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Photographing America's National Parks

Lesson 6 of 37

National Parks Considerations, Prep, and Q&A

Ian Shive

Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

6. National Parks Considerations, Prep, and Q&A

Lesson Info

National Parks Considerations, Prep, and Q&A

This one comes from el novak, who says being a senior and not physically able to get in some of the locations that you hike tio is there great photography opportunities in the national parks or people who are handicapped or not has in good shape probably better than anywhere else? The national parks is a great question the national parks incredibly accessible and that's what I love about them and it is a great point cause I really did emphasize the fitness and a lot because it's not always uh not always talked about, but, you know, glacier national park, I'm pretty sure you don't even have to necessarily slow down all that much in your vehicle tow have those great photographic opportunities there out every window you will see we're going to see that I appreciated you will and actually in rainier national park on this on the shoot we were we were steps from the road literally we were on a sidewalk for some of it um photographing because the parks have tried to make the greatest spots in...

credibly accessible um and so you don't necessarily need to go twenty miles to get a great shot um it's really a balance in a matter of personal preference fantastic, we'll look forward to seeing some of those other locations I like to call it a, um a drive and see sometimes if you're driving along, you just drive and see versus the big main height you see a lot of driving with me on this that and this workshop we've got away, I think we went in circles, I think about a dozen times because the light was changing and the clouds and like them, you can see them out here and you can't see it here and yeah that's that's definitely persistence, patience, persistence and patients absolutely I have a question that kind of relates and this is from s j who says, do you think that too much national parks photography will dilute the allure of great the great outdoors? So you're saying they're becoming more and more accessible? Do you think that that's a great question as well? I don't think it will dilute the allure. Um, I think great photography spark should spark the imagination, inspire people to go out and nothing no photograph will ever replace standing there and hearing and feeling it and smelling and that's what you should be doing before you take a photograph anyway is first take it all in, then figure out how you're going to put it together um, I I don't I don't think so I do think it brings up a great point though that the parks are busier than ever before and I think have a lot of challenges ah, in their future. Um, and and I think that's the case with any space, a cz we mentioned with wildlife refuges to other places as well. Absolutely so furthering that from l m l hannah and everybody out there. Remember that you can vote on questions, which is one of our new features and super super cool. If you are logged in you just go over and click on the up blue arrow next to the question. So, squirrel, those questions see if your question has already been aso so up vote this one was out voted you're talking about seeing with fresh eyes. But also do you go in with a shot list? I do, yeah. It's a great question. I do prepare and we're certainly could talk about that preparation process. This is certainly a great time. Talk about it as well. Um, I almost always go in with a shot list. I research I'll research not only the weather, um, and what I can expect to encounter. But then if what will that weatherby bring? Opportunity wise? You know the son supposed to come out? Might we get a rainbow or not? And it's, good to anticipate and but be open to adapting based on those things, but I do go in with a shot list. I often also deviate from it, depending on what opportunities present themselves, I think, for assignments and whether that's a self assigned goal or personal, you know, I'm sorry or a professional assignment, I almost always have a shot list, and so we'll actually be working with the an editor I've worked with for nearly a decade. Scott kirkwood will be joining us later in the course, and he is the editor of national parks magazine and that's, where my career began. Um, and he will definitely make sure I have a shot list and make sure I follow it and he's going to be critiquing some of my work and talking with us about what that looks like later in the course, certainly, but shot list, definitely, um and we'll talk a lot about, you know, the basics of er shot list room, you can also be simple is making sure I get the establishing shot the medium close up, close up the details as we're about to do some details and show some tips on photographing campgrounds. But you know absolutely I'll come up with also a list of what are the icons? So I don't forget something it's easy when you're busy and a park is gigantic um and there's so many different places you want to make sure you also a comprehensive and have a little checklist cool, good question let's let's go a little bit further into that preparation, especially preparation for national parks we did talk about fitness and now we're talking, talking a little bit about, um about what about the weather and safety and permits and those types of things you know, whether again is that you have to anticipate what you have uh by looking at it, you know, the weather is the weather I don't think it's notorious for being exactly precise all the time um do you bring even if you don't think it's going to rain, do you bring a full doppler radar on the top of no, I I it depends I was coming to washington and I've heard some rumors that arranged or sometimes sometimes I brought a rain jacket for this trip um and sometimes bring rain pants depends on where I'm going. Um, you know, if I'm going to the desert, it hasn't