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Landscape Photography

Lesson 1 of 27

Class Introduction

Marc Muench

Landscape Photography

Marc Muench

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction
In the past, landscape photography wasn't considered even considered a profession. But, today is one of the best times to be a landscape photographer. Learn why -- and meet your instructor in this intro lesson.

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

I really am honest when I say I am excited about giving this course. It came home to me when I flew in the other night and I was sitting up in the room. They put me up on the fourth floor across the street and I was looking out across this scene which is basically Studio B I guess and Creative Live offices. Then Amazon tower is in the background. I realized something, I just had one of those moments. It was that landscape photography has really changed since I started. When I started there were probably a handful of people that were out there making a living at photography, landscape. We had heard of Ansel Adams and many people knew of him but when I was going to school for example, when I started this career. There wasn't even a hint that you could make a living at landscape photography. It wasn't even cool or hip. So nowadays, it's completely changed 180 degrees. Here we are, sitting in a studio in the middle of Seattle talking about my favorite subject landscape photography for two ...

days. Not only that but it's taken on the interest of our youth and so the social networks are alive with millions of pictures, literally millions of great pictures. It's really an honor that, and I feel good and excited that I actually chose this career. That I'm still doing it and now I'm teaching landscape photography. So also in addition I want to say that it's really the best time right now is the best time to be a landscape photographer. Believe it or not, it sounds like there's tragedy after tragedy in the world. We know what happened yesterday overseas and there's always some kind of disease in some other country. The reality is if you look through history books there's always gonna be people doing that to themselves and others. What we have to look at is our opportunities right now today. So for a couple reasons travel's really accessible to these other countries. Other countries and cultures want the tourist dollar. Look at what's happening to Cuba for example. Now you can get into Cuba. We're going to be going on trips there. I'm gonna be giving workshops there, other people are gonna be seeing Cuba. But there are many other countries around the world that are similar. So it's a great time to travel. In addition, it's a great time to buy equipment. Never before has equipment been so incredibly technical but also beautiful. They have some of the best equipment now that you could ever imagine. When I started it was film and there was a four by five and a 35 millimeter. There were a couple other options but basically there wasn't the options that we have now to make the quality of the images. You could take a three, four, five year old camera now and you shouldn't have any excuse to make a beautiful picture. We have lots of excuses but that shouldn't be one of them. (audience laughs) Then also the internet, the internet has changed everybody's ability to get what they've created out to the world. So this is really important for most of us who are not being paid to photograph. We just wanna take pictures for several different reasons. Whatever they are, we want to share them to the world and that was not possible 20 years ago. Again today right now is probably the best time ever that we've had for landscape photography. If you think it was better in the old days well I'll tell you a few stories about what I was inspired by but in addition I want you to know today is a good opportunity to take on landscape photography. So what's in this class? Well it's a whole lot of information in two days. I've compiled it over stories and I'll talk about the nature in landscape photography. I'll also talk about finding your eye. Because I think that's probably the biggest question everybody has. Is how are you going to communicate something that's unique and special with the rest of your audience? In addition I'm gonna be talking about, of course, can't miss composition. We have camera techniques. I can't leave out camera techniques. So I'm gonna teach you a lot of the things that I do in the field. In addition, at the end I'll do post processing. So specifically though, day one I'm gonna talk about finding your eye for a little while this morning. Then I'm also gonna go and talk about the technical, let me go back one, I'm gonna talk about the creative trinity. That's subject, light, and composition. And how they relate to each other and are interrelated. Then scale, scale I love it's a great way of trying to put together some of the drama that we see in the landscape. So I'm gonna give you quite a few tips on how to use scale. In addition, I wanna talk about timing specifically because you know, there's a lot of time in the day and it's not just about sunrise and sunset. There's 24 hours and so I want to show you the benefits of using different times throughout the clock. That one's kinda two part, the second part is really your timing is critical as well. There's certain moments when you only have seconds. You have to be ready for that and seize the moment as they say. In addition to timing, I'm gonna talk about the technical trinity. This I'm gonna do right after lunch. You've just had some food so you can come in and look at all the technical information and I'll try to keep you awake with that. Really in the end you have to know this stuff. Otherwise, you know it's more difficult to get to the good stuff, the creative stuff. So I want you to know how I approach those issues and I want to share them with you. Cause there's certain specifics that make these technical issues a lot simpler than they might seem to be. Hopefully that's what I get across. Then focus, focus sounds really simple but you know with some of these cameras these days there are many ways to focus and I wanna show you how I focus specifically for landscapes. In addition to how I focus when I'm photographing birds in flight and some of the wildlife scenes that I do. Also, I'm gonna leave today at the end with composition. Because that is one of the key elements of landscape photography, of all of photography. I really wanna spend some time discussing the finer points and give you guys some other considerations that you can take with you out into the field to use for composition. Day two I'm gonna talk about the techniques in the field. We will go out and start looking at lenses I use and specifically ways that I use the camera combination with certain lenses and some of the other devices I'm gonna show you today. Then I'm gonna talk about scouting which I think is an important