Skip to main content

The Art of Seeing: On Location

Lesson 1 of 7

Shooting Waves in Early Morning Light


The Art of Seeing: On Location

Lesson 1 of 7

Shooting Waves in Early Morning Light


Lesson Info

Shooting Waves in Early Morning Light

Hello, I'm friends long thing I've been a photographer for more than thirty years. I've covered the world for national geographic, I've been everywhere but this place, this beach is where I really like to photograph for myself when I don't have the pressure oven assignment on my shoulder, and I'm going to show you how I come to this place and how I refresh myself by applying different lenses and using different kinds of light, and I hope you can apply that in your own favorite spot. Close to home. It's still forty five minutes till sunrise stark on the speech near my hometown of senate cruise along the coast of california. But I like to start out early, let's, see what we can find. I know the speech quite well, but every time I come here, I see something new. This morning I'm going to start off bye, putting myself on the rocky shell above the tide line. This is an easy shot. Put my tripod out, all three legs extended on, then I'm going to put my pack above the tide line I don't want it...

to get swamped, and then I'll start looking around for compositions you have to free your mind off the things that you already know how to do cause otherwise you end up in the rut of your own experience, so arrive it out preconceptions try to see the world as if you witness it for the first time, but of course, you can also take advantage of what you know has worked before. So it's navigating between the familiar and letting yourself be lured invite a young familiar so I'm gonna find a dry spot here. Yeah, this will work right here got my nikon d for s it is seventeen to thirty five f two eight lens, not a prime lands, but I like the versatility of a zoom lens that enables me to change composition very quickly. Before I put my camera on the tripod, I will begin to look around in the landscape as soon as I'm tethered to the tripods, it locks me into a certain vantage point. I want to avoid up. I'm just going to start nibbling at the scenery. What I'm seeing from here is a couple of rocks that are nicely distributed along the tide line and there's waves coming straight at me, so I'll do a simple test shop looking at the back of the camera to give me an initial idea of what could work here. I like that area where the waves are crashing along the rocks. It gives me a little bit of a highlight right now, it's foggy. So that means there's, a very low contrast can adults, but wherever the waves are breaking, you know the phone is turning white and that creates the highlight and I'm going to take advantage it up. So I've got my initial idea here in front of me, so now it's time to put the camera on the tripod so I can start manipulating the settings here, let me check the I s o still at sixteen hundred from the night before I'm going to take that down to four hundred I s o checking the white balance when I'm in a hurry, I'll keep the white balance on automatic, but I've got a bit of time to reminisce set it in the cloudy mode now I'm shooting in raw so that I can adjust the image very easily afterwards, so the white balance setting is not so important, but I'd like to approximate the actual light conditions, let me check the other critical setting some in matrix media ring mode, yo, which means that I'm taking advantage of a very sophisticated media ring capability that young measures light in different parts of my composition. Uh, I'm in aperture priority mode, which is my default setting, and I'll say more about that later on, I'm gonna make sure that my exposure compensation is set at neutral I'm a cured at my bracketing mode, which I use sometimes is also set off because, you know, in this kind of foggy light, I don't need to bracket those are the most important variables here, so I'm ready to start composing. I've got a great mode activated in my view finder, and that enables me to set the horizon perfectly level so that I s o four hundred my meter reads out that an eight of a second at f to eight, not a lot of depth of field, which I'll probably increase by closing my aperture, so that means I can go to say f eleven at two seconds, I'll do the first test job. I'm gonna wait for a wave to come in because remember, I'm looking for those. Highlights. I need that white. Otherwise, everything is great. So here comes away two seconds. Not too bad, but not so interesting either. Now, even though my camera's on a tripod, I'm gonna take advantage of a remote control that I have because it reduces the possibility that I create accidental camera shake by triggering the camera manually. So stand by for a second while I put that in motion. So violence gizmo fits into this ten from shock it here. And the other part fits in my hand. Very nice. Especially that long exposures. You want to avoid that there's, even the slightest hint of shaking the camera. All right, let me see if it works. Yes, it us. So far, so good. The essence in composition is to look for those few elements in a landscape that actually macon interesting composition less is usually more so, widening the perspective. And then I begin to zero in on going from seven eighteen and now I have roughly a twenty four millimeter perspective on dh. Now coming aware of where the white falls at the tide line. Now I need to start interacting with the waves because I'm looking for that moment when the waves crash across the rocks and of course, right now, there's, no way. Can I got away? But it's never very long. So here we go incoming wave wave incoming ways created different pattern, then outgoing, wait one comes in and that is when you get the splash. But when the wave can of rolls out again, then the energy is dissipated. You get a very nice pattern of the foam cannon creating streaking, which works especially well, mature speeds that are longer than a full second. So I worked on both edges of the waves energy as it hits the land, outgoing and incoming sounds a bit like morning yoga exercise, but it's not just the wave where it hits the rocks it's also beautiful line, but the waves are breaking fodder out, so I'm getting her a point counterpoint situation here, white in the foreground, white on the horizon, and that creates a sense of depth. Then you experiment that doing long exposures, you've got to be mindful of the different ways in which water expresses itself. It begins to look interesting. It begins to look different from what the naked isis at shutter speeds below our thirtieth of a second, and from experience, I know that right around a quarter to half of a second there's something really interesting the border begins to trace its own patterns, but you can still see a little bit of the energy what of water hits the land in this case the rocks at the tight line then I extend the shutter speed to beyond the second you begin to see that