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The Art of Seeing: On Location

Lesson 2 of 7

Composing Shots along the Tideline


The Art of Seeing: On Location

Lesson 2 of 7

Composing Shots along the Tideline


Lesson Info

Composing Shots along the Tideline

There are a lot of choices here. Lots of rocks here along the tide line, but I'm looking for a place where I don't have too many rocks, maybe over there, using that same lens again at seventeen to thirty five to eight maneuvering along the tide line gonna look for a couple of rocks that create an interesting composition. I'm paying attention to what the water does, where can I best be tight line is really clean I think this may get interesting. I've got a couple of rocks in the lower right and then another three in the middle ground and then four or five mawr in the distance and then I see a few trees there on the cliff, so I've got this very nice diagonal line. You think I can do something with that time for the first test exposure? Oh, yes, that looks very interesting. I met two seconds at f ate surfer comes in view, next surfer to stand still for a second because that'll make a really interesting three sure first arrive, this spot is quite popular and I'm gonna ask if one of them ca...

n pose and become an impromptu model here I'm going to go talk with him, all right, what's your name, good plan, I'm frantz what's your name, I'm waiting highway. France nice to meet you guys so oh just right here at the tide line nice still in his range of one to two seconds in my shutter speed all right here comes claim we'll do one at a time do you want to go uh just just kind of walk in here hold on if you let me uh if can you back up just say maybe ten feet yeah yes hope my camera moved okay just hang in there just for a second I need one way one more got it. Thank you this's a good example of serendipity I didn't know there would be surfer's coming out here but a soon as I saw them come in I thought that could be an interesting addition to the image because now we have a landscape very human element in it and of course people like to look at people so let me just see how that turned out. Yeah. Nice surfer looking into the scene looking for some action on the horizon and the water is swirling around him now I noticed that the serf board is pointing down maybe when his mate goes out to him and asked him to hold his board a little bit differently maybe it can point up instead of down that's how you learn watching what you do and of course the beauty in digital photography is that I can give myself that visual feed back any time that was different in the era of film sometimes I'd go for weeks or months without seeing what I was doing I have a very difficult I like what's happening here so what I'm playing here is one of the basic rules in composition what works in composition while you start looking for lines you start looking for shapes and we noted diagonals worked very well as opposed to straight lines and that is what I've got going here oh yeah so I've got nice alignment of rocks in a diagonal fashion that concludes with those three trees on the horizon but it's of course really the water that makes or breaks the composition and that is different every time a wave hits now it's time to start shortening the exposure way I mentioned to you earlier that you can work the magic of water interacting with the land with very long exposures that start around a full second than khun go is long is thirty seconds but then there's enough another cluster of shutter speeds around a quarter of a second that I like a lot and now that light is increasing I'm going to start working that range around a quarter of a second so I've taken off my and d filter I don't need it anymore there's so much light now that I can get a quarter of a second that f twenty two and I'm still at that same s o setting of four hundred same composition that hasn't changed my shutter speed has changed on that changes the nature of the scenery I have to become more sensitive now to what the water is doing I'm changing my perspective a little bit I'm letting these three rocks anchor my composition out so they're mawr in the center of the frame I have to plant my tripod really deep otherwise water's gonna start undermining the tripod and that creates technical problems all right here we go yeah that works just as I thought it would I'm gonna wait for that wave to come in the incoming energy but the magic happens when the water goes out of them I see that swirl way go oh yes the swirl of the water going back and then there was a little bit of wave action in the middle ground is well now it goes back gonna move a little bit more this direction all right there you ready to head out could you uh could you uh could you go just kinda right there in the tide line go go a little bit farther out a little bit farther out yeah perfect and could you hold your board up a little bit so that it that's it that's it oh you're looking great point point aboard the tippet aboard up a little bit more that's it that's it now just hang in there just for a few seconds while away fits here that's it, that's it, that's it. Thank you so much. I have a great morning. Okay, but I'm seeing in this frame is wayne is standing there with the surf report, but I wished I'd spend a little bit more time directing him because now he's lining up with those trees in the background and that is not quite ideal. Rocks in the foreground, trees in the background and wayne should have been a little bit more to the right or to the left, but he's off surfing. So I've got what I've got will have to wait for another surfer to come out in distress. Lee. Farc. I have to pay attention to what is happening the filter's. Periodically, I have to clean him off with a piece of micro fiber cloth. Otherwise I get specs on the filter, and especially when I close my aperture older way down, they're going to start showing up suspects in the competition in the image of me. So let me just see here hey, hey, I want to be really careful with cleaning the lens itself. Uh, so I'm gonna put on another filter putting a uv filter back on to protect the land. Another detail I took the camera strap off my camera when I'm working with my camera on a tripod. I don't need to strap. They just get in the way when a maneuver around the tide line again to see if I can find another composition. Now the rocks are lining up directly that trees, which could be interesting as a vertical. I haven't done any verticals yet. This morning will be a little bit careful because there's definitely some wave action here. All right, I'm going to take a risk here is a little bit farther and then, uh, let me just she think I need to move that piece of junk pillow washed ashore, messes up my composition that ruins the experience for other people who come to the beach. I'm going to take this back with me. Okay? Backto work gets a little tricky here. I could get swamped, buy a big wife. So I've got to pay attention to what's coming in. Whoa! Alright. Gotta work quickly. No wannabe for too long. Okay, here we go. Pushed my tripod into the sand because otherwise it's going to shift him in the border, tugs at it. But now I have a nice vertical seen my shutter speed is around the quarter of a second. Come on, life. Yes, that's beginning to look like something noticed that I'm no longer using my remote. I'm just triggering things manually want to keep my hands on the camera a little bit too dicey here. Ok, time to move. Let me see. Oh, yeah I've got a lot of for drip on the lens so those frames may not look too good to let it dry out. Time for a short break to reflect on what I've just done periodically. I take myself away from the scene and I look at the whole sequence of photographs too. Make sure that I haven't missed anything before I move on to the next thing. So I shot about a hundred frames this morning and the first one was my test chart. That was before six in the morning when I began to find my footing there along the shoreline in the lightest blew a twilight, the lightest blue first frames weren't so interesting, I was just nibbling at the scenery and I had my wide angle lens on here. I'm beginning to see more interesting things with these extended shutter speeds have is able to make the surf look like this dreamy, milky froth at the tide line. I did a number of different composition stare. I began to be more selective about the number of rocks that were in my frame, and then I decided to use a neutral density filter to extend the shutter speed all the way to thirty seconds. But then I alternated it it using shorter shutter speeds around quarter of a second and half a second, and here I'm seeing an interesting result of that. Now it's six thirty the light is no longer show blue it's still foggy. So we have a very soft in direct light. And then the surfers came in. I did the first frame of one leaving leaving the tide line, getting into the water. And then I decided to just asked him if they could post and that led to an interesting moment. Not perfect. I should have worked with them a little bit more, but I could see he was in a hurry. Go catch his first wave. So when you work with people, you really have to start developing a relationship. Some nature photographers don't like that, you know, they would like to commune with nature and nature only to meet people are part of the scene so how do you do that you go up and introduce yourself, explain who you are. What you're doing and ask if they mind posing for you and most people love to participate in a picture taking and especially if you offer them a copy of one of your pictures then it becomes a more equitable exchange so I did that and then I moved closer to dave order I began to take some more risks I had my water boots on, but you know when you get that close to the surf inevitably you're going to get wet but no pain, no game, so I'm seeing interesting interactions between water and rocks. Uh, this is one of my favorite friends. Let me check the settings. This is about half a second that f ate that works history. Graham looks good to bell curve of course I can stretch that in post create deeper blacks better whites I've got all the ingredients here. I'm happy with that frame. Let me take a look at some others. Yeah, I've got enough I've got enough here I could be happy here the rest of the morning but I think it's time to move on when you check the last verticals I could have done better dare I think but there was so much wave action I was getting a little bit concerned that sooner or later wave might swamp the camera that is not quite worth it, so ok, time to move on