rained in eight months, probably not um, but if I'm going to a place that's notorious for changing weather you know, I I will I will bring that kind of stuff usually it's less rain it's more cold and heat that becomes a bigger problem because it could be a lot of fluctuation especially in a desert where you think it's going to be warm and then you're in the high desert of five thousand feet and it drops from eighty five degrees during the day to forty degrees at night um and you're very cold maybe brought the wrong sleeping bag so it's not simply just uh you know do I have ah rain proof gear boots or things like that but also not to bring the right sleeping but I'm gonna be cold at night um you know making sure you've enough can't fuel if you're cooking your own food certainly preparing for food and traveling you're going burning more calories if you are hiking um you know those kinds of things are certainly part of the preparation process faras photographing in the parks certainly everything we've done on this course has been permitted and because of the type of filming that we're doing um however if you are a recreational vacation or even a professional photographer but you're out and just enjoying the parks uh typically speaking you would not need a permit the parks are public places ah where anybody shell to go and work and take photographs and so that is something that has been challenged and I've been involved in andi I think that there's there's a lot of different ways of viewing that depending on what lens you're looking at it through no pun intended um but but typically speaking, if you're closing a part of an area down for a park and you're doing a fashion shoot or preventing visitors from a different experience of doing something that's not open to the public at that point you need to contact ah you know, public affairs officer in the parks and secure the permit and clothing I would imagine two way of g two and a couple people have voted this one about making sure that you're thinking about protecting yourself a cz well in terms of the tips of the weather that you want in the backpacking yeah actually do you do that actually commented in the chat room that it's actually harder for her to prepare for the physical side of moving around and getting all that gear out there more so than taking the picture itself that's true? Yeah that's a great point getting the year getting everything out there getting to the location and getting in spot is by far the most complicated aspect I think and I think you'll experience that a lot in this course in the sense of how we dealt with that and again changing whether um you know I mean in the in the day that we actually photograph for near I had actually traveled back to california. Um, over the day prior to that, and then flew in from l a I left on like a nine a m a d a m flight nine am flight landed in seattle, got in the car. We drove to the base of a near because the weather was getting was supposed to be clear and looked like it might not be, which was depressing. Um, but imagine all of that twelve hours before knowing whether the mount would be able to be photographed or not. Nothing about going through the airports and moving everything around. And everything is involved, then. Ah, we did spend the night because we want to join everybody here. So we also moved back into seattle that same evening. So it was end of being a sixteen hour day. The photography was probably the easiest aspect of ah that day. So the preparation, no matter what it is and that's exceptional, very exceptional circumstance. But it's not uncommon for a photographer to have those kinds of long days. In fact, preparing for shoot could also be something as simple as preparing for the right season in the sense of summer and the times and how you plan. Um when I was starting out, I um would forget about summer hours and the fact that sunset might be at nine o'clock at night or depending on how high and latitude you are in the country could be ten o'clock at night and you're not done shooting till ten thirty or eleven if you're doing star trails or something like that and then the sunrises at five am or something like that, you know, five or six hours later um and you want to review your work and download it and by the way nothing's open for dinner so you're stuck eating at a gas station um, you know, trying to plan that stuff's great my my personal preference has always been like late fall early spring for a photography because you can wake up at nine o'clock in the morning and and you know, you could be at dinner by six it's it's it's it sounds funny and it is, but it it is actually a reality of a photographer that those long summer days when that when the sun is up and you're waiting for sunset sunrise because of those magic hours it could be challenging really challenging but make sure you plan well and packed like a good cooler and good food with you, so we had a question come in earlier you talked about going to new locations and are sorry not new locations places you've been to over and over what are some tips that you have for people? For those having fresh eyes, you go to these new location or same location it's a great question, you know, on the screen right now actually, you'll see a picture of ah of anacapa um and that's from inspiration point channel islands national park and that's a real backyard place for me channel islands right off the coast of a chain of five islands and I have gone back there sometimes every weekend every few weeks and this has been all of photography you see in the section has been something that's been personal to me it's not assigned um ended up becoming a magazine story but only after two or three years of photography out there both on land and underwater and really there I had just kept going to the same places and and as well as just pushing the hiking or the perspective but also talking to other people talking to the park service certainly building a relationship with park service. Um and I think a lot