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Nature and Landscape Photography

Lesson 27 of 27

Composition: Panos and Subject Placement

John Greengo

Nature and Landscape Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

27. Composition: Panos and Subject Placement

Lesson Info

Composition: Panos and Subject Placement

kind of on the concept of angle of view panorama good option I've talked about a little bit about it before I will talk about it a little bit more now and so panoramic images can be very very powerful the wide expansive seen mimics a little bit more of the way we see the world than the standard three by two aspect ratio in so many of our cameras and you can crop your images which I have done afterwards thinking now okay I really don't need these extra little tops and bottoms parts but it's always better if you can stitch your images together to get maur resolution and the stitching process is fairly easy these days you're going to shoot multiple images preferably vertical images that have a little bit of overlap between the two because there needs to be a common area for these to be stitched together and you're going to end up with a much much higher resolution image that you can have very very great detail and now there are plenty of devices out there forgetting these shot the's there...

are special heads that allow you to a line up the nodal point on your camera because there's a nodal point that you want to keep it exactly the same position and it requires you to turn your camera exactly so so that your pictures line up so that they could be stitched the most easily together and as nice as that is to have out in the field that's a lot of extra weight to be carrying up the mountains and so I will just use a standard ball head and I will shoot with my lenses and I'll be turning like this and the fact of the matter is is that the modern software for stitching needs together is so good that it rarely has problems if you shoot your panorama properly and when I mean by that I have some tips coming up and so panoramas are a lot of fun and a great way of just adding things up adding up the quality of your camera so that you could get incredibly high resolution images so my panorama sitting tips first off what lens should you use in general I would recommend fifty millimeters on up it's very difficult to stitch images together that are shot wide angle because what you capture with a wide angle on the right hand side gets distorted a little bit when you come over here and it's now on the left hand side it gets distorted in a different way and see one issue with a normal to telephoto lens if I had to pick a best area I would say around seventy millimeters you want to make sure that your tripod his level and one of the things that I will do is I will set up my camera vertical position and alls I know where the first shots going to be and then I kind of swing the pan er the camera through to see if objects are lining up or if my horizon is kind of slipping down cause I want to make a straight pan across and that's sometimes difficult to do because you got a lot of moving parts between the head and the legs next up because this entire stitch panorama is one photograph they all should be photographed with the same shutter speed the same aperture and the same s o which means you should keep it in manual exposure because if you don't your camera is going to shift one of those features if it's not in full manual it is one photograph and should have one focus to it you don't want to be changing focus in anyway so you want to be manually focused and simply be set into one location most all of these are gonna have a lot of depth of field so you're going to have a middle to small aperture f ate f sixteen in most cases where you're kind of getting everything in focus focus is going to be a lot easier to get it stitched together the final well actually I got to our tips here this one is shoot left to right now technically you can shoot right to left there's nothing wrong with it but I like to shoot left to right because when it comes up in the computer it's going to be left to right and it's almost gonna look like a panorama right is you look at your thumb nails in your computer I know when I first shot stitching images together in a few cases I shot right toe left I got in the computer program I was downloading my images and I'm like that is just like the worst composed image ever that one two why did I take all these bad pictures delete and if you do left to right is just going to fall into the right order and make a lot more sense if you won't accidentally delete a panorama siri's and you want to overlap your image is about twenty to thirty percent the mohr you overlap the better information that the computer has to stitch those two images together so if you really want to make sure they go together you do more overlap but the more overlap you have the more images you have to shoot in order to fit that panorama together which means that the harder your computer has to work in order to get this down because if you shoot a really big panorama I've had some where you shoot fifteen shots and if you did him a lot overlap that would end up being thirty shots and having your computer work with thirty raw file simultaneously can really bog it down and so there's kind of a sweet spot right around twenty five percent now technology keeps on changing and the way we shoot panoramas has been changing as well and one of the newer innovations in cameras is in camera panorama city this is not on many of our cell ours but it is on a number of our muralist cameras it's on a lot of our phones and a lot of our point in shoots and what the camera is doing is the camera is shooting multiple pictures while you move and then it takes all those images and it puts it together in one file this picture was taken with the sony camera that shoots a hundred and eighty degree panorama and so you have to be pretty careful about getting your swing just right this is something that you often do handheld and it's