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Gear, Settings, and Tech

Lesson 8 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

Gear, Settings, and Tech

Lesson 8 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

8. Gear, Settings, and Tech

Lesson Info

Gear, Settings, and Tech

I want to kind of walk you through all of the general settings that I'm going to go do and these were a little bit exceptional I warmed everything up I'm shooting with a faster I s ok some handholding not gonna use a tripod in a situation like this would be nearly impossible to use a tripod. If anything, I would just lay the camera flat on the ground and then just fire. But of course, with this angle of me here and a fisheye, I'm gonna get myself in the shot becomes a self portrait. So really the only way this is hand held. So you want to make sure your eyes those high and you gotta pay attention to that aperture and that shutter speed in that whole balance also using auto focus. But let me slow down the whole process and actually take you inside what my basic settings are, you know, in a workflow before we go on and actually light a fire and get some people over here is our models and show you how to really develop all of the in between moments the first thing I do before I go on a sh...

oot it's usually a hotel room or a tent or wherever it is before I begin the night before the morning before I go out depending on the shoe, I go through all my menu options and I like to set, um, everything in advance of going out so that when I get out there, typically, I get so excited that I run right out to whatever spot it is that I want a photograph, and I forget about everything else. I don't want to get out there and realizing shooting high res j pegs when I've been meaning to shoot raw files the whole time and then start having to make adjustments, and while I'm busy making these adjustments, the light is disappearing, so the more prepared you are and the more you create what I call just sort of a structured workflow, your whole process in general will become more refined, and you'll be less worried about your settings on your camera or if you have, all of your lens is back in your bag and you be more worried about making a great composition. And am I using these tools to actually make that composition great? So workflow begins for me and how I packed my bag, and this is really, really specific tow how I like to do things, but literally every lens goes in the same pocket every time, and you write so well, who cares? You know, I could just do a scan if I'm ever missing one. I don't have to then go through forgot what they are once they have their lens hood's on and when some of these lands is a pretty expensive once they have their leaden hood lens hood on, they all sort of look the same when they're in the bag. And so it sounds simple, but I've actually never lost the lens other than one time and that's because everything was stolen while the bag was checked at the airport, which is never fun and that's why you have insurance, but if I have everything in its own spot and I'm outside and it's easy to be working in tall grass or something like this, or you're even in a sleeping bag or what state it's in a group setting or something like that and you set it down, I know, okay? This is where the wide angle goes and it's not in here. I've lost my wide angle. I know what I'm looking for, um, same with a big lenses missing, whatever I do that with everything from my filters, teo uh, to the lenses to even my memory cards in my storage tohave a waterproof container for so I have a whole process even for that, so when a memory card is finished and it's used, it doesn't just go back into this how you have a second case as a backup or it's a simple as if the cards are unused their upright, when the cards were used, they go down, and then that way, when I opened it there facing down um, so ah, process is really, really important because it allows you to move swiftly. I'm not worried about where things are, what memory cards or good I don't have to put in a memory card, look at it and then realize that, uh, well, that's uh that's something that I just shot on its filled or accidentally put it in thinking it's knew, and then I form at the car, so that is important for having a process. The same thing happens with my settings and my workflow on my camera, so as I start, I have some bass settings that I like to use. For starters, I always shoot of raw quality format raw allows is basically an unprocessed, un compressed file that stores the maximum amount of information in a scene, so if I need to make minor adjustments later meaning in the studio and photoshopped or back home or in the hotel room during my edit that evening, I could do so it's also important member, if you're shooting raw, which I usually only shoot raw, I don't shoot raw and jae pak j j peg, I usually only show shoot raw that you're looking at an unprocessed files, which means that there's not a lot of contrast, there's not gonna be a lot of saturation there's no sharpness. I try to go for as neutral oven images possible, I'm there to capture information and that's, why shoot raw files? So the information is a critical critical understanding point, which is why, when I was starting with our crash course this morning and getting sunrise, and I'm talking about using the filters to balance the light and create this equilibrium that it's less about, um, it's less about creating an artistic effect necessarily at that specific moment, and maura about making sure that all of the information is captured in a way that when I actually get to work with the file it's there and I can work with one file versus working with nine files and doing very complicated layering, all of my photography is meant to be, um, very simple in its process. So I don't when I get it in a photo shop, I don't spend hours and hours on a single image. I have a few quick steps that will actually execute, and those steps really are possible because I take the necessary steps in the field here with process with managing the way my raw files or captured we're using my filters and so on, and we're going to go through those steps uh, later when we actually get back into the creative live studio in seattle, but first thing is the raw file today we're shooting raw and j peg the differences. Obviously j peg has the contrast, has a little sharpness, has a little saturation tio so I make sure that I'm shooting in the right quality. I turn off the beep because the whole beep thing in nature starts to get a little old after forty five thousand exposures. Um, the other thing I like to do is then go through and you look at your exposure compensation, which, obviously I'm adjusting all the way along my white balance, which almost always ninety nine percent of the time my white balance, that color temperature we talked about kelvin is in the, um is in the auto white balance field right now to show you the results of what we're getting. I switched it to a very warm temperature just so we can kind of pre visualize what are result will be when we get back in the studio. The white balance is usually auto white balance. If you forget, this is one of the few fields where if you make a mistake, you can fix it later and it's considered a lossless fix, meaning