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Ruby Beach

Lesson 37 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

37. Ruby Beach

Lesson Info

Ruby Beach

All right, so we, uh hard to believe but we're on ly not even an hour forty five minutes from where we were in the whole rainforest where it was very one and a lot of mosquitoes and now we're here in total fog you can't even tell that that is the pacific ocean behind me we're still in olympic national park and pretty classic get some weather get some real washington weather here and that means it's just time to work the scene and see what we see this beach is awesome you've got the rock sea stacks out here in the ocean and formations and very, very, very popular place to photograph and I'm going to just work my way around I've got a handhold situation going on with a little bit of a high rise so two hundred fifty um f thirteen's a little depth of field make sure don't get been yet ing like I might get on a rule on a sixteen millimeter lens and I'm gonna probably go and make sure that the camera's getting a little bit of slower shutter speed by using the explosion compensation we'll get...

a little brighter because the camera is going to probably anticipate this being very, very bright wanna go automatically darker so I'm gonna override that with a little bit extra and then just kind of work around I love the way the water's flowing through you kind of see silhouettes of people in the distance. We can't make out who they are. Exactly got the formation. So I'm gonna work this work my way up and then down the beach and because the tide is out low, it could be a really great opportunity to see some tide pools. And that means sea stars and all other kinds of great subject matter that could be good for grounds for landscape photography. So this is a great place to to really wrap up on awesome day in olympic and, uh, gonna work work. The beach hand holding gives me a lot of flexibility, and I don't really need to worry too much. A deaf thirteen and a sixteen millimeter lens getting, you know, fifty, sixty eighth of a second, faster, I can hand hold this and really not worry too much about my stability, and it gives me a little bit of creative freedom and that's pretty cool thing. And one thing I wanted point out is I also made sure that first thing I did when I got out here was an hour ago, forty five minutes ago and spotty sunlight and really green forest and allison, I'm out here where it's very, very monotone almost, and so I just did my white balance, so I left it before very warm if I remember well now everything's a lot cooler so I don't want to stay warm otherwise the sand almost well look red and we don't want that to happen not that you can't fix it later because it's a lossless step to fix it photo shop but again I'd like to review my photos to get as close as I can in lens and so I want to make sure that I can work on that while I'm out here so I'm gonna keep shooting I kind of like the silhouettes of people out there because you can't actually see who they are it could be anyone and I like that idea kind of brings you in and shares the experience and so I'm taking steps back because I'm zooming in on sixteen thirty five that way I can compress the elements that are back there and if I really wanted to go crazy with that I could get a telephoto lens but I don't really need to do that I think thirty five is plenty especially as people move out gonna stay here work the scene because they become my foreground or my background elements and the rule of thirds kind of keeping him out on the third part of my frame and I just kind of keep re shooting these one thing I'm doing is I'm using the guides in camera to make sure my horizon stays straight this is ultimately handheld landscape photography kind of fast and down and dirty until I find what I consider the ultimate composition this is really great, but I have a feeling that the tide pools are gonna be more awesome so I'm gonna keep working around and see what's over that and all right? So one of the reasons why I can't hand hold and keep my aperture really small and wide up the field is because this is basically a giant soft box throwing off a ton of light it's really, really nice and I've been a situation before where everything's to know or a beach and it's a similar thing everything is just completely bright, which makes it really nice for us landscape photographers not married to that tripod all the time I'm going to go shoot some rocks and pay a good little detail shot we'll travel we'll travel shot this is actually kind of a trip and I'm gonna zoom in on this and I got pretty wide depth of field. I was just kind of a kooky little thing that you see out here kind of fun and making these my rule of thirds on the right hand side I'm gonna zoom in a little bit just kind of keep working the scene, keeping my depth to feel really high it's kind of a fun, kitschy little shot why not? We're here might be one of those places where you wanna kick off your shoes and actually go barefoot instead of taking it in here sneakers so looking for subject matter and foreground which this fog is great because there's not a lot of death and if this time a day five o'clock in the evening we're still three hours away from sunset so I could still make epic landscape because the fog is so incredibly dramatic and that's the great part about weather bad weather people think boggle you can't see anything it's actually makes it potentially a whole lot better course, you gotta find a good foreground and just kind of taking a couple steps back so I can get everything in frame not seeing anything yet watch often not seeing much times better about your timing is why why we don't leave our gear like just sitting and having a base camp like we do in other places because you have a bad judge on how fast that water's coming up like me uh, insurance policy starts to kick in. So if you notice fog keeping the lens cap on, I don't want all that moisture to accumulate create spot, especially since I'm trying to keep me up to feel really high so I'm gonna keep walking in this area and the first thing I'm noticing is I'm starting to see little ripples of rivets in the ground as the water and the tide kind of go out and I might try to make the ocean sort of a foreground elements, so I'm still looking for some sort of foreground. I'm like see stars or some kind of a cool tide pool, a little creatures in it for the meantime, I'm gonna try and continue to work the scene as I can with handheld wide angle and see if I could make the