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Magic Hour Discussion

Lesson 26 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

Magic Hour Discussion

Lesson 26 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

26. Magic Hour Discussion

Lesson Info

Magic Hour Discussion

Let's start in our studio audience we have a question right here. Your video crew did a phenomenal job of capturing you and capturing the location so thank you for creative live guys yeah, I agree with you on that. I thought the creative live team did an incredible job of capturing a very complicated things you can see the amount of filters and everything that I'm using and what I love is you get to see the shots with the filters and then you see the shot of me sitting there and to get that proper exposure for me as the as the host of this course you could see that the mountain is basically gone it's completely blown out so even just by looking at that juxtaposition of my shots versus even just the cinematographer shots you really get a big you really get a big under a great understanding of the benefit of using the andes to control highlights but I agree with you the team did a phenomenal job and then the question is on your sixteen thirty five is that your widest glass that allows yo...

u to use a filter that's correct? Yeah sixteen thirty five is the widest for a filter I've never really I actually rarely shoot exactly at sixteen too I'm always sometimes a little bit more pushed in ever so slightly and especially from using a lot of filters or as I mentioned earlier in the workshop if I have a polarizer on it might get in yet ing but typically pushing just a touch I've also you know, again one of these things it's like we're splitting hairs probably, but I've heard that also the very edges of the lens are are the worst part of the lens on dso there's a theory that by, you know, just zooming in just a touch you actually cutting that out that the centre element of the lens is the strongest part of the highest quality of the glass, so by zooming in a little bit, you theoretically you're taking advantage of that, though it's not really part of my process, ultimately, what makes a great composition and the millimeter really is dictated by that, and we had a follow up question on that actually came in. Are you almost always using the wide angle in your landscape work? I would say the majority, you know, it's an interesting question do I use a wide angle? You know, I would say often, yes, I mean, I would say I'm more apt to use that from trying to get really strong foreground elements, but, you know, interestingly enough, one day I went through my whole archive, and I tried to look at how many images because I remember every little detail about every image for whatever weird reason brain is wired that way, but I looked at it remember thinking how, how many were telephoto and how many were wide angle, and it was so prized by how many were shot with not just seventy millimeters but like two hundred millimeters, a cz landscape photos and a lot of time, it's, because you're trying to hone in on some detail that might not be right there in front of you, a really good example of that would be we're on mount rainier, we did a hike that never really panned out at all. It was kind of a scouting thing, and we tried to go up in there wildflowers, and I thought the mountain might come out wear more less on the base of the mountain, the same trail that you would take a hike it and we got up there and the mountain was completely gone at that point sounds like a two and a half mile, three mile hike with the backpack and, you know, at the elevation, everyone like, you know, just really breathing and like, what did we do? But then when we turned around and looked, which is again really important thing to remember never forget to look behind you is a photographer, not just in front of you weii look behind the tattoo shrink jj, which is the big mountain range on the opposing side of mount rainier from paradise, was really pretty and really gorgeous and had changed light, and I unfortunately missed that opportunity because I was like, oh, I'll get it when we start to head back down on my time, we head back down. The clouds have come in so much that the opportunity was gone, but those mountains were really far away. And while there are compositions with a wide angle, certainly to get wild flowers and that range that's way, way out there, I've also seen a number of great compositions using two hundred three hundred millimeter lens on the tripod that will hone in on those elements. And if you were to see the end result would just see this jagged mountain with pinks and colors and clouds, and you might think you were either in an airplane right next to it or standing on another mountainside shooting with a wide angle, very hard to tell what you know what lens might have been used in that so depends. Thank you for your question back here. Most of the shots you've shown the past couple of days are using the wide angle do ever do panos, where you do individual shots and stitch them together. That's a great question panoramic ce I do do one thing I want to say is do not shoot a wide angle and then crop ear image I've said that a bunch of times you know you want to shoot a wide angle and then I've seen a lot of the shooter wide angle and then they just cropped the middle element and that's all they use I'd rather use the telephoto in that case and I'll explain why because actually in the next segment after our break we're going to go to the whole rainforest I actually will do a panoramic and we're going to do the stitch of it here and see if it works believe or not I have not actually even stitched that thing yet together so I am hoping that everything works well I imagine it the slightly off on dh that'll be actually something that we can talk about this forest cropping but I think it'll be really good but absolutely if you're going to do a panoramic highly recommend that you do it by shooting you know two or three frames rather than cropping your image because cropping again cuts and reduces the amount of resolution by whatever percentage of image is cropped out so it's an important point but good question yes in front yeah can you talk a little bit more about your choice of filters why would you go this way as opposed to the screw on type? Sure so I use four by six inch resin filters, they look like glass, but their resident filters on dh. I like thos because screw on these garon polarizer on dh you know, there's a reason for that is obviously you rotate them, you find the right spot and that just really is ah, polarizer is very conducive to that. Um, and typically, I'm only using one. I'm not going to use more than one polarizing filter. Um, that said, when it gets to you, the four by six nds that I'm using, they cover the whole lends for all of my lenses where if I had a screw on the diameter of every lens is a little different. So, you know, and I have fifty millimeter I have a seventy seven fifty millimeter lands, but a very small damon. I have the seventy seven millimeter for the twenty four to seventy millimeter lens. I have a eighty two millimeter for my sixteen of thirty five million each opening is different, so I need a different one for each of those there's nothing wrong with those on dh. There are screw on andy's, but a lot of them are actually either commonly used for video we're just slowing down water in the daylight, that kind of thing, getting slow exposures. In the sense that they're dense throughout the entire filter but again you struggle the same thing so I'd rather just spend my money once I have a set of three filters that works on all seven lenses or whatever isn't bringing into the field