of, uh a lot of photographers don't actually always see the park service is there friends, but they really are and they're knowledgeable people, especially in public affairs there really wonderful they know the place they know where those great opportunities they understand the weather on building a relationship like any business I think is very important with your national parks, so going back really is about also just kind of hoping for a different weather we were shooting outdoors, different conditions for me shooting in the channel islands uh, quality of cameras changed, hirai esos things like that that have been able to capture low light conditions in new ways constantly visiting, revisiting it with different people sometimes you know, you're so stuck in your own way of seeing it that you don't think of how other people might experience sis so traveling with different people who might enjoy different hikes or different ways of experience in the park so important but maybe getting out of your comfort zone and not just always being a landscape photographer, but try and bring a longer lens or rental ends that you can try out and do wildlife photography at this channel island fox, which I've always loved photographing um and so I don't consider myself a wildlife photographer, but when I'm out there have had certainly great opportunities to photograph the wildlife the other way that I've really gotten after it has been to first snorkel in the channel islands and then eventually I learned how to dive on dso started diving all over the islands and they are really a good example of two worlds and I got out of my comfort zone and probably good one tweet as well would be I my saying that I can't breathe while goes if you're not uncomfortable you're not doing it right you have to be out of your comfort zone to really get the good stuff if you're really comfortable everything is really, really feels like it's going well that's great but you're not going to ever feel like that shot is absolutely the shot that gratifies me the most so diving in life in general absolutely yeah I think that's a good life lesson in general I was definitely uncomfortable during this shot which ended up becoming a really important shot me in the last couple years been published a lot um but of these ah see california sea lions and I was surrounded by one hundred of them swirling around me like torpedoes on high speed coming up to my dome I could feel flap or flipper hitting me in the back of the head um you know, I mean it was in the super friendly very very curious but again, you know, here I am hovering ah couple inches off of the ocean floor photographing these things as they move around. I'd never done that before. Uh definitely gets your adrenaline moving awesome so I have a quick question as as we have been speaking, I've been watching a canoe will go behind you with a couple of books over there on and on like we're their kind of trying to check out what it is that we're doing over here, but I'm wondering when you say you work in a photograph that couple out there there pretty hard to see from here, and somebody had early earlier asked in the chat rooms, if you were in national parks and you're photographing people, do you need to do you go and ask them? Do you go and get releases from them? And at what? At what point do you need to do that? And what reason? And that question was asked by a cb, and wyatt was voted by eight other people. Theo ultimate question depends, and all the images you've seen, the people in my presentation today are actually released images, and what that means is I've gotten signed model releases from them, even if their friends and so if you're in a public place, um, anywhere, whether it's a national park or anything that's considered public, you can take pictures of people um, and and it could be kids, it could be adults. It doesn't matter if you're in a public place, you're able to be photographed, you consent to be photographed that's what we give up when we go into public photojournalism, right, which is the photos are less amazing photography and so on that said the use the end the use of those photographs is a very important distinction in the sense that you can use them in a journalistic sense typically in a magazine for instance that's illustrating a story about a national park um versus a selling a product commercial product like let's say a bar of soap or something like that in that case if you were selling a product or anything commercial you would need a model release the parks are public places on so you don't need property releases from those um and that's the same from any photograph that you take from a public place there are exceptions to that and it gets very complicated legally on dh starts to fall into some really interesting intellectual property rights stuff um but uh I p law in general will protect almost anything taken from public place the caveat always being that provided the individual does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy and that is the that is the threshold illegal threshold that is used so if I had a long lands from here and I photographed through someone's uh bathroom our bedroom window they have a reasonable expectation that that area is private to them therefore that image even though I'm standing in public and using a long lens uh would not be something that would be used for editorial or commercial use so that is one of the most important distinctions for ah when you need that paperwork or when you don't, um in general, even if it's just someone's hands that's a silhouette anything like that for commercial use uh, theoretically would need a property release. I'm sorry. A model release so you sound very, very knowledgeable on this, tom again way. Just have a few minutes left. We can go over a little bit of time, talk a lot more about it want to, but I do business. Yeah, exactly. On the third day, we're going to talk a lot about the business end, but we haven't yet talked about tandem motion and stills