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Shoot: Camp Fire Details

Lesson 10 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

Shoot: Camp Fire Details

Lesson 10 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

10. Shoot: Camp Fire Details

Lesson Info

Shoot: Camp Fire Details

I'm gonna do a few more again, like any photography. Um, don't just shoot horizontal, shoot horizontal and vertical imagery. Um, so they're gonna do a little marshmallow roast for us. It looks like so what I'm gonna do is actually just do a shot for white balance purposes. So what I'm gonna do is actually just we gotta wait tables well, but it's a little dirty, but get those marshmallows. So this next shot is just for the purpose of getting the tone of what should be white and that's. Nothing more than a something that I'll use later in studio. So many cameras, I don't know what look, all right, so now I'm gonna move out, try shoot across this direction and keep those marshmallows in the shot and then once again, I'm getting low angle, shooting out across and I'm getting a highway in the background, but I'm gonna zoom in and just see if I can get it's, okay, I'm getting that cooler is a little distracting, so once again I'm gonna try and clear my lines and maybe I'll shoot across this ...

way towards lacey on this one. Here we go that looks good, so now we're getting some roasting on the marshmallows and I'm gonna keep that shout up the field, I'm a switch that vertical yet so guys, I'm gonna need a model release for this stuff you realize that right because I want to be able to use these later for ah for ah stock photography so let's see in this case I'm focusing on the marshmallows my subject but you know it's taken a look at the imagesit's okay? They're not not wonderful lacey you're not looking very enthusiastic about your marshmallow so you'll notice that what's happening is with shallow depth of field I'm blowing off a lot of frames and with people and we shall adopt the field I got a few things they're gonna have I'm focusing in between marshmallow and between lacey but working with people expressions change all the time and so I'm not if you notice the landscape photography I'll go I'll take one picture make an adjustment maybe take one or two maybe get two or three frames when I'm working with people I'll often do huge bursts of frames and a higher frame rate on your camera will be helpful for that and the reason is as you go through it you'll notice she laughs. She smiles she's happy said every expression your camera shooting at four hundredth of a second to think about something shot in slow motion in the body moving like this you're going to capture every little twist and turn of the face the cheeky eyes somebody might blink and so by shooting a lot of frames the goal is that hopefully one of them will be the shot where the faces the most relaxed and that the person is in the most favorable expression so typically when working with people same thing if you're getting into sort of adventure sports and adventure sports photography and and working outdoors and like trail running um uh backpacking climbing certainly think about somebody on that next step for a run somebody who's on that next handhold is a climb um you're going to be getting the whole range and that's where uh how many frames per second your camera goes will make a difference but also not just transfer second but just constantly getting a lot of frames getting a sense of timing um, you know, you might switch to a wide angle and get a lot more frames of a trail runner every step they take their foot is going to be in a different position is they extend and you want to be able to go and make that edit later. And so, as we've said and as I've said is like a broken record on this uh course don't add it in the field, the idea is to capture as many options as you can you're there to gather information and we'll add it later so when working with people make sure you have enough options that when you go back you're not seeing expressions that make the shoot unusable later so I'm gonna continue shooting a little bit I'm gonna change my angle is I guess camera gear in the background would take a couple more frames here and then I'm gonna do a lens change uh I missed that moment now see, I wasn't ready there was a a friendly moment of passing us more back and forth and I like that because that's sort of like campfire camaraderie hang on anything all right? I'm very busy talking everybody here hang on. All right let's do that again we're gonna stage this but again these are the sorts of uh well see, now I got a genuine laugh out of that and that's a good thing so really shallow depth of field but uh I'm a little tight on the shot in general, but I'm working around a little bit of ah gear but uh you know that uh c shot number nineteen o three it's a little dark nineteen o two nineteen o one those are all really good really good images while they kind of work and you know it feels authentic and again you look a at first it staged but then aaron actually laugh because I said something kind of silly and we got an authentic laugh and immediately it starts to be conveyed to the expression of the camera so authenticity is really important in general do it, len change I don't want to move this stuff out of the way yeah, so as well okay, that s what I want to do is actually get back in the tent and from