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Lesson 6 from: Landscape Photography

Marc Muench

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Lesson Info

6. Scale

Scale creates a sense of size to the image -- and often, a sense of drama. Learn how to understand size to create depth and drama -- then play with scale as a visual trick. In this lesson, Marc shares landscape photography tips using scale and proportion, like adding a person to instantly create a sense of scale.
Next Lesson: Light and Timing

Lesson Info


Scale is a really good component as I mentioned earlier to consider when framing your landscape pictures. It's a visual aid to understand size and I think that's the most commonly understood aspect of scale, especially people in the landscape, and it creates depth so it's a little bit different. You know we understand that something's bigger than something else because of the comparison, but to create the depth is a little different which then creates the drama and so I'm gonna talk a little bit about different focal length lenses will do that and the last is just kind of fun. It's how trick our eyes and I'll show you some examples. So my way of dealing with scale was adding people to the landscape. It was a great way to solve many problems for myself about how to approach the landscape. From the son of a father who's a photographer and a grandfather who's a photographer, what was I gonna bring to the picture that was a little different? So of course I had to do something, and scale be...

came my friend in doing so. So we all know it's a proportion and the thing about it is the size of one thing to another such as the person to the landscape, pretty obvious. So, here we have a landscape and I usually wanna compose a landscape so that I has some interest all by itself, and then the person is the added element and I'll talk more about that and show more examples, but it's hard to tell a little bit about the size of that hill. You know are there some big rocks or are they small? There's a tiny little pond down in there, but it's really hard to tell the size of the pond. So it's a little bit of a mystery. We know that mountain on the right is quite a bit smaller than the mountain on the left because it's further away even though the mountain on the right is probably a tiny bit higher, the mountain in the back is further away so it's got to be bigger, but when we add the person, we instantly have a relationship to the size of that hill. Now we know well that's about a 10 minute walk up to the top of that mountain. The rocks he's standing on are about 20, 30 feet high. So it gives us that great scale that we're looking for. This wave, it's high key picture. It's taken in Santa Barbara, outside of Santa Barbara, but you know the only telling sign here is that the spray coming from the breaking part of the wave has quite a bit of detail in it. That's something that a tiny little wave wouldn't have, so we have a little bit of information, but not any clue about how big that wave really is. That wave is about 15 feet high over this guy's head and so now obviously we know that. This is a case where you look at this picture and nature has a similar ability to give us subjects that we can use for scale and so by having this tree here and the other tree off in the distance, we can sort of decipher that okay, so that tree in the background is a lot further away, and it might be the same height, but still we don't really know how big that tree is. We have no way to tell how big the bushes are. There's nothing giving until we have a couple Maasai warriors standing next to it which is what they are. So in this case, two cases the example is these guys and the person is on the same plane of focus as the other subject and that's one way to use scale in the last three examples I've shown you. The other way is to use a little bit of depth and so this is nothing other than changing it up so that your subject is now in a totally separate plane of focus than the other subject. In this case, there's these beautiful reeds in the foreground or iris leaves from the flowers and then a couple walking on the beach and it's giving it that sense of scale, but a sense of depth just the same way you'd shoot a landscape with a foreground and a background. So the distance from the lens to the subject is one element and then the distance from the subject to the background is another and it's a key element really in composing these pictures so that the person is the right size in comparison to the landscape. In this scenario right here, the person is quite large actually in the way I like to compose. So I might be 100 yards away from the skier and the mountains in the background are 400 yards away or whatever they are. Actually, probably half a mile away and in that scenario, you get a size, a sense of scale of the mountains behind him are so much bigger than where they're standing and that's what this compression is about. Here's a great example. So if don't go climbing or mountain biking, this is the barn near Jackson Hole with the Grand Teton. It's a famous picture. You've probably seen it maybe, but here you're using a long lens to bring that Grand Teton right up over the top of the barn and it's compressing that scene so that it looks more dramatic. All right so, speaking of dramatic, that's exactly what I wanna do here and show you the difference. If you take a longer focal length lens and it changes the distance between the lens subject and background, okay, and so it's a whole different type of shot when you change you focal length. The longer the focal length, the greater the compression and most often used lens that I use for this is the 70 to 200. Just the