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Location Scouting in the North Cascades

Lesson 17 from: The Outdoor Enthusiast's Guide to Photography & Motion

Ian Shive

Location Scouting in the North Cascades

Lesson 17 from: The Outdoor Enthusiast's Guide to Photography & Motion

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

17. Location Scouting in the North Cascades

Next Lesson: Drone Introduction


Class Trailer

Bootcamp Introduction


Storytelling with Stills and Motion Overview


Elements of a Well-told Story


Storytelling in Motion


Choosing the Best Gear for Your Outdoor Project


Gear for Drones


Gear for Motion


Inside Ian's Gear Bag


General Advice for Preparation


Virtual Scouting




Permits and Permission


Model and Property Releases


Health and Fitness




Location Scouting Overview


Location Scouting in the North Cascades


Drone Introduction


Drone Safety


What Kind of Drone Should I Buy?


FAA Part 107 Test: How to Prepare


Telling a Story With a Drone


Drone Camera, Lenses and Movements


Selling Drone Footage


Why Does a Photographer Need Motion?


Establish the End User


Identify Your Audience


Build a Production Plan


Create the Story Structure


The Shooting Script


Production Quality


Composition for Stills


Composition for Stills: Landscape


Composition for Stills: Telephoto Lens


Composition for Stills: Macro Lens


Techniques for Capturing Motion in the Field


Lenses and Filters for Outdoor Photography


Capturing Landscapes - Part 1


Capturing Landscapes - Part 2


Capturing Movement in Stills


Shooting Water, Sky and Panorama


Understanding Stock


Editorial vs Commerical


Pricing Stock


Producing Stock


Shooting for Social Media vs Stock


Choosing an Agency


Assignments and Capturing Stock


Stock Photography Market


Create A Style Guide


Stock Shoot Analysis


Workflow for Selecting Final Stills


Initial Editing in Adobe Bridge


Reviewing and Selecting Motion Footage


Keeping Track of Your Story Ideas


Script and Story Structure Evolution


Editing to the Content


Music as a Character


Business Diversification


Business Strategy


Pillars of Revenue




Partnerships and Brand Strategy


Galleries and Fine Art




The Future of Photography


Q&A And Critique


Lesson Info

Location Scouting in the North Cascades

So now I want to take you out to North Cascades National Park. Um, we went up a few different areas were mostly out around Lake Diablo and, um, the Thunder knob trail. And some of the stuff that's covered in this portion of the class is also setting the GPS setting, using on your camera some of the challenges with setting GPS on your camera. Um, also knowing when to shoot a spot and when not to shoot a spot, maximizing your light and saying, You know, if you're on a trail and you're looking for something, you know, Is this a good place to be or not? How you how to make that decision as well as working the edge of a certain cliff, working a scene, trying different things and looking for all of the elements that will bring in together and sort to pull those elements together. So, um, all of that is covered in here. It's It's certainly a pretty beautiful place to be able to scout, so I hope you enjoy this portion of the class. This lesson is all about location, scouting and location. Scou...

