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Landscape Photography: Capturing Adventure

Lesson 10 of 13

Adding Human Element

Ryan Resatka

Landscape Photography: Capturing Adventure

Ryan Resatka

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Lesson Info

10. Adding Human Element


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:02:02
2 Planning Trip Research Duration:03:21
3 7 Principles Duration:04:01
4 Gear Considerations Duration:07:22
5 Packing Essentials Duration:06:14
6 Location Scouting Duration:04:19
7 Sunrise Shooting Duration:18:48
8 Composition Basics Duration:06:14
9 Midday Shooting Duration:03:47
10 Adding Human Element Duration:12:32
11 Sunset Shooting Duration:12:52
12 Post-Production Duration:25:38
13 Wrap Duration:02:29

Lesson Info

Adding Human Element

So right now what we're gonna do is we're gonna get some really cool photos with people in it. Ummmm, or a person in general. Its gonna be really awesome just because we have a really cool log that's here, we have a lot of negative space with the reflection in the water, so that way the person that's gonna be walking along the shore isn't gonna be getting in the way of the mountains that are also reflecting. Like they're not gonna be clipping each other. And we're basically gonna be going over different style choices, in terms of clothing, what pops, different posture choices, and giving direction. So, right now I have her kind of like right in the middle of where that V is. Its a really good location to have somebody just because again there's a lot of negative space and she's not interfering with any of the mountains. She stands out really well too, so what we're gonna do now is I wanna kinda go over with her the different posture she's gonna want to have, standing direction. The dir...

