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Hoh Rainforest Shoot

Lesson 28 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

Hoh Rainforest Shoot

Lesson 28 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

28. Hoh Rainforest Shoot

Lesson Info

Hoh Rainforest Shoot

This is an interesting segment because we went to the whole rainforest and there's a part of olympic national park out on the peninsula and it's a place that photograph before, if you remember yesterday I showed a picture during the course of my presentation, time icons and how it was the perfect time to be there photographing because was overcast and rainy, and after all, it is a rainforest. However, on this particular trip, it was not a rainforest, it was very hot, very sunny onda all the things that would normally make photographing in the woods were not there. It didn't happen, so I'll talk about how I made that work, how working with highlights in a forest, which is less than ideal, how that all came together, as well as two new skills using a telephoto lens for landscapes, which is something we talked about it and I'm talking about twenty four to seventy, seventy two, two hundred back type of focal length as well as panoramic stitching, too three images together to get a scene th...

at ultimately doesn't just become ah, single twenty megapixel images you would with a single frame, depending on your camera but now getting super mega pixel images forty sixty mega pixels by stitching them together. So we're going to go to all of that walk through the forest with me and the ho at olympic national park, and we come back, we're gonna add it and put all those elements together. We finally made it to olympic national park on the olympic peninsula in the wonderful state of washington, and of course, like all of this workshop, we have had less than fortunate weather and it's actually beautiful it's warm it's probably getting kind of summer balmy out here in the middle of the afternoon, and I was hoping that here in the whole rainforest, which is one of the best places to photograph because of all the moss and the incredible opportunities, pretty much every five feet is a new photographic opportunity. I was hoping to be more overcast and more rainforest after all, it's the whole rain forest, but it hasn't hasn't been that way, just like mount rainier. Six days to come out, we got here and there's bright hot sun is very dry it's not very way, and so everything that I anticipated, everything that I planned for is completely different. So that is the reality of being a nature photographer, so what I'm gonna do is is actually walking through my process because it's not like if I'm on an assignment for a magazine, and I've only got seventy two hours and I flew here special aura modification that I've been planning for months and months and months that I could just roll up the carpet and say, I'm going to go home because this isn't what I expected and this is an ideal it's still awesome place it's the really, really beautiful surrounded by gigantic ancient trees and I'm gonna work the scene and try and go through a few different lessons that I think will help you no matter where you are whether you here in olympic national park in the whole rain forest or in yosemite national park or find yourself in yellowstone and it's raining and thundering or snowing and depending on how it goes in montana could be all three in the same day. The first thing I want to go through is what I call the essence of place as they said when we first got here this is a rainforest, and while it's sunny and really warm, I'm going to try and figure out what is it that makes this place tick even when it's not raining in the rainforests and for me I look around and I said, wow, these trees are awesome there's moss hanging off of every branch and it looks like something that you would find in a bayou somewhere down in louisiana doesn't necessarily be the first thing you think of when you think of washington state and so I want to try and capture that really convey the richness of the forest and the richness of the environment and I want to make the moss and the thick lush atmosphere the center point of my photographs and so to capture the essence of place you have to figure out how to compose in that situation one of the most difficult things of composing in a forest with a lot of sun on a clear day which the ideal situation for me would be overcast or after the sun goes down and there's no direct light as I've mentioned many times throughout my entire career like a broken record I love that it's off sort of evening light and not necessarily the patchy spotty like but that's not the reality of it so we had to figure out how to make that work so I've got a wide angle lens on and I've got a polarizing filter on as well anytime I'm working in a wooded area or in a forest I always use a polarizing filter the reason is the leaves have wax on them that shines just like the glare on the surface of water. The shine on the surface of the leaves is something also that I'd like to get rid of now doesn't mean you always want to get rid of it but it's something that you can try and work with so I always cart around my polarizing filter and I'm going to just scout out the area and figure out what works in particular we've we've