ting to me is one of most foundational components of great landscape photography. It's when you have that opportunity. Hopefully not under pressure to go and spend time hiking, looking at the space that you're going to go out and make photographs off. It's about preparation. It's about preparation on location and going out of here now. Okay, where is that foreground element gonna come from? What is that middle foreground or that middle element going to be like, What is that background element gonna be about? And so location scouting really is that opportunity to start thinking about all of the pieces that you need to achieve either the creative vision or that final goal that you have in your mind's eye as a photographer. Location scouting is important because it gives you an opportunity to start really working that scene without feeling super restricted. You could move quickly. You can work the edge in this lesson. We actually were able to work this entire edge of a lake figuring out well the rocks worked as a foreground, Or will they not? Will we be able to go and make a lot of the human elements that exist here in North Cascade National Park? Work is part of the landscape photo. And so no matter what your approach is, no matter how much time you put into your photography, you're never gonna be wasting time if you're planning ahead and using location scouting as that foundational component to creating great images. One of the reasons we do this is not just to find the ultimate spot, but it's also to start ruling things out. And so I'm here along the trail looking out, and there's a really great break, really good opening. It's the 1st 1 that I've seen on this trail this morning, and I see the road, which is perfectly aligned and is the nice little mountain and snow field. And it's a really tempting shot and you might be tempted to say, Okay, let's stop, let's set up, get the tripod out what's grab it as we go? And normally I might do that. I feel like I have a lot of extra time, but you don't always have a lot of extra time, and you have to balance the idea of how much light do you have? How much time do you have? And is this the shot you want or is what you think you might find were more worthwhile. Do you keep going to push on? And so it's a hard decision to make Have to make that call, and it really starts getting into the fundamentals of editing. Do you edit in the field? Are you starting to edit when you make a decision to shoot something or not shoot something, you shoot it all, in which case it might take you forever to go a mile or two miles up hill or mountain to the lake or your destination that you've already pre selected in your preparation phase and all your planning. So it really boils down to a lot of different decisions coming together, and it's not an easy right or wrong answer. It's just one that will come with experience and with time. Sometimes you might want to take those shots, and then when you get back, you start to realize maybe it was worthwhile. Maybe I got something at that moment or, you know, maybe it's a place I do want to come back to, or maybe it's place I don't want to come back to. But the only thing that's really gonna help you learn to make that decision is practice and figuring it out and knowing what to do. In this case, you know, I'm making a judgment call based on experience, that the lighting's not great. And honestly, these four grounds are pretty pretty intense. They're good for framing, but they're almost too much. It's too crowded. It's too tight, maybe with a telephoto lens that could pull something off, maybe in different light. But there's just way too many maybes for me to commit to this. So this particular spot for me is gonna be a pass, and I recommend trying to analyze those scenes thinking about light thinking about your framing, thinking about how you want to approach location scouting. Do you want a bank shots with your camera? Do you want to do it on your IPhone? And how is that information going to help you make the best decision possible? The other thing that might be really helpful in your process for location scouting is setting up your GPS. My camera has GPS built in its Canon five D Mark four, and I'm able to go to the menu settings and actually activate GPS settings. GPS will literally pinpoint the latitude and longitude of where a photo was taken. And there's two ways. Set your clock manually so that you know what time of day you were there, where you can also use the GPS to set your clock so it knows where you are, and then that way you know, time of day as well as locations. So GPS is really a great tool for location scouting. Your IPhone will also logged the physical location of the image provided that you have those services activated, your location services activated. The GPS settings are definitely critical, that definitely helpful for planning, and it's a lot of fun because of the cannon software. When you get back to your home or your studio, you can load those images in it will bring it up on a map and show you where all those photos were taken, so you can start to see how all of those places start to come together. So location scouting and photography is about constantly going back, revisiting places over and over and building that database from which you can say this is the best time to get the best images. Location. Scouting is something you have to do whether you have a lot of time or not. A lot of time you might have an entire day with the weather. Go south and you've got five hours to go and hike any trail you want. Figure out where you want to be or you might be coming out and you're close to sunset. But you're not quite at that epic our yet, and you're not sure where you want to be. Do you want to make the most of your time by figuring out Where do I want to set up? Where do I want to bring out the tripod legs and figure out the lens in the filters and all of that stuff? That's about the slow process you want to save for the slow process. You don't want to go through all of that necessarily and get home and you realize, you know, it really should have spent all my time in a different spot. So I'm gonna work this edge and scouted out to figure out in the next to 45 minutes, when the light is really at its peak, where I'm gonna want to be with my camera, which spot is gonna be the best spot to make it work. So I'm gonna work around. I obviously love this bench. I think this is great human element. I think you'd be great with a person in the shot. Um, you know, you got the lake, you got the mountains and you could see as the sun is moving this way and a big part of location scouting is about following the sun through all times a day and location scouting doesn't have to be something that's done in 30 minutes. Doesn't to be done in four or five hours is the kind of thing that could be done over years. Literally. You could be the kind of photographer who keeps going back in different seasons. Fall, Winter, summer. What does it look like? How does it change? And how can you be there to capture that moment and convey it in different ways each time? And so for me, location scouting is about thinking about all of the different pieces that are constantly changing and how you can be in the best spot for them when they're at their best for you to capture that moment. Being a good location scout being good photographers about extraordinary moments in extraordinary places like this place in North Cascades. So I'm gonna work this edge, and I'm gonna look for foreground. Elements already know I've got the bench already know I could put the human element in, but I want to see if I can find a great foreground That's a rock or some sort of rock outcropping or cracks or branches or some kind of a cool tree and figure out if all the layers and scenes that I want to come together are going to be there. So I always want those multiple layers, maybe three, at least a great foreground element with the great background, like the mountains here in the wake drama, something that you're trying to convey. What's the best place to do that? How do you draw someone's? I