ection that you do stand and face is important just because it gives the photo more atmosphere. If a person is facing the wrong direction from what the scene is, it kinda takes you out of the photo. So you wanna make sure that all the different elements are lining up, like from the person all the way out to the subject that we're focusing on with the person in it for capturing the scale. Okay so, um, can you just kinda have your like go down to where the rocks are. Yup, and then kind of, ya, right just the way you are and then kind of put your hands on your straps, yeah. And then kinda look a little to the left. Can you actually turn your body slightly to the left too? That's perfect, yeah just like that. Now look a little more to the right. Now turn your body more to the right. So as I'm kinda seeing where she's standing, I'm looking and I'm noticing that, you know, if someone was really standing there, looking at these mountains, what's gonna be the spot? Its probably gonna be somewhere right here in this area just because most of the photo that has the attention is kinda from the white space over. Versus this area where its a smaller section. So we still wanna obviously have that part in the photo, but kinda like to make it a more natural feel, where she's standing is like really good. Can you turn your head a little bit more to the right? And then bring your arms down lower on the straps. And can you turn your body more to the right too? Ya, just like that. And then I'm gonna try and make sure that I'm lined up with her so she's like pretty much in the middle, I don't wanna be too far over or else she's gonna be lining up more with this side, but if I have her in the middle its a nice even composition and that's exactly what we want. And I gotta adjust my settings just because the light is changing pretty quick here. I'm gonna be shooting around F2. Oh sorry, F8.0 and I'm pretty much balancing between the shutter speed and the ISL. Now if you look right now it says that I'm under negative 2, so I think I wanna be a little below that or closer to 0 as possible. So ill actually make this 7, ill change the ISL to that. Now I'm at 1.3, that's gonna give me a pretty good exposure for the photo, and yup it is, its looking great. Actually you might wanna darken it slightly. So what I will do again is I will change the shutter speed and then you'll uh ya. So as the scene is getting darker of course um I don't wanna make it too bright to compensate for the darkness just because the sky and the clouds that we have that are really cool are gonna get blown out. So I'm making sure that the exposure is as balanced as I can get it, but I'm most likely going to be under exposing the photos. The reason why I do that is cause it generally is easier to bring out your darker shades and shadows than it is to bring back highlights and darken highlights. So, I'm gonna under expose it a little bit so it gives me breathing room later to be able to blend the clouds in with the landscape. Lets do some like walking shots. So, um, now what I'm gonna do is we wanna have her sort of moving, and we're actually gonna have a subject that we're gonna track and I'm gonna put on the tracking setting so that way we can see how its gonna follow her and make sure that she's in focus and that everything is gonna come out crystal clear, but were still getting the motion of her walking. Could you kinda walk to like right here where my hand is? Keep going over, keep going, keep going, a little bit more, and stop. So I don't want her to really start where the mountain is kinda clipping, well I do want her to start where the mountain is clipping, but I don't want it to be like exactly where its clipping like a little bit after it. So that way I can get all of the shots that are going to happen in the area. So now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna switch my settings to CAF for continuous auto focus, basically a period auto focus and then you can go between those for that right there. And then what I'm going to do is I'm going to zoom in, I'm going to select the general area she's in. See how its got her locked on, now what were gonna be able to do is when she starts walking ill be able to get more of the movement. Okay awesome, take like one more step over this way, and then turn around, and then what I'm gonna have you do is I'm gonna have you kinda look at the mountains to the left while you're walking and then I'm gonna track you while you do it. You could take like really natural steps, they don't need to be too slow. So well give it a try. Ummmm, give me a second to lock you on here. Oh whoops. (laughing) awesome now I'm gonna hold it up more so that way she's not, see if I hold it right there she's gonna be clipping the mountains, but if I hold it up I get more of that negative space that she's walking in so she's not interfering with the mountains in the background. Alright you're gonna walk in uh, when I count to 3 ready 1,2, so we got some photos of her walking now to really nail this part, in addition to the continuous focus making sure that were focusing on her while she's walking, we want to get all the frames and the motion, because as she's taking each of those steps there's going to be certain steps that look more appealing than others. Meaning like the posture looks better, the step looks more purposeful. Its in a good placement in terms of you know, where she's actually standing in the photo as well. So what I'm gonna wanna make sure that I do is I'm gonna wanna change my settings over to sequential high or sequential low basically the sequential low is still a high speed shooting setting but its not gonna be like crazy fast. If I do the sequential hight that's like for birds flying and sports and you know things that are moving like you know faster than you can really see, but for something that's sequential low, which is still high speed shooting, is gonna be perfect for a human being that's walking. So lets get that shot now. Okay, so again on the count of 3 I'm gonna move my camera up just so she's in the nice negative space. There we go, um actually take like 3 steps back. Again I wanna give her room to walk so that way I get all the movement though the whole thing. And then I'm gonna have to readjust here. Almost there, you're doing a great job. (laughing) Alright ready? 3,2,1 walk cool So now I'm gonna review the footage and kinda just look at where the steps are. So its almost like a little, you know, animation. We can see her walking through, and I kinda like maybe like a step like that cause it looks really natural like she's mid step or you know, so we wanna make sure that we're getting exactly that. So now lets do the same thing but lets grab the red bag too. So now what we're gonna do is we're gonna switch out the bags, that's a canvas bag which looks pretty nice um its like an aesthetic bag you would probably use it for a more folky setting. But now were gonna change the color of the bag just to show how much more different color choices can compliment contrast wise with the place that were shooting. So one of the reasons why I like adding a person to a photo when I can is that I really feel like it gives you that sense that you're there or you're trying to imagine yourself there. And it puts you in a different psychological level of viewing a photo than you normally would versus just looking at a simple landscape. Now I think just either doing a scene by itself or a scene with a person can be different depending on what the preferences or depending on what the actual scene is, but sometimes just adding that one little person just gives you a real sense of scale and just shows you like the whole landscape in a totally different perspective. So right now I've had her change her bag so now she's got a really cool hiking bag, like a day pack, its red so it pops really good and it compliments the rest of the colors in the scene including the back lit peaks, the water which is nice and blue, and I have this really nice foreground right here which is gonna frame her excellently and in the middle of it. Um, so what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna direct her basically kinda walking through, standing, again framing in general. And then we're gonna find some other unique compositions using this set up I have right here. Um, okay, do you wanna take like 5 steps back? We're gonna do another walking one real quick, but we're gonna do just the framing and then we're gonna do a couple other things, okay? Okay Awesome so right now what I'm doing is on the on this lens this is the 12-100, I'm zooming in and getting it so just the edges of this frame are being shown. I'm not really gonna show too much of this area, just because its just like the pebbles from the beach and its empty but if I just bring it right to where the twigs are it creates a nice frame that she's gonna be in. So when you think of ideas of people walking in places or whatever definitely try to find a point of framing if you can that's unique and interesting that kind of brings the whole image together in the middle, or wherever the person happens to be that's interesting. Um, okay. Walk naturally to the middle where those rocks are. Ready? Set. Go. Cool so now again what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna go through the playback and I definitely got a few cool steps of her. What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna give her some more direction to try and bring the motion to be a little more natural. When you're walking if you could just swing the arms like just slightly less, um, that would be really awesome. Do like almost the exact same speed that you were walking before. So again, posture, looking natural, looking relaxed, taking things in, um so ya. Lets uh, lets see how this comes out. Alright, on the count of 3 just give another walk. Ready? 1,2, and now again we'll look at the footage. Ya, that's pretty cool. One of those steps is definitely gonna be what we need for the photo, but its probably gonna be somewhere around here. Maybe that ones really good. Now there is a if you look there is a rock that's right there in the photo, but what were gonna do in post editing is were gonna remove the rock so that way its just the reflection and then its not gonna be interfering at all with the photo and the composition.

Class Description


  • Plan and research for your most photographable experience
  • Scout your locations and determine the best time for shooting
  • How to incorporate people into your composition
  • Considerations for sunrise and sunset
  • Gear solutions to keep you trekking without the weight


Get out and explore and capture amazing images as a part of your memories. Adventure Photographer, Ryan Resatka, will take you in the field as he explores and captures one of the most incredible National Parks. He’ll teach how to research and plan your trip in advance so you understand the park guidelines, how to prep your lodging and maximize your success. He’ll walk through his process on a variety of different locations from lakeside to vistas to show how to work through any situation. He’ll teach how to direct, style and work with people to add different compositions to your landscapes. Ryan likes to stay on the road and shooting, so he’ll talk through packing and gear essentials to keep you ready for any photo opportunity that greets you on your journey.


  • Adventure photographers
  • Travel photographers
  • Landscape Photographers


Ryan Resatka is an adventure photographer based out of Los Angeles, California who has a passion for the outdoors and traveling. His passion for adventure has allowed him to work with a variety of world-class brands, companies, and tourism boards. Whether it be the arctic tundra or a tropical beach, Ryan captures the absolute best content for companies that allows them to engage with their audience and consumers. 



This is actually a question....regarding "park guidelines". Will you cover what permits are needed, costs; and most of all "insurance". I'd like to take my photography "pro", but these "hoops" appear to be confusing and expensive. Is there any way around them? Or to get the cost down to reasonable? I live in Nevada near Death Valley and travel to California often.