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Magic Hour at Mount Rainier

Lesson 25 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

Magic Hour at Mount Rainier

Lesson 25 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

25. Magic Hour at Mount Rainier

Lesson Info

Magic Hour at Mount Rainier

this is This has been a true three day intensive. This is this is a lifetime of trial and error. This isn't just three days, and let's see what happens. But rather a lifetime of this is what I've done all along the way in the national parks and the endangered ecosystems around the world that I have a luck, the Fortuny opportunity to photograph. And so today is really, in my opinion, the thing that is closest to my heart in the sense that it really hits home in the landscape Photography as the magic hour We developed the sunset and that gorgeous light and all of the hard work that the team it creativelive and our crew and everybody working around that mountain for the course of six days and long drives and long nights, the payoff is really going to be today. And it actually begins in this next segment. And this whole process is going to be magic hour along with seeing the edit of Magic hour. And then we're gonna go to the whole rainforest Olympic Peninsula and actually get to see the ed...

it of that as well. And I'm going to preview Ruby Beach and, ah, the fog and bald eagles and everything else that we saw out there. So with that, let's kick off magic hour at Mt. Rainier, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did photographing it. So we're back in Rainier National Park and it's, Ah, been six days since we first got here. And the reason for that big gap almost a four day gap in between when we left and when we return was simply because of the weather we've been battling against. Clouds and ah, in general have not seen Mt. Rainier. And of course, when you're in your national park, that's what you want to see. So we're back. It's clear today there's still a lot of clouds on the mountain, so I don't really know exactly we're going to see. But I'm back a Reflection Lake where we scouted and I'm gonna try and work the scene as much as possible. One of the things I like to do when photographing in a park, especially when the weather is unpredictable and especially as unpredictable as it's been in the last week or so is Do you get any shot I can as I go hoping that the next one is better than the last. But you never know. It could actually just get worse and the whole day goes away, and if you're constantly waiting for the best moment, you might not get the good moment at all. So my strategy is even though it's beautiful, it's starting to get a little bit late day light. Try and grab the shots whenever possible and just keep working on them and just keep working. And if it keeps getting better, you just keep shooting until the light is completely gone and you can't shoot anymore. And I think it's a great strategy because at least you go home with something versus going home with absolutely nothing, because you waited for some light that never actually happened, sort of like what we're doing with the mountains of the mountain actually pops out, which would be awesome. Ah, and I would be very excited. We're gonna have a great evening and a great sunset tonight. Um, that said, one of the realities of photographing in a national park or any national park, of course, is a lot of these places. Air right along the road and so as the as ah, forming your composition is a photographer who's trying to convey the beauty of The Majesty and all that other stuff. It's sometimes very difficult to try and balance that with parking lots and other tourists and people who are all around at all times. And so I tried to show this serenity of a place, trying to still it down by using effective compositions, getting close to a lake or just being really, really patient, which is what you have to be here. Um, but the reality is the park is accessible to everyone, and so we're all here to share it. It's important to be mindful of sharing different spots that you photographed them. So one of the critical elements of working as a nature photographer is not knowing what to do when you have absolutely perfect conditions. That's always the easiest thing. It's knowing what to do when you have less than ideal conditions. So Milwaukee, through my strategy and I set up here, she can kind of get a feel for what it is I'm doing at Reflection League so that I can maximize my photographic opportunities. So if you notice I've got the camera set up on a tripod, but she was always a common thing. Is a landscape photographer maximizes my stability but also slows down my process. So that is a critical element, because now what I can do is make small adjustments and do what I've said in other segments, which is to clear the corners, always looking at the top right corner bottom, right corner, bottom, left corner, top left corner always being ensures. Nothing weird jutting into the frame or something that might distract the I and my final composition. So first I slow down my process. In this particular case, I have reflection. Wake here, and I want to try and show a reflection. But we've got a breeze coming across the top of it, getting a lot of ripples, a lot of different effects. So I've got a stacked set up of filters going on and the first filter that I have on. I'm shooting a wide angle lens 16 to 35 millimeter all the way out of 16 millimeters, and I've got a polarizing filter, polarizing filters, working for two benefits right now. The first is it's giving me a longer shutter speed because it's limiting the amount of light coming in longer. Shutter speed means that the water, instead of having the ripples, will have more of a cumulative