personal choice in that regard but I don't see a technical difference necessarily from the book that I haven't really also used a lot of circular neutral density filters in the sense of trying to get grad soft or any of that kind of stuff officially only use the hard and soft line squares all right great when we take a couple from the internet jared and then we can get back to you and I'm gonna get it get over here and I'm gonna end it these photos and actually go through and show you all of the frames from the chute that we just had cool I'm actually working through my process of how the final selection end up being made and the last set of images that were fantastic so I'm then going to go with you we now have the ability to vote up questions so let's take some of the highest voted questions that have come through the question several questions about focussing using infinity and so people are wondering when you say that khun you way to go um when you're focusing on infinity but you're still getting everything in the foreground in focus and beyond and they're saying let's say even using f twenty two how do you keep that the flowers and the mid distance trees and the mountain all in focus if you're focusing on infinity yeah, how did you get that it's a good question it really varies on the composition and how close I really am and what lens I'm using and it's it's minimal focal distance and so on and so forth. So what if you notice in that last setup where we had the wildflowers and the mountain the distance I kept moving back on the gravel on dh, zooming in a little bit and by zooming in I'm compressing the seymour based on a zoom rather than getting a sixteen millimeter and getting right up to my subject where I know we've talked about like a tilt shift would actually helps would actually help manage that depth of field better while getting closer to the subject, so essentially what's happening is I'm zooming in I'm not getting a lot of people think oh using a sixteen to thirty five and you're getting right in front of that element and it may look like that in the end result looks like that, but often as I said, I'm zooming in maybe past that sixteen to eighteen twenty twenty four by doing so, I'm getting a better range on that depth of field at the higher number aperture or or, you know, smaller opening half twenty two so I'm getting a better depth and a better range on that when I zoom in and so I'm ableto pull that off that said, where you focus is very, very important I'm not always focusing on infinity I am dialing and trying different focal I'm sorry different focuses ranges and that's because every situation is very different and you make mistakes in the field I make mistakes in the field so I'm there and I'm already set up I might just for the sake of mmm I really getting the right focus for the composition that I'm making based on the zoom and everything because every flower thing everything is different, I'm not able to tell in the back of that screen even if I zoom and the light's changing fast, I think one of the things that was awesome about this video is you could see during one segment and what was the two minutes how the light completely changed while I was talking it's amazing how fast those things go and that's the that's, the nature of nature photography, which is you're sitting around all day long swat mosquitoes off and then all the sudden it's like, hurry up, go, go, go get us many shots as you can, you know, it's a hurry up and wait sort of mentality but anyway I get what ultimately my strategy is to get a lot of different focuses essentially different focal distances maybe two three or four and I'll show you them right now and edit but I'll rather get get a few of them and then make sure that it's sharp after the fact just in case infinity isn't right so I'm not making one decision the field and taking one picture I'm taking the best guest possible given the constantly changing circumstances and compositions and getting a range of options so that ultimately at the end of the day I could make a decision later that's great thank you thank you did you question yeah what is your comfort level and maybe more over is there any kind of etiquette when you've got stuff framed up you've got your camera on the tripod maybe you're doing a time lapse or maybe you're just you know working the scene but you're leaving it there how long do you leave it there because I know you've got you know other photographers kind of fish bowl I will arm wrestle other photographers for position yeah yeah usually comes down teo fisticuffs no it's etiquette yeah that's a great question etiquette you nice clock questions that very hard to come up with a clear answer on but that's good those of those ones that make you think that's it you're doing it well it makes you think you know actually on this shoot when we got there, the place I had scouted for six days and that I had spent a lot of my time when I left, another photographer set up behind their higher up from the parking lot and I was gone all of five minutes when I came to set up, he was like, you're in my shot and, you know, I won't lie it's frustrating because you've been there all day and you've invested all this time, but the reality is we're in a public place, and so my my strategy is simply you, we are the reality of the national parks, you are there with other photographers, and we have do my move now than I have given up that spot. So what I did was I I I said, am I in your spot if I get lower, so not only am I working and he said no, so as long as I was low enough, I was able teo stay there because he was already shooting over where I waas so basically my composition had to be not just a composition of is this the ideal situation, but rather once again now no longer with weather but dealing with the general public and saying, I have to work with that and also make my composition compelling, given that I have now given up the spot ended up wanting ultimately, in the end, it worked out fine. I like the composition I had. He ended up moving anyway ten, fifteen minutes later, esso and when he did, I ended up not going any higher. Ultimately, I ended up liking the composition enough so in that way it worked out. But ultimately, you know, we all have to work together, I think is photographers and be considerate ahs muchas that exchange went really well, another exchange in the parking lot did not go so well. Um, so, you know, and I won't go into details on that, but, you know, I think it's important to be respectful photographers can be so incredibly competitive at a spot and, you know, and rainier and reflection lakes, it's, summer and summer is incredibly busy time in the parks on do you have a ton of photographers and eve photo workshops I have seen on the there's, a bridge for anybody who's been in yosemite national park. There is a bridge where you see the reflection of half dome and the mirsad river that if you go on on any weekend in the summer and you try to stand on that center spot where half dome is perfectly lined up on the river and you try to get a picture then you need to be there three, four hours before sunset and wait, because I have on dh there's there's. No exaggeration. I've seen forty, fifty, sixty photographers vying for that spot at sunset. So it's, it's a it's, a really challenge. But I think that when you have crowds in those spots, use it to your benefit, to say, well, that how can I do this in a way that everybody else isn't on? Dso forces you to be creative and really change it. So that's, that's, pretty much, you know, the reality of the parts these days, I think, which is great, though. I mean, I love seeing people with their cameras out there.

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