very quick and it's very easy and so if you just want a simple little panorama it's a great way of doing that however because you are shooting multiple photographs and this is also true of the standard technique you have to be very careful of anything that moves so this kayak was moving and the tip of the kayak got photographed twice and the computer didn't quite know what to do with this now if you do in camera stitching this one's kind of hard to fix you can go into photo shop and you can clone things out if you do panorama stitching where you take individual images you could go in and cut that image out from one image so that it's not stitched into the group and so it allows you a little bit more freedom to fix those sorts of problems and so when it comes to shooting panoramas while I may have in camera panorama stitching possibility if it's really important to me I'm going to shoot the individual pictures because it's really shooting and keeping all the core information it's like shooting a raw image and one of the other notes on that is a lot of the cameras will revert to j pegs when they're shooting these you will not end up with one raw panoramic file I have found them to be a little bit difficult to work with on some cameras basically because the speeds were very particular you'd go too fast and it would say slow down and then you go too slow and it would say speed up and it had a very sweet spot where it needed to be and so you kind of have to plan in practice and you have to learn how your camera likes you to be pan and I know in a number of the cameras you can change how wide the pan is and you can change whether you're shooting horizontal or vertical which is going to change the size and final dimensions of your panorama so you should know your camera if it has that capability and how to use it I find it really good for scouting and kind of kind of quick shots but if I'm serious I want to do the traditional individual shots for panorama stitching another concept to think about when it comes to the composition and choosing of your subjects is creating a photo story now you may not be submitting a photo for a magazine or maybe you are kind of beside the point but shooting different size subject going back to those three different types of subjects that we talked about the grand landscape the intimate landscape and then going for those details so thinking about things on different levels if all you do is go out looking for grand landscapes you're going to get a couple of shots and then you're going to run out of stuff to shoot and so you're gonna have to transition to these other different levels of images and so those grand landscapes they're going to set the scene you're often going to using a wide angle lens with great depth of field and this is where you want to be in the right place with that great light because that's where you really need the great light the intimate landscape is going to be a little bit closer in sometimes you can use the wide sometimes you're using the telephoto but it's more of a specific subject within an environment and then getting in on those details getting the macro lenses out shooting the tele photos and so this is one of the concepts that I'm thinking about when I go to different places kind of shooting different size subjects trying to get a wide variety just to tell the white assed story possible whether it's down in yosemite national park or mount rainier national park or zion national park showing different levels of the same environment you were talking about in terms of the pan knows do you ever stitched do you stitch the panels first and then develop them in light room or the other way around where do you find yourself doing more of the stitching between the two I want to make a lot of the basic adjustments first before I stitched him together and so I'm going to clean up a little dust bax I'm goingto make sure the white balance is correct I I'm not going to do localized adjustment so if I want a light in her dark in a particular area that needs to wait for later but I'm going to do kind of things that I would generally do globally and fixing little nitpicky things you know I need thio clone out a dust speck up in the sky and so there's a little bit of work that goes before and a little bit of work later I had a couple of questions about the compressing with shooting with the telephoto lens and this question is from photo bunny when shooting with the telephoto lens and compressing that image what f stop are you using is it still f sixteen to get the most the most depth of field or is that changing well it depends on you could be compressing two subjects but you can still be focusing on one subject you just want to have the second one as a kind of out of focus secondary subject in the background and so it could be anywhere from white open to completely stop down it depends on the style of the subject if you recall the photograph I had up up at mount rainier over the blue ridge is where all the blue mountains were in focus well they were all very far away I didn't need f sixteen for that so I probably shot it at eleven in that case because they were so far away but the answer is it varies a lot all right well thank you let's keep going okay so next up is subject placement where do we put our subject in the frame there's a lot of concepts that we could talk about here the first two most traditional one rule of thirds of course and that is basically getting our subject out of the middle of the frame drawing a lines through our frame cutting up into thirds top bottom middle and left and then moving our subject off to one of those sides so do you like this photograph is this good do you like the tree in the middle of the frame well let's move it around how about the right hand corner is that better what about here should we go bottom left or how about here top left it's kind of your call you know it's whatever you think looks best personally I could hear in the upper left and when you have that space to work with getting it out of the frame adds