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The Outdoor Photography Experience

Lesson 24 of 29

Yosemite Hang Gliding Shoot

Chris Burkard

The Outdoor Photography Experience

Chris Burkard

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Lesson Info

24. Yosemite Hang Gliding Shoot

Lesson Info

Yosemite Hang Gliding Shoot

we're going tow check out this quick video on this glider section because in this glider section in yosemite you actually get into a great discussion where we talk about social media and so I want to kind of show this before I start to dive into some of these all right we are good to go we just had the opportunity to do something pretty rab them paragliding right what they're doing they're going off off of a glacier point which you know yeah isn't that I knew I was wrong so you go hang gliding even even cooler which is one of the radisson you could witness because I'm pretty sure that they have like an easement with the park system to be able to do it and they aren't really allowed to do any where else in a lot of other national parks this is like a really special thing about the witness and photograph it kind of a perfect example because what we were talking about earlier you know you come here with these preconceived ideas and notions like great this is what I want you don't want to ...

get this and this and this but then some of the best stuff that you might see just kind of happens right so how do you approach that scenario well in this scenario right here couple things think about first of all you know it's not just free terrain we can't just let her run around obviously so you can't really necessary get like the best angle which might be like way down in sort of like unsafe area you know but I think that being said it's really cool to kind of look around at your surroundings see what is available um see what lenses you might use okay you know what's the light doing well one of the harshest things we have here is just a really poorly you know a lot of blown out highlights right the sky is just kind of heinous it's like nine a m sunday morning you know like bright sky and so for that I I apply like graduate neutral density filter which basically just dark into my sky and allowed me to have a little more even um let me have a little more even frame basically so that my exposure was was even from top to bottom so wasn't I didn't have to you know underexposed the sky so much that I could bring them out later right so in post will be able to get some detail out of that sky as well now I think for a scene like this anytime you'd approach something especially something that all of a sudden happens you don't really have all the time to scout or whatever so you're just kind of a lot of times you're running around taking pictures aimlessly but to slow it down and to kind of think about this scene in and apply some those elements we talked about earlier you know making your image fill three dimensional applying cem something to your photograph that makes it feel timeless supplying something to your photograph that gives it depth and it's going to give it some leading lines some foreground background all these elements that apply and helping image feel um I guess more three dimensional I think that's kind of where I'm always I don't know how else to say it just playing more eloquent way to say it but that's what I'm always looking for something that gives it that so for me at least it's always great to have an anchor right and I would say that the ultimate anchor here is going to be happy don't you know it's it's probably in the middle of this entire amazing you know field of granite and you know a cz beautiful as the waterfalls are and as some of the other features this is really what is the most prominent so for me I'm kind of exposing and I'm also like keeping that in my life kind of keystone frame you know not necessarily dead center but upright or up left right I'm tryingto work not so much focused on the hang gliders paragliders whenever which one hang gliders as the focus but more so focus on that as my kind of focus and let them to sort of move around that is that kind of makes sense I think sometimes it's really easy for us to get caught up in like okay where's the action happening where just person happening and we're like following them tracking them and what happens is like then of being dead center right and are kind of our what our eyes naturally led to which is probably that ends up kind of being in some random part of the frame so letting go of that thought process and mean like okay well we know that they're going to move in between us and half dome at some point so framing it up so that half dome is really your focus it's really you're you're you're biggest feature in the frame right and allowing them to kind of move through it you know you're kind of doing the backwards approach right but in a lot of ways I think that that's a way tio to sort of celebrates idea of people kind of like small person in a big landscape you know or someone you know celebrating this really amazing vast landscape area so for me you know I used twenty four to seventy and I just didn't really have the opportunity run around because um obviously it wasn't my shoot I was I'm not here to to do anything I'm just a bystander right but I want to get a great image so um you know I obviously try to pick a couple different locations and there's about four five people going so every single time I try to pick a different spot to be I shot overhead I shot low I shot I tried to go to as far as I could forward so that I could show the ground fall away and get a little wider perspective I shot my battery died I couldn't shoot anymore so biggest rule is probably not tow walk far away from your camera bag or bring it with