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Photographing America's National Parks

Lesson 16 of 37

Water: Rivers, Creeks, and Waterfalls

Ian Shive

Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

16. Water: Rivers, Creeks, and Waterfalls

Lesson Info

Water: Rivers, Creeks, and Waterfalls

We're going to be talking about waterfalls and water and lakes, and all the different effects. What water implies is more than just photographing it as a subject matter, but also the tools, the equipment, the techniques and the thought process behind it. So, obviously, anybody who understands photographing water, the first thing you think about her polarizing filters and working with glare and working to get nice long exposures. So you're going to see the end result of a lot of scouting. A lot of that scouting actually really paid off. This is the payoff, as well as some additional really cool tips and segments on on photographing water. So with that enjoy, and we'll take some questions at the end, sunsets been pretty tough today because of the clouds, so we're gonna shift to an area we're not as light dependant on, in fact. Having less light working around water and waterfalls and wildflowers there's a really good thing because the sky is essentially a giant soft box, and that helps u...

s get nice, even, like even contrast all around, everything so for this particular spot, have chosen a waterfall where using a polarizing filter, which will help get rid of the glare or anywhere that exists from the sky reflecting on the water, kind of like polarised sunglasses. And I'm gonna kind of work the scene. I like the fact there's, a lot of wild flowers, there's cascading fools all around and there's a real clear center of focus on this that I'm gonna work. I just took a few samples frames, and I noticed immediately that I'm getting kind of some of these weedy looking things over here in the rocks that I don't really like some kind of ship my composition and re keep working the scene, I'm gonna move around, move around the waterfall. It kind of worked my way up this entire canyon to see what I see, and then we'll see what we get as the evening wears on here moving and I'm looking around to see how I can work the scene. There's some really cool channels of water coming through and little pools he had the contrast of dark wet rock dry light, grey rock and a lot of white in this white when I use the really long exposure and I'm setting myself up that sixteen stop his apertura sixteen s o one hundred your priority mode in an attempt to try and slow it down but not so much that it becomes really difficult to manage the flow of the wild flowers of course were working around water do you want to be really careful? Take your time when possible put the strap around your neck or always leave it in the hand I have a real habit of holding on to the strap good last thing you wanna do is have your camera go downstream now taken exposure you know there's nothing like seeing it through the camera itself and quite frankly there's a lot better in here there's more wild flowers I don't love it there's no real clear center of focus but you don't know unless you try so I'm gonna keep moving around work my way up the canyon all right, so here it christine falls it's uh stop not too far outside of the campground where were at last night and it's looking pretty great still overcast I love the color of the water like some hinges of blue in there the rocks are all real wet, misty so to be a great place to test out a polarizer and really talk about the different options as far as fat shutter speeds or slow shutter speeds and, uh, learn how to capture capture a great waterfall shot one thing I'm noticing there's, a big bridge with road going right over the waterfall, and I may embrace that where I may actually trying crop it out of the shop, but until I find my spot and figure out howto how to shoot this exactly, I won't I won't really know. One thing I do know is I don't want the railing of the fan through this giant tree in my way, so I'm gonna work my way around and see what I see. I do kind of like the wall, you know I'm gonna do it and shoot it from right here maybe oh that's right down it's alright, so no matter what I do, I'm gonna be capturing that bridge or at least part of the bridge will probably try a few different compositions, but first things first, I'm gonna put on a polarizing first things first, I'm gonna put on a polarizing filter, get a tripod set up and then shoot nice and wide, and then I'll see what I see, so this is a eighty two millimeter polarizing filter and if you hold it up to the sky, unlike the neutral density filter, you really won't see anything. You don't see any sort of change or shift other than it looks a little bit darker. We hold it up to your eye, though you will see a little bit of a shift in the colors, but the real difference is made when it's on a lens and what the polarizing filter does is it takes the sheen off of leaves, especially if they're wet from a rain. Um, the other thing it'll do is we'll take the sheen off of rock, so that shine that you see what kind of do it down, some more of the color can come through. The other thing it'll do is it will also slow down your shutter speed. She won't delete those rafted shutter speeds unless you have a lot of light but that's a good thing, especially working with water because it gives you the opportunity to get that nice, slow, soft, sort of creamy looking water, especially for those flow exposures and really small apertures like f twenty two. The other thing that, uh, polarizing filter will do. Is it would give you an opportunity to see through the water, so again, kind of comparing it to a pair of sunglasses where you might be able to see a fish swimming below the surface without the sunglasses you can't, because there's a reflection on the surface, that's what this does for your camera, it allows you to see what's below the surface and often times there's a lot of colorful rocks or patterns or other things that really helped bring out where accentuate the photo a little bit more. I would like to make sure that the polarizing filter is clean because