element all by itself. I wanna show you some of the benefits that have helped me so much when I go out and just simply scout. That's different than when I'm trying to find pictures. Bracketing, bracketing is something that comes up. I call it bracketing and more but it's HDR. How do you combine those bracketed files? Also how do you take and capture those bracketed files? The accurate ones that you'll be able to use for the HDR software programs. I wanna give you specifics about how I do that and some other alternate methods as well. The creative lense, creative lense is a lot of fun it's basically you have so many lenses you can buy and we love buying lenses. The reality is you can take one lense and turn it into just about any focal length you want. Especially if you start with a longer one. I'm gonna show you some of my tips and techniques I guess, how I use certain lenses to turn it into different focal lengths. Alright? Then I have the creative camera tricks. Those are just fun things that I've picked up over the years. I didn't think of all of them. Some of these were inspired by some of the students that have been with me on trips to crazy places. Just watching them do crazy things. So it's a lot of fun to experiment with the camera. Day two the rest of it then. This is about the second half of day two is gonna be post processing. I'm gonna talk to you guys about one of the key elements which is editing. I think editing is a big part of taking pictures. Now some commercial photographers I know that basically take their pictures and send it off to the lab, or some other editors, and it's gone. I did that for a while in commercial photography. But I think that in the end if you're responsible for the work you're doing and you're excited about the work you're doing. Editing is a big part. I wanna encourage you and show you some ways to spend more time behind the computer. Believe it or not. (laughs) How much is too much? I wanna show you some of the things that I utilize and some of the concepts I think of when I'm looking at my pictures and realizing that I've gone too far. Some of the ethical concerns about that as well. Its easy to go too far. We all like excitement, color, and contrast. Then I'll go through the basic panel in lightroom and some of the considerations for white balance and color. Cause that's what we're gonna be working in most of the time. Regional dynamics, that is really concentrating on those masks that they have inside lightroom. That's where a lot of the magic happens. I'll be spending quite a bit of time showing you different examples of how those masks work. How I use the masks. In addition, how hopefully you can. Beyond lightroom, so that's where we're gonna get into the way I combine some of those bracketed files and I'm gonna show you how to combine it in a real easy way so that it doesn't look garish or traditional HDR ish method. Alright? Then at the end of day two I wanna go into manual blending. Because this is something that I've used over the years that has really made a difference in my work and keeping it real. So it's a little bit more technical. It's not a super advanced technique though. I think it's overlooked in many cases because you have to use layers in Photoshop but it's simpler than you think. There's a few steps. I'm gonna give you those steps and then you'll be able to take that with you and hopefully create more real images that are magical. On with some talking about pictures and concepts. Kind of a funny story, years ago my wife and I decided that at the time our kids were probably five or six or something. We decided we hadn't really taken the family vacation. So we decided to rent some RVs and we decided that we'd do this with another family. They had some other kids about the same age. So we planned this little tour of the Southwest. All the places I had been and was familiar with. They had I guess three boys. So we went through Vegas, we had to see Vegas. Then we went out into Zion, Bryce, and then on around to Lake Powell. Then finally the big final moment of the trip was to go see the Grand Canyon. So we go through the whole trip, we're talking about it and how exciting it's gonna be to see the canyon. I know the parents had really not seen the Canyon either. So they were excited about it. I was excited to show them. By the time we got there, I'd kinda planned it so that it would be in the afternoon. We could walk up to the rim, there's a little stone guard rail if you will at the end of Desert View. Which is at the very Eastern end of the South rim of the Grand Canyon. We walk up to the rim and we're all standing there and it is a beautiful afternoon and one of the little boys comes up behind all of us and he goes: where are the balls? Where are the balls? I thought, he's really saying where are the balls? I looked at him and I said Jason, what do you mean where are the balls? He said ya you kept saying the grand cannon. Where's all the balls? (audience laughs) All of us just shook our head. I couldn't believe it, he had really had in his mind a totally different vision of the Grand Canyon. It really hit home with me cause I know often times when we go to places. We do the same thing. Now it might not be that big of a difference. (laughs) We kinda know it's a canyon, but in the end I think we carry with us a lot of baggage in our head. Pre visuals of what we've of seen. Things we've heard about. Nowadays, it's changed a little bit because we have the internet. We can research places and see different things through pictures that other people have taken. But a lot of times our perception of the place is totally different than what it really is. Speaking of that, a little bit of background on me. I haven't been to Muench Butte yet. I still have yet to find it but this was taken by my Grandfather and apparently named after him. If you don't know, my Grandfather was a landscape photographer. He came over from Germany back in the '30s and ended up coming through Ellis Island. He went up to Detroit, got a job. Ended up getting some money. Took a roadster around the country and in his process he found a couple places he really loved. One was Santa Barbara which is where I live. The other was Monument Valley. I thank him, even though he's not around anymore for having found Santa Barbara. Because that's where I still live and raised my children. But he also fell in love with Monument Valley. He ended up liking it so much he went back there time and time again. Started working for Arizona Highways Magazine. Then with that inspiration he fell in love with the place even more and the people that were there. These are the Navajo Indians. If you haven't been to Monument Valley. They're pretty much the locals there. He went around with them for years and would spend months from stories I've heard out in Monument Valley documenting the places. A lot of these places now have little roads through them and the valleys so it looks completely different. This is the