ocean of foreground, so just keep that lens cap in my hand and then keep going with course carefully from using the sea rocks. The sea stacks is, they're called as my rule. Third on the right hand side, I'm shooting it I s o four hundred little bit higher, but totally negligible that way I got a fast shutter speed of about three twentieth of a second, I could probably drop down two hundred, you know, not too big of a difference between the two more elastic preference on how much risk you want to take on your handheld sharpness. I like tax sharpe images, so I was gonna keep working the scene and and really, the big lesson here is you don't really know exactly what you're going to do like I've seen pictures of this beach is one of the most photographed places on the national parks. You know, you got the ocean and these great shapes, but he's got to mess around with it, you know? You don't can anticipate things like bob, you can't just been anything when you're working outside. So for me, it's really just about spending time looking at the process, seeing what I go through until we know that we're starting really hone in on what's gonna be the great landscape. Truth is, I might have got my best shot of the day already, and I don't even know, but I'm gonna keep working through it until I feel like I've exhausted all my possibilities try not to shoot it, I level another big tip looking pretty great, really great little reflection. It's pretty out here, keep on moving down the beach with you. Well, I came right up and I didn't get it waiting for the water to come up and give me a little bit of a foreground in the ripple. This working my way through this point, we're just playing into the subtleties of everything is going on enjoying the fog, having fun, nothing more in that, uh I love the way that the trees they're kind of emerging from the fog listen there's a ton of rock, so I'm hoping that maybe this is our huckleberry for tide pools. So this will be great because we have a really great background element, and it looks like we could have some killer foreground elements with all these rocks, maybe there's something over here, so, like, anything you got to check it out is a, uh, dead bird or owl something wildlife cities, these rocks are pretty good for four ground see, we get anything interesting on him pretty tough, pretty tough bonus here, kind of like the way three rocks are lining up in the bottom of my friend and in the mist, you can kind of tell there's this bigger one out there, and I don't like it just like this good symmetry, a couple lines coming right up through it problem is, the foreground is so dark in the background so light that I gotta use the exposure compensation, we'll make everything a little bit brighter. I'm focusing on this middle rock here, and it looks a little bit better, but I still haven't found my tide pools, I'm gonna keep looking, I've hyped it up so much. No, I really need to see it, all right? So you see some of them unease that I like it's, a great opportunity to detail shot haven't found my foreground or my starfish, and these are kind of tucked hearing on the edge, but it could be really neat little detail shot again. We're here to tell a story of a place and details I think are really important for that, so I'm gonna switch my lands from sixteen thirty five I feel like even with that, I want to fill the whole frame with the bright turquoise and the colors of these in ebony, so time to do a little switch. Twenty forty seven he's great, because it's almost borderline macro, especially at seventy help me get full frame, try and hand hold it so I could keep my eyes so four hundred I'm gonna probably drop my aperture down, but I won't ensure that got good sharpness throughout all the way in the death and always to the front. So I'm gonna probably play around with that figure out exactly what that would be. I'm guessing some between faa and half eleven on giving that handheld sharpness, especially with s o four hundred. So time for a quick line switch. I made the quick switch twenty four to seventy million gonna go up to seventy people on auto focus. I'm gonna dial down to f eleven most going to go a little on the darker and using exposure compensation we're going to go about two thirds of a stop under, and I'm going tio get up and try and fill the frame with ease and geminis always mindful of the rising ocean, which hasn't always worked out today and they're pretty cool. I mean, the colorful the big soft light makes detail work really great. I might use a polarizer, but I probably don't need it here, only to get rid of some of the glare. So double check my sharpness. So I'm doing a couple of handhelds pretty hard to set up a tripod right here, this water constantly coming up with my seizures, of course get on a pair of shorts and go barefoot but it's a little chilly and I got a long way to go on the beach, so what I'm gonna first do is take a look, and I'm getting quite a bit of a reflection because there's actually pockets of water inside each of the yemenis and they're all picking up the brightness of the sky and I really want their colored a pop. I want to cut that glare so I'm actually gonna go and throw on a polarizing filter for this and try and cut that glare. The thing, of course, is that I want to make sure that my aperture and my shutter speed aren't too slow to be cutting the amount of light and because I am handholding be tricky, but I think I can get it still at around f nine I think it will get the death I want sharpness I want even with a polarizing on something to try and throw that on real quick I got a polarizer on take a look again. You could see my hair's getting wetter so the missus is an issue I wanna keep this lens hood on, but in orderto adjust my polarizer I need to keep it off. Simon, wait again for that water to go out and looks like a shutter speeds getting a little down there on the handheld so I'm gonna drop it down this six point three let's get first the aperture or the polarizer rather where we want it. All right. Looks good. Now I'm gonna try and get my shot and pretty slow pretty slow so I can go up on my eye. So I try to avoid the eight hundred, but I'd rather have a sharp image. They know image. It also better to go up on a weight. A click look around, see if there's anywhere else to shoot. Not really is the best concentration? I love the turquoise, especially in this light, but the nothing it is so patience pays a lot of cool other little shapes over here that could be great for details, all right? I think we're good on that detail shot take a hunt