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Masters of Photography

Lesson 26 of 54

Shooting landscapes. The Isle of Skye


Masters of Photography

Lesson 26 of 54

Shooting landscapes. The Isle of Skye


Lesson Info

Shooting landscapes. The Isle of Skye

(dramatic orchestra music) Two of my major projects were the Moroc project and also the Vegas, Las Vegas Project. Now, if you think about that, both of these projects are desert places, the Sahara and then, you know, basically the great deserts of the Southwest of America. So after I'd finished these projects, I was actually looking for something different, completely. And I thought about, you know, water, which there's not a lot of in Morocco and also in Las Vegas. So I'd always wanted to do a project of landscapes in Scotland. And I was familiar as a child of the Island of Skye, which is off the northwest coast of Scotland. And its a magnificent place, a really beautiful, strange, mysterious place. And I had done a project up in Scotland in the Orkney Islands, which is another set of islands, islands off the north coast of Scotland. I'd gone up there with an eight by 10 camera, and it was really, for me, it was a mistake. Because one of the problems up there was that it is continua...

lly high wind. It's almost like gale force winds, nonstop, the entire time. And if you're working with an eight by 10 camera, that really is a problem. And although you say, "Well, can't you use "sandbags on the tripod? "Can't you do this, that, the next thing?" I can't use a wind block. The wind was so gusty and moving around. It was very hard. And, of course, you have an eight by 10 camera. And a 30th of second on an eight by 10 camera can look worse than a half-frame of a 35 millimeter. So it's not ideal. And eventually, I ended up building a tent around the camera, to make sure. And it was really a pain in the neck. So this time, you know, many years later, when I decided to do the Skye project, I decided to approach the project with a digital camera, with a Phase One camera, with 100 megapixels plus. And I was really confident about that. So I planned the project for about six months and then, arrived on the Island of Skye in early winter, which was my choice 'cause I wanted to make sure that I had some difficult weather to work with. And I arrived on the island with two assistants and a Photoshop technician, technical person. And I proceeded to do, basically, six weeks of 12-hour days, getting up at 5:00 a.m. in the morning and arriving at, you know, downstairs with everybody at 5:30 a.m. And then, we set out, and we did 12 to 13 hour days, until the light went. And I did that, continually without stop, rain or shine, in the freezing cold, didn't matter. And we ended up doing that for six solid weeks. And it was definitely a digital project. And I had, basically, planned the project to be that way and for it to really be a computer project. So it was, actually, I approached it the opposite way, to see the purity of, say an Ansel Adams landscape, that I was really interested in and really maximizing what I could get out of a computer. And how could I do, for example, several frames, several 100 megapixel frames, to even increase the megapixel count in sharpness and so on? And, of course, I was able to handle the wind because it's a much smaller camera. So it was, for me, it was, you know, absolutely a successful project. Now, one thing, in the preparation, since I'm always going on about preparation. And my idea was to really. How could I do this and make it different from everybody else? And I was always. One thing I had pinned on the camera case was the word postcard. And I'm always nervous that when you go and do landscape pictures, that they look like postcards. Not that postcards are necessarily bad, but I just didn't want them. And that was always foremost in my mind. And so, I was trying. How can I instill in this, these pictures, some sense of mystery, some sense of strangeness, some different look at the landscape? How can I do this? And I was looking. You know, at the back of my mind was Lord of the Rings or The Game of Thrones, you know, strange movies from hammered that they were using mist in the pictures. How could I create these images to try and make them unusual? And, as I said earlier, that's one of the reasons I went at the end of October, beginning of November, to try and get difficult weather, which we certainly got. And there was no real plan beyond that. But there was a lot of intensity put into what I just described, this idea of something mysterious, Gothic romance, Victorian paintings from Scotland. And all of this research, I'm doing and working on, you know, looking at landscape photography but also looking at landscape painting. And one book I took with me was Degas' book of landscapes and sketches. And the reason I took this with me was, I was always fascinated, the way that painters can approach a rather bland hill or peninsula and do a painting of it. And it becomes masterpiece and something remarkable. Whereas, photographers are usually looking for something dramatic. That's why so many photographers go to Iceland because there's a lot of dramatic geography there. And therefore, the geography is doing all of the work. And, of course, when Degas comes to paint, you know, a peninsula or a hill or a tree, of course, he's putting his personal energy into that. And what you end up with is a Degas painting. So how can you try and steal something from painters and begin to approach it in a way where you look at landscape? Sometimes, not looking for the overly dramatic landscape. By all means, take some of that. But how can you look at just, sometimes, simple things? And fairly early on in the project, I realized. Since, if you remember what said about going there for water, there was this reflection that I saw in one