ah, effect. So only the more placid or glassy looking elements will actually come through. So the longer the exposure, the more this link is gonna look like it was absolutely, perfectly still. So that's one key piece. Second filter that I have on is a six nd, as I've said, 369 different levels. So three being the least six being the middle nine, being the most amount of filtration, limiting the amount of light not a color filter button, neutrally colored filter. So neutral color limiting the amount of light. And I'm putting it just on the top of my frame where Mount Rainier is and hopefully will be if the clouds move off. The third and final filter is also the same than nd both are hard, but in this particular case I'm not using a nine nd on the top of the sky, but rather have pushed it all the way down. So the blocks, all of the light coming through the lens and if you push it all the way down past the Grady in It's basically a consistent nd all the way through. So I'm taking one piece of resident 11 filter and making it do, ah, second job. So rather than using it just as a partial block I'm using, there's a whole block of light. And so I've got those three on there. The reason I haven't Andy all the way on blocking all of the light of the lens is it'll let me slow down that exposure that shutter speed even more so the polarizer cuts it. Polarizer also does function number two, which is gets rid of the glare on the water. You got a six nd, which is cutting the amount of light coming off of the bright clouds up ahead because it's not nearly as bright cause the leak automatically dole some of that down. And then I'm gonna nine all the way down to slow the shutter speed altogether. So here I am, at five in the evening, three hours before sunset, and I'm getting a four second exposure time for second shutter open one to three four accumulates. All of the light smooths out the lake. I'm shooting at F 22 from maximum depth of field. Got my eyes. So all the way down on L or 50 I could also do it at 100. But of course, it would change that. Four seconds down to two seconds. Cuts it in half with each step. Cuts it in half. So I'm gonna go back to L. A. Shoot four seconds. Now the one thing to remember when it's open this long, anything that moves is going to be blurry not only the water, but the grass, which I have in my composition and the grass I have right on the third part of the frame. The other thing that I'm doing here is not only just composing and looking through and waiting for that mountain to come out, but I'm also taking a frame every few minutes or so and watching where the clouds go. So by simply hitting play and scrolling through my shots, I can see which direction the clouds are actually moving. In case it's hard to tell some days there blowing very quickly, and it's obvious other days like today where it's a little more subtle in the kind of hanging out around the mountain. I can get kind of an idea of where they're headed. That way I can anticipate the best place to position my camera, especially when that moment comes out where the whole Mount Rainier is completely visible. So kind of doing a little time lapse, essentially playing it back, looking at the movement of the clouds. And once I figure out how long it might take or words going to go, I know if my time spent here is gonna be worthwhile or not. So that's that's what I have going on. Here is a few different things, Um, a little bit of a strategy, certainly incorporating my filters, but this is a very common step by step thing I do, and as we all know, is nature photographers. You have to be extremely patient. So a typical fashion working the edge of Reflection Lake, trying different spots and, like just hanging out sometimes is, they say, slow the process down, hang out, walk around, try things out, take the camera off the tripod tried different compositions, and in doing so, I found another little spot and I was looking at the shape and This is a really good time to talk about composition, and I line specially landscape photography. I was over there and I had the lake kind of going all the way around the whole bottom portion of the frame with little piece of grass out in the middle. But the other thing that is ah, really great effect is also use the different elements. Um, in that portion of the frame, as sort of your frame literally actually frame the composition of frame the shot. When I came over here, I saw this little bowl of red. A long reflection way cut out, surrounded by these green grass is all the way through, and the middle is a reflection of the mountains, so essentially framing the reflection, using these green grasses and still watching the light most gonna add yet 1/4 filter. Also neutrally colored very, very light. It's the least powerful 0.3 nd filter hardline because what's happening is there's more more breaks in the clouds, and the bright light is hitting the tops top left hand side of the clouds and I'm losing my highlights. It's blowing them out, and I look at my history, Graham I see that the highlights air all the way on one side, so one shouldn't control that, peppering in just a little bit more of a ah, filter on the highlights in the sky. So when I move that on, should give us a nice balance. Everything for me and filters and Lancia photography is about balance, kind of creating an equilibrium of light, Um, that the camera can interpret and understand, and then everything else will just deal with in the processing. But right now I want to get as much information and there's possible don't want any clipping and we lose any highlights. I don't want to lose any shadows looking for that nice, even light, even balance all the way throughout and looks perfect. So it's been about an hour since we got out here, and the light continues