found this really big old old tree here in the middle of the rainforest, and, you know, one way to shoot a tree is always looking up, right? But I'm trying to figure out, how could I make this tree not necessarily my subject, but using it as a compositional element, using it to frame the photograph like I have a lot of other elements, as you see in other elements of this workshop? Ah, I use grass along the lake and reflection leaks at mount rainier is sort of my framing element that was the lower a portion of my frame in this particular moment in this composition, I'm thinking, well, this is the upper part, so I'm gonna use this is the upper part of my composition because I've got these long branches and the moss, the thing that gives us the essence of place is what is going to help me really achieve that goal. So I'm gonna find a way to get in there and work my way around over here on the tree and immediately one of the things that I noticed when checking out the area is that the police, when you're looking at it, this direction, the sun at my back. Looking this way where everything is getting hit by the sun it's a little lackluster but when I look this direction everything is back late because the moss is a little bit ah opaque or translucent the sun khun khun come through all of the little tendrils they're hanging down and it's thicker it doesn't it becomes very magical and that's that's what this feels like the whole rainforest in general to me feels almost like a fairytale place that you would have heard of is a kid and so I want to I want to capture that as best as I can so working around I see that this moss comes through, I'm actually going to use that as my top element and find a way to compose with a tree in the background. Now I've got some buildings and things and in the way trying to think of how we can do this, huh? Uh, so I think for this particular piece come around and just start kind of working the scene now you notice I'm not using a tripod, I'm handholding at this point super dark in here I'm going to need a tripod in any composition that I go after, but for now I'm going to just scout, essentially going scout at the same time that I'm planning to shoot this way I'm not confined to a fixed height always using your tripod is your scouting around is is not really the ideal situation because you're you're more than likely if your camera's locked there, you're gonna always be looking at everything at that height, I might want to get low, I might want high reach up, I don't want to be confined, so I'm gonna make sure hand holding and I'm gonna try and go after that same idea of getting a little bit of sun coming through the back light on and because I'm hand holding its really dark, I don't want to shoot ideally at ojai, I s o I want the quality to be really good, so for now I'm going to shoot it higher, so that means very sensitive sensor will go to eight hundred that way, I can actually just hand hold some shots and get compositions that way, I can look at them on the back of the camera and see what I'm getting, you know, try and get a little bit, uh point different angles and, you know, the direct sun light's not working out as well as I thought so when I move around but still using this, this giant branch and this giant tree is my compositional element move in, and now we're starting to see the leading lines I'm starting to see that this branch comes down like this goes up, goes out and then I could see the whole forest in the background I really like that only so I'm gonna try that and I'm gonna crop out the foreground because ultimately the essence of this place is the trees themselves. It looks pretty good someone try and twist my polarizing filter around to sort of results I'm getting and it's looking really great, so I like this composition, the lights a little spotty it's not ideal it's not his working as well as I thought back lit at least not in this particular case, but I'm gonna keep working through this area, but in this case it does look really great because most of this is in the shade. You've got a couple little highlights, but you're really getting a strong essence of place through the loss to the trees in the background and just compositionally you've got everything sort of pulling into this one center focus. So now that I've got a composition that I like, I'm gonna go grab my tri pi comeback set up and then re work all of my setting, so I'm going to move away from a hand held hi I s so small um small I'm sorry uh uh large aperture f nine um or medium actually almost and I'm going to go to maximum aperture ah, f twenty two or maximum depth of field goto on elias lo es eso get my tripod set up and then try and get that same composition that I just did. All right, I've got my tripod, and I decided that even though I really liked the idea of having a really cool, backlit tree, I'm going to save that for my next lesson in the section, which is about using a telephoto lens for detail for landscape photos. But in the meantime, I'm actually going to try and work this so called essence of place, the idea of focusing on the moss and the moisture and the element or idea of a rain forest and the lushness of this forest by putting this tree and this very large arm of this tree into the top portion of my frame, allowing me to see some of