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Nature and Landscape Photography

Lesson 2 of 27

The Bad and Good of Nature Photography

John Greengo

Nature and Landscape Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

2. The Bad and Good of Nature Photography

Lesson Info

The Bad and Good of Nature Photography

now folks I do have one of those things that we got to go through here and that is the good news and the bad news and we all know how we're supposed to do this let's do the bad news now and get it out of the way so I want to tell you what is bad about nature and landscape photography to start with everything has been shot sorry to say you are not going to be the first person to really shoot anything every tree plant flour rock arch lake river valley hill valley or expansive land has that you are ever going to see in your entire life has already been photographed by somebody else you are not going to be the first and every once in a while you will run into would I affectionately call a crime budget and older photographer who says delicate art well I was going there thirty years ago I was back before they had paved roads and there was a secret society that they passed notes around on where to find this arch now everybody tramps up there and takes pictures it was hard when I did it well I...

'm really sorry I wasn't born thirty years earlier I got into it when I got into it it's a great location I like it and it's a beautiful place to be and the way I see it is that delicate arch and there's many other places are classic landscapes and they're just like classic literature they're not meant to be read by one person they're meant to be read by everybody it's going to improve your photography going to these locations of having that experience under your belt now I gotta admit that some of these places it's really hard to do anything creative new because they are so well seen and photographed by thousands and millions of photographers but don't let that sway you from going there if you want to go there go there photograph it enjoy it make great pictures with your own personal style on it I have no problems with that all right second bad thing photos don't reflect the experience and this is where a lot of the rank amateurs get caught up they get really excited I know I've been into hiking mountains and I love climbing up to the mountain getting up to the top and how that normally goes for a lot of people is you hike up to the very top of the mountain and you take your first picture and you take all these pictures at the top of the mountain and then you hike down and the top of the mountain is rarely were the best photos are but you're so emotionally charged at climbing the top of the mountain that's where you want to take your pictures and in a lot of things that we d'oh we're an emotional creature and we get excited about certain things but that doesn't translate into great photographs you kind of have to coolie separate the emotions from the visual now if you are an emotional person and we all are to some degree it's best if you're going to use those to motivate you I mean I used my emotions to help me get get me up at four o'clock in the morning when I think alright I don't want to get up at four o'clock in the morning but this is gonna be a great sunrise we're going to be in a great location the next bad thing it takes more effort than you would expect as I said before photography landscape photography seems very very easy and it's much more difficult and once you start realizing this if it's important to you you say to yourself all right I'm going to put out the effort and really try to make something happen but the problem is is that effort does not equal quality there are many times that I have put out a tremendous amount of effort in order to get a shot and I have walked away with either nothing or virtually nothing yeah that's you know it's a sad case when you come home completely empty handed but you gotta you gotta put yourself out there and give it a try and finally a photographic agenda conflicts with everything else so if you're going to be going to the park with family and you're trying to play ball with the kids and take pictures at the same time it just doesn't work out there's a lot of reasons we go to the national parks as I say I like get me a good hike on I like for going for a ten twelve mile hike but when I have my hiking buddies who really just want to go hard photography doesn't fit into their schedule at all and so when you're trying to take great photographs you need to kind of set some time aside or you need to work with other photographers who understand your time requirements in order to be out there doing this so let's not all leave it bad let's let's talk about some of the good things about nature in landscape photography new experiences are good for you we talked about going to some of these classic classic locations this is upper antelope canyon there is probably close to five hundred people a day that see this location I want to show you more about it a little bit later on in the class but it is photographed millions and millions of times but it was my first time there and it was exciting and it was fun and I ended up with some very nice photographs and I think it's helped me grow as a photographer and it was a really good experience just tow have so as I said feel free to go to those great locations get your own take learn from it and see what it can do for the rest of your photography the second thing is that the world is in constant change okay so here's some ripples on a lake I challenge anyone to take this exact photograph I mean exact photograph you will never get the wind and the waves exactly right the world is in constant change and it's always changing now remember this first picture that I showed you this is this is a picture I took twenty years ago up at mount rainier and I went up there this year to redo the photograph for this class well you know because I got a new hairdo now and I wanted to have an updated photo for the shot and I went back to the same location and that trail is no longer there I don't know what it's washed away and after some floods or rain or whatever the case is it's no longer there and you never know what you're going to be photographing may not be there in five or ten or a hundred years and so your one time in that location is somewhat unique and so in some ways every photo is completely unique in that regard even if it's the same location the next good thing is that the quality keeps getting better and better you know I feel so strange we're going to be talking about nature and landscape photography for two days and I don't talk about four by five field cameras at all it wasn't that long ago that that's what nature photographers used those big old deal cameras like ansel adams used and nowadays the quality has gotten smaller and we don't need to carry around nearly as much gear and it's very rare that I ever see a photographer with a four by five camera out shooting