we're probably going to use a big depth of field, uh, small aperture f twenty two f sixteen something like that, you don't make sure it's clean, you need a little bit more of that to be crazy, all right, so it just cruise on your lens and my gear's been around the block, so it takes a little extra effort, and once it screws in, what you'll notice is that the ring itself, like, actually, I see if I can actually get to screw in the area once it screws in. What you'll notice is that the ring itself continues to turn that's because the polarizing filter has an area that's sort of the most sensitive area and as you turn it the polarizing effect will move it's, not the whole filter that's polarizing but rather a particular spot on it that is the most polarizing and then sort of expands out and around. So once actually get my cameras set up in a composition I like, I'll rotate the polarizer around until it actually has the effect that I'm looking for and I'll be able to see it by looking through the viewfinder. I'll know exactly what's happening and be ableto get the desired effect with one hundred percent control alright, alright, I'm standing on the edge here and I'm gonna set up my tripod and rather than getting the legs all the way out, I've got a very narrow amount of space I'm gonna use this little pull up bar to get some height, get everything locked down, make sure it's nice and sturdy get it balanced out, and I'm gonna continue holding my strap them close to an edge here and some water, and I'm gonna lock it down and the first thing you do is take a look at my setting so I want to slow it down first, I might want to freeze the water as well, but first, I'm gonna go for that nice, slow fact that everyone liked the water. I'm gonna shoot with a gun I one hundred to start. I could always go lower to l, which is a custom functions low mode, which is the equivalent of an eye. So fifty to start with one hundred shooting your priority. And I'm gonna go up to at twenty to max it out, and I'm gonna leave it in a manual focus. Take a look. Probably enough folks in an infinity cause I don't mean huge foreground elements everything's, pretty far away from my land. And now I make my composition. And in this particular case, I am gonna compose with bridge in mind, and what I'm doing is I'm setting the top of my frame, even with the edge of the top of the bridge, a little bit of room just above the bridge itself. And so when you actually look through, you'll see the bridge and you'll see just a little bit above it. And I'm using that top of my frame getsem symmetry in the shot. I really liked the symmetry of that. In the waterfall coming down below, and then of course, I'm looking at the lines in the water or shapes around, so now I'm gonna adjust my polarizer and see how it impacts the water in different places and pick the spot that I want that polarizing spot actually appear all right, so I kind of identified the pool of water over there is my spot and looking at my aperture priority mode and f twenty two, I'm getting about one point six seconds, uh charters, feet, so I'm gonna go and do attack and it's pretty good. I'm gonna go down a little bit darker because some of the highlights uh, move my exposure compensation will about two thirds of a stop for the left make the image darker, and I've got about a one second exposure and a little bit better. I didn't lose my highlights as much, and the one thing you could always do, double check your history graham, you could see that I could even go probably a little bit darker. I've got a little bit of a gap. Here on the left hand side of my history ram um so I could maybe go down a full stop under about any through the second but of course I want to make sure you get that nice long exposure time so I could always go and take my eyes so moving down to our fifty shoot again and I get the nice slow speed now I'm gonna go from a nice wide angle sixteen millimeter I've got a bridge in the shot I'm gonna try and do a variety of different competitions where a zoom in mostly gonna probably try and look at getting a uh uh a vertical shot here. Well, I always like try yet before donald and a vertical so now I'm gonna try and recompose it looks pretty good there my focus is looking good and now I'm gonna try and shoot again sign because it's a little bit darker unless wide I'm zoomed in uh almost twenty eight thirty millimeters I'm getting less light being captured by my lens and so my shutter speed went up two and a half seconds up from the one second so I'm gonna try and do a test shot at that little bit longer take a look and on the whole looks pretty nice. Well, so I'm gonna move around and get a different composition again this time I'll put the waterfall from the right side of the frame over the left side of his friend booth bridge up, I'm still kind of getting the bridge up in the shop, so in this shot, I feel like you really need to embrace the bridge because you can never really get rid of it even when I zoom all the way in from the top part of the frame, I'm still getting the concrete in there and it's not the worst thing in the world, but it's not that desirable either, so I'm gonna just go right to shooting a vertical and I'm gonna move my tripod a little bit, get some stability is a good place to talk about changing my composition. I'm gonna hold my tribe pocket, it's a little bit loose, but I don't feel huge need to recalibrate the whole thing. It's not too bad, I just hold it, I'm gonna adjust my polarizer again and I'm gonna get my focus checked in it's good, and what I'm doing now is instead of putting the waterfall on the left, the right kind of sticking with it in the center again because we've got the bridge and the path. With water all kind of moving right through the center. So our center focus here is all about kind of literally center. So I'm going to take a few friends, see how they look still at f twenty two and two and a half seconds way had a cargo through, so I got some blur. I'm gonna do it again now, it's pretty good. Now, this overcast light perfect. Very even in balance, if I had the sun coming in and it was hitting one side or another to make it really