within the town on capture and using the tent as a framing element great for what's going on here especially we've got this beautiful, beautiful background I want to get a sense of place and this is really challenging because we have ah, bright background john asked about that yeah, we'll be right back around and we have a dark foreground so I'm going to work through that let me do a, um a lens chain great. So this is something I've been wanting to ask you all day, and that is you started off the day talking about the fact that you do not you're using your filters? Um, your neutral density filters and you talked about not stacking images in post meaning you don't do hdr, so we're not going to see you try to do it. She are on this scene, which I think witches which blows me away because of looking at a lot of your imagery yeah, I think it's the same reason of staging a shoot in many ways of um shooting hdr if I were to use it on the scene, this is going to clearly feel like a stage scene um with that background suddenly working right it's not going to look natural right? And you lose the second whose authenticity you're working in the most authentic environment the world this isn't a studio shoot right? You're in nature and so I want to continue to play off of that idea and convey the authenticity of images and that's also what buyers again going back to that and I very rarely have seen an hd are absolutely sells um but not nearly the way that non hdr images and so it's wild I found this very watches marshmallows so the so that's something that is more also from a business perspective also creative decision that I like I just I actually don't care for the results now does that mean I'm going to see the background of my shot? Not necessarily I will sometimes just completely sacrifice the background or in the studio I'll bring back some of the highlights okay to infer what's there without seeing it in she tells the way I would've just photograph it now and layered it so you're gonna put any filters on that? Okay, great! I don't know that it's gonna work though either so this is a little bit of the experimentation process so I'm gonna make sure that I don't run the cables through the fire yeah that's good and one more question the internet wants to know if erin was a boy scout because he did a really great job without fire wade got a thumbs up aaron was was not it was not he was not a good question all right so I'm gonna get these creative live branded bottles on in here and so I'm gonna actually start by keeping this door open and shooting from behind the tent through the ten sixteen to thirty five millimeter lands and you know not every idea is a good idea but we're going to give it a shot see how it goes and here we go so I'm going to start out here and conceptually I'm thinking about water my ideas I obviously don't want to see a lot of depth from the tent um I don't know that I want to be completely out of focus either we want to know that it's a ten and that we're seeing this environment interior without happening on the exterior so I'm going to start with a shallow depth of field the showers and yet if two point eight and that will probably make my background drop off is well but we'll start there I s o four hundred and I've still got a uh in custom kelvin custom ah white balanced sort of auto white balance but leave it there as well we can always fix that later and so I'm gonna get down here and take a look and see what I see so taking a couple frames and not to back so what's happening is you're getting a lot of range on here um but if you look at the shot what I don't like is the fact that the edge of the tent is running right through aaron's head so I'm gonna carve myself a little bit more room because it looks like I don't really need this door in the shot at all so I'm gonna try and work through that and gave I'll probably see you there I'm going to try and open this door just a touch more tio okay seymour lacey so here we go I'm gonna take another shot to eight and okay now I've got everybody but it's not necessary feeling like a tent so I'm gonna go to the same spot and that was at thirty five millimeters and if you wantto if you can't shoot through here get a good shot of what I'm doing um I'm going to go to a wider lens wider focal length I'm gonna go teo enough to not capture the whole tent is about captain holt and look what happens. I get too much detail it gets too busy so I'm gonna actually go toe like twenty four and I'm gonna keep it up to eight and right now I'm still working on composition I am not thinking about exposure or anything else I'm just trying to figure out what am I going to be doing so in general, this looks pretty pretty cool. Um, it's a little dark in the foreground, but I've got a pretty good amount of information on here. Take a look at that history, ram, and they see that my highlights I got a line going right through the right side, all the way up and out through the roof, literally, which means getting a lot of clipping in the sky, which is exactly what we were just talking about in the sense that the backgrounds little too bright, but the foreground is also a little too dark, so I'm actually gonna go and get myself just a touch more depth of field to get rid of any sort of vignette ing that might be there when you got a four point out. Still, it I so four hundred, I'm also going to then go and over, exposed by