around the lens cap back on elliot polarizer pressured on that earlier. This is pretty cool is well, problem ongoing problem today good little full frame I'm not giving any sense of place and just going completely full frame on he's and a little bit dark potentially take a look at your history, graham you could see it really needs to brighten up there's that big hole over here on the right I'm okay without trying keep it a bit dark knowing that I might boost a little bit photoshopped, willing to lose that little bit of a little bit of ah quality lawson resolution by upping that exposure it's only a stop or two it's not that much and I really need the speed. I need the shutter speed out here right now so I can hand holding. I did goto s o eight hundred five six it's enough death that's almost a perfectly flat surface so it should be able to retain sharpen throughout the entire image. But if you're not sure you always zoom in we're out here not gonna be coming back any time real soon so I may actually go and try and pop off a couple more frames and, uh, try and be really steady on it trial and air emphasis on the air way got it about two hundredth of a second on that that seems like its razor sharp and it is and it looks good I think I got my goal so let's keep looking for that extra tide pool so I found really great little tide pool out here and it's not exactly I'm looking for, but it's got some motion and some interesting things and I like the background so, you know, work my way through it and see if I could make something out of it. So this little pools pretty cool and what I like actually is about the foam and it's moving really, really slow, so if I set this up right, I've got this element here water flowing in gun, of course, bates into the ocean because I don't want to end up in it, but I like the way it looks and on a long exposure that phone wants you start swirled, create shapes in motion, someone trying it as low as possible, but I'm gonna wait till the tide gets out. What you do is prepped. I first set my eyes so real love, I'm going to go to f twenty two semi I saw all the way down custom function of el on my camera, which is so fifty, and I'm just gonna wait until I get a good moment and ideally, a pool would be a little bit more empty, so we're gonna hang for a bit let's get some people walking through the frame so patients is always a virtue. Either way, I'll test this out, see what kind of effects I get while I wait for the background clear and low to the ground low composition could work really nice, actually. Looks real nice, actually gonna move a little bit over. I want those rocks way out there in the distance on my left side. Make sure my horizon streamer store to get some color out here right now as well. Do a test exposure open up a little bit more and I'm not getting the slow motion effect is only getting about a half a second and so the only way to get that is tio yeah, neutral density filters and pushed him on and that will cut the amount of light coming through and give me more of a squirrel emotion but I've got water coming up, which means every time I do this, I'm gonna need to recompose. All right, so I have got my filter holder on and I'm gonna get out that nine andy so it's ah, heaviest of them all it's ah three, six, nine and it's a hard and I'm gonna actually put it over the hole ends to block as much light as I can so I'm not gonna just go a little bit over it just a black in the sky I'm gonna block out all of the centre of the lanes and slow down my exposure time so now I'm going to go and race back into position and of course there's not really any foam out here at the moment as there was a few minutes ago and that's how it is but remember that original composition and one of the things that's really challenging about beaches, how soft it can be especially the water's coming out and so nobody would be mindful sinking but also your tripod may move quite a bit and so now the same exposure maybe two and a half seconds before on a half a second so that's definitely plenty of time to get the results that I'm looking for let me use alive you and uh you probably want to wait a little bit get someone of that motion is I want to show a little bit of motion in here and that's the point of the long exposure so hang tight a little bit and see if these waves come in and it might work where they come in just enough teo create that I'll be having a waiver to come all the way and then all the way out might give me some sort of ah I needed some of the highlights swirl through here another nice parties is the waves come in on the left hand side of the frame with a slow exposure you also get some really neat soft textures and with the ocean that's really great cause you get almost a misty effects if you get a misty effect in here so here I'll shoot again on uh, see if I get lucky one more time that I actually work. The problem is when the water comes up and I got a nice effect on that problem is when the water comes out, the tripod sinks and I might move no changing the composition but completely completely blurring everything in the process of the long exposure. You gotta be really careful of that, but this looks pretty good. We got our phone, we've got water coming in thinking about all the layers I want it's probably best to be able to do out here with the with the situation that we have, but either way, you can't ask for more beautiful, beautiful evening, even if the shoes were a little way wrapped up another great day. How here on ruby beach and didn't know what we would find, we had seen some fog driving by earlier waited for the light to change, maybe less fog, maybe more fog and ended up being fog soup and that's the challenge pretty cool on the less fog adds a lot of drama, and so, really, this was just a lot of fun, exploring a great spot and just working a scene. A lot of nature photography is unplanned is trying to take what you can find and work it into something great, and, uh, sometimes works out. Sometimes it doesn't. Ultimately, I think we actually got a lot of shots today, and really, this was not just about planned slow processes with a tripod, but also just kind of running gun style, getting a nice high I s so hand holding a wide angle lens and just getting a lot of different landscapes that once again, I want it in the field, but I'll edit when I get back home, but either way, pretty hard to go wrong in a place like ruby beach, the backdrop and the subject matters absolutely exquisite, and it was fun to be out here.

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