the background and the other trees and the other light there also covered in moss and just make that a compositional element essentially, but handheld didn't quite work because it's really, really dark in here, I also got a polarizing filter, which cuts the amount of light, so I've got my tripod going to slow down my process, and I'm gonna get this thing up as high as I can, because when I was looking through this I knew that I wanted my camera kind of up here because I want to get it is close to this moss I want this to be almost my foreground elements I'm gonna open up the legs all the way which after a while you get the hang of kind of just swing them around like this make sure cameras mounted really well you know what that flower and now that I've got it set up pretty stable I'm gonna keep the legs a little bit close so that get a little bit more height out of it and then sadly not as tall as I hoped that would be right now so I don't have to settle for this height but I can still look through but worst case scenario if you ever really want to go look through and you know what your composition is don't forget you have live you you can always hit the live you button and that allows you to see what kind of compositions you're getting when much higher I can't look through it but I can still see this right now and that's also a really great way now I don't want to hand hold I mean you don't want a handhold right now but it's still a great way to see what's there in the crowd somewhere on the travel excursion and you want to get a picture of that crowd you know what you're getting still a good reference point it's better than just guessing so don't forget that you have live you if you do get really high but in this case this works pretty well I'm going to set my composition first and again making the moss and the trees my elements and when I move the lens a little higher up, I'm catching this other branch here and it's so dark and sort of just ugly it's kind of johnny into the frame but again nice slow process but the tripod get everything set up now what I'm gonna do is take down my I s o from eight hundred where his hand holding, you know, sort of my short term scouting mission, so to speak bring it down eyes so one hundred bring my aperture all the way up to f twenty two or if you want to see all the way down very small opening maximum depth of field it's always a bit of a conundrum larger number, smaller opening and I know that often very confusing. The shortcut that I was first learning that I used to remember is that I think of f stops infractions one twenty two is smaller than one out of two point eight are one out of four and that would be my my cue to remember the large opening small opening relationship for your aperture settings, so I'm a twenty two and I'm going to turn off auto focus and use the manual focus and one focus right on that tree because everything else is from there and back and at that aperture which is pretty much an infinity focus and at that opportunity should be ah should be looking pretty good and so what I'm using is this coming into the top left hand corner of my frame almost to the center of the frame and then out through the top and then all of the elements of the forest as the balance of it. And now what I mean also do is tweak the polarizing filter and one thing that's incredibly difficult with a polarizer and the forest is to see the results when looking through the camera. The best way to see your results is to take the picture, turn it, take a picture, turn it and review them and then try and get it until you like it right where it's at and just kind of keep going around now at this point one other thing that's very helpful the forest in general is shady, which means that the camera's going to interpret it as shady, therefore the color balance whether it's very cold or blue or very warm oh are like a yellow um think of like a flame is hot ice is cold it's a good way to remember your color balance shifts immediately, the camera will see more of the shade, and everything will get bluer and more cold. You can adjust color, balance or white balance later and it's a lossless process won't impact the overall quality of your image, but if you want to get an idea of what you're capturing in the field, you can always adjust your white balance, and I'm normally an auto white balance because I can make those changes later, but you can always adjust your white balance in the field, and I like to do it manually by going in a live view and then hitting the white balance button and then going all the way over to the screen where you see a k and then you can actually scroll through the wheel and you get what's called the color temperature it's a number, and the larger that number goes the warmer it gets so the larger seventy, seven hundred would be a very warm, very hot sort of color. If you think you have the flame comparison, and as you go lower down to the five thousand range, you start to get a lot cooler. And then if you get down into the twenty, nine hundred ranger almost completely blue it's, a film technique, sometimes when you're shooting motion picture is called day for night and ah! And you're shooting in the day but everything is very blue it sort of looks like nighttime so you can choose any of these and you can always change