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Landscape Photography: Capturing Adventure

Lesson 7 of 13

Sunrise Shooting

Ryan Resatka

Landscape Photography: Capturing Adventure

Ryan Resatka

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Lesson Info

7. Sunrise Shooting


  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

Sunrise Shooting

We're here at sunrise at Glacier National Park. And when you have good light like this either at sunrise or sunset you definitely want to take advantage of it as much as possible. And it's really gonna elevate your photography game. Now, Glacier National Park is a really beautiful place and there's so many photo opportunities, whether it's the wildlife, the mountains, the beautiful lakes that they have. There's also a beautiful multi color rainbow pebbles that are in the lake as well. So we want to make sure that we're being conscientious of all of that. And I'm gonna show you exactly how to do that. (bag zipping) So what I'll do when I'm looking at a scene is I'll check it out and I'll decide which lens I want to use based on how far I am from the subject, and how much of the subject that I want to capture while I'm shooting it. So right now I would actually want to switch lenses. This is more of like a zoom lens, so I'd want to get something that has more of a wider angle to encapsul...

ate the scene better. In here I got the M.Zuiko 12-40. So, I like that just because you still get a wide angle, and if I want to zoom in at all a little bit I have that flexibility of being able to do that. So, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna kind of come over here to the shore just because the closer I am to the water right here I'm gonna get a bigger reflection. I'm gonna have less distracting elements in the foreground, like maybe this sand. There are situations where the sand can look really good. But I think that it would have to be probably more in line with the view that we're actually gonna be looking at or working with while we go through deciding what composition we want to pick for this particular spot. So right now what I'm doing is I'm trying to figure out my settings. So I'm gonna take a few test shots just to make sure that the image comes out fully exposed and looks, you know, like there's not too dark of shadows, the sky isn't blown out. I want to try and get the lighting as even as possible in camera just because I'm keeping in mind of things later when I go to edit or post processing so I have the cleanest image possible that I want to work with. So let's do a couple test shots here. (camera clicking) so right now these images that I'm capturing they're pretty good. The shadows are kind of dark. But that's okay because the Olympus has really good shadow recovery, so I'll be able to bring out those shadows later. But the sky is really the most important part, because as long as you're able to get all the details in the sky with the setting with what we're looking at right now later in post processing it's gonna be easier. It's easier for me and most of the time to be able to remove things that are brighter than things, than brightening things I that are darker just because of the amount of detail information that's in the image. So right now this is looking pretty good. I do wanna add a little bit more of a subject just because this is empty. So we're gonna go down to the beach where these bushes are and trying to add some like foreground. So, I'm kind of looking here. These ones are decent, but I wanna try and see if I can get something that's a tiny bit closer to the water just so that it looks neater. If you have, like, sand that's popping up and a bush, it's not gonna look the most uniform with the negative space that's in the reflection. So as you can see right now in this reflection there's white pockets. So what I wanna try and do I try and maybe get just a little bit of some of these leaves, like nice looking ones where the twigs aren't coming out too much, and you know, just sort of in between so I'm filling in the empty space, but in a nice way. So this is almost exactly what I wanted. This is like there's nothing in the way of it. There's not other trees. There's not random logs coming out. This thing is very isolated, so this is one that I can easily work with. And when it does get a little bit brighter, as you can see like the rocks are popping like really good. Lake McDonald and Glacier National Park is well known for it's rocks that are very colorful. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to come here to do this. So yeah, this is gonna be great. So now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna start focusing on the framing and kind of envision how I want the photo to look with a little bit of foreground, and try and include any other elements that are unique to this area that I can, so it makes the photo more special. (camera clicking) I will have to adjust my settings as the light changes. It's really the ISO a lot of the time. Yeah, sometimes I'll do this too where I'll actual look at the back view finder for the test shots as well. (camera clicking) Yeah. (camera clicking) Another thing I'm keeping in mind is that this cloud that's in here is reflecting so I don't want to have any other things in the photo interfere with it. So this bush, I don't want the bush hitting where the cloud is reflecting in the water. Like, I wanna give it some nice spacing so that way there's like breathing room for the whole photo. It doesn't feel cramped. It feels like you're able to look at the whole photo in one setting and feel like you're sort of there. I think when you compress things too much, like if this was like lower, it just wouldn't feel good, you know. So now what I want to do is I do want to change angles so that I can still use this as an anchor for composition. But I