difficult to get a good lighting situation. So this is a perfect situation for something like this. I think about all I can do here. I might go in pike up and check out a different area, see what else I can find that looks interesting and we'll go from there. All right, head on a comet falls it's just above that bridge. We're just photographing and check this out. It's, autumn or in the woods and it's also a little bit more of a hike. So we'll see what we see here is well, all right. So it looks pretty cool immediately. I got a narrow bridge to work off on. I notice that one side is really dark on the other side, so try to take a look, get a good set up, how much I get low and shoot between these two bars, right here. That way I'm not trying to shoot over. I can get a lower angle, get over the lip of the bridge a little bit, and I'm gonna work the polarizes in here go again for a long exposure, and then I'll probably move around a little bit trying different spots, maybe see if it looks good out there and, uh, like anything. You gotta try it, see what you get, you know, worked the same settings small aperture twenty to sixteen ten and we're going after glow. I s so polarizing filter maybe a neutral density to balance that brighter side over there. But we're gonna work quickly because the light starts to change in the sunshine of break out. And I really like this nice diffuse like that we're getting. We're not gonna see any sky. Make sure there's no sky in the shot, just these elements. So get my tripod and I get set up, all right? You notice I'm gonna keep the strap around my neck, and I'm gonna work really close to the edge here, so that I don't trust myself by the smartest thing I could do. My legs are a little long, but hold out of this strap will shorten him up. I wanna be right between these two beams and, uh, let's. See if that's close enough or not, it might be catching this edge. I might not so we'll see I'm gonna uh push this out and get make sure you get some good stability but a opening this leg a little bit up so now I've got a nice good lock on this tilts around gonna move down a little bit more looking pretty good gonna hold on to that strap and it looked really nice so I'm zooming in just a touch as I was picking up a little bit of the edge of that wood here zoomed in just a little bit and I've got a vertical and this shot composition really works is vertical to me because it's flowing down again left right left right to the zigzag pattern with friends they're compositionally that's the thing that I'm immediately drawn to still try work horizontal but I want to get the shop that really gets my senses first see how it goes now I'm gonna use the polarizer start to rotate it once again looking for that same spot to see where it looks best on the water so I think I've got that spot and now I'm focusing and now I'm gonna see what I get to go up to f twenty two on when we get about one second to second and a third it's pretty dark I'm getting uh pretty dark areas in there so I'm actually going over expose our move my over my exposure compensation we I'm gonna go up over a brighter image about two thirds of a stop so looks good. But now water is a little hot, so bright. And so I got the struggle of this dark edges, bride, water and right side. So I think to work that what I'm gonna try and do is go and use the neutral density filter, a very light one of three just along the left side, so I can kind of get some sort of a balance in here. Balance in light is probably the most important thing. Is that one of things I'm always looking for more balance, and even though I did throughout the frame, more control I have over what I could do with the color and the competition, all right, before I go and actually get that filter, I'm gonna try this side because I might not need it. And this side looks pretty cool, too, so I'm going to get both sides of the bridge real quick and using the same basic set up the same setting I'm gonna see how ideo and so the downside of this is it looks like I can't keep the road, which is out there in the distance, which were looking at earlier out of the shot. So I'm gonna have to get the legs out over the edge of this railing, even extend them out a little bit. I'm gonna go out and over and that's not working either. So what could I do? So I'm gonna go without a dr bob, I'm gonna leave that here and I am gonna get what I like to call it a down and dirty I'm gonna use the edge of the boardwalk on the bridge as my tripod try and lock the edge somewhere into the camera here really? Hold on to this trap. I've been trying it, my composition this way, not bad, but hard to keep it steady trying get a better steady shot on here. Best way to do that is fire a bunch of frames. Just keep shooting. And I like to hold my breath as well. It's like zen yoga photography gonna be peace with yourself right now in a better position. I'll take a look and actually looks pretty cool. I got enough there to work with. I could do by dodging. I could do my dodging and my burning when I get back into the studio. But I think I got enough to work with on that one. Go try and get a couple of wide angle. Most gonna try and get a couple horizontal, not light angles, the horizontal lt's, a couple horizontal shots doing the same technique holding onto that trap. Uh, I'm gonna go a little wider because I can still hold my breath. Take a look. Not too bad either. There. So something like the vertical better, but we'll check it out in the studio. Now what I'm gonna do if you notice they got both a polarizer and I'm gonna add a neutral density filter this because if you notice that the polarizing ring also has a little bit of a screw in it now what's gonna happen is when I actually had this on. I'm gonna be starting to add a lot of girth a little bit more distance on the outside of this land because it's such a wide angle at sixteen millimeters I run the risk of catching some been yet ing or when you get some dark edges around the around the edge of the shop now the trick with any polarizing filter is figuring out exactly howto screw on the next ring looks pretty good not to go over water so I want to make sure give