landscapes it's extraordinarily rare and the quality will keep getting better and in twenty years you're gonna look back at what you were shooting now just in terms of technical quality and it's going to blow it away because it's just keeping he keeps getting better and better and this final one is the most important and that is your perspective is unique the way that you see the world what you pick up on is different than everyone else I love doing photo workshops and going on tours and seeing what other photographer shoot that are in the same environment I am because they see different things it's like I saw it but I didn't see it and it was really really fun working on the number of the tours and workshops that I've been on seeing what other people take because it opens my mind I didn't see that house where did you go and get that photo and this is something that you get to bring to the table your personal vision and you'll be able to do this wherever you go now the perception of what you're experiencing and what you see and those non front photographer friends around you are often going to say wow it's so pretty out here it's just so beautiful it's just gorgeous get your camera out take a picture of this this is wonderful and when you hear people saying those things it frequently doesn't cut it there is kind of a special set of criteria of things that make good nature photographs and it's not always what other people think are going to make good photographs will be aware that your perception before photography changes once you're into photography and when it comes to advice you're going to get advice from people about will you should go up this trail it's it's a great trailer you should go over here there's a really nice looking like be very wary of non photographers advice and as a small ass trick on this you should still be wary of photographers advice sure it might have been great when this other photographer was there but when you go there things have completely changed and you can't shoot that shot anymore and I pretty much don't take advice anymore at all because I have found it completely unreliable when somebody says this is a great place to shoot and I go up there and what are they talking about there is nothing this is this is terrible and then I go to some other place and I'm like why is this not in books and maps everywhere else and so I have no problems walking down any trail because I know that that great photo could be five minutes around the corner any place you go if you want to be successful in doing this in general you need to be very focused on what you're doing and I find it very interesting when somebody does something and they obtain a certain high level of skill and then they come over here and they do something completely different and they take their skill set from a and they apply it to be and for me my ai was running I still run I've run close run close to fifty thousand miles I've competed in almost a thousand races and I've applied a lot of that mindset and training into photography and there's not a lot of relationship but there is something in that when I go out and photograph it's kind of an event for me it is something I mentally prepare for I get a good night's rest I get a good breakfast and I get myself physically in the right place I get my mindset in the right place because I know and this is kind of a little secret for you amateur photographers out their professional photographers our only shooting pictures camera in hand ready to shoot a picture less than ten percent of the time and so you have to be fully geared up fully focused on what you were doing when you were out there ready to shoot and every once in a while when I'm out there and I've got that camera and I'm right there and I'm looking for the shot I'm thinking this is prime time this is where it all counts right here to be successful you also need to be open minded about the possibilities they mentioned that before about what can we do with this thinking about things moving around looking at different subjects in different ways and the final little element of success is embracing the process there is a process to nature and landscape work we're going to be going through it in equipment techniques sections and it's very hard to circumvent this I get some people who are like well john I don't want to carry a tripod how about a mono pod can I do it with a mono pod and I'll go into that and in general no there's certain tools that you have to have their certain ways that really has to be done now it is open to personal interpretation how you want it to look and what you want to do but there are certain things that just kind of have to be done a certain way if you want him done right as we get into this class I have some expectations of you and you should be familiar with all basic camera controls all the exposure controls in your camera and all you're focusing controls this is not a basic photography class I have another class called fundamentals of digital photography and I'm not going to be going through all kind of those root explanations of how different things work further you should be completely familiar with depth of field use of all your shutter speeds and you're focusing this is just kind of what I expected here we will be talking a little bit about this for those of you that have lots of experience please don't feel put off every once in a while I got to reach down to the people who don't have this much knowledge and bring them up a little bit so we are going to cover some basics as well assume or advanced subjects as well as faras the equipment we're going to get into that main section coming up but just real quickly and generally you should have a camera that you can manually control the exposure on you need to be able to manually control the focusing on it it's going to be best with an interchangeable lens camera it's still possible with the fixed lens cameras were built in zoom but it's best with the interchangeable lens cameras and it's going to be best with an eye level finder it's very hard to work with those screens outside and bright sunlight and so having an eye level finder is definitely going to help out there is a hole section of this class that I did not put in and it's basically one slide right here and it's all about dealing with life out in the wilderness and if you're going to do that you need to be prepared for being out in the wilderness areas you need to be knowledgeable about where you are and what you are doing and what you were likely to encounter you need to be properly equipped and I think it helps to be fit so that you can get yourself out of situations and it helps quite a bit if you're tolerant when I was in yellowstone national park this last february it got down to minus thirty nine degrees and if you're wondering if that's celsius or fahrenheit I think thirty nine degrees below zero is exactly the same in either one and the coldest temperature right every experience was about zero and I'll be honest with you it wasn't