you when the best things are happening but that being said you know just doing a quick survey of the surroundings okay what are some things that you're gonna help too kind of brings him death near well you have a lot of really cool trees that sort of leads your eye down into this valley if you were just shooting it an image strait of this valley right here and then have any trees in it it would be kind of hard to tell how far that is away but you see a tree in there and you look great I can kind of judge this scale in the size of that you know I can kind of see that quote that trees you know eighty ninety feet wow that valley must be thousands of feet below and it really starts to give you some scales in perspective and you add the subject in there wow even more and then it becomes like rad because you have this little tiny person so tiny wing floating throughout your like this is incredible so for me that's that's kind of the image that spoke to me in the most mean maybe for somebody else it was shooting a telephoto really compressed where they're just flying towards after him that could've been amazing too I didn't have that on me but that's probably an angle that I would have had an assistant or somebody else shoot if I was if this was my chute right but what a cool example of like coming here kind of having an idea of what we wanted to capture but then all of a sudden just happening upon something rad something that doesn't happen all the time and I think that they have a pretty limited window of time they can actually fly um also you know we're limit too pretty harsh light which you know for me I guess if I could I would always shoot everything you know within that window of like early am like a couple of minutes after the sunrise or a couple of minutes before the sun sets but often times that's not always the case you're forced into jobs and assignments and projects where you have to shoot anytime of the day so be prepared for that you know bringing things like a polarizer people often think that polarizes you're only useful for really really bright blue skies and puffy clouds well not true pours also worked really well when you have reflection and any surface could give you a reflection even something like this that has like a shiny surface on top when the sun hits this it reflects right and when it reflects you can actually see the true greens in this so if you use a polarizer and you're cutting the reflection of the granite especially this granite since is glacially polished are using polarized and you're cutting the reflection of leaves the trees you're going to get more green or you could actually be a bit more vibrant right so that's another tool that I would use you know I would test it see how it looks maybe use it maybe not but just kind of being prepared for these sort of harsh lighting conditions and what it might be like um yeah please we're shooting like an action for like this like hang gliding in your seventies yeah framing goes you would you would frame and you focus on the environment the landscape I would I think it depends on like anyone's approach like for me this is personal work you know I'm not here for any other reason than just to be here and take photos so my goal is really to frame it up with this beautiful landscape but if if you're getting hired by like that company who like you know bang like company was like hey we need photographs of our logos and that's that you wanted to shoot a bit tighter right you might still want to infuse their product into the landscape and show that you're in yosemite but you couldn't really nationally shoot as wide or maybe you need a different angle where like you have a gopro underneath that you know and they can see it lit up or like you're working with the athlete communicating with them I think it's just it's a matter of like you know what's what is the assignment wealthy assignment just personal work she would ever speaks to you I always kind of think of like what's the image I would want to print on my wall well it wouldn't really be a photo where I could like see the guy's face and expression it's like really tight probably the one we're like you can see this incredible vista you know you're acting like letting them environment yeah my my goal was always like I love it when the subject blends in the environment but I want them to stand out still that's why I'm kind of like I'm like the whole entire time shooting I know where the best angle is because everybody standing on that one spot and that's pretty much like everybody shot there I've shot here before so I kind of know that's the spot right but I'm testing out some of these other locations and while I'm doing that I'm kind of looking at who's flying right and each one of those things like one of them's not really colorful one of them super white and shiny and so I'm kind of waiting this one's going to pop this guy this guy's is red it's going to really beautiful so I know that when I get hiss or safe he had a yellow one for example you know okay wow this one's really bright I can pull back and it's still going to register in the frame so working with athletes and working with color to always enhance the image especially when you have a pretty dull sky like this that's huge like I can't tell you how many trips I've been on surf trips or you know kayaking trip so it's like you have a yellow kayak do you have a yellow surfboard do you have you know this or that like those things will make the most massive difference and even to the point where like that color board made the difference between the cover and not you know because it just pop that much more especially for me like somebody likes to shoot pull back I can't express to you when you're shooting climbing you know and it's like yosemite middle of