one I showed you earlier with the equipment. It's very handy. Occasionally, I've used a 400, 600 millimeter lens and that creates quite a bit more compression, but it's a lot more difficult to carry in the back country. All right, so here's an example of one of our guides in Iceland and he's out there on a waterfall and he's kind of a crazy Viking so he has confidence in going out in places like this, but this picture is about the size and the breadth of this whole place, and he's giving it scale so we all understand kind of how big that waterfall is. There are no trees in the scene, so it's really hard to tell, but once you zoom in to a tighter focal length, now the picture's changed its whole dynamics and meaning and it's more about his relationship with just that waterfall, and of course we're compressing that big waterfall right up next to him. It is a big waterfall, but it's even more dramatic when you compress him right up next to the waterfall. There's also some snow falling in the air, so that's what's giving it, it changes it a little bit. That's not spots from my sensor. It's actually snow falling. All right so again, this is the shot I showed you earlier. It's a 150 millimeters lens and it's creating that compression to give it the scale and depth. 150 millimeters lens again, just perfect focal length for this. This shot was taken in the Canyon Ski Resort. The marketing manager called me up. This was years ago when the canyon's just bought Park West or right next to Park City is the ski area and it basically has these beautiful canyons and not the dramatic mountains of the Wasatch. So he called me up and said Mark this picture I wanna get is impossible. I don't think you're gonna get it either, but will you try? And so I thought about it and thought about it and really, the only way to do this was to go scout it and see if I could get far enough way from the top of the ridge so that then I could use a long lens to compress the Wasatch mountains which are far away right up over that ridge and so there was no ridge. So we had to call in a helicopter which is how we got the shot, but it's a great tool and now with our ability to go out and use a 70 to 200 millimeters lens, you don't have to have a helicopter. I'm just showing you that it really is a great tool to use and utilize in many different situations. Same thing here on Lake Powell, the water skiers. That's the proportion that I like in the landscape so that they're very small and they're completely enveloped by the landscape, and an example of a 400 millimeter. I don't surf a whole lot around my hometown because it's become so crowded and literally on a good day swell, this is Rincon. There are hundreds of guys in the water and it's just chaos, but the compression is so fun because these three guys here look like they're gonna get run over by the surfer, but they're actually 20 yards away from them. The surfer will be gone. Those three paddling out will duck under the wave. It's a whole different reality than what you're seeing here by using this compression. 400 millimeters in Death Valley is a great way to photograph something like that because when you come out into Death Valley for the first time, if you've been there it's very intimidating for a landscape photographer because it looks like there absolutely nothing and for the most part when you're standing there, there is nothing. You're looking down at the ground, there's a couple twigs and sticks and then you look off in the horizon and the mountains are so far away, it's really hard to get your grasp of what could possibly be a photograph. So it's deceiving. So in this scenario, you can take that same formula of compression and go out and find a subject that's probably close to a quarter mile away and compress it with something, anything off in the background, and that will actually show off the size of Death Valley in many cases more than a wide angle lens. Question. (mumbling) A question about the millimeters, the size of the lens and the compression. Will you get the same results with a full frame sensor and 400 meter lens as you would with a crop sensor and say a 300 millimeters that gives you the effectively? You get a different amount of depth of field. So the smaller the side sensor gives you a bigger depth of field and so what happens is in those cases is less will be in focus and so you do have to double your focal length. So in this case this is a full size sensor with a 400 millimeters lens with a crop size sensor, a half sized sensor, micro for thirds, then you could get away with a shot with a 200 millimeters lens, but you would have a little bit more depth of field and so what might happen in some of these bushes down here that are blurry now, would be in focus and so that can look like it's not as compressed. It's just that focus is a visual aid so that will change it. I talk about focus more later in composition, but good question, thank you. So then there's the decisive timeless moment. I talked about Cartier-Bresson and the effects that he had on me and I really thought about that a lot and the worked that I did and a lot of the pictures that I took early on when I was outside exploring were friends jumping around and my kids look at these and go dad you know they don't wear shorts like that anymore. They're a little short, so you know times change and one of the aspects that my dad had talked a lot about and taught me about is this idea that a landscape should be timeless and so I really do appreciate that and so I try to incorporate that method. The best way to do that though is point fashions and what's happening here though just to talk about the timeless or the decisive moment for a second. In climbing, she's