Capturing Landscapes - Part 2
this lesson is going to dive back into landscape photography, and the reason I want to do it here is because it's an immensely beautiful and equally challenging location. We have really hard conditions, and in general it's not uncommon to go into a situation where hiking up to a lake or an alpine lake or and you get this Ah, this bowl effect where you have this nice, rounded sort of expanse. But the problem is, the light up top is exceptionally brighter than everything you have down here and with the clouds coming in, you're getting a lot of shadow. You're getting highlights on the snow, and it's ah, it's actually very challenging to try and make this look good and make it work and get that quote unquote calendar quality landscape photos. So I'm gonna work this scene and talk through it and show you the thought process behind how he chose this location. Why? I think this will work and actually see if it works. Since I haven't tested it yet and describe why it won't, why not? And so I'm...
gonna move down here. One of the reasons to star is I really like these logs. I like the texture of the shape, the line, like the fact that there's a little color coming into them from the areas where they splintered as they fell. And the other thing in landscape photography that I think a lot of people really forget is it's not just f stops, it's not just shutter speeds. There's no right or wrong composition. It's something I always come back to. But at the end of the day, everyone else out there can figure this stuff out. They could figure out the shutter speed in the f stop. But if you really want to separate yourself, the Onley true way to separate yourself is through creating really powerful compositions. It's not about saying I know how to use my F stop shutter speeds better. I understand I s O where I've got, um, or expensive camera Better lens. Ultimately, a great composition draws the viewer in and really can tell a story. In this particular case, the story I really like is this rock here on the left because it shows that this isn't just something that happened recently. This is a tree that probably grew for hundreds of years up here in a very otherwise cold climate most of the year and slowly worked its way around one of these boulders, grabbed it, eventually, tips over, pulls it out of the ground. So we're telling a story about age telling a story about the place telling a story about the difficulty for things to grow up here as well as the beauty and using the shape line of compositional elements to bring all those together. So I'm gonna slow the process down. Not gonna go handheld right now. I'm going to try and figure out a few compositions, but looking through the lens, getting a sense of the wide angle perspective, we had a 16 millimeter on here right now and figure out exactly where I want to be without the tripod. Once I figure out where I want to be, then I'll put the tripod in and begin my process. So I'm gonna climb down and work through it. So one of the reasons I don't use the tripod right away is you're you're inclined to limit yourself to the height that it's probably already set at, and it's an easy mistake to get into, and otherwise that this was attached the entire time. Then I would probably be looking at setups that are always like this or wherever it is, or I'm gonna have toe make an adjustment every single time. I don't have to go through that so before even bother with this thing. This is a tool is not a compositional tool until you already have an idea of where you want to be. And so I'm just gonna work it through lens cap off and see where to go. So I'm backing up. I'm thinking he's gonna be a foreground element. At this point. I'm not gonna even worry about the sky. I I am not going to be able to do much to control it. I can try and bring in some filters. Um, it's super, super challenging, But the first thing I think is just figure out what are what is the composition? Where's the symmetry? Where is the story? Where's all the pieces that I'm looking for? So I'm gonna back up, take a look through and right now I'm actually cropping out and I'm probably shoot a few frames like to shoot when I'm trying to figure out where I want to Because I'll take a few and then scroll through and kind of edit in my mind and a sense say Okay, I really like that. This one works good, or I wish I saw something. So right now I'm actually cropping out the top of the mountain. It's tempting to say I want to get everything all in one frame. Sure, that might be a good way to go for one shot, But you don't want to necessarily do that for every single shot. So I'm gonna just take a few here. Now I'm gonna try a vertical and actually try and get everything in which, you know, it's pretty lackluster with the sky super blown out, so overcast, but it's blowing in and out. So patience is key, and I'm gonna try and just get really up close One of the things that I tell people who are trying to improve their photography a very simple tip. Um, but one that's almost never observed. If you think you're close enough to your subject matter, you're probably not get closer. You want to just keep working away and closer and closer and closer. You want to fill the entire frame as much as possible with what it is you're shooting without it being, of course, obnoxiously. But you want to get right in there and get up to it. So I'm actually use this as a framing element on the side, put the mountain in the background, the lake in the trees and then sort of move around a little bit and see how that looks now. The challenge with this, of course, is because it's