two thirds of a stop using the exposure compensation wheel. So now I'm at f four, getting a nice, fast shutter speed kind of leaning into the tent, my desire just get in the tent, but I'm gonna do it this way. Oh, yeah, I got that nice miss that bonding moment again. So now I'm gonna look at the end results, see what I got and now I've over exposed, which means I'm trying to get more of my foreground mohr of my subjects in the foreground but the background is really falling out now I've got a couple options I could get a neutral density filter and just put it on the sky but the problem with that is if I use a neutral density filter in here, everything is gonna be darker, including the ten which means half of the tent will be dark and half of the tent will not now it may work depending on how creative my composition could be. Um in actually, as I mentioned earlier when shooting up through the tent you get a little darker stops on here you lose about, you know, quarter to a half a stop I may be actually able to actually get in the tent, make this little easier um no, I'm going to use them I'm actually gonna be creative and try and use the tent itself is a filter, so what I'll do is sit inside it's a little easier and I could use a tripod you don't necessarily need it, but what I'm gonna do is actually just try and see if I can get the tent itself to be my filter by holding it uh into the shop and that is kind of working but it's not not quite long enough let's even unzip it more here we go so you could do something simple is that it's not gonna work? Probably with one hand let's see if it works actually kind of does so you're not seeing that elements you don't really know that I'm holding it when shooting so you get still kind of the tent field but not quite buying it so the other option is we can go and expose for just lacey and aaron and keep the ten in here like this and you see what happens to our background completely blown out. We've lost all of the nice elements that we had going earlier so still thinking some of our first shots ultimately going to be the best because there a little dark in the foreground but you're still getting the detail the background we might want to just rely on a little bit of post production where we just manually adjust our highlights and shadows without getting old repairing the other thing is if we do two frames are waves and everything else and amount of layer masking and everything we do is gonna be very, very complicated. We want to keep this simple we want to make this so that you could get both family vacation as well as professional shoot out of it. So let me show you what we can do with filters and see if that works or not and it may actually work because we've got enough light coming through and try on air is the name of the game so let's give that a shot and something tells me if we use a little bit of filter you and your field they were going to get something for folks who weren't with us earlier today, just briefly as you introduce what the filter is and why you're using it great this is a neutral density filter got a ring that mounts on the front of the lens. This is a filter holder the two snap together I'll actually screw this onto the threading of my lens um, and then I will slide in a neutral density filter to neutrally cover colored piece of glass that will reduce the amount of light passing through we don't want we don't have the same amount of dramatic exposure that we did this morning with sunrise, where this was nearly in the dark and you had the bright rising sun in the distance, so I'm gonna use less power. Um and this is a good example uh, hard versus soft filters and as I explained earlier this morning and what we mostly use was the hard edge, we're going to focus on using a soft edge where we don't have that hard line because it might really distract right from the colors in the tent and it won't blend we need something's gonna blend easier with all of our line so I'm gonna find a nazi a medium soft maybe a six soft three six and nine sixty nine cm learning learning to three stops of light so I nine being in this case three stops so I got a nine soft here I'm gonna grab that and then I can actually give me a quick show on how how that works and might work and I've got a six soft here and normally I'd keep them all in the same sleeve but that's normally alright some back in the tent and I'm going teo screw on our ring until we get a good lock on there you had a little dust little dust check and I'm going to start with the six soft and see what kind of results we get and I'm going tio who should down so that it's starting to cover the sky and immediately if you look at it that shot compared to the shop before it already we're at night and day and the soft is blending enough into here that we're not even knowing that we're using a filter it all it's doing exactly the job it's meant to do it's not creating a hard line rather soft line but we're still a little dark in the foreground and we could probably capture more of the detail mohr of the information um so I'm gonna just try and do another meet oring check I'm at four point oh and so I brighten up the foreground and lost the sky again so now I'm gonna go and add and nine filter and get him meter reading off of the shade in this case I'm actually meeting up with a specific area I'm bringing in a stronger filter man that campfire smells good and zoom