Yei Bi Chei rocks taken just up in them where you have to walk. This I think is taken up in Canyon De Chelly. One of the places he also visited. This is how they got around then. There were no Jeeps or trucks. So it's a little different looking at these older pictures because you can't evaluate them from the point of view of today's landscape pictures. With all the color, and the beautiful sunsets maybe, or sunsets, or pink skies. What's amazing to me is how different they are and how much things have changed. Just remember that when you're out taking pictures of some of the different things. This is one of my favorites of his. These two Navajo women walking up the wash in Canyon De Chelly. Just a little moment in history. Then his pictures went viral if they could back in the day. (audience laughs) One of the locals there near Monument Valley who settled the place, decided that he should take these pictures and bring them to Hollywood. So that's what he did and they showed them to John Ford who ended up bringing all the movies in Hollywood out to Monument Valley. That's why we see all the John Wayne movies out in Monument Valley. Nowadays it looks a little different. You can see John Ford point this way. This is what you will see if you go today. Maybe not the guy's head, but these things are maybe not so dramatic and the reason I want to show them to you to get across a point that really a lot of this that we do as photographers, not just landscape photographers though, is to tell a story. What people really wanna hear outside of maybe your family, is your story. Cause you've done something that nobody else has. Even though you might not think it's that important, some of these smaller things that you've done, that you think are small. Are actually interesting, especially years later. That's when your kids or your grandkids find these pictures and they'll of course love to see them. You are also the new journalist. Journalism is one of those occupations that's on the chopping block. I don't think we'll have the true journalists around that long. Apparently that's what everybody says in the media. It seems that way because as you know, many of the journalistic photographers have been laid off. There's not the work for them. Nowadays if you start a blog, and you're honest with people. You can be a journalist. Take it seriously, give them good information, and make sure that you record it accurately of course. This is one of the pages out of a register that was from a expedition that my Grandfather, and my Grandmother, and my Father were on back many years ago down the Colorado River before it was dammed at Lake Powell. They had hiked up to a place called Flying Eagle Arch. That arch is one of the spectacles you can hike up to still today. The log book is no longer there and so they preserved this page from showing the expedition. I love the little illustration. But all this is what really matters. Like I said it's gonna matter to more people later on, especially your kids, and their kids. This is my sister. She's sitting on the edge of (unintelligble) which is a 14 thousand foot mountain in Colorado. It was the first 14'er that we had gone up. At the time I think she was about nine. That would make me about seven. All I remember this particular trip was the hail hitting me on the head cause there was a hail storm. I thought I would not make it but here I am today. Anyways, it matters because I know my sister remembers this moment not just because of the picture but because of the amazing time. I'll say it a thousand times, I think it's worth showing other people, especially your kids. I know my son would kill me if he saw this but the audio on this is he's singing, I won't try to do it, but remember this song that went viral? ♪Miya hee, Miya ho ♪ He's singing away and he's having a good time. (audience laughs) He's definitely gonna kill me. (audience laughs) That's what these places bring out in people and not just kids but everybody, adults. Ill show you more pictures later. You know, this is our time to connect with these places. If we don't do it for ourselves and we just show our kids. Then at least we're gonna show somebody what these places mean. Who's gonna know how tall the mountains are? How clear the lakes are? If the kids don't get involved and see what there is out there then what ends up with the environment is it just becomes resources. So that's your job as photographers. You get to capture these amazing places and show them to all the other people. While you're doing that I just remind you, bring some other friends along. And in the process you're gonna go through this stage of just like you do everything else in life I guess. You start out as a beginner. Then you have the internship. And then you become the master or the artist. Just obviously in photography you're gonna learn some of the camera techniques. You're gonna study and you're gonna learn all about the settings on your camera. I'm gonna go through some of that as I've mentioned. Then of course in the internship, you're gonna end up getting experience, valuable experience. Then you're gonna emulate and imitate. That's the stage where you really have to see what somebody else has done, go to that place, and try to imitate it. But then at the end of all that, whether you do it in a certain order or not, the whole idea is that you go out and you create something. Something unique. I think this is one of the key elements of what I wanna get across is that in the process of photography you're gonna find, something that I'm gonna say again, something unique about you. That you wanna share through the landscape. For me that process started with skiing. Believe it or not I'd been out in the landscape and my parents had brought me to all these great places. But nothing really connected with me until I skied powder. That was kinda the beginning of my connection with the outdoors and how I became fond of going to these places. Even in the cold. It's what led me to snow camping. Then as time went on I realized that it wasn't just about the action and the adrenaline of skiing. It was about the environment. So my work changed a little bit. I wanted to include more of those areas that showed the pristine wildlife, the pristine wilderness. Then it got to the point where it was pretty much just the wilderness, me included, in some cases. So really we're inspired by in my case my Grandfather who went to Havasu. This is Havasu Falls. Because of his experience there, he shared it with my father, and then my father passed it on to me. So that's why I'm a third generation landscape photographer. This shot next is one I took just a couple years ago. With my son and he was holding the flashlight that night. So I'm trying to train him. (laughs) Right now he's in finance though. I think all of my children, I have three children, I think they're all inspired by what they've seen so far in the places I've taken them. It's a great way to bond with your kids.