that big a deal I spent about three hours out in thirty minus thirty nine degrees and this is like the one selfie that I've ever shot I shot a lot of self timers but holding the phone now I just needed to get a quick quick picture because I had no idea that this is what I look like I didn't realise this until after I had taken the picture that so much snow had encrusted on my hat and neck gaiter but it really wasn't that at all I was properly dressed I knew what I was getting into on dh I had a great time I don't mind working in minus thirty nine degrees I don't like it when it's windy and minus thirty nine I'll tell you that that gets really hard but if you're prepared you could be out there for a long period of time so I want to give you my formula for taking great nature and landscape photos and so this is the elements that you need starting with good equipment good equipment does help we're going to get into that you're next you need to have what is this uh right proper technique doing things the right way and I'm a big proponent of going down to your local park and shooting pictures in your back yard but folks are going to be honest with you there are some places on this planet that have a whole lot maur photographic potential than other places I have I've been on a six week trip where I hardly took any photos just because it just really wasn't a place that inspired me and I just couldn't find those great shots and there are other places where I'm shooting hundreds and hundreds of photos a day because it is just so rich and so getting to those rich areas is a lot of fun next up that's right you need to be there at the right time being in the right place the right time of the season the right time of the day is critical and our fifth element is dealing with composition what you do your interpretation on any particular scene and so as we look at kind of the full schedule for this class we're gonna be going through equipment in sections kind of won into today this afternoon we're going to going through exposure and then later today focus day two is we're going to be getting more into the artistic side and mohr of dealing with specific subjects and how to approach them whole section just on dealing with different subjects what about flowers rivers mountains forests deserts could be talking about tips and techniques for all of those dealing with different timing light and then finally composition now I guess I should tell you what's not in this class alright has his important is what's in this class all right so some things I'm not going to talk about it I'm not going to talk about the business of being a wildlife photographer so if you want to do this is a business and sell stock photographs or get hired by magazines or sell artwork down at the craft fair we're not getting into any of them I'm not going to talking about wilderness skills I'm not even going to be talking about photoshopping or light roomie light room light rooming okay there's the new work like grooming working on your images in post processing this class is very specifically on the capturing and taking of nature and landscape photographs so that's what you can expect out of this class now there's a number of things in this class that I am going to tell you our fax these are things that are absolutely true and you shoot with this lens with this aperture you're going to get more depth of field than if you shoot with that aperture but as much as there is of that there's also my opinion and this is kind of my take on things and you can take it being writer free for being wrong you could look at my photos and say I hate all his photos he's a terrible photographer I don't want to learn his stuff and that's perfectly your opinion if you like my photographs and maybe you're going to like my style about these things now where do I get my style from well it's grown over twenty five years of shooting it's also partly been influenced by other photographers and so there's a number of photographers that you know I want to throw some credit out too you know we got to start with the great ansel adams of course every landscape photographer kind has to start right there but after ansel adams art wolfe definitely is a big influence and as many of you know I was a noces stint that worked for him for about three years and I was working with him on the tv show travels to the edge and I got to travel with him too the most exotic places on the planet we were shooting bears up in alaska we were shooting down in antarctica we were on wildlife safaris in africa and being able to shoot side by side with a great wildlife and nature photographer like him for three years well I can say it pretty much it easily eclipsed my four years in college getting a degree in photography much more volume means I was probably able to make more use of it because I had my degree and it's great to have both but that three year apprenticeship there was very very valuable seen how somebody works in many many different environments I think franz launching is a great photographer look him up and kind of one of the ones I really admire especially the lifestyle and the attitude is scaling round he was an adventure photographer that shot a lot of landscapes and wildlife and he would he would do he would take his camera running with him and he would run after rainbow see if he would just do the most with the most a little bit of equipment that he had and I really admire him I remember going to his gallery and bishop california and it was it was just a beautiful place very inspirational to go and finally someone whose name is not out there a lot but he's just I got such a good eye is john shaw and so if you want to look up a great photographer look up some of the work by john shaw really like he's got a very very clean I I would love to go out shooting with him because he could just pick up on details all over the place now I want to kind of make a connection because there was kind of there's something kind of interesting as I was working with art wolfe and we were doing some workshops in yosemite and monterrey and I'm not sure how he made the connection but ansel adams son invited art and myself and our students to have dinner at ansel adams actual house this is a house that he built and it's pretty near monterey california we went over there there's a lot of great memories from that night but a couple of things that I'll tell you is I got to go in his dark room and I believe he built his house after he had become fairly famous and he kind of built the house around the darkroom and so when you walked in there he had concrete floors because he knew that he had to have a very very steady surface because that's where he did all his printing and he printed obviously very very large as many of you know and they didn't have like standard in larger and so he had built his own and he had his own custom bowl but normally there's one bowl but it's not bright enough so he had his own one built in this machine well it was it was less than refined looking