wearing a pair of climbing shoes that has a very soft sole, rubber sole and the only way your foot will grip the rock is if you a technique called smearing. So if there's a tiny little ledge and you put your shoe on it, the only thing holding you to the rock in that scenario is the traction between the rubber and the rock. It's not a ledge where you typically put a shoe. So in this case she's in the middle of her move. Her left foot is smearing and her right hand is up on another tiny little ledge which if you look carefully, bends her fingers like this because the ledge is only a quarter inch, so in the middle of her move, she's right at that crux point so that was a key element in capturing these pictures of people jumping and climbing. How do I deal with the fashion problem? Make them a silhouette. (audience laughs) And I've thought that maybe what I ought to do is to just bring a little cardboard cut out because sometimes that could be easier. I haven't done that. This is a real picture, a real climber. He definitely was standing there. None of this is photoshopped. So another element about this person in the landscape that I want to bring up is a participation of that person and what they're doing because a lot of pictures you'll see now a person in the landscape is just basically a person standing there and it's kind of static I think. So if they're participating, they're also involved in what they're doing and they're probably going to be making the situation more exciting to photograph. So in this case I have the guy jumping between the rocks. He's just out exploring or rock hopping as we call it, but it's a fun way to think about photographing people in the landscape. They don't have to be sitting there. They could be walking. If you could find somebody who'll jump, great. If not, you can walk. YeS. How are communicating with that guy that far away? How am I communicating? He is hearing probably an echo. Sometimes we have radios. A lot of times on a commercial shoot I'll have radios especially when it's far away or it's windy, so a little radio works fine, but the key is is that if he goes out there if I'm staging it and I have the luxury of setting it up and he jumps and he's not entirely silhouette, then I have to try and explain that he needs to be in a different spot and so then he'll go and he'll find a spot where it's safe to jump, but in this case it's so quiet at that location. This the end of the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. They actually released some of the last California condors at this location at the end of the Vermilion Cliffs and there's no city down below. Up in the background is the upper part of the Grand Canyon, Colorado River. So it's very quiet. He could hear me since there was no wind talking like this. Didn't know what I was saying but if you project your voice a little bit you could hear. This guy did not hear me and I did not have a radio and this is just waiting for something to happen and so if you have this, I've done this in many situations where I don't have control of staging a situation, but you know what could happen and I saw him standing up here, but he wasn't completely profile and I knew he was gonna repel down. I didn't know exactly where he would go, but I waited until he got to that point where he was silhouette from the ridge and that's what made the shot, but this was completely natural, happened just the way you see it. There's an influential photographer who teaches this and talks about it a lot and it's Jay Maisel and his work is he'll be standing in a place that looks very interesting and wait for something to happen in front of the lens. He photographs more in the city, but this some technique can be taken anywhere. So participating in the landscape. I hate taking pictures of myself, but sometimes it's too fun and so I have the yoga pose and this is just a pose that I do for fun. We were standing out there in Scotland in the morning. It was cloudless and there was really nothing going on so with help from the other instructor that was with us Peter Cairns, I had him take a picture of me walking out there, standing there, but it's just a fun thing that you might enjoy doing somewhere and the other option is to do some kind of yoga, some kind of personal signature if you will. It's just fun in the landscape. So another element to talk about in regards to subjects and scale and people in the landscape is of course the wildlife. Now you can stage this in some places, but that's not what I'm interested in so all these pictures are not staged. They're just getting in the right spot with the concept of scale in mind. My idea of wilderness photography or sorry, wildlife photography is to capture that landscape in the same way that I use people in the landscape. I'm not so interested in the portraits of their faces although some of those are fun. I want to see the environment. In this case, I'm showing the compression. These elephants are crossing the dry lake at end of Sully. The sun's going down and you can actually see a dust devil off in the background and it's just compressing all those elements together to add that drama, and again, same thing here only this one shows a little bit more space and I think that's the difference when you go between the subject being closer in the previous example of the elephants on the playa here, you have more of the drama and the compression. In the example here, the wildebeest with the big environment around it, it shows more of deep open space, the vastness. So two totally different methods and what changes that is the distance from the lens to the first subject. All right so some examples for how to do that without wildlife and people and