to change dramatically. Huge, really bright could see a changing around me right now. Probably really, really right in the foreground and completely in the shade, and that's probably what it's gonna be for the rest of the evening. So I've changed my set up a little bit. I've moved both the six and the nine to control the sky and a three to control the water. The reason being that the whole middle section of my frame is actually not filtered because the trees are so dark against this changing bright light in the foreground of bright light in the background that I need to open up the shadows a little bit. So essentially doing what a lot of people might do in post production with HDR or, um, layers or something along those lines. Different. Ah, using different frames of different exposures and blending them. I'm doing it more or less all in frame. That way my exposure is perfectly captured with the most amount of information. So when I get into photo shop later and I do my post production work, I don't need a whole lot of it. I've done it all here in the field, which in my opinion, gives you a better, cleaner file. That said, the white is changing. It does look favorable, were starting to finally see the entire part of the summit of Mount Rainier. There's still some cloud cover. The lake is starting to calm down, and the wind was trying to calm down, so there's less of a reason for me to really put Ah a lot of long exposures and to get that glassy effect. It's almost glassy all by itself. So I'm less concerned about having long exposures and more now simply about controlling the amount of light. I still like this composition. I ended up moving in a little bit from 16 millimeters to about 22 millimeters, and the reason is that now that I've added so many filters that I was getting Morven, you getting more dark edges around there. The lens was so wide it was actually picking up pieces of the filter, so I zoomed in a little to get past that. To compensate for that, it took a couple steps back. How am I framing doesn't really change, and in fact it improves it cause it kind of pulls the mountain and the landscape a little bit more together. But this changing way is definitely a challenge and something I'll continue to watch as the evening goes on. But as the light and the sun goes down, we should get more balanced effects and hopefully we're gonna get a really great pink wild sunset tonight. So just kind of hang in there, keep changing my compositions and keep working the scene until, uh, until there's no more to do. So I've recalibrated little bit. The whole mountain is coming out. So the payoff after six days is starting to become a reality, which is super exciting. And I got the whole summit pretty much still got cloud cover. I think the light is only going to improve to try and get the whole mountain now. Before, I was focusing on a lot of the sky and sort of the element that were coming in. But now I really want to hone in on the mountain. So I backed up a little bit from our position when about three or four feet back, and have zoomed in from the 22 millimeters I was at two closer to almost 28 mil, and I've added a cable released because as it gets darker, I anticipate that my finger pushing a button will probably start to shake the camera little bit. I'm using an interval ometer. It's the same thing I use for photographing stars, but in this case, it allows me dio trigger the camera without actually gonna push the button and helps it avoid any vibrations that could shake it. If it gets really dark and I'm trying to get a faster shutter speed, I might actually even do something called a mirror lock up. It's a custom function allows me to block the mirror up. So that sound you hear is the mirror actually flapping up so that the sensor could be exposed to the lens. It permanently locks it up so that you can get exposure without that mere actually, the slapping of the mirror shaking the camera. So it's a great way to keep your camera stable. Really helpful for using longer. Ah, lenses, telephoto lenses When you get the shake is really magnified on a wide angle like this and a shutter speed of Ah, 1/5 of a second. I don't really need it, however. Um, it's always good to have a little extra and make sure you don't get a little too zealous and start hitting that button and shaking your camera. But either way, we're looking great, loving the ah, loving the way Mountain looks in a way, and I think it's only only going to get better. At least we got something so far, so continue to wait it out. Hopefully over the next hour or so, we'll see what we get. All right, So we're down to our last hour, hour and 1/2 a lighter. So and, ah, it's pretty cool. We're hearing a lot of rock falls and an avalanche is happening upon the mountain echoing all the way down here on Reflection Lake. Have changed up my set up a little bit. Um felt like I had a lot going on over there. I've got that spot in my head. Was the light changes? I might kind of bounce around between two or three different spots, but I've changed a little bit uncovered of my foreground entirely, I've zoomed out to about a 30 millimeter. I threw the polarizer back on because it's catching a lot of glare from the surface of the water. So through that, back on to deal with that and I used these grass elements of sort of my leading lines, which during our scout about 45 days ago, was something I kind of penciled in the back of my head and made note about and actually took a few frames of even though you couldn't see the mountain, they look good then. And now that the mountain is out and we got exceptionally lucky super clear this evening, it's Ah, it's working out really good. So I've got these leading lines of zoomed into that the bottom of my frame. I've got a polarizer on for