of the lochs, there. It was a really beautiful reflection. And just as I was about to take the picture, from nowhere, there was a wind, came across. And I completely lost the reflection. But as the wind came, I hit the shutter. And then, I looked at it. And then, of course, for me personally, I said, "Wait a minute. "There's something here." I could actually spend a day, here, without moving the camera and just focus the camera on the surface of the water. And as the light changes, which it changes all the time there, as the day goes on and the light becomes warmer, if you're lucky and you get a little bit of sun. The clouds change; the sky is blue. The sky is white. I'd realized that I could get this wonderful kind of mixture of almost abstract expressionist art by not even moving. And, in this case here, the landscape or the environment was doing all of the work for me. So, right there and then, I stayed there for two days, for 12 hours a day, just photographing the wind on the surface of water. So I think the fact that I went in there with, you know, Lord of the Rings on my mind, things like the magic of water and the wind, that was one thing that the pre-planning helped me with. So I was kind of delighted with that. Some of, I did it early on in the project, and it was some of my favorite pieces that I did. (dramatic electronic music) With an expanding of a megapixel count in the pictures, we were doing that in a very simple way that we might set the camera up in a vertical format. But then, take five or six images, scanning across a landscape and then, always doing a slight overlap. So therefore, it's a very easy thing, of course, in a computer, to reassemble them. You end up with massive files 'cause you assemble five megapixel, you know, 100 megapixel images. And you end up with a massive file. So you have to guard against that. But it's one way of, basically, getting to mend the sharpness into the picture. And, of course, it's not only a matter of simply going across the picture. You're able to go across the picture, say with five frames, vertical frames, and then, assembling what's more of panoramic shot. But at the same time, you can, of course, come across there and introduce some sharpness in the foreground, perhaps, if you're using a longer lens. So you can, actually, even increase it to or even 15, 16, 17 frames. And then, with a good Photoshop artist, you re-assemble everything and put it back together. So you end up with a rather strange, panoramic picture that might have been done with a longer lens, but gives you the impression that, in fact, it almost looks slightly wide angle. So therefore, you have to be quite careful in all of this, in the way that you do this. But it's all part of experimentation and what's available, now, with computers. The other things that were done there. I would sometimes shoot, for example, as I said, with the water reflections, I would sometimes go ahead and shoot the water reflections, which were moving images, not as it were, still. The images were moving within the frame. Other images that I took, say of a rock, obviously, weren't moving. Water was moving. However, what I was able to do was to shoot with several different filters. And although the pictures were different, I was able to re-assemble some of those pictures that were almost identical. And then, I was able to get a strange sense of movement into the picture. And also, it gave me a choice of how I blended colors. So the computer became, as I said, a really important device for me. There was one set of pictures that, actually, were not manipulated. I had seen this drawing by Leonardo da Vinci of a grove of trees. And it really is a remarkable drawing. And what he did was, he must have seen this grove of trees in the wind. And he did a drawing that interpreted the movement of the leaves. Now, I knew that this would actually be relatively easy for me to do, if I could find the right trees, which I did. And I found these beautiful birch trees that showed the leaves, which were almost like silver, moving. And when we shot this, I basically locked the camera down and shot at a very slow shutter speed, in the region of eighth of second, 15th of second. And, of course, the leaves blurred. But the trees were pin-sharp. And the environment, the ground, was pin-sharp. So you had this beautiful effect of the leaves moving and the trees stationary. Now, possibly, some of you out there have already done that as an idea of motion and still. I only mention this because it was inspired by a Leonardo drawing. And if always had this in mind and eventually found the right set of trees to do this shot, where I was doing my, you know, the arrogance of being my vision (chuckles) of a Leonardo drawing. But it was just another way of working and trying to maximize technical things that are available to you, now. Which you should, as I've said many times, you should be aware of. Don't let them overpower the image, but be aware of them. (dramatic electronic music) When I got back to New York, I was gung-ho to work with these images with the computer. And, of course, you have to be careful because a computer is an amazing, amazing device. But there's a great danger that the computer, you know, overtakes the picture. So suddenly, the computer is full of amateur special effects. And you have to be very wary of these things. So the idea is, how do you work with a computer, use what you can get out of it, but at the same time, don't betray the original vision? So I think it's. We had all of this in mind, when we got back to New York. And I, basically, after six weeks of working on the Island of Skye, when I got back, I worked on the pictures for seven months. So it was a very long, not tedious at all, I enjoyed it, process. But very painstaking to get to the final 80 images that I wanted. (dramatic orchestra music)