him later and it won't impact the overall quality, but I like to see as close as I can yet in the field to what it is my final product will be after I'm done processing it and in this case, the best way to look at that does sort of look at the screen, adjust your white balance and look at the background and when they look like they match pretty well, I lock it that just hit the shutter lightly without taking a picture it locks it, turn off, live you mode and now I've got my focus double check my polarizer finally time to take a picture so I'm gonna go and make sure that I'm back at twenty two I think I accidentally scrolled it and I'm gonna fire now, of course the wind is blowing them off, which means that that will be out of focus on a long exposure, but I'm going to check it out what the exposure go through and it looks pretty good. My highlights are a little bit hot, but I'm going to take that down using exposure compensation wheel it'll shorten the amount of shutter speed will also help me freeze any sort of wind blowing but it is not a steady wind, so if I just hang out for a few seconds it eventually died down but let me take a test on this exposure again we're down to only a six second exposure and that looks really good. My highlights aren't getting lost my shadows aren't too dark, but I'm gonna just double check that my polarizer is in a good spot someone twisted a little bit and even in live you the polarizer I won't have the same effect is getting a nice long exposure will so taking still frames adjusting it a little bit makes a big difference and then simply just going back and forth between the two you'll see if there's a big difference or not you almost especially cia polarizer is impact on green leaves you won't see it is much on yellow law, so are light like that but mostly in green leaves were the wax in the surface really catch the glare, but overall in general this composition it's pretty straight forward and looks pretty good take one more shot for posterity and I think I will keep that move on and actually trying bring the forest of life by using telephoto lenses to make a landscape on I'm gonna use them for two types of landscapes the general traditional as well as a panoramic, which is where I'm the stitch two or three frames together to bring the whole experience is wide experience of being in this forest and all the different depth and texture to it, uh, only by emerging several frames together later. But first I'm going to try and capture the essence of the place five shooting with a medium telephoto about a twenty forty, seventy maybe a seventy two, two hundred and and go from there a wide angle is great to work with one photograph and force you want to capture the size of the magnitude of it, but there's a couple other ways to really get it down and get it on your sensor on your film, so to speak and that's with telephoto lenses, so I've got sort of ah range I've got my twenty four to seventy millimeter lens on, and I also threw on a polarizing filter on here because I always using what I'm working outdoors in any sort of green, lush place, so I've got the polarizing filter on it and there's enough shading here. I'm not too worried about it, but I've got my lens hood on that'll help it block any sort of glare or any sort of ah happened stands at my cast a any sort of light or shine across the front of my lens. Make a little more difficult to just the polarizer, so I'll make those adjustments later. But ultimately the goal is to not use the twenty four millimeter end of the lands, but to actually go to the seventy millimeter lens I chose. This is sort of my starting place. I've got my seventy two, two hundred if I really want to get super telephoto and try some funky stuff. But when walking through the woods, the first thing I noticed was this sort of old shock. It's, like an old storage unit, looks a little bit more like an outhouse, but it's, pretty cool, covered in moss has ferns all around it, and the light is coming into the right hand side of it and the forests in general all the way around. It is just dangling with this lichens and mosses and and greenery and and it just really, really cool. But if I were to go shoot that with a wide angle, that little hut, a little house, that force would really get lost. Everything would be so wide and be so far away. And if I got really close to it, all the elements were that I want in my seeing that that my eyes are sort of capturing would be lost, so to bring all those together to take the elements that's between me and the house that's that's the house hut thing itself, as well as the trees behind it. I want to bring them all together into one plane. A telephoto lens lets me do that let's make compress it. A lot of people don't think of telephoto lenses, landscape lenses, they always think you've gotta go wide and you've got to go big, but sometimes going big means going along with the telephoto lands and in this particular case, I'm going to start with seventy millimeters and I've already kind of scouted the sound did some handholding I figured out that you know, more or less, I'm going to start it and I love a little bit below it, but you don't typically do I'm probably gonna get completely low and I'll explain why in a second, first thing I wanna do is just take a look at my telephoto