the day they need tohave on bright yellows or reds or blues like those air like the primary like stock colors but also just in terms of letting the images register right last thing you want to do is like being like granite colored clothes that would suck of but it would also be unsafe to so this is what a lot of reasons why they wear those bright colors so they can register on the wall right um color but what else could you anything's a key elements of making an image popper stand up I mean all those subjects we talked about having good light you know having leading lines having stuff where if your subject is like if your subject is going to be in a certain spot where you want to get them if you if you can picture them being in a location setting yourself up so that you have something that draws your eye there already whether that's a line of trees where that's a succession of trees in the shot or some foreground right like you know people often times like they'll go into photoshopping like vignettes something and it brings all the attention to the center darkens the edges well that's a heinous thing to do but basically I think if you can if you can do that naturally you know find elements of your frame that could do that mean say it's a terrible day and you know it's super bright whatever and you really want to frame your subject you could maybe shoot between that tree those branches that tree so you have these dark little frame around your image and it's gonna allow you to like really focusing on what you're getting but the reality is we don't have all those elements right now we don't have epic epic light we don't have a lot of these things we don't really have control over the colors that you see you deal with what you've been given and you hope for the best right but if it's your chute you think of all the things that you can do to make that person stand out I mean the first thing I would do is I'd be like can we launch it sunrise well probably not but that would be an amazing thing can we get a bright it was a dream scenario would be like launching it sunrise bright red or yellow like translucent you know paraglider and and and then basically just you know I'd be able to come here and scout and look for the best angle right and I would have a couple set up so I mean every scenario is different for me to answer a question and say yeah this is the one thing you need to make your image popped like that's it's such a broad question that makes really no sense so I have to kind of think about cable every assignment you do or I do we have to think about it in a way that like what is the goal you know is the goal to you know capture these like photos for a brand or a logo or is the goal to kind of like show the landscape which in that case like maybe it's not so much about them you know maybe it's about this bigger picture which it might change the time that you go on shoot right thoughts questions anything yeah was that yeah it's always tough you know I think when you when you come to a place where like the beauty of shiny action sports is that you have this ability to be outside but the hardest thing about reactions for it is that you're outside you know you have the ability to have the most incredible light you've ever seen in your entire life like stuff that you could never create the studio ever but with that with that you also get times where it is really harsh and the conditions don't line up everything looks like garbage you know and that's kind of when you you still have to perform like you're asking you know like how do you make that stuff work well you know you're in iceland and super gray outside and the conditions were just not working well you make sure that the person you're shooting has bright colors so at least they can have a little contrast you know you still look for framing elements you look for all the things you can bring to the shot you know um you know there's simple things you know we we talked yesterday my work my my at the beach one of the things we talked about in terms of creating three dimensional images what is something that people do in the inn traditional wedding photography to create an image that stands out taking a photo the bride and groom they're about to go in for their first kiss you looked behind him and there's their big uncle you know shoving his face full of cake you're like oh my gosh I don't want to get this guy in the background so what do you do take a different focus just deep exactly shoot eighty five f want to you could care less if some people are making faces or doing whatever because that's what happens on weddings you know you have this or portraiture you know you have this ability to be in a studio controlled environment one of the things you do is you're gonna basically set your subject apart from the background by giving it a shot of the field it's one of the most simple things you can do well it's not easy in nature right maybe you're shooting climbing and you can get really close and you can give it a broader field but oftentimes don't really have that opportunity you're shooting wide angles and wide ingles don't always have that good depth of field so you kind of to find other things so there's ways to create that feeling but but I think it's always a matter of like understanding what your tools are your tools air you know it's it's color it's light it's clothing it's definite field it's your lenses all these things how can they work for you how does each scenario you know really apply and work for you so like and that's why I think understand your cameras and what they can do it's so crucial right like thinking of it like a like a your craftsman and these are your tools and okay every job has a different tool and this is why I like you know I'll have a siri's of of