it will not degrade the overall quality of the image unlike if you forget to shoot raw and you only have j pegs you're not going to go make the same changes with the same extent uh to the jpeg file as you would with a raw file because it's not an un compressed uh very, very robust file um, that you would have with raw um I don't touch any of the other fields except for color space and I have to say this is one of the ones that probably is arguable about how much of a difference you really see but the way I always learned it and this is the way I I stick with it and it is a fact at least scientifically I go with the adobe rgb color space and says instead of s rgb, very rarely do I noticed that people ever even father to alter this field and they leave it in the ass rgb field srg b is a smaller web based color space, which means it has fewer active colors or fewer colors within its range, whereas the adobe rgb is the largest color space that you're operating and so obviously, when working you want tohave is much information as possible ah, when when photographing and gathering that information because essentially you take all of the r out of this you simply look at the science where information collectors we're out here to capture as much information about the a scene about having blown out highlights and way too black shadows that have no data in them I'd rather below them out or lose them by choice and not because the information wasn't there to begin with and so all of these little settings are settings that really start to apply to that um my picture style I have ah a standard picture style is sometimes you accustomed picture style as well that sort of drops back the quality I really like to shoot video and a lot of my assignments I would say most of the assignments that I that I get these days require some sort of video element in that case I will adjust the picture style to more neutral uh, quality the difference is standard add some sort of, um punch to it on contrast saturation and sharpness where a neutral reduces all of that it's the closest I can get to a quote unquote raw file on a video file on my dslr um so by reducing that contrast, I'm helping preserve that information so that in the editing software, whatever that may be, I can actually bring that information back in the next field scrolling just threw my menu I've got um you know, highlight alerts things like that I don't use them for the most part, if I'm analyzing the quality of my image and I'll show you this a couple days in the field, we did a lot of this in rainier we look at history grams and how the history grams themselves really play a role in understanding your highlights in your black suit just mentioned, I don't know highlights to clip we're not have any data information in them, but I also don't want my shadows to compete completely black, and he lost his well, so so you got the quality setting here, and you could see the raw plus l l being a large j peg, which is the quality that I'm shooting today and you see, uh, the other basic settings that I talked about here and my white balance at the moment we're in kelvin mode, um, which is, uh, custom mode, and if I click that I could go and violet all the way back down to a specific in temperature or the preference is actually to shoot in auto auto white balance, because, again, this is lossless megan do custom and then the other space that we're talking about his color space, you know, there's, adobe and s rgb most cameras default to the s rgb. So you may need to go into your menu and adjusted so that you have the larger, more robust color space of adobe rgb and then the picture style standard you'll notice that it refers to these symbols which a little higher cliff iq refered to contrast sharpness so on and each of these air different I rarely use if I actually never used any of the presets. Um, certainly never used monochrome if I want to make something monochrome, I'm shooting digital, I'll go ahead and and make it monochrome after the fact. At this point, I'm just as I said, a data capture so it me the shooting standard typically or neutral for video? We'll keep it on standard nothing on this field, uh, hissed a gram brightness, that kind of thing. Um, one thing you may want to do is adjust your lcd brightness to you could adjust this is muchas you want, but the truth is you're never gonna get it fully lined up because the conditions there constantly changing. So I found what's considered a sweet spot, and you also start after shooting enough pictures, learning how bright your lcd really is versus what you're really getting. And so what is the lcd, the lcd screen on the back of your camera? It's the thing we all reference in rely on way too much we should be relying mostly on our history graham and hissed a gram, which is a z explaining the field but I'm going to show you here is well is when I hit play on my photo and then I hit info I eventually get this little bar but it looks like a little heartbeat monitor here in the middle and when I'm looking for is all of my information and data to fall here in the middle of something goes he notices a scroll through and I get a darker image and everything shifts to the left the darks are black are reflected here on the left hand side the white is reflected on the right hand side and so as something moves towards a brighter, uh exposure everything starts to shift that direction. You should be able to look at this and I understand if you have a good quality exposure or not because you have all of your data hovering right in the middle coming close to these edges without fully spiking on these edges or without having anything in it. So for example, if I shoot a shot let's do it where it's really really too dark I'm just going to shoot here at the ground take a a wide angle shot of my pant leg now I hit play, you'll notice how everything shifted all the way over the shots too dark we're starting to edge towards too dark I'm gonna stop all the way down and do it again. So you notice now I've got a really dark photo and watch how the history damn spikes all way up on the left, I'm basically losing that in there, it's not capturing the dark areas and by looking at the history ram, I'm able to understand that, but simply by looking at that point, I'm not going to rely solely on this monitor because if I look at the monitor on lee, I could fix that later. It's not bad, right? But the truth is I've actually put everything way too dark on that end, I want everything be right in the middle again think of yourself as a data gatherer. Uh, so the history graham is a great tool for that and that's it on my menu settings. The other thing I do is a quick run through of all of my top settings here I checked my auto white balance I don't usually go through the menu every time I set all my color space everything once in a while and then go through my menu and just a quick peek I see a w b I see raw plus else I know I got a raw on a high res jpeg and then my meat oring mode I'm almost always in a valued of mita ring mode and you can adjust where that focuses using different points or squares every camera models a little different, but you couldn't make it center waited you could make it a value tio I used the value of mita ring mode because essentially I'm relying on history ram for my