end through symmetry online. The only way to know the only way to find out is to take a look around and try and figure out where the best places are not gonna bring my camera right now. Sometimes I bring my camera one lens. A lot of the time I'm scouting or I'm somewhere. I see a shot, and the only thing I have on me is my phone. The IPhone is the best thing you can use for location scouting because it's the one you have on. You might be a great way to keeping capture a great moment. So I'm gonna use my phone, try and build a little database or databank of images that I can then refer back to and say, OK, this is the stuff I like. This is what worked. Or a month from now I can say, Hey, look it where the sun was and how it's changed. And this is the direction it's heading and how this new mountain up here in the background with snow on it might catch sunrise or sunset in a new way. So the phone is a great way because it's not just your memory. It's about having a a physical way to keep track of what you're looking for. And the other thing that might be helpful is a journal. You could always do that, of course, in your phone to I like to write things down and look at my notes. That's a nice way to kind of put things together and remember the journey that you're on as you scout out your locations. So let's check it out. Let's try and find some compositions and see what works when a boot up the phone, get it in photo mode and start working my way down this edge. I like the way these rocks look here because they're kind of messed up. You know, it's not flat, and I want to shoot on just necessarily. Just, ah, flat top. I wanna have something with texture and some depth, shadows and lines and one of the things I think it's really important. Remember, especially when you're on a hike and your scouting is, don't forget to look behind you. I think it's very easy to have tunnel vision. I think it's normal to have tunnel vision. Everything we normally would do will focus way out in front of us, and we forget to think wide angle. I think it's very important for us to think wide angle, take it all in, learn to see what's happening over here in the frame of vision over here, down here, trying to get that sense, and when you do, you start to get a field. The mountains, the clouds, the light and the way they interplay together. And then you could start to put that together with your phone. And this isn't about necessarily getting great pictures. This is about creating compositions that you can come back to later. And it's really interesting because were ableto get out here a little earlier. And the light wasn't very good at all. This was in an area I wanted to consider, but following the white and seeing it change and get later in the day, I see it coming across this face, and now I'm getting these shapes and lines and shadows on a mountain in the distance. That's much, much stronger, much better. Clouds weren't there earlier. Now their here, and I'm able to go and get these images on my phone. I honestly pretty nice now, just as is. You know, I'm clearly shooting horizontal here. Can I get a vertical or not? That'll save me time as the light gets better and better and figure out what works. But honestly, this is great. This is something I could definitely come back to bring my camera, bring my filters, see how the light changes, see how it hits that mountain is the evening goes on and I think really could work out pretty good. So this is a good first stop. Let me see if I can find a way to get this lake in the shot because that really is a center focused. This church, boys. Beautiful lake. Let's get some rocks and four grounds and bring all of those elements together. Well, try this out. Here, try this. I mean, I like this, but yeah, you know, it's kind of kind of during its not as interesting. Um, the sun's hitting the front of the lens right now, and it's creating a glare, which is OK, but it's might be good for social media is not necessarily the greatest shot that I'm looking for. Um, for what I'm trying to do, I'm trying to get a nice balance of things. I really want to show those mountains. But if I get a little bit over, I see. Okay, the shade is blocking it. But now I've kind of got this tree. It's dead. You know, I'm not getting the whole lake. I've got this tree sort of blocking the scene. So you know this is good, but it's not great. It's not really doing what I want, so I'm gonna keep working the edge. Keep working the scene, Try and follow my way around and get around this cliff and see if there's a better view of the mountains. Location scouting is about anticipation, anticipating how the little change, where will go as much as you can, how much the weather will work in your favor or not. And obviously there's a lot of APS and peripheral things that you can use to figure that out. But there's nothing better than getting out and watching the light change over the course of a day or a course, where you have an hour or even 20 minutes. It could be very dramatic, depending on where you are here. The light is really contrast e right now, and it's starting to get nice and getting a strong sense of what could be. Ah, this is compositionally, probably one of the best spots that you could be because it's wider open and you really start to see the layers. You have the lake in the foreground. You have kind of the quintessential top of a pine tree that breaks that foreground up. You have this peninsula that comes out off the side here with Lake behind it, a road which, inevitably, this will be a travel shot, if that's what you gonna do because of the road, although it's not highly noticeable in way in the distance and then the mountain over there as well. So this is a good spot to remember, as the clouds change they may were, may not become very pink could become very dramatic as the light and sunset really starts to kick in. So this is another good spot to try and remember. Grab a few frames, maybe try with different exposures and orientation. Um, you know, when taking shots, don't forget if you're manhandling your phone like I am, too every now and then clean the lens on the front. If you noticed that to start, get real soft. Focus. It's time to just give it a little cleaning. This is good. I mean, the trick, of course, is going to be the tree. You've got a steep ledge here. It could be a little challenging. It's really gonna come down to figuring out what lenses you want to use And what the right way to go about? That's gonna be. But this is why you Location Scout. So you don't hike out here with a big backpack. Maybe you leave it up there and you bring just the one lens that you've already decided you need because you've already figured it out in your head. So this is a great spot. It's certainly a good option for sunset. Um, honestly, there's a few good options out here today. And if you want to show the lake and you want to show the mountains, there's many good ways to do it. But until you finally get to the final show, when the light is the best, you won't ultimately, no, but at least to be the most prepared you can possibly be. Today's lesson was really foundational. We dug in deep on location scouting and how important it is to creating great landscape photography. And being a location scout doesn't mean you gotta have all of your camera and your tripod and everything with you. You can do it with your IPhone. You can do it with even just a notebook if it comes down to that. But really, it's about figuring out where you're going to go, how to plan ahead, watching the sun, watching the sky, looking for the compositional elements and layers and all of the pieces that come together. It's really, really difficult to come to a place like North Cascades National Park and have trail after trail and road after road and all of these incredible vistas and say, This is what I'm gonna focus on. This is the one place that I'm going to create images that I'm gonna be proud to say our mind. So I think it's a great start location scouting, and I look forward to spending more time than cascades and focusing a landscape photography.