actual things like trees and rocks. I showed you a picture earlier of two trees well this one is similar but without a person if you're that close to a tree, one of the things you can do is find another similar item or tree, subject that is and if it's silhouette and off in the distance, then you'll get that depth you're looking for because now we know the size of this tree, there's some sticks on it, we can eventually see the leaves, we have visual clues about big this tree is and when put another one off in the distance, we make an instant connection to that second subject and we know about how big it is and as long as we know how big that is potentially on the horizon, then we know there's a big distance and that's creating that depth. And speaking of trees, trees are probably the greatest use of understanding our knowledge of what's going to be big and what's small so if we want scale without person look for trees. This is the case where if you took all of the trees about it'd be very difficult to tell how big that cliff is and it's just another example of scale. Compression, this is kind of interesting because it's not showing that compression because I've gt the one tree right up next to the other. They're almost in the same plane of focus and it's a long lens, but it's basically showing scale on the same scale of focus and this is a shot that you can't get anymore. This is General Grant Tree and that sapling that's grown up is now three times as big. So unless that tree falls down it's gonna be hard to find this picture and then back to the wide angle point of view, this on has probably a 16 millimeter lens equivalent. This is the shot I took on a four by five camera years ago and I probably used the Rodenstock 75 millimeter which was equivalent and so all I'm doing here is the traditional get something in the foreground really close and I'm talking about two to three feet and then use the element in the background to give it that depth and then of course the favorite one is the trick of the eye and this is just using elements that should not be there together. Okay, so we've probably seen this. That bus is not that small, but you can do this in nature as well. We try and tell our photography participants don't move the monuments. You know, you can't do that. No, I'm just kidding, but it's just kind of fun. In really though, you can take a fish eye lens and do something very similar. So how big are these bugs? Well you get that fisheye lens really close to them and all of a sudden you're making them a lot larger than they are. Now these guys are actually kind of big. Our entomologist here Dennis he was bringing these bugs out to photograph the fun, but essentially you can see the difference. If you get that close with a fisheye lens, if you get a fisheye lens that focuses about three, four inches away you can create that funky dynamic scale. These poppies, so I have the fisheye lens and I dug a little hole. I didn't kill any poppies, the California state law, I couldn't possibly think of doing that and so I dug a little hole, put the camera down under it and the poppies are only about six inches high and then just clicked a bunch of pictures at different positions until I was happy with what I got but again, I'm just changing the scale of this by getting so close with a fisheye lens. All right, we're gonna break away to a segment that was shot the other day out in the field. So the most amazing part about being here at Discovery Park is that it's not raining and I think that's Mt. Rainier out there so we were just talking about scale and using people to illustrate scale and that's what I wanna talk about right now is really two issues and two ways in which you can use people in the landscape. The first one is to really compress a scene so that the person becomes dramatically involved with the landscape behind him and so for that shot, I chose the to 200 Lumia lens and because we're getting a lot of sun but it's not quite enough, I'm gonna take the polarizer off and a couple things about the camera for this shot, number one is I wanna do a hand held because a lot of times you're just making subtle movements to get the shot when the person's moving there might something that you didn't plan so you gotta be able to react to that quickly. So in order to do that hand held, I'm gonna put my ISO up to 800 right now, I'm gonna make sure the vibration reduction is on because I'm shooting hand held and believe or not because it's sunny, I have to put the sun shade one. I like that part and so I also have a couple other things set, continuous high because I don't know how many shots I'm gonna take in a row and which one will be the best, and then I wanna make sure my shutter speed is fast enough for the hand held shot. So I'm looking through the grasses right now, it looks like I have a thousandth of a second at f so that's a good setting for what I'm going to do. Now I'm going to cue in my model and in this case Grant, you're the star. I'm gonna have you just walk along that path and the trick about these shots is to really not make them to static, so what I don't want you to do is just stand there like a post which is easy to do because some people get on camera and they get nervous and they think they gotta look good but you look so good as it is don't worry about that. I just want you to look natural, so you're just gonna be cruising along the path as if you're thinking about something good and having a good time, and when you get past I'd say the sign up there, you could turn around and come back again and pretend I'm not here. You're just walking through the scene, okay. And sometimes you know if you don't have a model around, you know if you can't pay your