meeting anyway I'm not getting married to the idea of having uh one one spot being my my center point I was working in more of a studio or controlled environment where the lighting will was very specific and I'm analyzing a particular area I might use spot metering um or something with a narrower focus but a valued of meandering which evaluates literally the entire scene uh that's the area that all mostly focused on I'm sorry that's the focus mode that I will mostly use um you'll see how many shots you have left uh and then rapid fire battery and all that other stuff I'll set all of this so that my eyes so my mode which is usually aperture priority as a landscape photographer, I'll settle this before I even started photograph, I'll go through all of this so that I know mentally where I'm starting probably gonna deviate away from it right away maybe in the first few shots maybe not, but either way I'm not trying to figure out where I'm starting before I start, I know I'm going into the same prepared my bags back settings air good. I know. Maximizing the amount of information of capturing I know, maximizing the modem, shooting in withdraw. And I know that all my settings are in my control and now I'm ready to start beginning my photography. So with that, I'm gonna try and start doing some. Yes, I'm gonna come join you, ok? I love how you've said to us previously that you don't like to talk about gear very much it's. True. Tell us how you really feel. I don't know, but I don't have I think that was awesome. Yeah, I don't think it's good to get a good overview of what's going on and you pack later than a lot seen some photographers that pack with cases in cases a year. But I don't think you necessarily need that well and everybody's different but it's really important to know what you d'oh. So thank you for going through all those sentences. Really helpful. I do want to ask you a couple questions about here. In this scenario. Skip brandt had asked, I have twenty five two one o five, but it's the f four is that a reasonable alternative to the twenty four to seventy two point eight? We have a lot of people, obviously, that are just getting started more and it's a twenty five to it's a twenty four to one o five twenty four twenty five yes, absolutely it's a reasonable turnover, you don't need everything to be exact. You wanna have a range? You know, if you've got a two eight lens or an f four lens, you know, yeah, the to aid is definitely going to be a faster lens. Um, and that means you get a little bit more ah, leniency in low light situations, and you get that extra f stop or stop half stopped according to stop um, the truth is, though, it's, not all about that and it's about how you can work in how you use it. And so you say, well, I know I've got enough for and I don't have a two point eight lens. Well, then look at the lighting situations that maybe have a little bit more light think of what angle you're coming from and then try and make that work for you but it's absolutely a good lens. Use a tripod, use a tripod thing or move your eyes so up, so instead of going at I s o one hundred. So do I so two hundred four hundred and now since the eyes those of changing so rapidly becoming so sensitive I think eventually we get to the point where we don't even need lights level at all I'm sure we could do this whole scene in the candle one day would be also be pretty cool okay one more question and then let's get shooting but again on the year um I have a lot of uh this is from our blackwell a lot of the canon equipment the seventy that you showed but is a four thirds camera acceptable as a second camera um micro four thirds yeah that's a great question for this type of talk yeah, I mean again it boils down a personal preference um you know, are you getting the results that you want out of your camera and if not, what is it that that's preventing you from doing it? You feel like you know, a lot of I think a very common thing is people of two bodies one is a full frame sensor and one is not a full frame sensor and for those that don't know what that means a full frame sensor refers to literally the size of the sensor in the sense that shooting a sixteen millimetre gets me a sixteen millimeter image um there's a basic way to explain it where a sixteen millimeter on a crop sense or a non full frame sensor would be magnified by one point one point for one point five depending every since there's so many options these days they're all slightly different but around that conversion meaning sixteen would become what is that like a twenty yeah someone twenty to something like that I don't know yeah that's why I'm a photographer from the master um but anyway you're not getting the full force of it he also with a full frame sensor it's uh they they tend to capture light better than your higher resolution image um you know the defendant megapixel counts but again all of that is always changing with technology different brands are very different you know I mentioned earlier image stabilizer lenses and how the lenses in image stabilization was also cameras where the body's image stabilized and not the lens so you know there's there's so many different ways to look at everything in photography ultimately you shouldn't look at your gear and say is this right or is it wrong you need to ask yourself is it working for me and if it's not what about it isn't working for you is it that you're not getting the depth of field you want um you know so we did a lot of very big death field grand as to feel with the landscape where everything is sharp but if you're trying to get a shot of the field is we're about to do here in the camp ground and you're not getting enough of it because your camera's a five point six lens and you're just not getting the results you want. At that point, you might want to consider buying a new lens or changing the camera body and set up a little bit, but it's really about results, not about what's on your list, I think that's a great, great way to look at it, and for caleb cook, who can't get l glass anytime soon. Again, it was all personal preference, and I love your that thought about looking at it as what am I missing? Not you know, in terms of what you're trying to achieve, not just what, gary, listen, yeah, I mentioned that earlier this morning as well, farr's how I started, I didn't have the best of anything, and I only changed my camera body and started buying into better gear, better gear when I felt like I was hitting a limitation because of a technical aspect and because creatively I could no longer hit the goals I wanted to hit, and so I'm now going to make that leap and find out what is the next best investment for me and for every person it's different, um, you know, I'm a big advocate on the quality of your lenses in your glass over your over the body, necessarily so I tend, teo, upgrade or add more class than I would upgrade, or at my body's. But again, personal preference, there's. No right or wrong way to that.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Field Guide to Photographing the American Wilderness
Icons of Nature Keynote
National Park Photography Intro and Setup
Photo Editing Keynote
10 Steps to Processing Perfect Star Trail Images
Business of Photography Keynote
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