the glare and I've got to neutral densities to control the sky. And, ah, it's just a perfect perfect balance is gonna continue watching this and continue watching this Osprey, which keeps diving down and catching fish every 20 minutes. And I couldn't think of a better office to you hang out. And for the next hour and 1/ so move began him in the heart of the madness here. And as the sun gets nicer in the mountain gets more clear, and there's a lenticular type of cloud forming over the mountains. I guess it's pretty rare. We're getting a lot of people, so I'm in the midst of it all, but I've moved into a place from completely in the shade, and this little water here's trapped, which means it's exceptionally still. And so this is kind of the Eid is the perfect idea for getting the iconic reflection Lake shot. So I'm here. I've got my neutral densities. I'm still dealing with a lot of highlights that are blowing out. The clouds are still really, really bright in one spot. So gonna hang out, get real low to the water so I can get more of the reflection and then just keep working the scene. Shooting with a lot of depth of field of 22 to neutral densities. Nine in a six, both hard. Controlling that light up above looks really good. Getting a lot of little light coming in. Um, keep my eyes so low on Ah, 100. Um, just see what we see. What we see what we get over here, but I think this could be a good spot as well. So I've got this spot. I've got a couple spots where we were earlier, and then I have 1/3 spot that's in the back of my mind with some wildflowers. So if this turns is hot pink and colorful is I think it might that'll be sort of my end spot tonight, So I think I'm gonna stay here and is like, it's better to kind of work my way back up the shoreline, getting some really cool patterns in the sky right now. So I'm gonna play around and just work the scene a little bit. Try different compositions, shoot some shots using the interval ometer not using any settings on the interval. Ometer. Actually, just keeping everything in aperture priority mode, Uh, with max depth of field. So I'm gonna work it up a little bit and see what kind of shots we could make out of it. Fortunately for wet, Yeah, I really like the way the clouds on the left hand side or really starting to create different patterns. And and, uh, this cloud right over the top of the top of mountaineers is pretty sweet is well, it's starting to break apart and get some shape in there. So keep working the scene a little bit. I think we're probably in that area where the mountain so much in the shade that it's kind of tough because everything else is really bright. And so there's not really a good way to make the mountain darker and everything else brighter or everything else darker. So I'm just gonna keep waiting until light goes down a little bit more until there's lessons. Patchy light, which still really pretty. I'm still shoot it. No bracket it. I'm not really big on HDR personally, but also get the shots case. I decided to try and blend a few frames later. It's not something often do, but I'm here. Great conditions of miles. Well, bag the shots and figure it all out later. Video clouds have completely gone away. Yeah, so it's gotten quiet and peaceful. Breezes kind of ended on the lake and I moved up to this spot. I'm still waiting on the light, but while I wait, I want to make the most of my time. So I've been just kind of moving around trying different spots. And I really like this spot because I've got some wild flowers that are in the shade here, like the contrast of the white. I also like the fact that there's these little pine trees here and over here and the same in the distance. And it gives you that idea of having layers, um, having a wildflower layer in the bottom of my frame, some pine trees that give it a sense of place and once again and using natural elements to frame my composition in the landscapes. I'm using the flowers and the trees to frame the bottom, using more pine trees to find frame the left and then I've got in the mountain and the and the rest of the view, of course, adding the different layers, the lake, the pine trees and so on. So I really like this and I'm just making it. Ah, great spot. But you also noticed that in the one minute that we started this, the light has changed again. The sun is finally going down and really get a nice, even light across everything that will change all of the approach to landscapes for me out here. Probably start dialing down the filters a little bit and, ah, basically redoing all the same spots. And I'll just kind of keep going around doing the same spots over and over and over as the light changes. Remember, never had it in the field. That's the number one tip. If you take away from today's number one tips, there's about 10 of them, and that's one of them. Don't add it in the field because you want to get home and look at your whole take a look at your whole day before you really say, Hey, this was the best one. And rarely very, very rarely do I ever know what is gonna be my favorite shot of the day. Sometimes something spectacular happens and you know it. But otherwise, you know, you just gotta You gotta keep your options open and edit when you get home or back to your studio. When doing now is I'm kind of on a hill and there's some ants crawling around and they're getting up in my socks and stuff, so I don't really want to lay completely flat to get the composition that I want. So I'm using is live you to actually composed cause I could look at it from an angle. And I know that I've got X amount of room on either side and it helps me make my composition without having Teoh completely lay flat. Not that I'm opposed to it, but never possible. If you are a weird angle or something, live, use a great