a little bit of mystery to a photograph lets people know that there's other things that are important going on and this is just one element in the photograph think about where the horizon lines are oftentimes putting the horizon the lines near that upper line or that lower line so here in death valley notice where the horizon line is it's perfectly on the rule of thirds line not that that makes it any better or worse but it's away from the center line the photograph from yellowstone one of my favorite there you can see how that kind of falls into that rule of thirds category where are you putting your subject's getting him away from the center making people think a little bit more about your image now there are a number of people out there watching right now who don't like the rule of thirds they're very against the rule of thirds and they don't like things that say rules on it because photography is an art and you should be able to do whatever you want and I perfectly agree with that but if all your photographs put your subject exactly in the middle it's going to seem very static and static is not a good term that I would like to have people referred to my imagery if you put your subject way off to the side well that's kind of awkward why would you do that subject needs a little bit of space around it and if it's not in the middle and it's not way off into the corner it ends up being in one of those areas of rule of thirds so it's something that just perfectly makes sense to me the horizon line where you putting the horizon line I've talked about this before using it high or low when we're talking about shorelines earlier and so don't just put the horizon in the middle that's rarely where it should go doesn't mean it can't go there figure out what's more important what's in the sky or what's on the ground in here it's what's on the ground so let's pan the camera down and focus on what's important so where is the action and what's going on and a lot of times you have blank skies and we don't really want to see blank skies if the sky is good while means let's take a look at the sky you can focus on this guy and so using a very low horizon and this is where clouds become very very important watching for clouds keeping an eye on him and ladies and gentlemen I would like to is it to you the most photoshopped image in this class today does it look like I have a brief photo this is a heavily photoshopped image folks because this image it's a little awkward it's like why is there all this blue sky let me show you the real picture yeah there we go that's why I shot it like that ok is because the clouds really helped the composition help add a little something into the sky in that area and so it kind of kills me when it's just blue sky I mean I love the blue I mean it's it's a real nice color and it's clean and so I was like could I have a blue a nice white cloud over here on the left side and so just shooting blank open blue skies not something I prefer to dio and so if I am gonna have blue sky in there at least I'm filling it up with cactus or I'm filling up the sky with trees if I don't have those clouds but keep an eye on those clouds and when you get great clouds take advantage of it do whatever you can to get out there and shoot him because they're not great that often and when you have them it is just so nice to have is that additional little textured element in the sky as that additional element that is bouncing the light back down to the ground that's why we get such nice light at sunrise and sunset because when the sun is hitting the bottom of those clouds and it's as acting as a reflector and we're getting a little a little boost of light all on the ground and so when I was in monument valley just kind of scouting I didn't think that I would like pictures in the middle of the day but we had some really nice clouds out there you just don't get those enough in my opinion one of my favorite things is symmetry I like things that are very logical and orderly and symmetry aligning something straight in the middle from time to time totally breaking up that rule of thirds is perfectly fine and so putting that tree exactly in the middle getting that shadow directly in the middle and if you are going to go for the middle being the mayor well don't be ten percent off to the side if you're going to be off to the side be noticeably off the side kind of like horizons normally you're going to want the horizon line straight absolutely straight if it's not straight get it really really ka kite and I hope it's a good composition because that normally doesn't work is you gotta have those horizon lines straight finding those two big trees side by side symmetry after symmetry we go into balance where each subject in the frame has a visual weight to it and its balance throughout the frame with other subjects and in baja california there was just this nice rock and these tris I think this is a boo jum tree that has thes curlicued branches that look really nice that kind of match the curve of the rock down in the salar de uyuni in bolivia the bright sun is attracting your eyes the strong contrast of the ridges catching your eyes and your eyes kind of end up doing circles around this image staying in the frame having a little bit of space around your subjects not having them overlap is important with the balance the balance of the sky and the subjects in the foreground versus the background played without there's no riel empty space in the photograph all right so a couple of collections of photographs we'll call this tallberg down in antarctica lots of icebergs air around and we noticed that there was one iceberg that had a particularly tall spire to it and we decided well you got to go look at the biggest one around there might be something interesting and so get up nice and close to it fill the frame okay we got that only so interesting let's get some foreground elements in there and this was several years ago and even then I'm playing around with that look like what the polarizer without the polarizer I'm constantly