also want to include the pebbles more like I had mentioned. And that's what makes this place special are these rocks. Now, I am gonna just illustrate the difference kind of standing up and then versus like kind of moving around to get different creative angles. So, here if I'm down here at this spot I can get the bush in the corner of the photo where there's not a crazy amount going on. It's just the sand of the beach, but I don't have to put the sand there. I actually have something I can put there. And now I can also see the pebbles. So with the framing side by side I now have two complimentary subjects, or I should say, things that I'm adding to the subject that are gonna make, like, it more interesting. The weird thing about the Olympus is that it is water resistant. So, if I get a splash on it it's fine. And we're here at Lake McDonald. And one of the best ways for me to get these rocks is I'm gonna have to take obviously a step in this water. I also have pretty good hiking boots that are, you know, vortex water sealed. So, I can get, you know, a few inches in and it'll be fine. But, I am gonna have to right about here just because again, if I'm a step further back I'm gonna have to lean over in order to get the photo I want. 'Cause right now what I'm gonna try and do for the framing is I'm gonna try and get these rocks to be right below where these peaks are. Right now the rocks are kind of like they go out to about there, then there's white space from the sky. And then there's the mountain. But now I want to get the rocks and then the mountain. So it's like almost like one uniform piece that we're looking at. Even if I'm squatting and getting pretty low it is somewhat hard to get the differential in the sky with the rocks, with the mountains that I want. So, I actually am gonna use looking at the back, which would be pretty good. And this thing has really good internal stabilization. So it's gonna be pretty easy to see. But yeah. So I wanna spin this bad boy. There we go. And then, yep. (camera clicking) Now, the other cool thing too is on my display I have a leveler, so this can tell me how crooked or up and down I am. So that way I know that I'm shooting flat. You'll wanna try and shoot with your horizon line, or pick a horizon line when you're framing your photo every time. So right here my horizon line's easy. It's just the, it's just the lake shore right here. Now, as a lake moves across it kind of can look like it's slanted. But you wanna sort of look at the furthest middle point and use that generally speaking as your reference point. (camera clicking) So I definitely like what I'm getting. But I think that I'm gonna do is I'm gonna try and use a wider angle lens, so that way I can be closer up and I'll be able to get more of the rocks in here. So my framing is exactly what I'm imagining in my head. Which is like I said, basically all the rocks and then a little bit of the sky. But mainly the rocks almost fading into where the peaks are in the reflection, and then the mountains themselves. So, I needed to change lenses. Right here we have the seven to 14. If you have a full frame camera, this ones micro 4/3. That's gonna be 14 to 28. So it's gonna give you a wide range. And it's gonna give you a wide angle all the way down at the seven. Now, if you look at this thing it's got kind of a bulb. So there's not really a spot to put a filter on it. They do make filters that can go over the front of it, but that required a special mount. For this one though I'm kind of working on the fly. And I think part of what I do and what I love doing is improvising. So I have another polarizer from an totally different camera. So in order to get the polarizing effect what that reflection and everything else I'm gonna just hold it over the front of the bulb of this lens. So that way I'm not, you know, losing the opportunity to get the wide angle I want, but I'm still gonna be able to polarize it. Now I'm gonna go out here a little bit more like I was doing. I need to be sort of careful 'cause I don't want to ruin the reflection at all, especially like right here. Obviously there's a little bit of ripple, but it's not a big deal. (camera clicking) So I'm really using the levels that I can see on the display of the camera so that way I know that I'm getting what I need. So now as you can see the light is really hitting this mountain well. And we kind of have a leading line that's sort of going through the side of the mountain. And I really want to encapsulate that. Now there's two different ways we can go about doing this if we're at the same focal length, meaning if I was shooting at 100 only. One way we could go about it is of course shooting it vertical. And the other way it could be horizontal. So if we're going to go vertical I really want to highlight this ridge that's right there and really get the detail in on it. So that's what I'm gonna do right now. Oh, hit my button. (camera clicking) So that's great because it's gonna encapsulate that section of the mountain. But if you look the light is also hitting that side and that side. Now, the best way to do that of course is to frame it up and try and shoot it horizontally. (camera clicking) Another thing to keep in mind when you're visiting somewhere, and this comes into play with your framing is you do want to consider the time of year that you're gonna be visiting somewhere just because the light beams and things like that might come in at certain spots. The sun as the year goes on is gonna rise at different locations kind of like going like this, sort of in an elliptical pattern. And the same thing is gonna be the same for sunset. So right now this time of year is really cool to shoot here just because the light beam is shooting between those two mountains. Another time of year might be on the other side of the peak. Another time it might be on