so close that keeping a focus on here and back there could potentially be a challenge. So I'm definitely need a tripod. We need to make sure I have good up the field, but try and keep working on it. Take a look. And even though I'm looking right at it, there's something special about being well. Just look at the back of the camera and just take it in as a photograph versus looking through the viewfinder give you a sense of where it is, so it's not bad. It's actually pretty nice chipmunks visiting. I'm gonna try a vertical now, and that actually kind of looked pretty cool because I'm still able to use this. But instead of framing it on the whole right san hand side of the frame. I'm able to. I haven't come out of the top down through the middle of the frame and then use these other trees as design elements, keeping that mountain and snow field and waterfall in the background. And I've got kind of a lame sky. Still, that doesn't matter. I'm gonna get set up and get ready for when it breaks, get my filters out and see if I can get some really great light. I'm really hoping I get some light on that hillside or down on the lake to help the color pop, because right now it's very, very flat. So these are all the things that I'm thinking about. These are all the things that I'm hoping will work out trialling air. So gonna work here. I'll go onto this shot in the rock next, So let me get set up for this first as they set up, I'm gonna keep referencing the shot that I like. Even though it's got technical problems, it's compositionally where I want to be, So I like words that I would make sure the tripod ends up in the right spot. Um so I just kind of keep looking at it. I'll probably probably I will. I put my camera on here then that way I can shoot and get a shot and then just scroll back and forth to see if they line up. As long as it's close enough where I want, then I'm getting what I need. Open up the tripod legs a little bit here, trying to find a good spot. When you're in rocks like this, it could be pretty challenging. Um, just takes a little patience to figure it all out. It's a slow process, all right, so I'm on an angle here, but I have my ball head, which helps me level things out some a little crooked, to say the least, trying tucked away in a little bit. And I know I need to still get over to the right more. Seven. To try and make this configuration work right here, and it kind of becomes photography. Yoga. At some point, you're one leg's over this way. You're balancing a lot of different things, but it's all about getting to the right spot and, you know, people they see it in a magazine or they see it on social media. They double tap, and they never think twice about what it took to get the shop. But that doesn't matter, because as long as you're having fun doing it and you're happy with the results, the processes is a rewarding often as the end result. So I think without a lens camp still not quite getting there, so you can see this is not a simple process. Have to have the tripod to pull the shot off. So I have to just keep working around and I might have the just slightly on the composition. And instead of going on this side, we'll flip around to this side and see if I can get this to work like this. All right. Could not be more annoying. All right, now we're getting somewhere. Take a look, see how close we are. So the first thing I'm looking at is my horizon line. I don't wanna have to crop later and straighten things out. I want to get it all right, Right now. So we'll focus on the tree, focus a little past the tree for maximum sharpness throughout. Looking around, my frame looks pretty good Now, I'm gonna do a settings check. Make sure I'm not on autofocus. So it's on auto focused, and I would lose my focus. I just work for seven. Stick with I s 0 100 I'm going to go to the max depth of field F 22 again, If you're not sure. Just try the two ends of spectrum, see what kind of results you get. And I am going to just leave it in aperture priority mode with shutter speed be picked. Not too worried about wind. I don't have wildflowers or anything else. Some ripples on the lake, but not gonna worry about those, at least just not yet. So next thing is figuring out how to control those highlights. When I go in my bag and get my neutral density filters, throw these on the front, get the ring going. This is why stability is super important because you're gonna be kind of working on your camera here, adding things moving around a little bit. And it's got to be a better way to do that. Here we go. The ring on. I don't really need a polarizer. Could probably use one if I felt like the lake was a little more classy, but but the ripples blowing everything out there, not really thinking too much about it. I'm gonna probably need a pretty good nd. So I'm gonna need a stronger filter because it's very, very bright to go with an nd nine hard again. Start with that. Now I've got almost too much sun, but that doesn't matter. We're going to just keep building this out in anticipation of different lighting in different situations. So I'm going to fire off a frame and just get a sense of how it looks. So it's it's getting there very high. Contrast. It's a little midday. You know, this is the kind of thing that you might be worth hanging out for the entire afternoon. Watching the light change. Maybe we'll get more dramatic skies and clouds. But it's not bad either. I mean, the nice part about midday light, especially in these bulls as you get the sun coming down and lighting up the water and giving them or the emerald greens and colors, and you get the sort of the edge and