doing this I can't tell you how many times I've shot with and without the polarizer partly because sometimes the polarizer gets too strong and I want to go back to the non polarized image and have that the image that I work with and so it's still a technique that I do these days even beyond for the teaching capabilities but having got this shot we noticed that there was another iceberg that there was an arch cut through it and I thought let's get the zodiac on the other side of the arch so that we can frame up the tall iceberg through the arch now the great thing about this arch is that is more like a hole it's just that the bottom of the iceberg extended around the bottom of it is actually reflecting up some very nice green light we need to get in a little bit closer and this is very obvious that it's an arch and my favorite image is the next one this one here where we're actually shooting in nice and tight on it and it still leaves that little bit of mystery about how are you shooting through snow what's actually going on there and we've got some very nice colors in here to boot as well so really trying to find the right position shooting it in a number of different ways from a number of different locations so I've showed a number of photos from this location so let me tell maura the complete story of the wave the wave is a rock formation down in arizona and it is on bureau of land management and it's highly regulated at the current time they are only allowing twenty people a day to go out there they allowed ten people to sign up on a lottery about six months prior to the day going out there so if you want to sign up right now you could do it in six months from now or you can go to the local blm office the day before and put your name in the hat and possibly be one of the ten people that are drawn out to get to go the next day and I went down there knowing that I wanted to go down there and so what I did as I said five days aside on my travel schedule to enter the lottery and I got lucky and I got it on my second day so I don't have to wait around too long for that but they usually have at least when I was there they had anywhere between fifty and eighty people putting their name in for one of ten spots and they would basically put their name in for their group so if somebody put their name in for ten people all ten spots are gone and so what you were really hoping for is a lot of people who wanted to go out there alone because that would leave more spots for everyone else to get in and it's a great fantastic location for shooting photos there's been a million shots done here I know everyone's been there but I wanted to have my own experience there there's no problem going back and shooting the classics on your own I got there well before sunrise so I could shoot before the direct sun got on there I had to do a little self timer shot and there just to show a little bit of scale I wasn't sure if I was going to have many other people out there when I was there I'm going to be moving around shooting in different locations I was just trying to explore we're all the best areas that I want to shoot our and sometimes it's really hard to tell scale so I would do the self timer shot and jump around and get in the picture myself not many people will show you the wave from the reverse viewpoint and so this is looking up at the wave and I had a lot of time there because I wanted time to explore and one of the things that I did is I climbed up from the hillside in the background and there's a tiny little arch way up there at the top that you might be able to see and so I climbed all the way up there so I could look down and you can't even really see the way that you can see the arrow pointing to it down here and if you don't know this area you've got to be a little bit careful because you could get lost walking around it's a very tough terrain to work in a times and so I hung around for most of the day and actually it was kind of surprising to me because some of my favorite photos came with the bright sunlight this particular shot I was using a fourteen millimeter lens on I like the one earlier in the day and I've always considered the shot a shot that I would like to title bacon just reminds me a big stack of bacon we talked about using these people for scale coming through the photograph towards the middle of the day is when most of the hikers were going to come out and they're gonna be sitting around over the area and you know frankly I think this may be the best photograph I've ever taken seven minutes from noontime noontime is a very hard time to take good photographs but I do like the very bold colors on it but I actually went back to camp took a nap came back in the evening and I wanted to stick around till sunset because I wanted to play around here until the evening hours to see what I could see I had my one day twenty four hour pass I'm going to make his much use of that twenty five hour pass as I can possibly get and there were some other nice shots that I god that I would not normally be able to get in the morning or in the afternoon because of where the light is I wanted to play around with some light painting so I got my flashlight out and I had to wait till it got very dark so I could see the stars and it took me several times of light painting to try to get the mixture of light and composition just right I tried one shot without light painting and that didn't work at all but when the light painting work really nicely you got an image that was just really unique and quite different and so it was well worth the extra time that I spent out there I spent a lot of hours and it got very hot but it was well well worth it in my opinion so this two days has actually flown by for me and just up here very very quickly usually these days are kind of long hard days but these have gone by very very quickly I know that you probably have a ton of questions if you do go back and watch it again because some of you I think you're asking questions that we got yesterday that you may not have been tuned