I have taken quite a few courses with createlive and this was by far one of the best. Ian is a fantastic teacher and remarkable at describing what he is doing and his thought process clearly. There is so much good information in this course, I definitely plan on buying this class. Not only is Ian a great teacher, but he also seems to genuinely want to help other photographers and see them succeed. You can tell he cares more about seeing good pictures of nature than anything else. I cannot recommend this course enough. Whether you are a beginner who shoots landscape photography as a hobby or a professional who already specializes in landscape photography, this class has something to offer and will expand your skill set. Can't thank Ian enough and I hope he does another course soon.


Ian is a great teacher and it is great when some one who "can do", can also explain how he does it. Clearly, his experience and commitment are why he is good at what he does. There is a lot more to a great photo than getting the camera settings and filters right. Ian did his best to help us understand what to look for when "working the scene" and finding a good composition without distractions. A great course. Thank you, Creative Live and Ian Shive.


Amazing course. Ian Shive is a wonderful teacher, as well as photographer, and it all comes across. I was glued to my computer for the entire 3 days when the class was live, and just had to purchase it so I don't lose any of it. The bonus materials alone are worth the purchase price. I've got a trip coming up soon and will have the opportunity to put some of what Ian said into practice; and love that I can have it with me on my portable devices so I can refresh my memory and reinforce it all. Great to have on a long plane ride. If you are on the fence, get off that fence and go purchase this great course!!! You won't be sorry. My thanks to CreativeLive, and Ian Shive for giving us this wonderful opportunity to not only learn, but to actually be in the field with Ian.

Student Work