milky fraud and the longer the shutter speed becomes the dream year the effective so I'm gonna work both both possibilities here, so I'm going to start off with this longer shutter speed because as the light keeps rising I'm going to lose the possibility to apply those long, longer shatter speech so right now at four hundred s o I can still get two and a half seconds f twenty two waiting for the next wave to come in oceans teasing me right now there's nothing happening but it won't be very long cva two and a half seconds you've gotta be very careful of when you triggered the camera come on, wait patience is of course a virtue in natural photography but you've got to be a little bit more active than just sitting under a tree you've gotta know where to go when to be there and what to do to me it's all about interacting with the scenery I like it when there is something not quite under my control I call that serendipity I determined a parameters within which I can let good luck or serendipity manifest itself wait a minute there's a wave coming gotta get busy yeah, that works I gotta just e horizon a little bit I'm looking at that grid in the view finder but I need a bit more energy here. I need two waves hitting hitting the land in succession or I can put on the neutral density filter and extend the exposure that is my other not too much happening in a way a way so I'm gonna pull out that nd filter neutral density filters cut the amount of light that reaches the censor and I have several of them a three stop neutral density filter a five stop neutral density filter and this one is really interesting it's a variable neutral density filter so I can dial in just the amount of light that I want to cut from reaching the sensor. I'm gonna start by this three by applying this three stop neutral density filter so first I removed uv filter that I always have in the front of my lens because it reduces the risk that accidentally stretched the lens but if I put the neutral density filter on top of the uv filter I may get something yet ing that his wide angle lens better not to create a problem for yourself. It's actually my five stop andy filter and now I can do a shutter speed of thirty seconds at f twenty two let me try now I don't have the weight and time my exposure but every incoming wave I know that there's enough happening in the course of thirty seconds waste come in waves come out I've got this lever all my defore that cuts light from my few finder, which is important to avoid any accidental light reaching a sensor who this is beginning to look interesting let me pull out my loops so that I can do a more precise examination of what I've got here this's a very handy gizmo it's a loop made by a company called goodman and I never leave home without it. Oh yes, this is not that for starters about a dozen rocks at the tide line and that this thirty second exposure all the specifics of the ocean's energy are dissipating into this milky fraud. So I'm in the zone, so I'm doing another exposure. My aperture is not so important in this situation to extend my depth of field with this wide angle lens, I get enough of a depth of field even at f ate the fact that I'm applying f twenty two is really mohr of derive from the fact that I want to extend my shutter speed, you could choose opportune priority or you can choose shutter priority. It doesn't really matter that much in this situation yep I've got another nice looking frame here but now I need to get more critical about my composition I know I'm in the zone I noted technique is working I know that the spot is good, but I want to start looking more carefully at which rocks I really want in the frame in which ones I'd rather keep out again. The fact that I've got a zoom lens here makes it very easy to adjust the composition, so now the drawback of that nd filter is, of course, that less light reaches the few finder show it's very dark, not so easy to see exactly where rocks are coming in to my view and where there not quite in my view, but I've got a good sense here I'm switching to another view looking a little bit mohr along the coastline. Okay, another exposure of thirty seconds way go fog is still pretty dense now some people may say, well, that's not good light for doing landscape photography but far is my best friend. It creates a sense of mood and mystery it's a perfect example of what I call indirect light if there were no far way begin to see color on the horizon now everything is grey, but early in the morning, before the sun actually comes over the horizon with these long exposures, I'm seeing a touch of blue enter into view. I like this I like this a lot, just a few rocks known and in the distance I see the coastline and I see that she stacked that is the marker in this landscape. It's what this beach is known for its just a tiny point in a distance, but it creates that counterpoint that creates depth. I'm connecting the rocks in the foreground with the curve along the tide line and then in the distance that one needle is where the I ultimately girls, I'm gonna take another look at what I've done here. Yes, I've got rocks in the lower right. I've got a few rocks scattered in the middle foreground and then distant coastline in the back. Going to do a couple of other frames you so still at thirty seconds after this frame, I'm going to start changing the shutter speed, going to reduce the shutter speed to let's pick six seconds. Yeah, looks different already. Shorter the shutter speed, the more specifically, you're going to see the effect of the waves as they're interacting with the rocks. But every frame is different because every wave is different, so pixels are free. I'm gonna trigger a couple of other exposures. Six seconds now I'm going to go to two seconds now. My aperture is five six, so I don't have such a an extended depth of field anymore, but because my vantage point is above the rocks and I have this wide angle lens I still get a depth of field that goes from infinity all the way to the rocks in the foreground. Now I have to start paying attention to when the ways are coming in at two seconds, I can't just stand here and talk with you and let the camera do its thing. I've gotta start being mindful of what is in front of me so hanging there while I watch the way ok waves has come in out sloshing around usually that is a bit too chaotic but actually not so bad but I'm looking for that moment when the water is rushing back. Oh, this is beautiful! I really liked that water is rushing back towards the ocean, but there's also a wave coming in in the middle ground so I'm seeing two different patterns another wave coming in that becomes the milky froth at the tide line and now wave is coming out beautiful I really like this now when you having so much fun, you know you could be tethered in the same spot just looking at the same rocks for the whole morning, but I think it's time to move on, see what else we can find.

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!