in for but sometimes I feel like I'm just I'm bulldozing you with information and you got to go back a couple of times to pick up oh I kind of miss that one point there and so sometimes you need to go through a couple of times a few other things that may answer some of your questions we didn't get into post processing when it's spent any time in light room or photo shop and people often wonder how much do you do what do you do so let me give you the ten second synopsis of what I do I make sure I have a straight on horizon I clean any dust that there might be I'm going to add a little bit of contrast I'm going to make sure that there's a black point so if I have the black slider I'm going to slide that make sure there's a good solid black point on the image I might brighten up the shadows a little bit so I'll take that shadow slider and slide it up a little bit or I might do a little bit of local adjustment and brighten up something that's gotten a little too dark where we've gotten lost in the shadows I'm going to add a little bit of vibrance which is like saturation I usually don't touch the saturation slider in light room we have vibrance which is a smart saturation which only saturates things that are not saturated to start with and so it's just a little bit of color to get back from the plainness of the raw image and then I'll add a bit of sharpening depending on whether I'm going to print the image or I'm going to put it in a slight show on tv and that's it I don't spend much time working on the computer I'm probably not the right guy to do a photo shop class with because it be like the class with the over at nine ten you know I'd be spending two minutes on howto open and close and here's the few things that I do and that's it we're done one of the things that we didn't talk about that we could have spent a whole section on is dealing with the wilderness and in case it's been a while since you've been a boy scout or girl scout and you've been wondering what are the ten essentials that I need to have when I'm out traveling in the wilderness these are the ten essentials they've update him for the modern system do I travel with all ten all the time no I don't I travel with many of them I'm often carrying water and sunscreen I don't always carry a shelter with me I'm not always backpacking with a tent or even a space blanket it really depends on how far from the car I'm going how long I expect to be gone but I always trying to take more food and more water than I would absolutely need and always taking little things like lights that are just part of the kit I actually have basically one ziploc bag it's a court bag that's about this big that I always throw in my bag and it takes up a space of about one really nice lands but that's my emergency bag and I've got some band aids and bandages and I've got uh what else do I have in there I have a knife and some little things like that that I might need if something happens but that's generally what I have with me no matter where I go write in my camera back some just general tips I don't know where they fit health and safety is your number one priority if you're hurt you're not going to take the pictures and that's no fun at all if you're just not feeling well you're not going to be in the right set right mindset for taking pictures and so you need to do whatever is necessary so that you are in the right state of mind mentally and physically you know even if you're not getting great pictures enjoy the moment because you are in some great locations and not everything makes a great photograph and so there are plenty of times where I have just set the camera down and sat there and looked at it because okay the lights not quite right for photography but I can appreciate it with my own eyes and we could do that a lot more of the time that we can actually getting great photographs do enjoy yourself out there tread lightly be careful with where you walk in general don't do anything you want it like someone else to do and so be very careful about where you're walking and I know there's probably questions about well would you step over the fence to get a shot and would you do that and would do that well I generally follow the rules I suggest you to follow the rules but I'm a little pragmatic and if there's a fence here and there's a rock I need to step on just to get a shot and I'm not harming anything I may have done that in the past but I would like to say that I have never caused any serious damage anywhere and remember no matter how bad things are you might be just five minutes away from a great photograph if you have the right mindset and the openness to think about all the possibility that you might get now I've presented the slide of many class but I think it deserves to be here a swell my definition of what I think makes a great photograph and that it is has to overriding components it's beautiful and it's interesting and the common thread between these is that we've got a nice subject in there that is both beautiful and interesting to look at beautiful means we've got good light we know what that is we've had a section on that good composition we have section on that and choosing it photographing it at the right moment we have a section on that what's interesting things that are new things that are new to you things that are new to me things that I haven't seen before things that have been photographed with a different perspective and things that have a little bit of mystery to it said before just telling a tight clean story maybe not trying to show everything in one shot and to kind of close up it's kind of close up where we began on those landscape goals those goals that I think we should all have that'll improve our landscape photographs our sense of awareness increasing your observation skills keep watching out there watch those clouds were the birds flying to what's the light doing hone your ability to recognize potential and expand your imagination of what is possible so keep those in your mind and get out there and shoot some great shots

