Skip to main content

Photographing Water Discussion

Lesson 17 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

Photographing Water Discussion

Lesson 17 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

17. Photographing Water Discussion

Lesson Info

Photographing Water Discussion

I was really enjoying hearing the comments in the chat room. I got a kick out of it, especially once I got out the flip flops, which I just want to say e just say, and I spent a lot of time in hawaii photographing which I'm very lucky and I got lots of compliments on they call them slippers there lots of compliments on how agile I am in flip flops and my running sneakers, so, you know, truth is obviously of his ankle deep by the time the rocks they're not slippery and and it was fine and it's something again, I'm just comfortable with but everybody you got to do whatever makes you comfortable, but either way, I think the one thing that really resonates about the water section is is the fact how slow the process actually goes and, you know, sometimes it's a little little monotonous don't seem redundant in the sense, but that's the process of getting work and a lot of times it's not a perfect ten, you know, I mean, these images look good, and I've actually queued up on my on my laptop, t...

he final images and mental go through in a segment later today, my edit and the editing process, but since we're coming fresh off of the water segment, love to show you five or six of the frames that air here and show you what they ended up looking like. What we're looking at in that section is the raw files as they came out of the camera, and so there was obviously little processing on that, so this ended up being the one of the frames that I liked the most from this it was actually single exposure. I did not have to use to exposure. There was enough detail in the waterfall, too, to make sure that the highlights weren't completely lost. There was more glare in the section that I actually had hoped, ultimately, and but I didn't mind it because the glare itself was actually the nice blue color of the sky. The vertical version, I think, worked a little bit better in the composition shooting up into the canyon, and truth be told, I mean, you could have spent a lot more time, and they're just working actual think having people is a subject matter really gave a real sense of place in there, in the sense of me kind of walking around. This was one where I actually just completely cut the water, fall out of the scene and just focused on the detail of the rocks and the shape, the color and again, you could see the polarizer how much. It cuts that glare and you really see with a long exposure the quality of the color and the green this is ultimately there were a number of frames from this this is again one of the one of the friends I like the most I was really tourney about whether I wanted like people on the bridge walking or a car going by and ultimately I just opted for nothing I thought it looked the best but again the polarize that cut the glare allowed the blue to come out and once humans was fully process and I'm gonna take you through that process in the next segment later when we start talking about editing but I just wanted you to see what the final results actually look like he's their single exposures again this one is just with a with a polarizing filter you could see how the color and the textures have jumped out and I did a lot of dodging and burning up in this section not a lot actually probably only about a half stop too stop it the most. I don't think anything ever got more than a one stop adjustment but you could see how I tried to open it up so the detail the color, the moss and everything is really, really impacted and then of course the blues that that showed up in that canyon and then this ended up being the final shot as well for this little punch here up here, but this wouldn't be the final shot this wasn't actually comet falls on the way to comment fall so just a correction on that on day one question I know that came up was why did I use a neutral density filter and not just fix it later in post production? And a lot of that is habit a z I mentioned yesterday when I was out in the field, I come from the school of film first where you didn't have the option to correct it then secondly, client needs so, you know, I've been really fortunate to have incredible clients from the nature conservancy si tio doing projects for nat geo companies like that and you don't get to really do much to your work there ethical requirements there, journalistic requirements require that what you see is what you captured on camera. It doesn't mean you can't use filters, you can use the filth others and make those subtle adjustments in camera so that's a part of it. The other thing is that is a good habit because I like to have a maximum out of data and information that are in my files at all times, so you know, ultimately I don't want to judge on just the back of the screen or judge even just simply by the history graham why I'm getting what I'm getting and that was less that on dh whether I'll have enough information there to make the edit I want later, but it was also less about necessarily what I'm going to preserve in here and mohr that I wanted to make sure that I could go darker in here to capture detail in these highlights a cz well and not lose all of the shadowing in different places. So these this wall from this wall were probably three stops apart, and so by bringing them a little bit closer together in the number of stops that they were, help me manage better the relationship of that with in conjunction with water because if you close the water in there now you're talking about five, six and potentially even seven stops and I find generally when working a raw file like to stay within no more than three stops and exposure adjustment, so personal preference, you know? And again, I'm not usually in the habit of image layering or anything like that except for star trails, of course, but I never really I've never actually combined more than one image that I've ever published before it's always been a single frame executed and then dodging burned in here, so you know, it's just again a little bit of a habit, but again also managing that difference between the exposure's so these are the images that I got this was actually one of the images from panther creek that was from the scout that we had done the day before and so it's actually not bad got a polarizing filter on it and it works really well and I like the fact that you can still see a little bit of the waterfall up in there and that's actually what caught my eye and brought us up to that point so ultimately really pleased overall with with how it went and they were actually a lot of other frames and options including verticals so love to answer some questions and see what everybody thinks and, uh, see if I can help you understand a little bit more of that process, alright, so lots of questions coming in for you in do you always photograph the water where it looks creamy or smooth? Or do you photograph the water where it looks natural? You know, I think there's ah think I think the tarver's and general love that creamy, smooth thing you know, it's it's almost like we as much as we loved by gadgets for our year, I think those two things almost go hand in hand there's just this habits and there fun and it's great to dio you know, I don't really go for any one particular thing, I think maybe I'm naturally attracted to it without thinking about that necessarily but I don't