length and see, is it compressing the scene the way I was hoping it would? How does the light look? Just make some minor adjustments, check my focus and I like to use auto focus gets being on a telephoto lens about looking at a big foreground, elements necessarily I maybe, but generally speaking, is pretty far away, go with autofocus, then dialled in on manual it looks pretty good, I take this hood off, I'm gonna adjust my polarizer and I could come to see a slight adjustment in there looked pretty good on the highlights, so I'm gonna go with that I've got my eyes so do one hundred I'm going to get my ac richer all the way up because I'm shooting a landscape and I've still got my white balance style did not that warmer end of the spectrum because I'm still shooting in the same environment with warm sort of mid day light coming in and in general this is a great way to shoot with the daylight just go warm you know, if it's very cold and spotty doesn't really work, he just kind of embraced the backlighting embrace the fact that you're shooting in the sun embrace the fact that the sun is shooting to the trees go warm with a make it feel like a magical summer day here on the forest kind of capturing again that essence of place, that fairy tale mentality and that's how I like to shoot personally so I've got this time to take a quick look at it and I have a feeling I know I'm gonna get lower, but I'm going to shoot this got a three point two seconds exposure looks pretty good and one thing that I know a lot of people like to do is bracket especially force because hdr is a is a ah a nifty way to really address the highlights in here you have to be really careful because it starts to look fake after a while if you overdo it. But if you want to get it just to have it bracketing meaning, shooting a dark exposure, a medium exposure and really bright exposure that you cannot wait, emerge together or potentially up to six exposures along that same scale, and it gives you a little bit more control after the fact. So I'm going to just grab those just in case I decide I highlights air really blown out or it's not really working, and you can set on auto bracket. I don't bracket enough, and I don't do enough hdr that I personally need to constantly be adjusting my settings, but I'll do three exposures all locked in place that way. When I emerged on the other later, they'll match anybody who actually one more on the highlights, though it looks like some of those shadows might be drifting off, you know well that long, and in the meantime I can scratch my bites. It's very gratifying, right? So I got that it's, a very straightforward shot. What I'm going to do now is actually get a little bit closer to my subject, not much just enough to get over this next berm get lower to the ground because what's happening is I'm sort of shooting down a little bit on an angle towards this, and I don't want to be able to see this city to the ground. I want to see the trees and everything around it, so by getting on a lower angle about here, I'm no looking at what's more of an eye line shot straight out into the forrest, so and across my subject matter because essentially I'm cutting out a lot of these foreground elements anyway, and so I might as well just get down and look at them at their own level. So it's kind of a looking eye to eye with a fern for lack of a better expression so I can shorten these legs down it's always better than just opening them up all the way if opened up all the way, you lose all your stability, so whenever possible, unless you're feeling a little a little on the lazy side, you want to keep going back and forth close up the legs this case, I'm just gonna close him down by two notches, short and sweet, and now I'm gonna shoot with essentially the same composition, but at a lower angle and it means I'm gonna have to recompose and probably refocus polarizer should be good in the same spot, and now I get more of the trees and I'm compressing more of the foreground, and it looks really great. Of course, you get lower the ground, get bugs, bugs of the reality of nature photography, you know, when the last shot I had over exposed or overcompensated using a longer shutter speed because I was looking at maybe doing emerge orin hdr later, but I'm going to bring that back down. Centered it up three point two seconds f twenty two eyes, so one hundred, take a second look, and now I'm really starting to get that richness now a lot of the ferns in the foreground or shaded, so rather than keeping them apart of the composition when I cut them out entirely, because otherwise they're just this big, dark strip on the bottom of my friend. I'm gonna recompose again and cut them out and shoot! That looks great! I could probably go even a touch higher shoot again and perfect. I've gotten that shadow out of the foreground. I've got more of the trees, the light's pretty cool right now, I'm gonna bracket that exposure, shoot a darker one one point six seconds out of twenty two back to that medium one three point two seconds at f twenty two and then a little bit over at five seconds at f twenty to get the bugs off so long exposures are good for and good that's it perfect compressed the scene, not a huge telephoto lens, but now what I'm gonna do is I'm actually going to get rid of this and put