking before we're done I just love the way the environment works here you know this is overcast on the noon day but the cool thing is it's not overcast enough that we lose the mountains of the teton range in the background so again, giving you context, giving you clarity et cetera, right, but now using light to my advantage as well no don't have overcast do we have shade? We picked a ridge that the sun was big kind of behind we had shade off to my left if I included that environment in my photograph, it would be completely over exposed if I got the correct exposure of my wife. If she if I got the correct exposure of this harsh sunlight on the other side of the frame, she would be completely black. Yeah, now in digital, we have a lot more latitude than we had in the days of film, but still I'm going to push so much noise in there to get that, so I'm going to zoom in on her I'm going to make her the subject it had rained and it was clearing and there's some water droplets and she's riding through water droplets, so that kind of hitting the trees and is getting in an explosion somewhat of again what's going on in the environment. So we're just on a shady slope here and I looked for that kind of stuff when I no, I can't pull off the scenario of the optimum light sunrise sunset scene, right? My daughter at ten months old or something bright high noon day I bring her under the overhang of my front door he's in a stroller so she can move uh so we just bring her in there right and there's she's freezing right now you know it's cold out it's winter so she has this kind of solemn look to her but I see that I'm like ok I'm going take a photo right quick and then we'll go inside but again if she were out in the light harsh light being cast across her face harsh shadow lines maybe because of her nose or hair the hood etcetera well all right well let's alleviate that scenario and pull her into a place where we can actually get a dynamic shop uh pictographs in utah again high noon light everywhere in the valley except the wall now how did I get the blue? Because the blue should be completely exposed over exposed right polarizer but you're thinking the right way just based on where the angle of the sun was coming you know pull a risers we work ninety degrees to our subject that polarizes the most amount of light will I polarized in the sky turned blue polarizer takes out enough light that I still had that exposure of the sky correct so I essentially exposed on the pictograph in the foreground but because of the polarizer I could get that blue sky in the background some finding shade wherever I can find it now in winter again I said that lights really low and I you can use that to my advantage is is still at high noon it's still pretty bright out but what's going on the highlight of the frame that brings our eye over to where our subject is he's really bright right now? Because it's so bright out the snow is essentially becoming a huge monstrous diffuser and it's throwing more light into our shade. So by picking the right exposure compensation ban, I'm getting enough light in the shade of that shot and to allow you to see my subject. This was published by national geographic, by the way um she is getting about seventy or eighty feet of air a one hundred pound athlete when she landed, there were there were like tender from people around watching this and when she landed, you just heard everybody like burst out they were like dumbfounded because she went not only did she do it, she landed it's just get away pretty impressive again, bellingham high noon in a workshop this guy makes fenders for bicycles and ok, well, we've got you can see outside there's nothing spectacular about the light that's going on, right? So how do I get a shot here? How do I make this shot about the guy who's building the fenders and what's going on in my surroundings there's a bike shop across the street you can see kind of some bikes laying around okay well if he's standing in his doorway and he just stood in the doorway like we're setting up a shot and I saw him drinking coffee and I was like oh this is going to be really cool because I think I can make that shot work but I like to diagnose a window you know the all these kind of elements add character to photograph so I'm inside enough light coming in from the background and giving us context and subject um it seems to me you know, we've really just met and I really resonate with your work I think it's wonderful I sort of get the feeling that you shoot what you love sort of the art direction potentially or our directors they maybe give you some direction but you're I feel like you're out there shooting what you love how do you and I wantto phrases from our from our audience out here how do you determine what image would be of interest to an art are an art director and how do you determine whether an interest is sellable sometimes it's not sellable sometimes my favorite shots like the one of my daughter in the shade at eight months old you know that may not sell ever but that's dear to my heart and I think this is something that I truly just believe in is if you're really shooting what you're into and what you love to dio regardless of that you're you're going to be involved in it and you're going tio kind of look at it as I know more of like a personal reflection and I think I've really strive in everything I do to one be successful but also trying to stay positive when the the times or down and try and focus on producing quality work all the time and I think the art director comes to me based on what they see in my work so you're seeing this kind of you like it based on kind of the way you see the passion that I'm geared towards it with and I think people see that too and