it a little twist now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take a look at my shot and get my polarizer where I want it first because once I do the twisting on this I'm gonna add this bracket and I'm not gonna be able to move it easily so when I had the bracket after I've already figured out where I'm gonna pull right otherwise they'll be turning the whole neutral density filter first things first figure out where I want that filter now I got it figured out then I'm gonna have my bracket and knowing that I want to be on the side and I could rotate this a little bit but for the most part I want to be where I want to be where I am rather and now I'm gonna add a six nd soft and so unlike the hard won this is very, very subtle, neutrally colored and a soft so, rather than having a hard line on line blends out it's, a soft, graduated sort of fades out in its density and that's gonna help me get more of a balance. It's on this water without having a hard line on a hard line is better when you have, like, the sky in a tree line. Soft line is better when everything sort of kind of closed into each other. So I'm gonna work that I'm gonna stick this on, and I'm gonna be using it on the side. I'm gonna go get my tripod back to where I was earlier. Slow process is offer one or two photos. Twist this around, and elsie way could make. Comet falls shine coming back where I wass holding onto that trap and now I want to be extra careful because I've got this filter floating around out there, and I don't want to hit the edge of this log or anything else and have it fall down there too expensive to have to replace, even though I tend to have to do it quite often, I'm gonna move back over, get my composition similar I want that falls rolling through the shop from back to where I wass and sure enough, I'm seeing that little bit a little bit of vignette ng that I was worried about some zooming in just a touch to get lens to look past that totem zoom now I'm getting that dark edges presuming in the land is kind of going past dark edges. Now I'm gonna adjust my neutral density filter focus way go and f twenty two and now, because we have a neutral density filter, our exposure time shutter speed is much slower rather in the second or third, second and third were getting a four second exposure, which means that water nice and really creamy and blurry, so expose take a look, and that absolutely did trick neutral density filter on the right. Side really helped balance darkseid, giving me a nice right flowing water through the middle. You couple more frames for posterity rework my composition just a little. We've come all this way. We might as well get a lot of options and don't forget, every time you recompose are moving a little bit. If you want to double check your neutral density filter, slide it around a little bit, see what looks good a little trial and error with these all the time and that looks perfect. Gonna keep going up river a little bit. It opens up. I could see some really great cascading waterfall. So let's, go up. See what we see up that way. All right, that's what I like to call setting up base camp, find a spot for my bag. That's not near the water in a pair down there. This filter so I can scout around, figure out some good compositions that were, you know, you don't know immediately know what's gonna work into you, actually go out and try it a lot of time. So I kind of know I like it, but I don't know where I'm gonna set up until I get a better idea pared down my my year and the other thing that's, a bad habit is people tend to leave your camera's in your tripod and compose with that I'm actually gonna separate the two because otherwise I'm always married to that height for dealing with moving this around. I like to get rid of the tripod and handled the camera that way I could move it anywhere I want figure out what composition I want unimpeded, then when I figured out come back, get my year and set up my shop, you'll notice even in the middle today, even if I'm freezing the motion, I'm always going to use that tripod that extra stability is important helps me slow down my process and lets me figure out what I really want is a little limited uh but I like this way like the way this little canyon looks, I love the way we get a real sense of the forest and the trees and everything around here, so I'm gonna continue kind of checking it out. I'm taking some frames along the way as I was talking about earlier with scouting, I like to fire shoot you never know, I might even get something in my scouting that works out really well, so I could probably spend all day in here photographing you could see the trail's really well worn and there's a lot of little spots, a lotta little cascading waterfalls easily spend all day and that trick with national park photography you can end up spending your entire trip one little stretch of a creek because it's so gorgeous and there's so many great photographic opportunities for now, I'm gonna move on, try and check out a different place where we could learn from more techniques on photographing waterfalls, and I'm also going to keep an eye on the sky because the weather continues to change. You never know what will see as we go around the next bend I see a little creek here were up in the fog get well cooler. We've got some snow hanging out on the shadowy sides of the mountain here and I'm going to just kind of set up a little base camp, I think right over in here and walk around and see if I could make some compositions and go from there, so this might work? Not really sure, but I'm going to switch to a lot angle lens, try and capture the whole scene in the fog and, uh just do a little bit more scouting with the angle see if we can get some of this water coming through the metal, so switch to a wide angle sixteen thirty five zoom I got my polarizer back on because I'm looking at a water feature, and with all of this sky and fog around, we got a major reflection happening on the surface so the polarizer will hopefully help me cut through it and uh hopefully also as well pop out and bring up some of the greens and everything is pretty wet out here, so this is really giving