off light hitting the trees and bringing all these little pieces together so it looks pretty good. I'm getting a real highlight on the cloud over the horizon. They're very, very bright. So I'm gonna just wait a little bit and watch the weather wait for that blue sky to sort of work its way over to the left. Hopefully, maybe I'll get a cloud that has little more gray in it And get a little more bounce so late. Just got softer Just as I said that clouds going from the sun And now I'm just gonna fire a test off, see what it looks like. See how the cameras interpreting it. So the camera's gonna interpret everything its own way. It's honestly, one thing that's great is I take the picture. I get full frame, it annoy idea. Might be to turn off the vertical rotate. Um, you really want to be able to see an image as big as you can when you're shooting, It's really helpful. And take another picture. So now you see it full frame. I still have a really blown out area with that cloud right there. So I'm kind of more or less rolling the dice, hoping for the perfect situation. But for the most part, my settings are staying the same. Shooting it F 1 in the camera picked the aperture. I'm sorry. I mean the camera. Pick the shutter speed. I've picked the aperture F 22. I've got one filter on which seems to be doing a good job. I could add another, but my fear is it will be way too dark in the overlap and too dark for the greater clouds that are coming in. So I have a problem of just a very high contrast scene right now. So really, it's about patients. And just waiting for the weather and environment itself to create the situation for the image isn't really not a whole lot more I could do. Except for one thing, which is bracketing, it's a personal choice. I find that when you bracket and what a bracket is, essentially shooting multiple frames. Often it's three frames, one that's under exposed, one that's in the middle on one that's over exposed, and the idea is you get all the shadows and all the highlights at different variations and bracketing could be six exposures. It could be 12 exposures and depending on how many steps you want, and then you blend them all together that we could take that highlight. You expose for that highlight, and then it has some detail in it. You could expose for those dark, deep shadows under the rocks under the tree, and then those have detail in it. You can do that, but the problem is, when you bring it together, retaining that authentic look because we're very used to seeing images were certain areas are darker or blown out and brighter. And we've had, ah, all of photography's history behind us, where it has always more or less operated like that, except for dodging and burning. Where Ansel Adams master that in the In the Dark room, with his images dodging and burning and photo shop is that of all using things like filters in the field. The next extension of that is HDR high dynamic range or blending multiple frames together. And the trick is, it's It does work beautifully but almost works too well and can really look disingenuous and take people away or out of your images in the spirit, in essence of what it is, you're trying to capture my style. I tend to wait it out. It looks like I've got a bigger gap of bloom or puffy white clouds coming in. I think if I just hang tight, I'll probably get the shot. A technical note that's important when looking at your landscape. Photography is similar to, Ah, how I would handle a motion clip or any exposure value. I look at the history Graham. The best way to look at a hist a gram is after. Take the photo. You could hit info and you get the Institute of the History Ram to pop up. You want that little peak in the middle. You don't anything all the way to one side or the other. Otherwise, your exposure values are off, and I talk a lot more about this in the class on editing and the technical notes about my processing. But you have to make sure that you have the right raw materials in the field, so the hissed a gram is an important thing to use. You can also use it while shooting. If you switch the live mode while shooting stills, you can actually get the hissed a gram up on the screen and also double check your exposures there when using a filter. Ultimately, that hissed a gram will be, uh, impacted or will fluctuate based on where the filters at. It's also great in live mode. Toe watch changes as you wait for them in the sky and you can move the filter down. It's easier than looking through the viewfinder to see where in the frame it actually is hitting or impacting or where it's overlapping with the mountain ridge right now. I know based on looking at live you that I've got the perfect amount of overlap on the neutral density line on the hard line with the ridge line with the horizon line so that things aren't blown out. So this is looking really good. I could take a couple pictures right in live mode and by pushing the button, and if I want, I can just switch it out of there. I know it looks good. Shoot a couple stills and this is the right situation that I was looking for. I was really looking for shade here, son out there. It's really just something that could sit here all day and I'd maybe never get, but fortunately he came by just enough. I think I've got enough exposures and shots toe bring the this thing together, even if I have to. Is HDR but definitely in camera. I think I've got a good one. Good friend. Feeling good about the shot that I got here? I got the nice combination of clouds, actually still sticking around. Give me some good lighting. So it's one of those things that you just gotta say. I got