Class Description


  • Albert’s tips and tricks on landscape, fashion, portraiture and still life photography.
  • Simple lighting techniques using natural light and studio light
  • Simple tips on preparing for portrait shoots
  • How to create incredible portraits using just two $10 bulbs
  • Albert’s tips and tricks on landscape, fashion, portraiture and still life photography.
  • Simple lighting techniques using natural light and studio light
  • Simple tips on preparing for portrait shoots
  • How to create incredible portraits using just two $10 bulbs


Learn how Albert creates his amazing photographs on location and in the studio using simple explanations.

Albert reveals his shoot secrets on how he photographs Presidents, Hollywood stars, music’s greatest artists, landscapes, nudes, chimpanzees and still life. We follow him on location in Morocco, Paris and in his studio in New York. You will find out where he suggests you look to get inspiration, how to approach a portrait session, see how to light like Albert.

We show you exactly how Albert works on these images after the shoot, it’s all about Albert giving you his ideas and advice and helping you see and create better images for yourself.

It’s not about what camera to use, it’s about how to see and develop ideas, concepts and narrative to make stunning photographs.

As Albert says..."You have to stay switched on"


  1. Meet your Master

    Albert welcomes you to his course.

  2. Learn from the journey

    You will learn how to use your passion and dedication to get to where you want in photography. Albert explains to us how his own journey developed from early days in Scotland to creating the biggest photography studio in LA, and then establishing his studio in New York.

  3. Using inspirations

    Albert teaches you how to use inspiration from your past and present to form you work. Learn his tips on the relationship between technique and creativity, and how to create work that shows your own personality.

  4. Photography is stopping time

    Learn from Albert how he discovered his passion for photography and how to apply his "stopping time" ethos to your own work.

  5. Albert's library of ideas

    Join Albert in his own library where he shows you which books and artists he suggests you look at and study for inspiration and motivation. He also reveals his tip for buying inexpensive photography references.

  6. Tips on preparing for a portrait shoot

    Albert teaches you how to work with your subjects to get a great portrait shot. Learn his tips for putting people at ease when they are in front of your camera.

  7. Setting up the studio

    Learn to control the shooting environment. Learn how Albert begins to set up a studio session. Albert shows you how he begins to approach a portrait session in the studio.

  8. Understanding studio collaboration

    Albert teaches you about his different types of work ranging from test shoots to editorial shoots and advertising shoots. He explains his thoughts and techniques to help you understand how to make each a success.

  9. The importance of casting and hair & make-up

    Albert teaches you the importance of communication between yourself and a team. Albert also explains his tips on working with hair and make up to create a look.

  10. Foreground studio set up

    You will learn how Albert moves out from behind the camera while setting up for a shoot. He shows you how to look at your light from a variety of perspectives.

  11. Studio session with a model - set up 1

    Learn how to work with your subject. A unique insight, Watch and learn Albert working in the studio, explaining his thoughts and showing us exactly how he shoots.

  12. Studio session with a model - set up 2

    Learn how Albert creates his iconic beauty shots. See and listen to Albert as he explains his thought processes when creating this type of shot.

  13. Studio session with a model - set up 3

    Albert teaches you another of his lighting techniques. Watch and learn as Albert explains exactly how he creates a beautiful portrait.

  14. Picking the best shot

    Albert discusses and shows you his techniques for selecting the best shot from a shoot.