opportunity teo to try and maximize as much as I can to color in the contrast in the scene so compositionally, I'm gonna try and get centered up on this preferably without getting wet and after all that, I'm actually could use a little height because I'm kind of down in here so my goal is to not just shoot this right here but to also get everything in the background so let me get myself a little bit more height and set up dead center in the stream on once again, I'm kind of using this is a centre focus I've got my polarizer making sure that I get the gloss off the top of the water machine from this take my I s so all the way down the one hundred women to max out my depth of field with twenty two I got a quarter of a second way overexposed just a touch more on it's a little too hot and I go back to that and it looks pretty good hard to tell out here I'm gonna move up a little bit more and get out of this ditch on see if I can get this terracing that have that's going on up here all right so I like the way these two streams air coming together someone position a wide angle lens in a way that they kind of converge right in the middle of my frame still using polarizer to get the uh reflection off the top of the water here that way I could see what's going on below the surface slow shutter speed I'm only getting a third of a second actually lot brighter out here they think despite it being really foggy so I'm gonna go down to the custom function of el on my camera for fifty gets me a little bit of a slower shutter and an eighth of a second set of a third and it looks pretty good for a couple more for posterity it's a nice simple landscape that uh we've got up here when I was here earlier I was using a telephoto and seventy two hundred it was too tight too long wasn't really doing what I wanted so I'm gonna try now and actually go up to the falls with a sixteen and thirty five polarizer and see if maybe I could capture the rock shapes and this really cool waterfall this fog is also blown in a little bit more and gives a little bit more drama to the scene someone hiked down trying to work the scene scouted out and then see if I can ultimately get a great competition out of it so one of the things that I like to do with my photography's when you think you're close enough to a subject, get closer it even closer and I could do but it's not always the same thing sometimes by getting right up on top of something, you get a really great composition, and it really gets you to the accents of what that composition is about. In this case, we've got a really cool little waterfall pool, fog, really great rock formations here. I've been trying to work my way and keep getting closer and closer to the scene to see if I get anything out of it that I like try not slide down the patch of snow and idea how high we are that we're starting to see snow appear on, uh, the edges of rainier, so I really like it, but the issue isn't picking up this big dirt patch over here, from where a lot of people have walked, so I'm gonna try and get a little bit lower like I did earlier in the wildflower pack and see if I can make this waterfall really come to life gonna continue using a slow shutter speed think it adds drama and there's, not a lot of action. I only use a fact shutter speed on water when there's a huge amount of spray or volume or something that you walk to the edge of and it makes you go. Wow, look at the power of that thing now might be a good example of a place where I would really use a fast shutter speed and freeze the motion something gentle, rolling, foggy, quiet, sort of a sleepy scene that's when I wait, really playing to the software, smoother senses and aspects of this shot still not happening? I'm still picking up the dirt when I look through here, but what I like is the water coming here in those trees in the background so rather than shooting is a horizontal and switch to a vertical, keeping myself lower close this let this leg so I can get the tripod a little over here further down to love, so raise up that looks pretty good, but I'm a little crooked trying to balance out my shot and coming in a little bit pretty cool scene is very, very stark I'm gonna focus on the water now I'm gonna move my polarizer around, make sure I get the reflection gone and then still at the low I s o setting a fifty at f twenty two fire away looks pretty good little dark you add a little close your time to it using exposure compensation will look really nice you made a little bit more and tighten up on it I feel like the composition kind of lends itself to that on straight out probably get closer so that's what I'm talking about where this when you think you're close enough for something you could get closer so I'm gonna go in short in that leg so that I can put it up there get my stability I'm pretty much got a leg one her leg right into the water that is looking nice now use the top of the frame right at the top of the trees on losing my ability to do the leg tripping on them all they're gonna have to move it around keep working at it I get it right you know the detail is gonna come out and just focus on the polarizer already there twenty two on the night's not quite working on it just a little bit a little uh everything's getting an optical illusion of the waterfall coming in on an angle with trees looking really crooked so actually take a few different exposures isn't explosion compensation we'll make sure that what I'm seeing on the back of the screen you could always check that history ram but c'mon make sure what I've seen the back of the screen is it cooling may wait to get back in the studio I could make sure that I got the shot that I'm looking for all right, so is we work our way out of the park? Our last stop is exactly where this journey began. We're here a panther creek and we're going tio take that first scouting location, never forgetting about it and revisit it to see if we can really make the images that I had pictured when we were first year and that means, of course getting into the water and really getting up into the canyon to get what I consider the best shot of the waterfall and panther creek. So join me as we go in and we'll