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Landscape Photography: Capturing Adventure

Lesson 8 of 13

Composition Basics

Ryan Resatka

Landscape Photography: Capturing Adventure

Ryan Resatka

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Lesson Info

8. Composition Basics


  Class Trailer
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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

Composition Basics

Right now we're gonna take a hike down this trail so the trail's gonna open up along this vista. So right now what we wanna find is we wanna find things that are leading lines. We wanna find things that have interesting shape. We wanna find things that have really good depth of field from where we're gonna be standing. And the valley that this cuts over through is gonna have a lot of really good opportunities so let's go check it out. Leading lines are basically lines that are a point of reference for the photo that draw your eye to a certain spot. So they can be a trail, they could be patterns in sand, they can be a number of different things. So here, we're trying to find lines that line up with whatever our subject is. So here's a pretty decent one. Now we wanna get one that's a little bit longer, and shows more of the valley and probably doesn't have the road in the background. So I think if we just hike down like a little bit more to where the trail opens up, we're gonna find what...

we need. It's also good to come here during the day so that way you can see everything again. You can try and shoot it midday if you prefer the way the lighting is. But if you wanna be able to shoot it later during the golden hour light, of course, this is why scouting is so important so you know exactly where it is, how long it's gonna take to park, hike down, get to the spot and then be right there when it happens. So let's go down here, and see if we can find it. This is pretty awesome. You know up on this cliff and you got some awesome panoramic views. With this trail, you can see this really nice leading line with the road, and how it goes all the way around the mountain. And you also get a really nice panoramic landscape. So this is also a really good scouting spot for later in the day when the light is better or during golden hour right before sunset. And the reason why that is is because you're gonna be able to see kind of envision where the sun's gonna set. And that's gonna give you a better idea of where the light's gonna hit. So what's probably going to happen is this stuff is gonna get lit up. This little section here's gonna get lit up too. And then, then everything else will be back lit. So this is part of it you gotta, you gotta let the people walk by. So you can get your photo. (laughs) Patience is like 80% of this honestly, just like waiting for all the people to walk by and have nothing in the shot or if you're gonna have stuff in the shot, just know that you're gonna be able to clone it out later and take it out in post processing. (people chattering) Oh you guys can come by here. So the real way to do this would be to have somebody with a really cool car, maybe like a red jeep sorta. And have them drive on this and then you'd wanna be up here over shooting it. It'd be a really good spot just because the car would pop well and then you'd have this whole landscape that's gonna compliment it. (camera beeping) Thank you. No problem. We were walking back to the car and I actually noticed this spot that we walked by before but I didn't really notice how cool the mountain looked just because the way we were walking and the angle of it. But now like these flowers line up really well with like the waterfall in the back and of course, the peak of the mountain. Another really good thing too is the positioning of the clouds. So even in the course of like 10 to 15 minutes, clouds can be in a totally different spot and you sometimes wanna wait for the clouds to fill in at the right angle, just so that it's filling in the space nicely. And like you can still see patches of color before this is all grayed out so the sky wasn't really popping out any blues. So now you can actually see some of the blues that are in there. If you use a polarizer or any sort of gradient filter, you're gonna really gonna be able to pull out the detail in the sky. And now the sun is being slightly covered by the clouds too. It gives a nice diffused even lighting that's gonna look great for photos midday. There we go. So I'm working with the polarizer because the polarizer will actually pull out the highlights in the sky. And then also the highlights that are in the grass. So that means is basically the brightest parts of the sky and the brightest parts of the light that are hitting the grass are gonna be lessened. So that way the overall light looks even. Like right now, this light looks very even because the cloud that's passing in front of the sun and this cloud is big enough where it's reaching the entire way through. (camera beeps) And I'm right now trying to get my framing even. So that way, I have flowers scattered all throughout this. Awesome! So this right here, it follows a path that goes to the woods and it looks like it could be a trail but it is probably what is called a social trail. Basically social trails are trails that are created by people that are walking off trail to go to a certain view or vista, and once one person does it, it erodes away some of the grass and you know flora and fauna that might be along it. And then the next person will do more damage. So over time, it becomes barren like that. Now that could very easily also be because of water or some other natural cause. But in either case, you don't wanna be walking along those and you wanna stay on what's considered the official trail which is generally, you know about five feet, maybe six feet wide. It could be less like four. But it's very obviously marked. There's clearly man-made things like steps and rocks and signs that are gonna show you where to go. And that's another part of being, you know, ethical in the outdoors when you're capturing these photos. So even if you see a really cool view or vista, do everything you can to make sure that you're gonna stay on trail while you're capturing the photos that you wanna get.

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.