the seventy two, two hundred on go even longer, and instead of capturing and compressing that scene, I'm gonna isolate the structure and the light and the greens by shooting at a shallow word up the field, or at least experimenting with it and a longer lens and explain how that compression and showered up the field will really isolate different elements here in the forest that help me get some good compositions. All right, I've gotten rid of the twenty four to seventy millimeter, and I've gone for the full fledged seventy two, two hundred millimeter telephoto lens, and the reason is I won't start to isolate elements out here and focus on the details and in general it's a good approach to storytelling as a photographer, you start wide and you sort of work your way in sort of you're establishing shot first where ur sense of place and then focus on the details and narrow down to the different little elements and that really falls into in general storytelling whether you're ah still photographer or a motion picture film maker um for this particular shot that I'm about to do, the seventy two hundred worked out really well because it helps me isolate elements right from the same spot that I'm at. And so as I mentioned earlier with the twenty four to seventy I was compressing the scene now I'm not just compressing elements, but I'm completely eliminating elements from it and I heard a great analogy a long time ago that a photographer generally a painter adds to a canvas and a photographer should constantly subtract from their canvas and it allows you to constantly distill on ly the elements that you need and that's why slowing your process down trying different lenses really focusing on the different elements that jump out at you and sometimes it's great to just look at the back your screen and figure out what are those element it's? You know, when I looked at that last shot I had a little house in the middle that's where everyone's eyes drawn so why not focus on that storage shed or that little house out in the forest? So it's pretty cool it's got a lot of lichens and mosses and things going on the roof if you get the trees in the background and there's some really beautiful side light coming in right now, so I'm going to try and isolate that I could use the tripod but I don't necessarily need the tripod because I'm not shooting with a lot of depth of field toe isolate everything I'm going to actually go the other direction so instead of shooting at f twenty two where everything is sharp small aperture I'm gonna go to a large aperture f two point eight and handhold using image stabilization which is on the sidelines you see stabilizer on off this particular lens has that helps you get extra stop or two if your hand holding and for some reason the shots are looking a little on sharp I might switch to putting a tripod on but for now because I like the idea of shooting with a very large aperture and a small depth of field and isolating elements I should be getting faster shutter speeds toe absolutely ensure that I'm going to get rid of the is a one hundred that I've been married to for almost all of my photographs and goto eso four hundred not that big of a difference it's a negligible loss in quality and of course the isos are getting better and better with each new camera that comes out so that I so four hundred makes this the sensor a little faster helps me gain a little bit more speed and of course with longer lands every vibration every little shake makes a big difference so I so four hundred f two point eight large aperture, small number think of them infractions and it's going to start by looking at this as a vertical hone in on it and I tend to hold my breath. It isn't necessary. And I'm picking up some shadows and some elements that's pretty neat. And the thing that the with the shower shallow depth of field is I'm not getting old the rich detail in the background. So my subject matter is not getting lost in all of the detail that's happening? I'm getting mostly just my subject, the idea of this little ah, this little hot I'm gonna take a couple steps closer, work my way up this hill get up over this and we go up higher, but then I'm gonna drop down a little bit lower, so I'm trying to get out of this foreground that was blocking me here use my need for stability and now I'm a little tighter in the frame and my my shutter speeds still pretty pretty slow. I'm only getting an eightieth of a second, a two point eight and I'm shooting with a two hundred millimeter lens, and my rule in general is to make sure that if your hand holding a shot that you were shutter speed is at least as fast as your focal length. So two hundred millimeter lens my shutter speed for handheld should be at least one two hundredth of a second the image stabilization gets me a little bit more leeway and I could probably pop off a lot of shots and one of them will be sharp but you're here you've come all this way you're photographing this awesome place make sure you get the shot so I'm going to grab my tripod and since I'm going to use my tripod I can also go and get rid of that ice so four hundred but I must still keep my death the field shallow at two point eight I'm gonna reset up this also give me a chance tto play with the polarizer little bit normally I'd use the lens hood but I won't