that you know it's it's hard when you're working with somebody else who is like I need a shot of this because the more technical that shot needs to be the harder it becomes to be free so you have to just try and always maintain this open mind I guess when you're working with other people to make sure you're getting what they're looking for us well but they didn't come to you too because they want you just to stand behind a black box and take it blanca shop right there standing there coming to you because they see something that they need with what you're projecting out there that answer it yeah good thank you ok, so we've got optimum light we've got shade we've got overcast what about mid day? What do we do when it's high noon at the gun show right? I got lucky driving home from camping in yellowstone high noon the way the clouds were building from thunderstorms over the tetons added a bunch of drama to the shop highlight and shadow right ends as soon as sorry being disrupted a soon as I saw kind of the way that the shadows and the highlights were kind of being portrayed over grand teton I pulled over the car stopped took a shot. Now if you saw the color version of this, you'd be like, well, the light doesn't you know the light is not warm there's not a glow coming from it, but what happens if I turn it into black and white something that I kind of realized with photographers like ansel adams and uh william henry jackson was that they were taking a lot of their shots during scenarios like this because their equipment didn't respond to light the way our equipment does right? So if they didn't have kind of that mid day glo going on, they weren't even going to get a photograph ends okay, so if they could do it, can I do it? Yes so again, just taking advantage of opportunity came amid a light on the coast of big sur were at a mission and somebody left a chair just sitting out there like this I don't know if it was because you know that's where the bad kids go to sit or you know, somebody was out there drinking coffee or whatever but there's an element there and because I'm in this kind of overcast environment bright sunlight outside all of a sudden I've got this massive uh diffuser going on and ban there's a shot from a what did they save me day in the winter north facing slope the sun is just cresting the ridge it's putting just enough light coming down uh into spines below and I skied down and see it on like you need to ski this ridge you need to see that read right now like just do it and yeah okay it's like, you know I don't get what you're saying but sure I'll do it and then that's kind of the benefit of seeing that kind of stuff right because of his turn snow going up in the air all of that adds more dynamic quality to the shot so new daylight I mean that's really warm and that was shot in the baker so it's in this environment one of the rare winter some you know, some days where their son so how do we deal with bright, harsh sunlight that is just not working for me? We had a little bit of phil flash just enough to get our subject lit in the way that would put you portray the shot I did a in invitation only photo contest in leavenworth this fall and this was my main subject for that whole, uh project and I was like, ok, we need to get some shots of him with the beer and how do we do this? Well, luckily the brewery there had clear bags were actually the way they would sell you the product and I'm like ok, well there's a story building here how'd away now what do we do? We can kind of focus on my surroundings get the right exposure for the shade in the buildings and the sky not getting blown out and then pop a little bit of flash on him because he was black completely like in in shadow so it worked but it took me like ten tries to get it right and then ten tries to figure out what the right position for my cameras you know, cameras really low. I'm running backwards with him on a street where those cars and every time I almost there the car comes by and runs the shop for me so just continuously trying trying trying them so phil flash does work at noon noon noon daylight as well did you have the camera that flash off camera or they were on the camera actually own the area? Yeah noonday again but just enough cloud cover in the sky to give me a moment of shadow so rider on the ridge you gonna ride this ridge right here and need you there do it now okay I'm going to do it inclement weather lots of rain fuse lodge of a piper blanket on the plane but you know so be the water on this yellow cool kind of complimentary color thing going on with the name of the plane bam there's my shop okay fog disperses my background environment and behind my writer just stands out we don't need to see all the detail in him right we don't need to hdr this thing we don't need to push tons of light into the shadows because there's enough of it a kind of separation between what he's doing right now and the environment that's going on okay such a good day of skiing what happens when the rain comes in we pack up the bikes we drive home you know where's the context where where are we where I'm at home we're going to talk about this photo later too but ok so now we're mountain biking were in the town of jackson what time years and early fall all this stuff is coming to my mind when I take it right in fall in jackson we have a new inversion layer typically in the mornings we have fog in the valley upon the peaks it's bright sunshine what do we do? We go right to the point where the fog is coming in on the peaks and were on that part of the trail where the trail meets the fog and we're taking shots how much location scouting are you doing? Because there is no way that's it exist like school here? Well what's funny is