check it out. Stay in a look in here, I'm gonna try and get a nice long exposure and see there's any interesting shapes, colors. I mean, I think the color of the water it's turquoise along with the yellow moss on the side is is really cool. And, uh, if you notice one of the things that I really like, you got a lot of fast moving water, but in here you have a lot of really slow moving foam and shapes and things like that that when you use a long exposure, he kind of sir to see the patterns in the water because they accumulate to getting at the circular world fully looking motions, they could actually be really neat in a really good compositional element in foreground so on there's really some calm waters over in here that really pretty like you see if I can get over there there might be a little bit difficult but for now it kind of just scout this out do a few sample photos and it feels like there might be anything then I'll try and get into a good spot to make a real composition it is actually really cool right here I just uh I mean, we'd have to like really really get our way over there I kind of like the shapes and colors of all these rocks the turquoise water and they're sort of little mysterious canyon over and there so I'm going to set this up to do a long exposure most gonna make sure my polarizer is taking the glare off though water over in here and you knew nice long exposure and f twenty two maximum depth the field five seconds and you know it looks nice I mean there's a lot of really cool patterns and things that super interesting I'd love to try and get a little closer to the foreground if I can, but it might be limited by by this uh, big ravine here, so we'll be careful when you, uh, are out working around the edge of water so we're back we're here lights moving in and out and that's a good thing we want low light cloud cover will help us get long exposures, and I really wanna work this scene. I can tell that there's some really cool things to photograph up in there, but I haven't really been able to get a good look at it the love, the rocks, and I like the pools and the color of the waters very turquoise. So this time I came or prepared, thanks to my scouting flip flops and shorts, and so I'm planning to just go real sparingly into the water. I got my tripod, which no problem bringing this into water. I do it all the time, uh, my camera with a sixteen thirty five millimeter lens and a polarizing filter that will help me cut through the glare and reflection on the surface of the water, but also get help me get slower shutter speeds and exposure times. One thing I'm paying attention to, of course, is the fact that when I go out there, I want to build to shoot and get a lot of these rocks that are in the foreground, but the pools of water much deeper than I could really go in with my camera gear, so I'm probably gonna end up going and working around over here, getting up onto the cliffs and sort of feeling it out as I go so it's still a little bit of an exploration, but I do know that this is gonna be a good spot to really get some great shots. The other thing I plan to do to work my way down this waterfall as well. Once that funny a flip flops on it kind of opened up a whole new world of possibilities for, uh, for compositions and whether you you used to go with something like this or colder weather. I have a pair of knee high boots that are waterproof as well, and I even have hip waders and chest waiters. So depending on what conditions or where you are, if you want to throw a pair of those in the back your vehicle or bring them with you on a trip, I really recommend it because it helps you get off the shore and helps you break the limitations that you might have fearing about getting wet or slipping and falling in and getting your sneakers ruin or something like that lets you feel very liberated to make any composition you want. And then I also want to get low to the surface of the water and use all aspects of the water is part of your composition versus, uh, being stuck on the shore line, so I'm gonna switch change into these things and find out how cold that water really is. So you noticed some I'm hanging on everything on my strap when I can't put it around my neck and I don't want the camera dangling as I'm moving across the rocks, the other thing is, I don't put my camera on my neck when I go into the water is if I do slip and I fall and I go under, I'm gonna be able to really do anything about the camera and give you the first thing to go in where if I slipped a slip and fall, which is actually happen to me before, I usually just raise the camera up on my head and hit the water, and they were able to recover from there that way, and I'll lose all my gear, most not bringing my backpack. I'm just taking what I need to go in. You don't want to take all your gear in and put it at risk, and you could be able to change lenses in the middle of the water anyway. So go in sparingly, going carefully, always make sure it's, you know I'm gonna be a little slippery here and there. Take your time, there's no rush in its kind of work, the scene. So I'm gonna go in over here and the reason being I really like all these rocks out here in the foreground on that ice hole. You know, if it was a little warmer out here, this would be a whole lot better, a little more refreshing. Uh, all right, so not really able to see anything from over here, but it kind of worked my way around where it's a little more shallow and my feet are already pretty cold, and I'm starting to get to see something. And I could tell there's a really cool fall up there. Well, I'm gonna need to be up on that ledge, so I'm gonna kind of come around when you use my cameras, uh, stability. All right now, from here, what I can see is a clean shot with an absolutely gorgeous waterfall and all the rocks, pattern colors, everything that I'd be looking for us here. So I'm gonna work on figuring exactly how to set up. But so far, it already looks like this is gonna pay off really well, carefully worked my way around. And I'm gonna just start kind of testing out some different compositions and I kind of like the idea of having a little bit of the rock