  15. Working with photoshop

    In this lesson you will learn how Albert uses post production to further refine his images.

  16. Creating a portrait of Alfred Hitchcock

    Discover the idea and thought process behind Albert's iconic image of Alfred Hitchcock and what it was like to photograph one of the world’s greatest filmmakers.

  17. The gigantic question... Colour or black and white?

    Which should you use? Albert explains his own ideas to you on how and why you might use one or the other.

  18. One day with Kate Moss

    Albert explains his ideas and how he created his iconic images during a day photographing Kate Moss.

  19. Learn to have your ideas ready

    Albert encourages you to have faith in your own creative instincts and how to always think creativity to persuade a client toward agreeing to your photographic ideas.

  20. Using Polariods

    Discover ways to go back and create projects and new images from your older work. Albert shows us the technique he used to create his iconic Running Man image.

  21. Creating beautiful photographs of hands

    Learn to appreciate the expressive nature of photographing hands. Albert explains some his most defining hand shots.

  22. Controlling natural light

    Discover Albert's tips on how to make the most of natural light and how Albert controls it in his images.

  23. Shooting a monkey with a gun

    Albert teaches you to always be on the look-out for new projects, and to recognise the power of conceptual thinking. Learn how monkey and a gun came to be created.

  24. Choosing your format

    In this lesson you will learn about formats. Albert describes different examples from various formats he has used as guidance, discover tips on how to use each type of format and his camera of choice.

  25. Composition and lens

    Get tips and suggestions on which lens to use and when. Albert gives you his thoughts on using the compositional elements available to you in order to produce a better photograph.

  26. Shooting landscapes. The Isle of Skye

    Albert teaches us how for him, its essential to raise landscape photography above the "picture postcard" shot and give the images more meaning. Albert explains the approach to his Scottish landscape series of images, one of his most unique, personal projects.

  27. Planning and ideas for a landscape shoot

    Albert details for you how he carefully prepared for his Isle of Skye project: taking care to be as organised as possible, whilst also remaining open to taking advantage of the unexpected.

  28. Creating still life images

    From shooting bed pans in L.A., to photographing Tutankhamen’s possessions, Elvis Presley’s iconic gold ensemble, and Neil Armstrong's space suit. Albert teaches you to persevere in the face of difficulty, and to always inject your still lifes with meaning.

  29. Photographing the Lost Diary

    Albert shows you how one simple idea can blossom into the creation of true art. An entire advertising campaign was based on his magical concept: that of an intergalactic anthropologist’s photographic diary, depicting tribes on earth 30,000 years ago. Discover how he brought this unique vision to life.

  30. Shooting album covers

    This lesson we go behind the scenes of a shoot with musician Sade. Albert reveals how he produced her beautiful Love Deluxe album cover, and how important it is to make your subject feel comfortable on set.

  31. The Strip Search Project

    Albert tells you how he prepared and created this immense project. He suggests ways for you to create projects and images that document your own corner of the world in images.

  32. Shooting Las Vegas landscapes

    Albert tells you how he prepared for the Las Vegas project, how he approached and shot his landscapes there. He passes on to you how the difficulties he faced helped him, and will help you, to develop as a photographer.

  33. Photographing Breaunna

    Albert tells you how to always be alert to chance encounters. He tells you how he met and was inspired by Breaunna. He explains how some of his most recognisable Strip Search photographs of her were created .

  34. Balancing daylight, God bless America

    Find out why Albert stopped to shoot a bill board. His serendipitous discovery reaffirms his main piece of advice: always remain “switched on”.

  35. Creating the Maroc Project

    Learn how Albert put together his exquisite Maroc book. You will be inspired to create your own projects and to look for potential in every aspect of a project, giving added meaning to your photographs.

  36. Creating the Maroc shoot

    Albert describes his own, personal methods and ethos in creating the Maroc project. Find out what equipment he used, how he documented his journey, and what he shot to create this iconic book.

  37. Photographing sand dunes

    How did Albert capture the breathtaking, rippling sand dunes of Laayoune, Morocco? Find out as Albert encourages you to be innovative; to always strive to add something new and different to scenes photographed by others before you.