you when you live in a place for just a long enough time you start paying attention to the way the environment happens and the way things kind of move and you know I had shot in this on this trail many mornings before and there was nothing it was bright sunshine like or cloudy overcast day etcetera and that morning we drove up to the top of the past and I'm like that's where we were four days ago where there was bright sunlight but now that looks like the zone where the fog is okay forget sunrise today we're going down there do you have an athlete in which you kind of check out the where they're a little bit black it's going to be kind of a rainy day or send email whatever hey what are you doing tomorrow morning some days yes and in the skiing scenario almost always blower powder day tomorrow what are you doing? You know can we get out there and get some shots so that in that scenario yes mount by scenario not really I mean I kind of just work with what's being given to me at that moment if if I know this is going to happen if it's happened like three days in a row in the forecast looks like fog in the morning yeah I'll go try and do it but for the most part skiing I do kind of work that way and not liking not so much roll index of athletes you just call one after the other really fun under uh athletes actually okay so manufactured light here's flash dark garage pick a shutter speed to fiftieth of the second give me mohr aperture everything becomes black what do I do take the flash off camera remotely I'm standing there like this press the button flash comes across I sidelight the bike that's it one flash I don't need all this crazy set up all these you know this just very simple moment okay I could do it here can you do in the field yes so that's how I kind of think of things now I did the shot after I read joe mcnally's book is his flash book I don't remember the name of it sorry but uh like right after I was all hot try this okay I can use flash to kind of and I was a baker and you can see on the upper higher peak that the sun was already kind of gone from where we were but it was still out a little bit I put a gel on my flash I had my wife hold the flash off camera and took the shot and it looks like sunset so I've been successful you know I've trained myself I read a book like ok, I'm going to try that and I didn't have the time you know I never I never had the moment at which I thought was going work and then I remember the book I'm like ok, we do this we do that we do this came her scent obama takes job hitting worked my go ok, this is cool what about just using the light in the garage, right? Okay it's dark outside he's kind of moved into the garage a little bit working on the bike the same guy we saw with the pbr can right later in the evening there's another shot there he's still working on the bike but now I'm not going to get anything but blue kind of cast over him because it's really dark out and everything is going to be blurry well, let's move into the garage a little bit he was doing it anyway because it was cold out damn he's silhouette right at the edge of the garage if he went in a little bit further than you're going to start seeing details on him but at the point at which he is he's behind that kind of zone where the light is falling and he's silhouette set up the tripod on the side of st wife's car parking on the side I pre visualized this shot and I did a whole series on them this is not my favorite one from the serious but at the same point you know put the camera on tripod ok we have this bar you know in town this really famous it's kind of an icon shooting a story on mountain biking in the tetons well what do we do after we go ride where we park downtown and we go to one of the bars and you know I have cocktails okay, I'm doing that now how do I do that to get it so that I can illustrate the point you know all the people on the street their tours just walking down the street I'll use him you're in my shot I don't care okay was it some set no it's flash shelled the flash this is where turned that motor drive off one shot click flash goes off took us a couple tries to get it right but uh I saw the ramp and I'm like I really need this really need this but I need the light because there was it was really overcast so how do we use that? You know yellow jell on the flash blue sky did you have that flesh of there was like bush's right right beside it yuri was holding it in the bushes. Go to the right. Your go to the right? Yes. So it was off camera he was holding in the bushes and, uh, yeah, it worked. I mean, it took three of four tries, but eventually we got it. And the cool thing with flashes you're stopping action based on the light, right? So he's going really fast, the camera gets it from the does the strobe the speed of this drove it stops and I was too technical for me. Forget it anyway, but it stops the motion. I noticed that you look like you're taking it very lows. I say this action how low is slow? Yeah, I had my camera is literally sitting on the boards of that kind of handmade ramp berm deal literally sitting on the boards and I've adjusted my apertura toe work best with the flash because aperture controls your flash. Other speed is not I believe, right? Uh uh. So I'm picking an aperture that works with the flash shutter speed is probably at one two fiftieth of the second, which is the six speed and yeah, I'm just down low and I don't really care what's going on the foreground, I have felt I'm focusing on where he comes into the frame the rest of it is irrelevant to me, because he's going to be lit right if we focused on the front of the boards and he's being lit, then were kind of struggling with giving them the proper message to our viewer, right?