it. Move on. And so I'm gonna move over here and capture this old rock and the roots of the trees. See if I could do something similar here because I'm not editing in the field. Maybe I like this better when I get back. Maybe I like this better when I get back, but I'm not gonna add it in the field of been trying it both shot. See if I could make both compositions work. Both struck me. Ah, I really love the story behind this year. So I'm gonna see if I can take what I was doing here. Maybe make it work here. Maybe it can. We both work. Not really Sure. Some of them try and rework the composition and keeping my eye on story as well as just having a good symmetry look feel designed to the image. Gonna break this down just a little to make it easier. I tend to not use the poll going up too much in a special with long lens because you lose stability. It's usually just in quick fixes or in situations where it's not windy and pretty protected. Here got a wide angle lens. Stability is not overbearing. It's almost almost handhold quality. But I really wanted to be able to control the scene because I was hand holding this with a filter. I wouldn't be able to get that micro level precision that I was getting by tapping it, moving it around a little bit. So the tripod is still important even when you think you can hand hold it even went with the filter. Whatever. It's important to the process because it allows you to get that absolute and total control throughout the entire scene. So moving around this is probably be low to the ground. Try and put that rock right into the frame, so I'm gonna break down all the way, and then I'm gonna take the camera off the tripod and try and get a composition that I like. So start with the horizontal. It's already got a good vertical and see if that's possible and that's actually pretty cool. But right now, in order to get the part of the frame that I want with the rock, I lose the top of the mountain. The only way to do that would be maybe to move back, just take one step back and see and still not really able to do it. So I'm gonna go back to a vertical, and this is still working. So the verticals working pretty good. I like that. I don't think I want to be too much higher, kind of like the way these branches were breaking into the water a little bit. But take a look the higher angle and they kind of get lost. So the problem is the colors of the trees and these rocks are very, very similar, and it's just blending in, so I don't want anything to blend in. I want this because this is part of my story, part of my subject. I want to stand out and I can dodge and burn and help through that in studio, but not that much to separate it against these rocks. So the only way to really bring him out is to drop lower and put the rock in the tree up against the green of the lake in the background. So I'm going to make sure my bag doesn't roll down the hill and I'm going to giant sit here, figure out where I want to be, so I'm actually changing the angle. Getting a variation. I like this almost as much. And when I'm thinking this lower angles great, I'm looking at this branch being sure it's not touching either of these trees in the frame. I want to be right up the middle so that it's called out. Separated draws the I N and keeping the rock on the rule of thirds element of composition and landscape photography and keeping it on the lower third in the corner and then also the same with the peak which was lined up. So a lot of the actions happening here, but the eyes also getting drawn over to this tree, which is all twisted over here and obviously the big, beautiful landscape. So let me get my tripod. All right. So romantic. Everything in a physician. So now, like the last shot to repeat, I'm gonna keep my settings the same. Keep it at 22. Since I've got something pretty close the lens and I got subject matter far away on the set, My focus point manually got 1/3 of the way into the frame and I'm under exposed just a little because I'm using the filter. The cameras, internal meter is going. Teoh read it a little differently. And so I want to just bring everything down, bring the level down. Rather be a little darker, then overexposed and losing details. Something It's safe. I'm starting there Might change it. Take a look at live mode. Now, I'm gonna turn off all the details and I'm gonna actually see how the filter will help this. So not getting a whole lot there. No, Let's take a look. And Okay, so now what I'm looking at is the foreground and not to worry about the sky. I'm basically always worried more or less about my foreground. First and foremost. And I got the rock a little off center. It's not quite rule of thirds that's a little off center, and it's not rule of thirds because I want to still keep that mountain, and I could probably move over, but it's pretty hard to get a tripod set up and keep it stable. So I'm gonna just stick with this and see what happens. Getting a few rain drops, which means keep the filter clean. Pay attention to the situation with that and again, just kind of waiting it out and see what happens. Ah, looking at my horizon line. Make sure that straight and live use great for this because you can kind of do all these little housekeeping pieces such a straight horizons and filters while you wait for the light to change. So right now it couldn't get any more flat. It's very, very boring light. Not a lot of contrast. Not a lot of color. Even looking at the back of my screen almost looks black and white. E could force this, but there's even nothing I could do other than just wait and hope for the sun and hope for some more color