  38. Photographing Moroccan children

    Preparation is not the death of spontaneity. Albert explains some his most breathtaking, impromptu shots of children in Morocco, Albert shows you how he suggests you intertwine careful planning and impulsivity to ensure you never miss your shot.

  39. Advice on making portraits

    Learn from Albert that the way you communicate with those you’re photographing is always visible in a shot. In this lesson Albert suggests tips to capture your perception of a subject into a single picture.

  40. How to be alert to finding photographs

    Learn to take advantage of chance situations and moments. Listen to Albert reveal how some of his most famous photographs were created by remaining flexible and alert to what you are seeing around you.

  41. Making a portrait of Mike Tyson

    Albert delves into the inspiration behind his famous Mike Tyson photograph, reaffirming that preparation before a shoot is often key to transforming your vision into a reality.

  42. Creating intense colour in a photograph

    Albert creates intense colour in an image. Listen to Albert as he takes you through his preparation process, and the techniques he used to construct one of his most well known images, Red Devil.

  43. Portraits of rap stars and a Golden Boy

    Discover the relationship between a subject and the camera itself. Legendary Rap stars and Albert’s Golden Boy photograph feature in this lesson. Albert discusses facial geography.

  44. Photographing Jack Nicholson

    A Jack Nicholson photoshoot for Rolling Stone. Albert explains how the legendary snowy shot came to be, and gives you an insight into how he photographed the iconic actor and filmmaker.

  45. Creating a portrait of David Cronenberg

    Be inspired to get creative. Ingenuity and inventiveness take centerstage in this lesson as Albert describes how he produced his unique photograph of David Cronenberg for Rolling Stone — the old-fashioned way.

  46. How to light only using two $10 bulbs

    This is a incredible lesson where Albert demonstrates to you that expensive lighting equipment is by no means a necessity! Discover how to use two $10 bulbs to create a dramatic, high contrast shot. Simply genius.

  47. Studio fashion set up 4

    See the fashion photography master in action as we watch each step of this shoot. Watch and hear how Albert manages the body language of the model and the simple set up and lighting to create a fashion shot.

  48. Studio session with a model. The geography of a face

    See how Albert creates art with the profile of a face. Learn how to work the geography of a face with Albert's simple lighting techniques.

  49. Look inside the picture

    Albert gives suggestions on how to progress and review your photography. Find out his tips on how to look "inside" the picture.

  50. Creating memorability in an image

    Learn Alberts tips on the skill of quick thinking and analysing your surroundings. Albert uses an example where he used his surroundings to create a unique and surreal shot for Italian Vogue.

  51. Combining nudes and landscapes

    In this lesson we reveal one of Albert's very latest projects. Learn as Albert teaches you how he created a stunning series of images by combining nudes with different landscape textures.

  52. A perfect print

    Albert explains where the passion began for printing his own work and how it has developed. Listen to his overview on how critical it is to print an image on the right type of paper in order to create the perfect print.

  53. The business side of things

    Learn how Albert runs each aspect of his business. We travel with Albert to one of his exhibitions in Italy where he explains the why and how of the prints on show.

  54. Conclusion and farewell

    Albert summarises some fundamental learning points he has acquired over his 40 year career. He leaves you with some poignant tips and bids his farewell, "onwards and upwards".


Richard A. Heckler

"Unless you're Mozart"...this course is an invaluable asset. I'm a pro, humanitarian/documentary photographer, & wilderness...and I've learned much from the 40+ sessions here. This is truly a Master best thing to being with Albert. And although I could watch studio sessions forever, this course offered a very balanced curriculum of technical information, artistic encouragement and guidance, and a open, generous window into the thinking of a gifted artist and photographer, sifted from decades of first class experience. Kudos to all involved. Excellent!

a Creativelive Student

I purchased my first CreativeLive class in 2011 and have continued to purchase many classes over the years. I have learned so much from the many great instructors. This one is not a technical class that will tell you to set your camera at f4, 1/60, ISO 400 and you can get this shot. If you are looking for that, there are many other options. If you have a solid working knowledge of photography, this class is so much more. The way it was filmed is like you are there with him in conversation or in the room with him watching him shoot. To see and understand the how and why he does what he does. Not to take anything away from other classes that have helped to give me a strong understanding of photography, this is my favorite CreativeLive class so far.