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Landscape Photography: Capturing Adventure

Lesson 11 of 13

Sunset Shooting

Ryan Resatka

Landscape Photography: Capturing Adventure

Ryan Resatka

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Lesson Info

11. Sunset 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

Sunset Shooting

We found this really awesome spa the end of the lake. As you can see, you got all the mountains in the view. The colors look really nice. The light's hitting most of the peaks as well and the water is reflecting. It also looks like a nice blue too, which complements everything else in the photo. Now, earlier we did go over to another spot on the Going-to-the-Sun Road and we weren't 100% sure if it was gonna be okay to shoot, just because it was questionable of whether or not the area was or wasn't on trail. If you're ever unsure definitely ask a ranger. You can use a photo reference or generally speaking, ask them and they'll tell you what's up. The ranger's told us at that location probably was not going to be good to shoot in and most likely would be off trail. So we avoided it and I think next time I'm gonna do more research to make sure, for sure that it's gonna be good. But in the meantime we have this to work with and it looks really awesome. So now we what wanna do is, with a sc...

ene like this, we wanna tell a story. So one of the nice things about being able to tell a story here is that she's at this really awesome lake. It looks calm. She's got a backpack. She could have been hiking or out all day and she's enjoying the end of her day here at this awesome spot. So when we're taking photos like this, if we're taking it for ourselves, for a memory, for it to look cool for a brand, doesn't matter, I would still try to do whatever you can to make it look natural. You know if the bag is too close or too far from her, it's not gonna tie the image together and almost can be too distracting. But if it's a decent enough distance away, where it looks like it was naturally placed down, then, that's gonna be great. So now what I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna get some shots of her sitting like this. I'm gonna adjust the bag a little bit, and eyeball it to see what I think it looks good. I like having it be a little bit imperfect, so that way you can actually sell the idea that the person was sitting there. And in a lot of the times they actually are sitting there too. And then also go over her posture as well, to make sure that she's naturally sitting there, relaxed and enjoying the view. All right, let's see. Wanna have your hands, are your legs crossed? Don't have legs crossed as much. Can you go towards the edge of the log a little bit more? Not that way, but scoot, yeah like that. And then can you have your legs out? Yeah. And then just hang out like that. Yeah. Yeah, you can have the hands on the logs. That looks good. Not that far out, yeah (chuckles). That's good, yeah, you can leave it just like that. So, now what I'm gonna wanna do is, there is some space between where she's sitting and the reflection. So I'm gonna want to probably get a little bit lower so that way I'm eliminating that space in the beach. And then really quick with your posture, maybe actually, right there, just like that. The way you're looking out to the left. Again, having like where her head is angled at and things like that, these are just stuff you wanna be conscientious of, as you're shooting because she might be in a new position and might not know. And it's hard for her to tell which way looks good. Only you're gonna know 'cause you're getting the back end of it. All right, maybe have your hands on your lap. And look a little bit more to your right. More to your right, more, yeah like that. (camera beeping and clicking) Awesome, so right now, like I said, I'm eliminating the negative space, whereas right now there's more. But I'm gonna see if I get can get a little bit farther back and bring where the edge of the log is closer to the water without her head touching the top of the mountains. It's like a balancing act. You wanna make sure all the elements are individualized and they're not interfering with each other. Let's see. (speaks softly off mic) All right, okay, here's really good. (camera beeping and clicking) (distant chatter) Awesome, can you look a little bit more to your left? A little more to your left. More, yeah, just like that. (camera beeping and clicking) So now what I'm doing is I'm getting closer. Because right now, there was a boat that kind of, you know, drove by, and did disturb the ripples a little bit. So what I'm gonna do instead is I'm gonna focus more on her and have the background more out of focus. So there's less of attention on the reflection and more on her sitting there, the detail of her pose, the bag, and what not too. Okay. (camera beeping and clicking) Awesome, so we're gonna do the exact same thing one more time, then I'm gonna swap out the bags and I'm gonna put in the canvas bag that I have to just to give you a contrast between the style, the color and the aesthetic, and how they affect the mood and the way that you interpret the photo. (camera beeping and clicking) I'm getting some photos, where her head is touching the back horizon line, and I'm getting some photos, where she's in the negative space I was talking about. In this scenario, just because you're shooting her so close it might be really difficult to get somebody in a negative space like that, but you can still shoot a really good photo by getting them in some sort of framing where they're centered to whatever the position of the landscape is that you're shooting. We just wanna make sure that she's not again, in some awkward spot too far right, or too far left. We wanna make sure she's in the middle, or if she is in one of the other spots to the left, or the right, that there's