friends enough for this, often times they'll be people just walking around in a place like this and you can actually just set yourself up and wait for this to happen. I've done it many times especially in ski areas where the skiers are going down certain paths, just set yourself up, compose a good shot and wait for somebody to come through. He's having a good walk. Waiting for him to get into the scene and I have to crop out these little logs on the side of the road. (shutter clicking) I'm changing the focal length a little bit. I'm getting some at 200 and now as he goes about the scene, he's kind of leaving the picture, so I'm not to crazy about that. I'm gonna wait for him to turn around and come back into the shot, and you can see about a couple minutes ago we had some nice light hitting the water which was reflecting and now that cloud's come over so it's a little flat, so we might wanna wait a minute and try this again. See what happens after he takes his iPhone chat, comes back. (shutter clicking) Taking a few more at a slightly wider focal length so I get more sky. Since I don't have that really nice back lighting on the water, it's probably better to get some of the beautiful gradations in the gray sky. Nice. So, the idea being here is a couple things you wanna consider when you're photographing a scene like this. Number one, when you're this close to the person walking, you're not gonna get Mt. Rainier in focus as well as the subject so you have to make a choice. In this case he was close enough to me and he was a prominent subject so I wanted him in focus and that's why I only chose f67 and I was shooting between 135 and 200 millimeter. Now if he's far enough away, and you actually have him on the same plane of focus, then that's the example I showed you in the studio which is a little different and I'm gonna do that next with the wide angle lens. With this 70 to 200 lens, I want to show you guys what it looks like same set, same scene, a little bit wide angle at the 24 millimeters lens. So let's go up there and take a look and see how the scale changes with that wider angle lens. So right here is the 24 to 14 or 14 to 24 Nikon lens and let's go take a look. It looks like Grant is walking through, enjoying himself and I just came up here to really get rid of the road and these roadside logs. So I'm gonna take the lens and put it at because I don't think, I think that 14 would be way to wide and of course now I have a lot more light and my settings are gonna be a little different and then I'm gonna go down to probably f11, make sure that looks pretty good and it does, and then I'm gonna take a couple shots while he's waking through again and this time, you know I have a little different setting. I have the path. I can actually see the path so I'm using that to compose with as well putting the path in the far right corner. Then I'm wait for him to come all the way over here to kind of fill in the frame, but you know in the end I think there's just two much dead grass and green so I like that compression of the other lens for this shot. Again, just take a look at the wide angle scene and make sure that you covered your ground and you like the one with the 7200 better. Okay, well so that was fun. Going about and actually experimenting and it was good that we actually saw Mt. Rainier. That was special. Basically I hope that kind of reinforces some of the things that I was talking about and I really do think that this is one of the better aspects about landscape photography that's underrated especially with 7200 lenses. Being able to compress two elements together and this could be done anywhere. It's not just as we've shown here. It's places like parks and places where people are active going out and walking and going about their business. A person as a subject to use as an example for scale because often times we're gonna have people around and there's all kinds of other good subjects. For example, like this cool little fishing boat and what's nice about this is that this morning not only do we have Mt. Rainier out, but we also have Mt. Baker out. So I'm gonna take the shot. Well I'm gonna compress Mt. Baker with the fishing boat and one of the things that happens that I see often out here, two things. One is I'm using a tripod and I always think in terms of don't do this when you're out photographing because that sometimes sticks a little better and see people doing this often and they'll put the tripod legs right between their legs and it's hard to get to. So I know that sounds silly but trust me, it's one of those little things that'll help you in the end. The other thing is when you come to a scene like this it's easy to try to overthink it and you put on a normal lens and you start composing and you wanna include everything, but what we're doing here with scale is we're taking teamwork elements and we're compressing them together so that we eliminate all the other distractions. In this case as beautiful as they are, all this gray sky and all this gray water and so I'm putting this together with the same lens, 70 to 200 and because I have time and that boat is not moving anywhere, I put it on the tripod. So because I put it on the tripod, I'm gonna change my ISO back down to 100. I still have to pick what's in focus because I really don't want both the Mt. Baker and the boat in focus. I'm gonna use focus as an element compositionally to separate the two subjects and add even more depth to the scene. Fortunately right now we have some sunlight on that lake, so I'm gonna set this up. I'm gonna turn on my little wireless remote and take a couple pictures. I really don't need it continuous high. So I'm gonna take another look, make sure I got the scene