was emotional tandem sorry, tennant is emotion beautiful butterfly coming through I love it of and that's tandem stock dot com but can you tell us a little bit about how then kind of as we end the segment your your career and how it led teo tandem yeah, tandem really is is the is everything coming full circle and, you know, the opportunities that were afforded me really came from a lot of different people and businesses and companies and the world and climate that's changing for photographers is is becoming more challenging for photographers to be photographers um, it's harder to make a living than ever before. It's harder for companies that run honestly and ethically um and so ah four and a half years ago or so I launch tandem stills in motion it's the idea of bringing both stills and motion clips together under a single stock photography where stock licensing platform and so tandem now represents almost thousand photographers around the world and we do ah do very well in the outdoor shauna and we work exclusively in outdoor jonah because that's not only what we enjoy it's what we know and it's what our friends and colleagues in our community that we've built a tandem also know and we've really built it around the idea of having a very photographer centric philosophy putting the photographer first protecting their rights, informing them, educating where possible but giving everybody the opportunity it's not just meant to be a community of high end leap photographers, but I've always believed that a great photograph come from absolutely anywhere and when that great photograph exists um I want the opportunity to bring it to the market and and bring it to the world and share it not just my work but other people's work. So tanner has been really exciting it's been really interesting this shift from the creative into the business and still find that balance but I think it's also important for me to continue to find opportunities to shoot, you know, spend a week in the field I don't get as long or as often as I used to certainly um but it gives me the perspective of what is important to a photographer ah, and what is ah important from the business side and if I understand it from both sides, I feel like it really positions me in a way that, um, that you don't see often in the in the business of photography. And so again, I have a feeling that a lot of people at home are if if you're watching, you might be somebody like myself who went and traveled and I say, what am I going to do with my images now? Can I sell them kanai license them? What have you how what do you recommend? Where do people need to be with their photography? And then secondly, how do you go about getting involved with tandem? Well, tandems doors were open anybody? Certainly. Um, as I just said, well, you know, we don't know where to take every image, but we will certainly look at working with every individual for sure. Um and there is a mission there is there's an application costs website. Yeah, it is. I mean, you basically you submit we don't ever we don't say no to anyone, um, but we will review everyone's work and find and figure out is it the right time to work together? Uh where do we wanna work with you and stay in touch until we feel like your work and actually go to market? Um yeah ultimately we're up against really big companies were very small team but we believe in, you know, high end customer service and relationships and true community I mean, because we're up against a lot of other competition that is more about volume than it is about really creating that personal environment we that we've strived for, you know, we have to be ah, we have to be judicious and how we manage that which has been a challenges we've grown but I'm very excited about how much we really grown I mean, to have over a thousand photographers on our roster including some of the biggest the best names in the outdoor world um has been has been really great but you know, there's an application process uh you just gonna tandem stock dot com you can check it out you could see the caliber of our work we have ah live feed on our site just called browse the photos if you click it you can actually scroll through we actually built our whole software platform you could scroll through and see an endless amount of image literally hundreds thousands of images you'll never hit an end um and and for me that's actually very, very inspiring people always want don't want to show me the vacation photos. We really want to show you your professional photographer. I love photography, whether it's mine or someone else's and inspiration comes from other people's vision and perspective and that's. And I think that's what this company is really about, and certainly what I'm about that's, for sure.

Class Description

Outdoor photography celebrates the varied and stunning landscapes of the natural world – in this unique course you will learn composition and shooting techniques for getting beautiful outdoor shots.

Shooting and teaching from two of the world’s most pristine parks, Olympic National Park and Mt. Rainier National Park, award-winning photographer Ian Shive will teach you new ways to create outdoor photographs that are powerful, captivating and fresh. You'll explore key elements of great outdoor photography including: composition, working a scene, selecting exposure, using filters to manage natural light, and scouting a great location. Then you'll learn how to put it all together to tell a story in a single image or series. After spending time in the field, Ian will move into the studio and present on the equally important tasks of managing and editing your work from the field.

Ian will show you how to capture images that are both technically and emotionally engaging. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to learn how to document the beauty of the great outdoors, in camera.

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

Student Work

Related Classes



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.