shortcut to making a composition. So don't forget it's there. A lot of people think I can only use that for video or you want to use it cause you're usedto holding your phone up and seeing everything in real time as you take your picture. Certainly one way to do it, but I'm still using the viewfinder because I could kind of analyze my corners little easier and so on and and also just a bit of a habit. But live Use. Also great option for trying to make compositions on weird hills and angles and times when it's otherwise really difficult to look through. And speaking of which, it's actually really good point because notice the angle. I'm not shooting at eye level. I'm not standing up. I'm getting down real low and shooting out and across my subject, which in this case is flowers and the trees and so on in the mountain, the light starting to really change quick, so I'm working really quickly as well. But I'm remembering to keep my angles different, low where possible, get really high. I rarely shoot at eye level, all right to that point. Another good tip is keep your shoe out of your own show. Looks pretty good. Sun's coming back out. It was a good wayto check your horizon lines. I find sometimes that, but I like the viewfinder, my horizon lines really crooked, and so it's a good way to double check that. And that's a real big fat Steve of mine. Has hope. Crooked Horizon lines. You don't want to fix it later, because if you crop, then you lose part of a resolution of your image. And obviously, why spend all this money to get a great camera and then cut a percentage of it out? You want to maximize your resolution, so make sure your horizon lines are straight as possible so that you don't have to do any or minimal trimming after the fact I saw him back over in this area where the water was sort of landlocked, very, very calm, and now it's completely like a mirror. It's truly a mirror reflecting the mountain, and the light is getting really nice. You're starting to see some hints of warmth coming in, so we're kind of on the end of our daylight here, and the light will well, honestly, just keep getting better even till the point. When the sun hits, the rising goes below it, we'll still be out here capturing the blues and pastels and pinks. The color's gonna really start to pop out some back here to take a look at it. Kind of working through the cycle, going to set up real low so I could get the reflection as much as possible. I'm not really sure exactly my composition is gonna be. And I'm not even sure how much of my filters are really going to use filters from here Very much. A trial and error. I stack a mix and match until I take him off it. Put him on a look at my results that look at my history, Graham. It's just this whole process in this whole cycle that I constantly go through as light conditions, compositions change. So I'm not stuck with one idea, one spot. I'm constantly moving around through all of them, and I'm moving very quickly. So I've got two or three places in mind having to set up on this one and see how it looks and then just keep working through it. I've got a pretty basic set up. I know. I'm going wide angle. I'm probably not gonna go telephoto at all. And the reason being that this is really just a big landscape with huge mountains and incredibly large views. So I'm gonna try and just keep working with one lens and just use that zoom between 16 and 35. Keeping my eye is so low. What was using a tripod and keeping my aperture more or less maxed out or close? Um, so again and we start to get really, really great light its composition here is pretty simple. Um, not terribly exciting. Do the honest with Dio. I don't have a lot of foreground elements. I don't have a lot of, uh yeah, I was talking earlier about sort of framing the composition with different things. And I'm not loving the framing here, you know, I had wildflowers and everything else earlier. So, you know, someone use a cable release because my tripods on a little bit of a wiggle the ground Israel muddy and soft and not even and so the interest of time going to go with my composition like this and it's nice, but like I said, not great. We try real wide one see what sort of foreground you get out of all these sticks and mud and see if it looks any more interesting, but not particularly even just looking through the viewfinder. Not really loving it. It's dark. Kids kind of messy color still aren't quite there. And quite frankly, I just don't think the composition is really shaking out the way I like it, and simply that it's not leading my eye through the frame. It's just not interesting. And I trust my gut on it and joining balance to a ah to a different spot here. So come with alright. So back to the spot I was at about three hours ago and one of the spots have been revisiting, which is the area with all the grass sort of framing and the winds died down. So I'm not worried as much about the grass blowing back and forth. And so now I'm just going to try and take a look and see what I'm working with here and already. I like the composition better and again. It's just because I've got foreground elements. Reflection the light. It's still not quite there yet, but I'm gonna try and work it a little bit, and C but maybe getting ah, nice long exposure Sometimes you just try it to know what you're getting. It's pretty good. Little hot. Um, drop it down short. My shutter speed, but still staying in F 22 aperture priority mode using the exposure compensation Well, to bring it down just a little bit and want my original darker because my highlights are still looking a little, uh, a little hot. We're still not at sunset yet either. So the colors, the light, everything is still going to change quite a bit, which the number of minutes away from sunset trying get