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Beautiful landscapes are all around us – they are a joy to experience, but a challenge to capture in a single photo. In Nature and Landscape Photography, you’ll learn the essential tools and techniques for taking photographs that reflect the splendor of landscapes and the captivating details of nature.

In this class, award-winning photographer John Greengo will use illustrations, animations, and photographs of destinations from around the world to teach you the thought process behind great nature photography. You’ll learn which gear is suited to the environment you want to shoot and how to plan for ideal light and composition. John will help you master exposure and focus so you get a better shot in camera and improve your edits by taking you through hands-on photo critiques.

From complicated cameras to challenging environments, several obstacles stand in the way of you taking a photograph that reflects the landscape as you see it. This class will help you take nature and landscape photographs that reflect your unique perspective.

This course is part of the landscape tutorials series. 

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Composition Keynote

Equipment Keynote

Exposure Keynote

Focus Keynote

Light Keynote

Subject Keynote

Timing Keynote

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Thomas Hamlin

Most of nature's beauty has been photographed by lots of people over the years. However, nothing compares to actually visiting famous places, buildings, mountains, etc. and taking your own photographs. John Greengo provides the necessary equipment information, photographic principles, and techniques in a manner which inspires you to put in the extra effort to take the best nature photographs that you can with the gear that you have. His unique illustrations, actual real life photographs, and easily understood explanations are top notch. I highly recommend this outstanding course. I have several of John Greengo's photography courses, and I highly recommend them all. His vast experience with film and digital photography, gained through traveling and working with some well known photographers, gives his courses a unique perspective.

a Creativelive Student

I love this course, John. It is one of my all time favorites. First of all I loved your effort scale. I knew as soon as you went through the scale that you are a guy that I want to listen to. To me, the effort part IS the fun part of photography. When you asked the question about one wish ... the first thing that came to my mind was that I wish I had more time for photography. I like the technology, but I do not wish for any special powers. To me, that would take the challenge away. Photography is wonderful because every subject challenges the photographer to get the angle right, the light right, the settings right ... I love that challenge. I think you do too, John, and that is why this course is so special. The attention you pay to every detail comes from the drive you have to meet the challenges with every thing you've got. That is why your class is so special. Your work ethic is exceptional. SandraNightski

a Creativelive Student

While delving more thoroughly into Nature and Landscape photography in a smaller format, John Greengo provides us with an amazing companion to his outstanding courses Fundamentals Of Digital Photography and Travel Photography. Here he gives us another necessary treatise to study before packing our gear and heading out in a car, a plane, a boat (or just for a long hike), and it’s as entertaining as the others. Thank you again John Greengo and Creative Live for these expert and brilliantly illustrated programs. I just hope you keep finding more subjects to photograph and provide the instructions for.