and it looks pretty good. There's a couple things. One is as I've been talking we've got barge that's floated into the scene. So now I have a wait a little bit for that thing to go, but the other thing is when I start looking at the picture in the back of the camera, I notice that the top of the boat is lining up with the distant horizon. So the next thing I'm gonna try is I'm gonna get down close to the water and get the boat up into the sky, make it a little bigger in this scene. Okay, so because of the position of the top of the boat lining up with the horizon, I came down a little lower so I could get next to the water so that I could get to the top of the boat above the horizon. Compositionally, I think that will give it a little more interest. Again, I'm lowering the tripod and shoved it in the sand so it doesn't move around, but in this case it's helpful to use live view because I can see in the two dimensional plane what the composition looks like and what I'm doing is I'm lining up the boat in the upper left hand corner and then I'm gonna grab my little remote here, make sure my settings are right and it looks like I'm underexposed a little bit so I'm gonna a 90th of a second and I'm gonna leave it f4 which is basically wide open because I want that shallower depth of field to separate the scene again even more and I might crack it a little bit with the aperture, go down to fi6 and the next move I'm gonna make is to put the mountain in the other corner and take another shot. So in essence I wanted to come over here and grab the shot with another subject in this case because the mountain, Mt. Baker is lit up so beautifully with this beautiful boat and so some of the things I did, I put it on the tripod because nothing was moving and I used live view to change my ISO. Got it down until I had higher quality, image quality. Again, I used a remote. Keep the camera as stable as possible. Okay, for this shot I'm thinking that I wanna illustrate another use of scale, and I wanna use these subjects, in this case a person again and the lighthouse on the same plane of focus. So I'm not gonna use compression in the same way that I did with the telephoto lens. So this time I'm gonna use a wide angle lens and one of the interesting things about using the wide angle lens is that you have to start thinking about all the other compositional elements and in this case I'm gonna use some leading lines of this water that's lapping up on the beach and I also have a nice line coming in from the left here with the lighthouse and then way off in the distance I have this beautiful Olympic Mountains. So they're gonna be my elements in the composition and then what's gonna happen is when my model Grant walks out to the end of the rocks, he's gonna be silhouetted right at the end so it gives scale to the lighthouse, him and then this grand scene, and so Grant if you wanna walk out. When you see the highest rock out there, that's your location without falling. So he's gonna go out and kind of told him where about to go. The idea here though is to get him to fully separate. You don't want half his ankles or half his body cut off by the silhouette of the horizon. That's really important. We want to see the entire silhouette of him and so he's gonna probably go through some motions. What I've done for the camera settings is since I have a big almost gray card, is I've overexposed just a tiny bit and as I review the picture, the normal setting would underexpose this a little bit so I've overexposed just to compensate, to give a little more light into the scene. I also like the timing of these waves coming up because that makes a stronger leading line that is. Okay, so I'm getting a couple extra elements here, a little boat plane. Really that's a perfect example of serendipity in situations like this because you know I've mentioned to him to do something where he's participating in the scene and that's exactly what he did. He started taking pictures and so what happens is something actually exciting just happened where the plane's flying by and he's taking pictures of it and I can't tell you how many times that really does happen when you're out taking pictures and you just have to be ready. We staged the whole scene and then something else happened. I love it. All right so the next thing I'm gonna do is I'm gonna have him once I've gotten a few more compositions with the leading lines and the waves, I'm gonna have him kind of walk down the rocks a little bit and that's just another example of him participating involving himself in where he is. Hey Grant, you wanna walk down the rocks a little bit. (shutter clicking) And what I like is sometimes right when somebody's making that step and when we've separated we can see the entire lake separating and yet we're not doing a static pose like this where they're standing out on a rock looking like they're posing. So again, he's doing a good job with the phone. Okay, thanks Grant. I don't think he could hear me over the waves, but I like this. We got some bigger surf so I'll take a couple more. All right so just to kind of recap on this, I'm using a wide angle lens. I have the 14 to 24 on. I've been taking different compositions at and at 24 because what I like is this is quite a dramatic scene even though it's all gray and cloudy, you can still see the Olympic Mountains. You got the lighthouse and these great rocks in the foreground and it all comes together to give you some grand landscape that the person is in and that's what you're after in this type of shot is to have the landscape take over.

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Ratings and Reviews

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.

Student Work