a little lower and make he's grass elements even more of a composition and start actually blending the reflection in with my foreground. Take a seat. So get in there. Can't be afraid to get I would be afraid to get dirty and get a good lock on my legs here a little bit. Drop this down and that treat my tripod a little bit and that's comfortable angle. It's pretty cool. Actually, I'm gonna zoom in, and so the tops of the blades of the grass are actually going into the mountain. So I'm not keeping the mountain perfectly in the water. I'm actually letting the grass grow up into it I'm gonna try and dio shot hair See how it see how it works again Seeing is believing what you're doing Long exposures So the mountain in the water looks better Amount of above I'm gonna try and add 1/3 filter on here Neutral density and see if that helps my sky problem that I'm having Cause basically, it's it's all looking a little still looking a little hot You go there 10 9 And I'm gonna move the three down past the ninth from using the three more to blend the effects of the nd's And they're gonna bring the six down. About the same spot is the nine, but not all the way. I want everything to be a little off. I don't ever want me felt all perfectly lined up at staggering Helps get you more of ah, natural blended Look to it all. So now I'm gonna just at 22 a 2.5 seconds trying to keep the bugs off me. See how I did? All right, Now we're starting to get somewhere. Sure. My focus looks good. Bugs are in full force right now. The three might be a bit much. I'm gonna take that out, and it might use it on the water just to kind of control that reflection and open up the mid a little bit. I'm not positive and take a frame anyway, first without it, that looks pretty good, actually. But now I'm gonna go with okay, three and upside down in this case, and then I'll look through it now, China, open it up with a photo. Perfect spot on. So now I've got more detail coming up in my mid tones, and I'm controlling the reflection as well as the light in the sky. Tilt my filters a little bit to the left on an angle because the sun's coming in on this side. And so everything on the left side of the mountains A lot brighter than anything on the right side. So what? The filters just sort of lean into that. Wait a little bit, take another frame and looking pretty good. Now I'm just double check. I like to check. Zoo man. Check my sharpness. Look around my frame. Make sure nothing up in the corners. Make sure there's no vineyard and going on. Get a little bit of time. So you wait for that light to change so much as well use it to our advantage, starting it some really cool colors and patterns up on the mountain. So it's gonna hang out here a little longer and see what I could do with it. So my horizons kind of an optical illusion and because we got around Lake and we're on this angle in the mountains kind of going this way, and the lake looks like it's leaning a little to the right a little bit difficult to figure out exactly how straight is your rise. And that's a challenge that no matter how much you spend in the field, you always sort of battle against that. Get as much clothes as you can, but is gonna be a little tricky for sure. So, uh, one thing don't ever forget. Don't just shoot horizontal when you're thinking landscapes, shoot verticals. I'm also thinking about selling my work later. Maybe I might want it has an opening page of a table of contents or to cover if I'm lucky enough, so I'm gonna shoot that vertical with all those things in mind, making sure keep enough room for the title of a magazine of Tom. Thank you about the lines. Maybe where text would go. So let's just thinking about it from the photography standpoint. But also what's gonna be the end result if I want to sell this work later, which this is my career. So I wanted not only have fun and make great images, but maybe be able to do something with them too. So keep my clients in mind a little bit. Plus having a vertical and a horizontal options. Great, cause you might like one better than the other later, especially with the light changing and being so beautiful as it is right now. So one more horizontal, and now I'm gonna flip around and I'm gonna keep my filter set of the same two on top three on the water and the water, if you notice is less filter because the water already sort of darker. It's not capturing as much light as the skies throwing out so kind of has his own little polarizing effect. So I'm gonna actually raise this up just a touch and crank around to a vertical. And now my cameras, about half a foot foot over the left. So I'm gonna of it to a good spot and try Get a nice little level about which seems to be right there, Alex. Pretty great. So nobody zoom in a little bit. Tighten up once again the compositions more or less the same I've got the grass in the foreground and the mountain in the distance and I'm gonna try and focus on the mountain is reflecting That's my middle point. Not the grass, Not the mountain in the background. Now I'm gonna make sure I just my filters and they should be pretty close, But I'll realign them. I'll do the water first, right up to the tree line and pull down the mountain. Looks pretty good. No Hold my child power in my left hand to help a little uneven But I'm gonna Russia to keep moving so long as I got the stability I need He's my interval ometer get a frame Looks pretty, pretty sweet I'm really liking results on that I might actually try and get my top two filters down a little bit. Lower further down they go. Well, darker they are. So give me a little bit more of a way to work the angle. And again, I'm just trying to control the highlights. Get a nice even shot to get back to the studio. Process this up, see what I got. And everything is looking