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Ratings and Reviews


Ian was an amazing instructor.; very fun, enthusiastic, encouraging, and comprehensive. I hope to be able to return as an audience member for another of his classes. It is a privilege and a gift to have access via Creative Live to such a wealth of expertise. Thank you!

Cindee Still

Ian Shive is a dynamic speaker with a wealth of knowledge he is willing to share. He has had a magical path that led to his success. He touches on so many aspects of making, selling and creating images as well as how to market them and make an income from your work. It is so much fun to be part of the studio audience. The Creative Live staff are always so warm and friendly and they feed you like your on a cruise ship! Wonderful experience.


What a great class this has been. Thank you Ian Shive and Creative Live! Recently retired, I have set out to learn everything I can about photography and pursue this passion to capture the beauty in the outdoors. Creative Live has served as an amazing educational platform to help me learn everything from how to use my camera, the fundamental technicals, and learn about software and tools. This class brought it all together. At the end of this class my approach to photography and my images are different. Ian shares so much valuable knowledge that will change the way you go about taking a picture; from scouting a location, to thinking through the story and adding elements to an image to evoke an emotional response. My personal growth has been significant and I have changed to the way I approach creating an image from an Outdoor Landscape to an Outdoor Experience. Loved every minute of it, sad the class is over.

Student Work