really go after anything I mean I think I photograph really rough water on the great lakes before and oceans and things like that and I think that the drama that comes with whitewater and splashing and capturing that splashing is actually really cool and so it just depends on what it is I'm trying to convey and a lot of shots in the parks you know whether it's in yosemite on the mayor said river where the water tends to go and flow easily I it's more serene and also amusing water as a cz an element of telling a story and that's something that has been a recurring theme throughout the course telling a story through a landscape and you know people think of telling a story there's no character there's no protagonist antagonism you basically are working with your characters and that's that's your your animals your landscapes iraq's rivers and you don't want to make something I feel like something maybe it's not so I don't want to convey in a picture like again using the merced river and you're somebody who won't hear upon the wall it's going thinking about it it wasn't rough water it was what it was and I wanted to just capture the fact that it was this really great light very smooth serene, silky sort of scene so I just went after what it was cool ok, another question from d l vegas how'd and a lot of people were asking this yesterday too how do you shoot at f twenty two thirty two? Isn't there a problem with diffraction? Yeah, I get a lot of that on the diffraction I haven't really had a problem with the diffraction f twenty two afternoons for people who don't know what diffraction I'm sure well now diffraction I mean it's it's a kimber well, the fraction would refer to to the, uh the it's an error that I guess it's an heir or perceived air that people think happens on the high end or small aperture like in f twenty two or in f thirty two that people feel like you have to stick with going on a lower aperture like f sixteen or something like that. The truth is I'm shooting really wide and I'm getting really low and I don't have that bandwith that I need to get the sharpness throughout the frame the one thing I think that I will probably do differently in my career in general's landscape a tiger or not we do differently but certainly explores an option is a tilt shift cleanse and I mentioned that yesterday and believe it or not, as a landscape photographer, I have not gone down the tilt shift lens route and so I what a tilt shift lenses is it actually allows you to shift the focal planes on the lens so that you can get basically in equal angle to your subject matter so let's say we have wild flowers in the foreground in a mountain in the background you can actually tilt the lens to shift so that's on an equal plane so that the wild flowers which are closer to you the lens is farther away and the top of lands over here where the object is farther away is closer to it and what it allows you to do is get ah greater depth of field and get you a little bit more of a greater depth of field that allows you teo get more uniforms, sharpness throughout with getting closer to your subjects and it enables you to alter the composition a little bit more on lance scape tricky thing to explain she had some good examples of it of course that's with maximum depth of field shallow depth of field it makes the objects look very miniature and so there's a whole there's a whole category of photography around using tilt shift lenses to make things look very very small. Cool so cool thank you. Any studio audience derek rule of thumb and this is specifically when you're it's not a topic undershot list but when you're waiting for weather like mount rainier where you just say it's not going to happen or how long do you wait that period when do I give up on in fewer words that's a good question I mean it varies on how long is my trip? Where do I need to be next? Of course you know it's a it's a that's a really tough thing to balance and I think it only comes with years of experience to be honest, I think the most honest answer is if you're sitting there waiting and you and you think well do I move and go and photograph something else it's a really good questions of sword answer moving go somewhere else and hope that that's going to be better than what this maybe on dh that is something I faced a lot I remember one instance in particular which I'll share these images ah little bit later we talk about iconic national park work and I got stuck at the top of ah sort of an alpine lake area and you're seventy national park and a storm was blowing in and I was debating whether to stay here and at high click five miles in took a lot of times appeal at all my gear with me and I was debated and sunset was coming and I was debating well should I stay here and see what it does don't actually want to be exposed during a thunderstorm as well so it's kind of been with safety aspects of it but also really paying attention to the light and ultimately I decided to go down I decide to climb all the way down and I didn't even know exactly where I was going to go. I had scouted some areas but I found a river a found a creek after getting down and the sky just exploded with color and it was one of the most surreal photograph I have ever made in my entire life people think I photoshopped in like added I mean I had purples, blues and vibrant colors that you've never seen before and I'll show you again in in the at the end of this day in the end of the workshop we talked with the iconic landscapes but end up being a great decision and now do I know that it was it would have been better had I stayed it's always going to be the balance of what if and I thinkit's just one of those things you have to make that call and and I have lost all so many times I think I'm making that call where I'm go somewhere else and probably didn't get the best do you go with your gut? Yeah that's a good thing because I mean that it's like life in general right now you don't know depends how hungry I am too literally got like so you know the day's ending or whatever you know just getting but yeah, it is it's an instinct thing after a while, it's just sort of, you know, there's an unspoken element of understanding the natural world, I think that comes with spending so much time out there the way I have and you start to get a feel for where the clouds are going to blow and how the light's going to get, you know, get and, you know, well, you know, you're looking at the grass, I mean, I think, you know, a skill in itself is just the idea of awareness, and I'd read a book when I was in high school actually, that was all about tracking on animals and things like that, and it talked about awareness and how to see the world, not with tunnel vision, but rather to and which we often dio I mean, even in the room, you think you're focusing on one area, maybe you're looking focusing on me, but then you, khun there's, a way to kind of open your vision so you can take the whole thing, and and I've learned to apply that to all of my everyday life in many ways, whenever you can remember it's very easy to get that narrow focus, but I think it's important to just see the world or the wider I on a wider vision and when hiking and and in that I believe that you'll pick up the skill of ah, really understanding the elements in a way that then you can apply to photography. I love it in fifteen. Love it's. Probably a lot of folks who are out there, home or in this room, uh, feel the same way and that's. Why they're watching lovers of the natural world.

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