in the foreground, but we'll see that ultimately works and it's all a little bit slow going in general when you're doing this kind of thing it's pretty gorgeous so seeing a little bit of a, uh, little bit of a glare coming off the surface and I got a nice composition putting on this waterfall that's down there that you couldn't even see before it goes to show just bring a little of the right gear helps clear everything up and I'm going to focus about a third the way into the frame and I'm keeping my camera at the lowest eso twenty two to get a six second exposure on this so this is gonna be a real smooth, glassy surface. Well, I do that when I hang on for dear life to my camera, so that looks pretty awesome but it's a little bit hot, the water is really, really bright still, so I'm going to go and dial it down then go stop under uh faster shutter speed to three point two seconds and that's down from about six seconds and that also looks really great now just to make sure that waterfall is not completely blown out I'm gonna take a really dark exposure and that would be something I have to visit in studio, where I have to combine some of the highlights from a darker exposure in, but the truth is I'm shooting a raw file so I should be able to rescue a lot of those highlights and bring him back photoshopped versus getting filters or worrying about it. This is all so much darker than you realise, and especially with a polarizing filter, you end up losing a lot of the light in these different elements in different places. This is the only composition we could make. There should be at least three, four, five different compositions outlets, including verticals of everything that works is a horizontal but just in case I'm gonna get that back up exposure, cutting my time down to now, only one point six seconds and sure enough, it looks pretty good. So now now I'm gonna think about moving up here and see if there's a better way to do a virgil if I do a vertical right here, we'll have a lot of rock in the way. Ideally, a vertical would happen right here, but I don't think that's the best place for this get a little bit higher and of course, the second a higher there's a whole other world of rocks and shapes and colors down here, too. Photograph so I'm gonna try and work that scene a little bit both horizontal and vertical and I'm thinking it might actually work initially as a vertical c get nice stable spot see if we can get a good composition on I'm gonna adjust my focus get my foreground elements make sure they're sharp checked my polarizer make sure I'm getting everything uh reflection wise out of there and then expose like a normal exposure have twenty two no exposure compensation what the camera picked the first exposure see what I get and just a little too bright those waterfalls it's such white water that it's really, really bright so dial it back a little bit just to make sure I have that exposure time cut my shutter speed make sure I have it the highlights and all the information in there that I'm gonna be looking for try this now is a horizontal instead see if I get a little variety on it and this is pretty neat because you've got a combination of both quiet water as well as white water and they both really work together in this and you're kind of taking two different skills and combining them uh you know, working with this area in here which is very, very calm and have a lot of color shape turquoise toe, orange and then you have the rough stuff up there it's actually very hard to capture the right way because you have such a variety of different things happening in the frame and so I'm just thing again just a horizontal version of the last one do a good exposure f twenty two from that hell I s so super low I esso and looks pretty neat know what I'm gonna try and do is actually speed it up a notch to one hundred sixty eyes, so take that f twenty two and drop it down, teo eleven some only had a third of a second and just see what I'm getting see what it's like to actually freeze emotion rather than having that constant state of blur and everything else but actually just go in quick exposure real fast time and there's actually looks pretty cool as well and seems to be getting us some good results and I'll go even faster remember the shallower the depth of field, the more you're gonna lose your focus on this far elements over there. So now I'm actually gonna try and go down into this ledge see if I can get in just a surface of the water trying capture this canyon a little bit more I want to be careful because you can actually see a bridge and some path it's way up there, so I wanna make sure that doesn't get into my shot as well. Doing, uh, nature photography here, so we'll make sure we stick to only the nature I'm gonna close these legs down a little bit just so that does that move through this little rock area over here. I have enough room to move and my legs are getting in the way are and trying to figure out exactly what might work getting a much stronger glare off the water here, but there's some rocks with some really cool shapes and lines underneath them. So I'm gonna keep scrambling around and see if I can change my direction entirely and see what I see up here. This is actually kind of cool and in fact, have lost the waterfall entirely at this point, but I like because they've got this huge green, lush rock there's. Just a ton of color up in here. So it's pretty great. So I'm gonna try and setup on exposure here. One thing, another tip of working around water. This camera were to take a dive off this cliff it's always good to change your memory card beforehand. And that way all of the shots you got earlier in the day aren't lost. If your camera does go off into there that that they might not be recoverable, but it's always, uh never really worth that risk so I'm gonna zoom in a little bit more just focusing on a kind of a water element photographs here and I'm gonna work my focus a little bit my polarizer and I'm gonna go back down to a low I s o gonna max out my aperture f twenty two for depth at maximum depth of field eight seconds is a long time considering it so pretty uh pretty right out again idea