pretty nice and sharp And take a look at my history, Ram. And it looks like I'm getting a little bit of clipping in the dark. So I'm actually why we double check a little bit brighter and and looking a little bit better there. I think we, uh, got the right amount of info. It looks real nice. I need to be a great file to work with. And, you know, when you're shooting a raw I'm not shooting Ryan J just shooting wrong. You're looking at a un color corrected, uncharted and unsaturated. On contrast. Photo begins, and it is just capturing the information. That's my goal. There's capturing the information. Nice and evenly melody for end product here. I'm thinking about what my M products gonna be later once I actually process it. But right now I'm just looking at Am I getting everything in my composition? Looking good Is my horizon straight? My highlights. My black hole perfectly balanced my history and look good. That's all good. And I've got everything I need to go home. So not optical illusion. Get me on that horizon mine. I'm gonna try and straighten out a little bit more and pop off a couple more and this lights looking pretty spectacular. Haven't feeling is just gonna keep getting better. Pinker warmer. This is what we call the Magic Hour. It's one of the first terms I learned. We're learning photography with my father, who was doing a lot of architecture. We'd look at the appreciation and color of the light, and it is that last hour, really 30 minutes before sunset. And that's 30 minutes after sunset, quite frankly, the two hours before the two hours after both pretty awesome. So it's like magic evening, but magic, our super exciting, because this is when everything is balanced, the grass, nothing. Israel super contrast. It's very flat. It's rich, get a lot of color, a lot of saturation out of everything. So it's a really great time, Teoh photograph and and it's a time that photographers love it. As I could tell by looking around right here off the side of the road at Reflection Lakes. It's getting really busy. You hear a lot of cameras going off right now, which is exciting. I love that So many people around here appreciating this I mean, this is the most important part of photography. The number one rule is I've said five or six times is have fun. You have to do this because you have fun. Don't go out there and just think I gotta get the shot that otherwise you'll always be miserable for me. It's about just going out. Appreciate the light fun. Get some great pictures and see what kind of compositions could be made with with what you're given A night like tonight we got pretty Rocky Mountain is out some of mosquitoes. So I had a pretty tight shop. I'm gonna actually expand a little wider and move up. Give enough room for where title of a magazine could go. Now that's wishful thinking. But if you don't wish for it, he don't plan for it and never get it. And I moved my shot up and I didn't move my filters up down some of my filters down. I'll bet and but that looks pretty pretty nice luck and nights like tonight of the reason I come out and do this kind of stuff pretty, pretty cool. Be able to see this six days and number of hours hanging out here. We finally got there, but looks good now. It's really just a matter of keeping my settings locked. Aperture priority mode. Just trying a bunch of different compositions. I settings filters more or less all the same lights. Not changing that much, just making sure that my highlights aren't getting cropped out or losing anything too crazy. Um, looking at my composition pretty hard here and thinking that the best of that warm, pinkish light might already be over once that's completely done, then I'm probably done until the stars come out, But so try another shot, and then I'm actually go do some wildflowers. They're gonna be really nice right now in the soft light of the sun set. I think I got this. I don't think I really need to do too much more here, and I kind of feel like the variety would be really nice. So I got one good composition got in the bag. Horizontal Zagat verticals. I'm gonna move, but somebody else. Get in here. Hogs. Great spot. So the light keeps changing a little bit. Pretty nice. It's getting Pinker Pinker and looks good. Teoh the shooting of 22 instead of shooting at L. Because I want to move faster, I don't see a need of having that super super low. I s 0 100 should do just fine. So I'm gonna still go to 100. Give me a little bit of that long exposure, but picking up a little bit some, uh, elements in the foreground a mixture just gonna move completely. This is my last spot. Never worked in any of the other lighting conditions, cause there's so much direct light contrast is crazy. But now, with a very low low contrast end of daylight, wildflowers in the pink mountain in the background look pretty special. So try and work. It's fast as I can get first thing, I'm just gonna get a sense of what the lights doing to the camera. So you gonna shoot one exposure? Everything's really calm and it looks great. And what I'm looking as I see in the frame, there's this whole chunk on the left hand side. I really don't need I don't like and I don't really think that's looking for I'm looking for these wildflowers in my composition and the mountain in the reflection. So I'm gonna recompose This time is a vertical, since I'm really just trying to cut out a big chunk of the left side of the frame, Um, on a hill, it's a little difficult toe work. Someone use that live you again and then when I have to just eventually come around on my side so I can focus. But I could also focus by using the distance ring on here, and I could do a couple different composition. Let's see how I look Gonna get a frame because that lady is changing fast and I'm buried down in here. That looks pretty