Class Description


  • Capture great shots of landscapes and nature
  • Confidently shoot in manual mode
  • Fine-tune your eye for composition
  • Master light for landscape photography
  • Work with HDR and panoramas
  • Perfect your images with post-processing in Lightroom


Turn a spark of passion for the outdoors into beautiful landscape photography in this start-to-finish course. From gear and exposure to light and post-processing, master the landscape photography workflow with veteran artist Marc Muench. End the frustration of being unable to capture the raw beauty of nature and capture inspiring awe-inducing views on camera.

With both live instruction and on-site photography tutorials, you'll master both the technical and creative necessities for capturing better landscape images. After the adventure, learn to perfect the scene using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to crop, color and fine-tune those images. In addition, you'll tackle advanced techniques including HDR and panoramas.


  • Beginners ready to get off auto mode
  • Intermediate photographers looking to improve
  • Photographers ready to tackle landscape photography as a new genre

SOFTWARE USED: Adobe Lightroom CC 2015, Adobe Photoshop CC 2015


As a third-generation photographer, Marc Muench has spent nearly 30 years working as a landscape and sports photographer. His work has appeared on the cover of publications like Time, National Geographic, Traveler, Outside, Sierra Magazine and more. In addition to shooting, he leads photography workshops around the world. He teaches with a mix of technical and creative details and personal insight.