be able to make some adjustments with the polarizer on the fly and I'm gonna lock this down and recompose all right so I've got the long lens mounted and is you know ascendant mount at the back of the camera but on the bracket that is part of the lens centers the weight gives you more stability and so I will angle my horizontal shot I'll press you to vertical as well but I mean angle this first get the shot that I liked and I'm like shoot a variety of different focal length because why not we're here and now that I'm on the tripod I'ma turn off that image stabilizer sometimes it gives me more problems than it does good one mounted on a tripod because you're already stabilized. And now I'm gonna zoom in again to another one and zoom in all the way and do another one each time you zoom in, double check your focus. Double check your highlights. Make sure everything is looking good. This case, my highlights have changed. It was the sun changes your focus and your exposure might need to change a little bit so and looking pretty good looks great. Help me isolate the elements. And to be honest, you could do that all over in here. Not just on something that's. So obvious. Is this storage shed but I could go and shooting at s o one hundred or going upto s o four hundred and shooting at a very ah large aperture like two point eight I could start to focus on the sun coming through the trees, I could focus on the backlighting and different loss. This focus on different details. Cool looking, gnarled branches just kind of helped give ah story help around out the overall subject matter. My last technique for shooting the forced is to try and bring the three dimensional aspect of it toe life by shooting a panoramic a panoramic being not something that you crop after the fact I'm very anti cropping because it reduces the resolution of your images why have all those megapixels if you're going to get rid of half of them by getting rid of half of your image? So in this particular case to get that nice long view or tall depending on your subject matter this case along I'm going to shoot three frames with a little bit of overlap and I'm gonna show you exactly how to do that and then bring them together and photo shop later. What this does is it will give me an opportunity to find ah near subject matter, which in this case I'm using this tree here behind me sort of my near subject matter, and then I've got a lot of different eye lines and things that draw my back into the distance here as the light changes over the last hour or so that I've been standing in this area it's getting nicer, nicer and what's happening is the shade that's coming back in the trees started bring up some blues and some really interesting color, so I'm going to try and maximize that effect, especially since I still have some sunlight kind of casting some highlights across the trees by shooting across this whole area I'm going to use the rule of thirds my panoramic, which means this tree will be more or less centered in my left and most frame, so this will be my left frame. The middle frame will be sort of straight into here, and my right most reign will be over here. And so one, two, three now to do that, you're goingto essentially have a little bit of cropping because you could have overlapped and explain why, and you're going to have some unevenness depending on the focal length of your lens, you can shoot a panoramic with any lands, essentially, but the wider your lines, the more difficult to get it to line up correctly, and the more difficult you'll get to use all of the censor, all of the frame that you're shooting, the reason being is the lens is curved and you get uneven matching, so if you think about the curvature that will help make the image very difficult, I won't help but actually not help it makes it very difficult to patch those together. You can use len's correction tools, and you can spend a lot of time, or you could just get it really great in the field the first time by using a medium wide angle to telephoto lens, so I like the twenty four to seventy I also love tele photos. They're super straightforward because they compress the scene arm or two dimensional, so they they tend to lend themselves well to panoramic sor stitches this case, I've got the twenty four to seventy, and I'm gonna zoom in a little bit on it, and I'm going to shoot using the tripod lo s o one hundred of twenty two, and I'm going to try and get as level as I can. And so using the middle knob and everybody's tripods little different, but essentially the goal is that as a swivel my camera around it's very level you don't want to be on a slant sits on a slant and you try to stitch things together. You get a big space up on the top of your frame or vice versa. If it goes up, then this whole it will be because it's gonna look for the match this hole and I'll be blank, so you want to get it as even across as possible without going too high or too low? You a nice straight line across again using sort of ah medium toe wide angle lens around, so I'm at about thirty five millimeters right now, up to seventy. If you camped in the forest, you've got a lot of elements, so I want to also be careful to not have something jutting into the frame that's going to be out of focus. The other thing I like to do is keep everything in a