in a little bit so you could see that we're starting to pick up a lot more detail in the foreground so if you see the difference and we're preserving the sky we're starting to see a little bit of the affected in that but we're not still quite getting where we wanna be so I'm gonna try again and you see I'll take a few frames especially when you got a tent flap and everything so it's looking pretty good but we're still losing the sky I'm gonna combined them now so now I'm taking a six and a nine I'm taking that sky down a full five stops and seeing how much we can get that to work and looking pretty good so using that shallow depth of field I won't even go even shallower when you get a little zip on the tent flap so it's a little bit more framing my shot and as I said I'm using the tent as a framing element also getting a little smoke over here and I'm going to try it again shall word up the field and I recomposed in a way that it looks like our sky fell out a little bit, but if you notice the sky changes because we're using, um the value of meter and keeps picking up darker and darker areas, it keeps going brighter and brighter and so I'm gonna make sure that the filters air going all the way across the top so let's do that again and I have a feeling this would be the one and now I'm keeping an eye also that looks pretty good there's still a little dark, but I think we've got all the information there now we're gonna be able to just get enough of whiteness without sacrificing our background and getting a sense of place on what we're getting try a much wider angle shot and also not too bad. Um let's look at a vertical as well let's get all of our options while we're here and don't forget to turn your filters now you could see I didn't turn my filter, so I just got a giant blown out spot in the middle of my friends so the term until there's and move him down and the light is changing so fast out here right now that it's literally getting darker and darker in this four crowned as we go it's the sun is moving behind us in these trees and losing more and more light so is a bit of an uphill battle but you get an idea of what we're doing we're using a saw filter to preserve that difference and not over exaggerating the scot free and we only have about five minutes left right uh but when the light is changing quickly, what are the first things that you scanned the scene for where it's at? Okay, yeah so the first thing I'll do and it's something I'll be doing more or less on autopilot um so it's a great question is I'll look uh before we even started shooting this I had tried to anticipate where this fire was going to be so that would be in the shade and the shadows that way could demonstrate a long lens and shout of the field but I knew the sun would be moving back further and further back into the trees meaning that this entire side of the lake would be in the shadow that's something I'll do all day in general no matter where I am or what I'm doing I'm paying attention to where the sun is, how it's traveling and how the landscape will change it's constantly moving and changing now when we first started the shoot you know there is this whole area was so hot so bright that they would have been back late and I wouldn't have gotten anything now all of this in the foreground is completely in the shade and the only light is way out on the leak so a shot that I couldn't have done earlier getting right here in the front and using these filter now suddenly starts to become a little bit more reasonable but it's still still shifting in not not quite there but it's getting there so I'll constantly following watch the light as it changes what was there anything when you wanted to capture what way we could keep going but I mean ultimately I think the thing I want to convey is obviously story you go to a national park first and foremost you got landscapes you've got your iconic places we've talked about but you've got a lot of other elements that are part of the national park or just call it the outdoor experience whether you're in olympic or whether your backyard camping and you want to capture those memories you know there's there's not it's not just the moment that I think about like in a birthday where everyone wants to capture the moon where they blow out the candle but what about the gifts? What about the friends arriving? What about the clown write the story and you want to tell about and remember that whole experience and he gives it context and it really describes it that's what magazine stories are about that's what stop photography's about and that's what I think his great family vacation photos are about cool. I love that you combine both thinking about it in terms of what you might be shooting for stock but also then thinking about how you can apply that to your everyday photography as well let's take a few questions absolutely before the end ah one came in from scott would you ever consider using phil flash in this situation and we've got the smoke coming right into our face carry a flash around and sometimes I have two shrubs with mai um I will use phil flash occasionally um and I also use it sometimes not even as a fill but as them or dramatic element well actually go completely dialed down and maura um I don't want to call it an advertising look but more of using the light as a beam or focus on on a person's face their portraiture um I don't use it is often