it kind of looked like a frankenstein machine kind of bolts hanging out but it worked and then he projected it on to because it was so he was printing so large he didn't print down because most people print on a larger down and he was printing across so he'd have the camera here and he had to have these gigantic metal doors that would swing open that he could move forward and backward and then he would use magnets to put the pieces of paper up here when he was doing is enlarging and I just thought it was still fun to be able to go into that room and see the actual place that he worked in the second thing that I remember about his place is that he's got this giant I can take a picture of one of ansel's most favorite famous photographs moonrise over hernandez and I can only imagine what this picture would sell for because it was a beautiful print and it was gigantic and I forget if it was the largest of its kind in the world or if it's the only one of its one of three but extraordinarily rare and you know his son says I'm never selling that it was just a beautiful place and so having that experience kind of sneaks into a great lineage in many ways and something that many people may not know about creative lives is that one creative live became creative live we had a very tiny studio in the back of art wolf's gallery I have started teaching when I was working at our walls and he had changed the classroom over and he rented the space to a company that was doing this online learning and they basically kind of went through this rebranding and restructuring and became creative live and chase jarvis I made this big announcement to the world this is this free online learning and my fundamentals of digital photography was the first creative life class and kenna was a part of that class she was there taking questions from people online and asserting them up to me do you remember that I do remember that and in fact we were just talking about going down history lane and the history of creative live and I actually went back and watched just last week watch that intro that tasted and remember that it was in your class and that was exactly probably right when I started to do this off camera hosting we didn't even the shots never even went to us because I think we just had one camera we had we'll get this folks we had one camera and every once in a while we could have the producer come over and say we've got to stop we have to change tapes the camera that's right that's right but I think is that you I kept forgetting my name way put a little sign out here that kenna well we had kind of a bank of people taking calls and it kind of looked like a pbs telethons where there there on the phones you know taking questions and they know we got a question for you and so I think it's a really fun linnaeus that we can draw from ansel to art to creative lives tow us here right now today and all of you are part of it that's right some folks out there probably watching probably were watching that we remember that joe go fundamentals so awesome so a cz many of you know I teach other classes here and I like to have a very visual class and so you can expect a very visual class in this I think I have over thirteen hundred slides I get a lot of people who send me comments and I thank you for those comments and I got a lot of people who appreciate the fact that it's a very visual class and another thing that's something that certain people pick up on that I put a lot of work into but kind of disappears into the ether is that I really try to organize the material so that it's very easy to learn and so I I've had to re look at how things are taught and so I started with the complete scratch piece of paper and said ok let's let's start this whole thing over again and so there's whole sections that when we get to the lighting section for instance I've kind of completely restructured it to help make it easier for people to learn how to attack these different subjects and I have a lot of photographs in here and I got a lot of photographs and here I went through and I built the class and I said okay I need a photograph to explain this theory so I put a photograph in and then somewhere else in the show okay I need to talk about depth of field and I put a photograph in and then I talk about composition I put a photograph and I go back and I'm like wait I got the same photograph in here well I don't want to repeat the same photograph over and over again and so I have photographs that try to explain the theory that's the most important thing to me if it's a good photograph that's kind of a bonus I like that but I try not to repeat photographs and there are a couple of photographs that are repeated so don't try to catch me on it I know that they're in there but generally they're only featured in one spot and in doing this I wanted you to have the greatest variety of images toe look out and it's because I have a theory and the theory is is that every photo is a learning experience whether it's a good photo or a bad photo it is something that you can learn from and what I have also learned is that when you dig nine hundred photos deep into your photo portfolio they aren't jaw dropping images when you get down to number nine hundred and so I'm not gonna promise you jaw dropping images at every turn but hopefully they will clearly explain what's going on and so we have come to the end of my very long winded and I apologise opening cannot do we have anything going on in the internet that I need to know about guys we have a john who has a comment or question in here but before that I do want to say it's fantastic to hear that some of the folks in the chat rooms were have been watching from the beginning and as always we have a lot of fans out there we have jean I want to say hi to jean bear and who's tuning in to see us today and rhoda who says john's classes are the best loved them all john what have you got I had possibly a suggestion for your success slide yes and that is don't say to yourself I'll come back and shoot that later do it now that's a good piece of advice I know in some cases I've looked at something I'm like that's pretty good I can get that later and you come back and the sun came out or the sun went away or something changed if you have the opportunity to shoot something and it's good do it unless there's something else highly compelling you to do something else and then I have a question are you going to go into uh trip planning like goingto a location what kind of research do you do before you go on on loki no not going to cover that too much that it's amazing at when I get down to two days the material which for some people is a very long time let's face it we live in a youtube culture where already there's people who tuned out because I've talked for more than three minutes and we're going to be really focusing on the shooting aspect of working at the camera okay

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

Related Classes


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.