Class Description

Go deep into the principles of landscape lighting, composition, and technique and learn how to create memorable images with Frans Lanting in The Art of Seeing: On Location.

Watch Frans at work on a beach near his home in Santa Cruz, California, as he teaches the essentials of landscape photography in a way that can only be taught in the field. 

In this class you will explore: 

  • Finding new photographic approaches in familiar settings and scenes
  • Photographing while the light changes – from dark to light
  • What equipment to use for different scenarios and results Frans will teach you how to evaluate light and really see how it interacts with your local environment. You’ll learn about the best ways to approach a familiar landscape and find the shots and the light you have not discovered before.

The Art of Seeing: On Location with Frans Lanting will teach you the ingredients for memorable images (subject, vision, composition, light, moment, meaning) and show you how to translate those general concepts into gorgeous outdoor photographs.



a really excellent class with a very humble Frans Lansing. Good explanations of EVERYTHING; composition, light and equipment. REALLY want to take one of Frans courses in person. Such a lovely person it seems. Thank you Frans!! I have posted some of my work and I am now inspired to do some of the gorgeous water shots you took WOW!!!


Loved this course with Frans Lanting. His explanations were awesome. I learned to "see" things in a way I have not seen before. I also was inspired to go back to my own safe haven at St. Marks Wildlife Refuge and "create." So much to practice but love that I can always come back to review this class/course for more inspiration. I would love to join one of his workshops.


I really, really, really enjoyed this course. I watched it when I was forced indoors by 100+ degree weather, and the constant sound of the surf cooled my brain. Frans is very easy to like and learn from. After spending this much time with him, I feel he should know me if I walked up and shook his hand--his personality extends so easily through the screen. He both reinforced my own sense of how to approach seeing a location and encourage me to see in different ways. His review of tech was mouthwatering as those look like some pretty high end cameras, but he finished the whole day by recommending his iPhone as the best camera he ever had. I was sorry when I finished this class; I wanted to go with Frans to a new location and do the same thing all over again. Thanks for a terrific value from!