because the cameras and the range of them has gotten so phenomenal that a little bit of post production work for one or stop and a half is it really that big of a sacrifice? And I have the liberty of not having have lights and using the strobes unless we move quicker, faster and I get the higher yield on my day for quality photographs that I would by holding the story about the stroke but it's a great question and I have used him for sure cool okay let's try to get some more in how about do you capture do you seek to capture sun flares and if yes how do you compensate for exposure if no why not? And I know I've seen that's a great question love the sun flares and we're smiling thinking about him I know it's sad because there's no sunflowers to be had right here so I mean look old thing at least is not an ideal situation you know? But when is it ever really so we're just working with the elements that we have had this been something where I was watching this campsite all day in a real world camping situation we probably would be here for a day or two and the sun will be rising over there something like that I would shoot directly into the sun um and I tend teo overcompensate so I'll go maybe two thirds to a stop over and in general the shot will look washed out so it doesn't there's not a lot of detail why embrace because if you're looking into the sun thing about when you look into the sun without a camera you know everything's bright you're not seeing all the details right? So I want to get that that squinty sort of effect of looking into the sun so I'm fine if part of the mountain is is gone, but as long as I'm picking up some of the other elements in the week and we will do is in post production I'll boost the, um the blacks or the darker elements depending on which, you know, light room, bridge, photoshopped, whatever you're using, but I'll boost up that contrast in the darker elements um, the darks and shadows so that the details starts to come back, and sometimes they even artificially go a little bit warmer on the image to really just embrace the whole we're looking into the sun, we're getting flair, uh, someone so forth and if there's a lot of light and I could get away with an f twenty two and get a star effect or something, I'll definitely have a ball with it. I actually think that opens up a lot of possibilities for midday photography, great and that's something that we'll be continuing to cover right now, people always want to know what time it is and it's almost two fifteen in the afternoon, it's the summertime, and while we're filming this right now, uh, so this is the light that we're seeing here in the pacific northwest beautiful, I don't want to leave, but the time is coming to wrap up this segment, which is wrapping up the portion of the live portion of today, I want to ask you one final question that's going toe lead into the rest of the course. We have so many things that we're gonna cover, but this is one that a lot of people have voted on, and it came from joe gardener, who said great stuff so far. Thank you. Ian has basic clea my dream job, but I've always assume that they're about to go gotta chase it's true, it does have got it. You got to just let me go. You got to start somewhere and build on it, and anybody can do it. Awesome. Uh, but he says, has his dream job, but I've always assumed that there would be very few people who could turn this into a living, make it pay how much demand is there for this kind of photography commercially it's a great question, the demand is definitely there, the market has changed dramatically. We'll talk a lot about that in the business day, but you know it's not what it used to be, but there are still a great opportunities, absolutely out there, and I think that we have also gotten a point where we feel like we need to define who a photographer is, and I don't think to be called a photographer or to be a professional photography, you will don't necessarily also have to do only that all the time or full time. I think that photography should be enjoyed at whatever rate whatever level is sustainable to your life your lifestyle and it's still letting you enjoy the fact that you're taking pictures for a living um you can definitely get wrapped up in the idea of just shooting, shooting, shooting, getting into volume and focusing on money and not the art, not the craft and you lose all sense of purpose of why we became photographers to begin with. So I think the definition of photographer is something that is really important to look at um realistically and to be honest, answer that question I made a living prior to an agency part. Anything else as a landscape photographer um I think it's all about how you do it and diversifying your business model, of course, but this particular shoot really plays into the answer on that because if I was only a landscape photographer that just did the scene ix I have limited my opportunity, but by broadening in a campground lifestyle and all the in between moments and shooting the journey, the travel, the airport you know, the lost luggage the board in the airport this is delayed, delayed, delayed, canceled I now have an entire repertoire of images to sell and not just a bunch of landscape images and that makes it a little bit more feasible teo get a better living

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.

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