how dark it is in the canyon and believe it or not it's not surprising it seems a little bit too bright double check that we're taking a look at the history graham which actually looks like a pretty well balanced image but get a backup anyway and shoot a little darker not trusting the monitor but never hurts to have a second shot his graham actually looks a little bit better with more information in the mid tones the colors on this they're actually really, really cool so I'm actually gonna go and try and shoot a vertical of it so far if you notice I'm working my way up to this so it's not like I knew that this is gonna be my favorite shot but so far this is my favorite shot from this spot even though there's this really great waterfall in there this looks pretty cool not everything has to be all about the action that you think is the primary senator focus sometimes is good to cut out the obvious thing and go for the details from shapes and colors and, uh, see what you can do with that. That's um, wildflowers down here, I'm gonna make my my lower and focus on the frame, and now I'm just trying to make sure I got a good focus and by going vertical, my polarizer is no longer where it was before somebody go and adjust that snap a shot and really nice to get a little bit glare over on this one side, I'm gonna work on that a little bit and we take another frame always holding on to that court. It's pretty good, actually gonna go and shoot. Well, a couple more. Why we hold on to that working in a small area. It's a tricky good to shoot a detail that rock across the way with the water in the foreground detail shop also pretty cool and you know that editing in the field I'm here to just capture at this point, the whole goal of all of this is to just capture do the editing when you're back in your studio are back at home that's when you want to focus on your shots so that's a good start I mean, it kind of worked my way back and see if I want to change anything up see if the lights change it all trying some of these bugs off me as well and continue working the scene in and out until it's uh feel like I've exhausted all possibilities for compositions and I worked the whole range from sixty millimeters thirty five millimeters so we've got a large range of focal length on this there's really no reason use telephoto in here because you're trying to capture less individual details and we're all right up on top of the landscapes himself so this is really perfect for wide angles and polarizes light really hasn't changed that waterfall still really bright this could be even a spot worth coming back maybe in a few hours and evening gets a little darker and there's less lead on that white water fall sunlight just popped through you just take one quick look quick quick, quick composition you know this is why we wanted to be cloudy and I shoot the same thing with sunlight coming through it's almost impossible to get a good balance exposure because that hillside it's so bright so you're back in the studio and look at these we'll make sure to come back and look at the difference in the sunlight and the shadowed versions of that basically it's completely useless without a cloud, this type of work wouldn't be possible just when I thought I got back over here and let my feet thought out from the ice cold water I realised there's one more shot! I'm still not a hundred percent sure I shouldn't have and that's in here. Now, granted, I got kind of caught up in the idea of capturing the waterfall, but then once I got over there, I did a lot of shots that didn't include the waterfall and shooting back towards the wall. So what I'd like to do now is just go back in and look at some other shots that include this area and this sort of, uh, underwater alluvial fan of rock and color that exists. So try a couple of compositions, but again, it's more about just feeling like I've captured it from all angles before I go and put together an edit of my best shots from this area. So back in I go, uh, you actually kind of getting nice? You could maybe getting used to it. I'm gonna get real low in here. Well, I think when you get real low like this you get the more to get the rocks of the foreground. Elements. Looks pretty cool, so you'll need a second. Cool tripod had allows me to kind of crank a bunch of different angles really easily without having you worry too much about where the legs exactly are. So this is one shot and then I'm gonna get closer to see if I could get some of that phone that's coming out from that waterfall first I'm gonna make sure I got the polarizing the right spot focused on the right elements using a manual focus f twenty to six seconds. Lotz over here we go. Let it do its thing. Uh, I cannot feel my feet. It looks pretty good on double check it little bit faster shutter speed using my exposure conversation. Well, it's only been twenty two. Looks good now many try and get up close now. I got a couple more shots right up here right before it gets too deep for me to really be in the water. How much you little higher on this one and I'm gonna pull in a zoom on the sun just came out. So you tell now that I'm here or not I actually total love with this, but I'm gonna shoot a couple anyway. It's kind of neat, but nothing compared to all the other stuff we've gotten I think I've done what I can do here, so I'm gonna call it plus I don't think I could take much more of a cold last forty eight hours, an awesome time, photographing water and learning. All of the basic and some advanced skills for photographing water and water is a fundamental thing for nature photographers to understand. And to really master, we had a great time getting up into foggy little meadows filled with wild flowers, as well as getting to some really cool, warm, cascading pools we got. Figure out how to use. Polarizer is get the glare off of the surface and importance of using tripods, slow shutter speeds, death, the field and all of the other little elements that come together to make a perfect water photograph. So I hope you enjoyed as much as I did and will continue working on these skills in post production.

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.