this side of the mountain. This is really cool just because we're getting the whole scene lit. So it is important to keep that in mind when you're, you know, trying to go somewhere and you're framing things up, where you wanna have the really interesting thing it is that you're planning for when you go that time of year. So, the lens I was just using I swapped it out for the 40 to 150, which would be on full frame equivalent to 80 to 300. So you'd really use this for more zoomed in shots. The nice thing about this area is that we have so many different peaks and nuances in the mountains in light that we'll be able to really get some unique content by zooming in really far. The other really cool thing about using this lens, the M.Zuiko 40-150 is that when you zoom in more you're gonna get what's called lens compression. So what they lens compression is gonna do is it's gonna take the background of whatever the subject is and it's going to make it appear bigger with whatever your foreground is. So right now I'm gonna try and mess around and see if I can get some cool creative shots just by using this technique with this specific lens. Also I have this lens hood 'cause it kind of comes out like that. It's like really cool, snazzy. Let's see. (camera clicking) Now, I'm gonna need to completely readjust my settings just because it got a lot brighter while we were just sitting here. So I want to make sure that my images are kind of evenly exposed. You're gonna be continuously adjusting as you're shooting in general no matter what the time of day is, especially at sunrise as things get brighter. Right now I'm increasing my shutter speed, which is going to make the photo darker. It does other things, but mainly for what I'm doing, since we're not involving a moving subject like a water or person, having a higher shutter speed is fine because then it'll keep the photo more evenly lit. Let's see. (camera clicking) It's looking great. Right now I'm actually gonna shoot the reflection right here because it looks pretty decent. You can see most of it. It is clipping a little bit in there, but it's something we can work with. And then I'm shooting in that light beam that's happening, just because it's like one of the more interesting things that's going on right now out of this whole scene. And I'm gonna basically shoot one of these trees. It's good to kind of like line up one of the trees with a center point. So right now I have one that's in the middle between the two. So I'm gonna use that as my reference point. Now another thing you won't notice kind of in the background is there are some cars that are going by. So I kind of want to be patient and just maybe wait a second for them to go through. And if I get one in the photo it's really not too big of a deal. I can remove it again when I go to edit things later. But, if I can I want to avoid doing that and I wanna try and get as much of the natural photo without distractions in it as humanly possible. So right now we're good. There's no cars. (camera clicking) So, we're gonna do some shots basically illustrating what depth of field is. So depth of field is from a photographer's standpoint is your dictating what your focus point is gonna be and how in or out of focus the rest of the photo is. So, if I want to take a photo where my subject is out of focus, but maybe the background is in focus, and then vice versa, it's gonna really show the difference between why selecting a certain focus point is important in your photo, and why you want to be conscientious of that. So, right now I have this bush here. I'm gonna use this bush and focus on the top of it. And then I'm gonna have the background out of focus. And then I'm gonna flip it and do the opposite. Now the best way to do the opposite of that is you're gonna have a focus selector. So every camera has that. This one's conveniently right here on the Olympus right on my thumb, so it's really good easy access. So when I click that I'm actually viewing it inside my viewfinder. Which I have an electronic viewfinder. I really like that a lot too. That is gonna help out with selecting the focus point. So I'm going to, let's see here. I'm at about 12 millimeters and I'm going to focus on these guys right here. (camera clicking) Awesome. Now again, it's gotten brighter. So as I've said a few times, gotta adjust the settings to make sure that your exposure is good. And again I'll try and get this shot. So right now I'm shooting it at a 8.0. So, you can get some focusing, but the focusing of the background versus the foreground won't be as drastic as it will be at, let's say 2.8. So what I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna readjust it to 2.8 and you're really gonna see this part in focus, and then the background is gonna be out of focus. On my focus selector now I'm gonna select the background mountain. So we're now just finishing up sunrise. As you can see the light is coming in. It's coming through the valley. It's hitting the mountain and the lake. I got some really good shots. I'm really excited to go and edit these afterwards. This morning definitely was not perfect. We first started off at a dock that was at South Lake McDonald. A bunch of people showed up. The water was really choppy, but we did what we had to do and we had to adjust in order to get the photos that we needed. So, I'm really glad that we found this area. It was perfect for what we wanted to do and accomplish. Had lots of opportunity for framing. You can get really good pebble shots. There's also a great variety of different angles you could shoot at. We could also shoot down the lake, across, and of course with the main subject was, which was the mountains that we were trying to capture. Again, really excited to look at these photos, and I can't wait to edit them.

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.