little bit out at a distance, so I've got a stick and a tree that's right here. If I'm gonna end up hitting that, then I should take another step or two over to my left to make sure that as I scroll my lens over, I'm not going to hit that I want to make sure everything's in far enough away that my depth of field and everything will match you want everything nice and sharp. The other trick is I like to get a good exposure and then lock that exposure by switching to manual it's not pertinent, you can do this an aperture priority and you could match it and generally the software matched altogether. But it's, nice to switch to manual doesn't get the same exposure. You also have no room for error in the sense of maybe your aperture changes, because if you shoot one enough twenty two let's, say maybe you're not an aperture priority person let's say you're a shutter priority person where you like to pick your shutter speeds. What the camera, pick your apertures, then you're gonna get different depth, the fields on each shot as you tilt because the light and he shot it would be a little bit different, so I'm gonna go and first just get a good meter reading and do a sample photo and I don't want any of the sky skies too bright. So any time in the forest like this, I start to see the shade in the highlights. I cropped the sky out of my shot, either by zooming or through composition, maybe do a little test frame and looks really good, so I'm f twenty two at two point, five seconds aperture priority and switch to manual. I'm gonna set it, tio f twenty two, two point five seconds and I'm gonna make sure that my camera's nice and balanced so many kind of look through and I got a nice straight line, so now I'm going to start my process over. I'm gonna leave this off using cable release if you want, but isn't a flight out here and ah, I I mean, enough stability, actually my tripod that to worry about some of the shootings frame, let it do its thing, and I'm gonna look at where the shot ended, and I'm going to start my next shot about a quarter of the way in because I need to give the software a sense of reference of where the last shot should ah, and where the next one should begin. So I look at that, make a note of it mentally and then I'm going to scroll my camera over to that spot and fire a frame there now my shutter speed aperture all exactly the same and then they end up covering ah lot of territory I didn't need teo do three I thought I could actually get three, but maybe what I'll do is I've got to for panoramic is actually going to shoot vertical and you could do the same thing you might wantto raise your camera depending on your composition and essentially, I've got my shutter speed, everything settled, so I'm gonna actually go and do a series of frames I'm gonna focus make sure everything's good remember you wantto if you're going to use auto focus and switch to manual focus, make sure everything's tightened down and catching a little bit of the sky, so I'm gonna cross that out and I'm also the trick with this, of course is still wanna make sure you're nice and level, so when you go and figure out where that tree is and I'm gonna get my captures, I'm gonna shoot pay attention to where that frame ends and now I'm going to scroll over so there's a little overlap tightened down shoot looks good and then I'm going to do this same thing again, paying attention to where the last one ended and shoot. So now I've done two horizontal side by side and I've done three verticals side by side, which would give me a little bit more room to work with and of course with each frame if let's say your cameras twenty megapixels and you shoot three frames and you stitch him altogether and what's say hypothetically there's no cropping you now have a sixty mega pixel shot twenty megapixels for each frame so it's great for doing giant wall are or blowing up a picture humongous they're really just bringing out great resolution so it's a lot of benefits to it. The other benefit is it really helps you bring a place to life when trying to show the dimension dimensions and dimensionality of the forest and the trees and and all of the wonderful light that you have out here. We're here in the whole rainforest olympic national park out on the olympic peninsula of washington and it's not ideal conditions and you expect when you come to a rainforest that you might have a little bit of rain and we don't even have a cloud in the sky, so we really worked on skills to address shooting in the daylight shooting in a florist and dealing with a lot of mosquitoes, of course, to and are subject matter, was the essence of place. How to really show where you are and capture the and identify the elements, such as the lycan and the moss is on the trees. Ah, we looked at using a wide angle lens, eh? Medium wide angle to low telephoto, twenty four to seventy millimeter, as well as a telephoto lens and isolating different subject matters as well. A cz using panoramic ce and ability to stitch different frames together to bring out all of the dimensions of the forest. And in general, I think it's a great way to make the most out of a mid afternoon, uh, excursion into the forest. And I think it's also a great opportunity to really bring the whole rainforest to life.

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