nice spacing and that it complements the rest of the photo as you look through it. (background chattering) (camera beeping and clicking) Look more to the left again. Yeah, just like that. (camera beeping and clicking) Awesome, so again, when you're framing this vertically or horizontally, your perception of how the image should go in terms of the orientation of where the subject is placed is going to change. When I'm shooting vertically, it looks really good centered, but when I shoot horizontally, you're gonna notice that if I have her in the middle, you're getting some of these boats and these side things in there, and it actually looks nice if you're shooting from the right, all the way to the left. You'll still get almost all the peaks in there, and it again, just because it's a horizontal photo is drawing your eye through the entire imagine and not just the middle part where there's detail that's going on throughout. As we were shooting photos, we obviously saw the sky look really awesome, right there. What we're gonna do now, is we're gonna get some photos of her interacting with her environment which is, of course, the lake and the reflection. It's really cool to find different elements in terms of details in the photo and how the subject or the person is interacting with it. Again, it feels like an immersive experience. It feels like the person is part of it, that you're imagining yourself being there. Right now with the calm water, just making a slight ripple or touching the water makes it feels like she's just in this super calm, peaceful place and she's testing the calmness of it. She's trying to psychologically get there to that point of calmness as well. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna get some really cool photos, again, keeping in mind the negative spaces where she's at, and then trying to capture the ripples and the sunset that's going off at the same time. (camera beeping) Yep, just give it a ripple. (camera beeping and clicking) And then I'm just gonna make sure those look good. I'm gonna just change the angle slightly, just so that I can see more of the reflection without her interrupting it, in terms of where she's placed at. But I'm gonna have her move. Could you just come a little bit further down? Maybe to right here. Keep comin', keep comin'. Take three more steps, right there is good, yep. Now you could actually, sorry do the ripple again, really quick. Just like you were doin', sort of touching it. Yeah, there we go. Oh that's really good. (camera beeping and clicking) Again, I'm using the low sequential shooting. That way I can get all the ripples that are going on. Looks really, really awesome. The colors are great. The ripple is comin' out at the exact speed that we want it to. There's tons of detail in the sky. Last thing we're gonna do, is just sit where you're at and just look at the sunset like you're enjoying it. Yeah, right there, right at the water's edge. We're gonna wait about two seconds, just for these ripples to calm down and then we're gonna shoot this sky and this reflection again real quick. And again, tryin' to tell a story. We're trying to imagine that she's here and she just came across this beautiful sunset at the end of a really great day. (camera beeping and clicking) Could you maybe just kick one of your feet to create a ripple with your foot, from where you're sitting? That's good, yeah, just like that, perfect. (camera beeping and clicking) So while I'm shooting her, it is getting dark, so what I wanna do is, I wanna retain as much detail in that cloud as possible, but by keeping this part as bright as possible. So what is going to happen is her, the shore and the reflection part, where the mountain is gonna be darker than usual, but you'll be able to see the clouds in the water and in the sky really, really well. Then when I go back and edit it later, I'm basically gonna be doing a balancing game, between my exposure levels of my shadows and my highlights and use a few other things to make sure the whole scene has detail throughout. The other option too, that could look really cool is I could actually leave the exposure the way it is when I go to edit it later, and give it a vignette feel. So that way you can see who she is, what she's doing, but instead of focusing too much on who she is, you're focusing on the person interacting with the environment, and it's really gonna glue your eyes to the clouds that are obviously, what is selling the image here, in terms of it being absolutely beautiful. (distant laughter) We got some really awesome photos while we were here. We did a bunch of different varieties of poses and walks and we tried to do some different compositional ideas that involved the edge of this forest that meets right where the lake is. We also got really lucky to with the sunset going off. There was also not too much cloud coverage so we didn't have to worry about it being really flat, and we tried to take advantage of that while we could. Definitely being on top of the timing of your settings, and as the light is fading is really key. I can't reiterate it enough. You always wanna be changing your stuff and making sure that it's keeping up with whatever the lighting happens to be at that time, I'm gonna be staying in Glacier for the next few days, just checking out more spots and trying to find some really cool angles of areas in the park that I haven't visited as much as I want to. A place like this, I definitely think deserves five or six days to get the full experience and feel like you got your miles worth and from a photography standpoint, that's like 10 sunrises and sunsets combined, if you actually do all of them. So there's gonna be plenty of opportunity there too. I'm really excited to check out the rest of it. And so far with the way the weather's been I know it's gonna be perfect.

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.