nice. And I'm gonna get in infinity a little sideways eat using my cable release, especially since I'm kind of precariously set up in here and this looks stellar. These wildflowers are an incredible foreground element. But here's the one issue I'm having is I'm still getting a lot of ripples. I'm not getting that perfect reflection. The lake farther out, Still a little bit of a breeze on it. So I'm gonna drop my I s o down l and no Bump it down to a eight second exposure at F 22 on I s 0 and for eight seconds to keep the bugs off of us. All right. Looks pretty good when I take it down just a little bit. Only five seconds. And that looks nice as well now, still getting the length of exposure. I walk and I see that I'm getting some elements in the mid trees that are getting a little bit lost on that. But the exposure looks pretty good. Now I've got wildflowers and a pretty extreme foreground in a pretty extreme meaning stream being like very close to me. And I've got a background that's pretty far away. Double check my sharpness. And you could also do something called sharpness stacking where you get a couple different exposures, a different levels of sharpness. But I really need to do that. Usually just moved back a little bit too, man. And keep your keep your if you're mosquitoes away and keep here aperture very, very small. Getting maximum depth of field. And so we're really getting short of winner of. Ah, winner of a composition now Going to try and do is also get even lower and zoom and even more because I'm only at about 24 millimeters right now. And I could probably compress those flower in that mountain in the reflection even tighter and really losing our light. Someone hurry as fast as I can. Hard to, uh, hard to work everything in here. Very small space, but still looks pretty great. I'm actually able to look through this tonight. I got these little pine trees and I'm loving. Okay, Looks pretty good. All right, so here we go. Double check my filters. Location. Nice. Long exposure. There it is. Beautiful. Got some ripples, but I'm getting the reflection of the mountain. The only other way to get this a little bit better would be maybe to take one more filter nd push it all the way over the whole land. So I don't need a longer exposure double even triple it if possible. I could always use a polarizer, but might not quite work quite as well. Might be a little overkill. I think the Andes air little even more even as faras the way that they manage the life. But this is looking pretty good. This is the classic shot of Rainier that took six days and a lot of waiting to get. This is this is the stuff Bet you want to get when you come out here. This is the icon, the iconic classics, the highlight of each national park. You want to get all of the story, but this is the stuff that you really want to go after that. I really want to go after, and it's always very gratifying when you get it with just the right conditions in just the right light. Awesome Evening tonight. Photographing the iconic shot of Ranier National Park, Mount Rainier itself Very lucky. Six days to trips and four hours later today, the mountain finally came out and were able to get some shots during my favorite time of day Magic hour. The skills we learned, I think, our classic and indispensable tools for shooting landscapes, using neutral density filters, managing your depth of field, understanding your shutter speed and how toe work with glare, long exposures and water keeping sense of your frame in your composition where you put different elements as well as just constantly revisiting the same places. For the last four or so hours, I've been in an area that's maybe 300 feet long, working on three or four different compositions, horizontal and verticals. And so I think the message is clear that you have to keep working the scene, analyzing your process, being critical of yourself in the field but also not editing yourself in the field. That's for the studio work. Right now. It's all about capturing the best frame possible over, although absolutely lived up to its name, this was truly a magic hour or four. So there you have it. Uh, what do you think of that? I feel like I'm still kind of because I don't think watching myself with mosquitoes is really a great idea. But he and I mean fun fact people ask in the chat room yesterday, Do you use bug spray? And I asked you over while we're watching the video. And the answer is No. No, not really. No, I you know what? Actually, despite all that, I didn't get it at all. Not one bite. I got to bug bites over the course, like four days or whatever. So bugs are better than the bite me. But, you know, I had the jacket on everything there just more annoying. They're buzzing, you know, kind of flying around you than anything. Yeah, you know, And that's actually, you know, I've had them actually land in your picture on the front of Owen's before. And you don't realize it f 22 you know it, it will make a big difference. So, yeah, the bugs are epic. I just want to read off a comment from Dez who says still does does, um, loved how am brought us through his thought process as combing and educational as the legendary Bob Ross. Theo, you know, this is the sun goes down my happy little trees. Yeah, it's pretty well, you know, it's kind of like you have to read the landscape. You have to read the light and really get into the environment, and you know, that's what happens. It's like I'm not out there just as a passive observer, but rather an active participant and, you know, and you kind of I just kind of get really into it, and it really, really really feel that you know that sunset and that's a great comment. I love it because I certainly loved Bob Ross back in the day.

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