Jeff McPheeters

This was my first class with Creative Live and also my first exposure to landscape photographer Marc Meunch. I've been a photographer for many years, an educator in science and technical fields for more than two decades, and a lifelong learner of the craft of making photographs. I am pretty picky when it comes to educational resources and when it involves recommending something that I want to reflect my own standards of excellence. That said, I came with an open mind, with some expectation that I would learn a few tricks, but also with the understanding that after spending thousands of hours in books and online courses as well as direct workshop and tutorials from a range of photographer workshops, Adobe training, KelbyOne and other professional organizations, that some of what I'd hear would be stuff I'd already known. My first impression was positive, as I think Creative Live did a good job explaining the purpose, intent, and scope of the workshop, as well as giving me a good idea of the speaker's credentials. As the session begin on Day 1, I was immediately impressed with the quality of the technical aspects of the live feed. It was like I was there. The sound quality was outstanding. The video streamed effortlessly and I only have wireless access to the Internet. I'm not on high speed wired cable. The bandwidth can fluctuate, yet it worked extremely well. The speaker, Marc Meunch, was relaxed, engaging, professional, and possessed such a comprehensive and deep understanding of the topic that I felt extremely lucky to have been told about this workshop. I don't think I've ever been able to watch someone who was so masterful in their presentation, so thorough in their organization and outline, so enthusiastic about their work, so passionate about the craft of landscape portraiture, or so articulate and engaging with the audience; at least in the realm of Photography. I'd jump at any chance to listen to Marc Meunch again; and especially to attend one of his outdoor workshops. One of the unique aspects of this workshop was that Marc uses some video clips from his outdoor workshops to illustrate what he's talking about in the classroom. Very effective. And the slides he chooses to share are effective and easy to understand. It's very inspiring to watch Marc present ideas and illustrate them through his own work, showing before and after and alternate compositions to demonstrate the point he's making. Day 1 was so good that before it was over I'd already purchased the two day workshop. I was that certain it was worth the cost. Frankly, I'm not sure I'd find a class like this for under $100/day. This is a pretty good deal. Day 2 was equal in usefulness and inspiration as Day 1. The discussion of gear selection and scouting techniques along with the introduction to his Lightroom and Photoshop workflow was very helpful and would be especially apropos to someone getting more serious about their landscape work but not very experienced with Lightroom or Photoshop, even perhaps a little intimidated by the prospect of needing to learn those two software giants, because Marc shows the power and easy of learning them. I was pleased I was able to attend and even more pleased I can watch these over and over and study points I didn't quite grasp the first time through. I highly recommend this course. The viewer will be inspired and encouraged as a result. Marc doesn't make it look easy; rather he makes landscape photography look fun and exciting and worthy of the effort and time to find ones own style and vision, clearly imparting the practical how-to's to aid each person in their own journey to make it more enjoyable and satisfying.

a Creativelive Student

I don't like writing reviews. Seems like everyone just wants to hear that everything was... awesome. So, let me try to be specific about what I liked: I thought that the concept of the creative trinity was brilliant. I thought that Marc's presentation on composition was the best I've ever seen. His ideas on having a theme for shooting was inspiring because it was simple. He also had some great tips on light. The other thing I appreciated about Marc's presentation was the wide variety of locations shown and his knowledge of them. I also am always interested to learn more about the people that have inspired presenters. Sometimes, it feel like CL classes are aimed at the lowest experience levels. But, as someone else said in review... there is always a nugget or two and review is beneficial. I wish Marc was more animated. He's obviously very self contained and reflective -- gotta be who you are, right? I have purchased Marc's class, the Shive class, and Art Wolf's class. All have had different benefits. I wish they would do others and take complexity up a notch -- specifically, helping others understand the planning necessary... how they find reliable contacts to guide them and what those things cost. How they are transporting all the gear they carry. More specific information on permits, camping gear, dealing with adverse conditions, etc. And, more information on how they get different images of frequently photographed locations.


I happend to stumble upon the course by an email. I clicked on it and realized that Mark had come to my town (Sitka,Alaska) to do a trip with my good friend. So I thought I'd watch a bit. After awhile I realized this is good, way good. So I shot a lot of that day just eating it up. The director would come on every bit and say there was a show price. I thought well I'll just watch. Then on the second day he did some things that the announcer said he had never seen. I thought the same thing. So I bought. I have been shooting for 40 years and I still LOVE to learn. A noted psychologist said "We are happiest when we are learning" and I couldn't agree more. Thank you Creative Live for offering these courses. I live on an Island in Southeast Alaska with 14 miles of road. BUT I can be a front row student with some of the best teachers in the world. Thank You! Also a Huge thank you to Mark. It takes a ton of time to do this, and Im sure you get tired of the same questions again and again, but it truly changes the lives of us who love this type of life.