lenses and cameras you know that I'll bring but every job kind of has a different application you know the lens that I might bring on a job or I'm shooting climbing top down would be different than the lens of the product that I'd bring on a job I'm shooting like night exposures right so I think it's a matter of kind of understanding and people say well what's the best lens using like guys like I don't know what to tell you like I've used him all sold him all ri bottom you know I don't know like you go through phases in your career maybe you're really into shooting night exposure as well then there's kind of a specific set up it's better for that but if your job and your work is taking you tow all different types of stuff and you kind of you to be prepared for everything in some way shape or form you know he's a thoughts or questions especially on this idea of like creating three dimensional images and how do we get this timelessness you know in our in our imagery what do you what do you guys think about that that sort of register it all yeah the three dimensional aspects registering really well uh as far as like the timeless aspect of like say hang gliding yeah that's what I like what how would you other than using like half dome is a way to create that like condition what would you like how would you find timelessness well it's it's um like I said you have a lot more control over that timeless aspect of imagery when it's like your personal work right so like um so for me this is timeless right here like that doesn't get anymore right so I think that the one thing I would consider is like you know if there's somebody hank hank I'm still forgetting what she wishes you hang gliding hang me if it's saying like I would want to shoot the person who has the least amount of logos and stuff on their suit right if it says like blah blah blah you know on their suit that it's like I don't really want to shoot that one necessarily because it might just kind of like your eye would be like I'm trying to read that thing as opposed to like letting your eyes fall on this crazy landscape right so to me that's kind of like the first and foremost thing that I would I would consider here and they're also having like a really cool classic color way that might like really pop you know um it's really it's really easy thing to kind of shoot in the time this way you know I think what becomes a lot harder is when you're closer up on a subject you know shooting climbing you know something like that or shooting shoot any athletes you know writing you know like everything kind of dates itself right like surfboards they've changed over the years so you can kind of figure out what they're what year it is based on what kind of bored they're writing climbing you know you guys are climbing and freaking like well army knickers anymore you know and like you know a man sleeping in like yes mannix stuff like that's not the eighties of the forty sixties you know so you kind of know but they're still like there's things are always going to be a rat that's like you know might be a solid color red shorts or you know or like a yellow top or whatever it is you know those things really could help a photograph so I think it's just about like what I love to do is if I've got a sport that I'm gonna go shoot especially one that I don't know I love to like do my research study it you know if you're going to thrust into a situation that's new make sure you know as much as you possibly can about it so that you go into the situation with a little bit of knowledge you know it's really easy when we kind of have assignments where we understand it we get it right away but what about the ones when we're kind of just like okay I've never shot this before I know nothing about this sport I know nothing about these athletes I don't want to able to speak their language and I also want to be able to direct things so that they kind of apply and makes sense and are goingto ideally come back to your portfolio because the one thing that you guys um should always be trying to do is create images that you want to put back in your portfolio and I say that because I want you guys to know I've shot images that I would never want to show you that I like so lame and you know there may be photos people using like tablets for you know big tech companies you know they paid well and they're great and they further my career but they are images that I'm putting out into the world because that's not the work I want to bring back so the work that you put out there is really the work that you want to be bringing back always keep that in mind awesome I was cool thank you yeah that was that was good there's some really good questions thanks so much for that back there that was great and this concept you know like we said about putting images out in the world that you want to bring back you know this this for me really ties into this whole social media thing that we're gonna be talking about because essentially this is your ultimate ongoing portfolio you know it's it's I can't stress enough you guys you you push publish that publish button on don't care of its facebook google plus whatever it's out in the world for better or worse I mean it is published there's never been a time like now when you can literally publish an image like that I mean and if your channels are large enough I mean the mountain people they're going to see it's it's astronomical it's really incredible you know before five six years ago you like the lengths you would have to go through for people to see an image like that would be so much different nowadays it's right right there so yeah I'd love to hear the studio audience thinks yeah curious about defining your own styles people are building their own social media followings and defining their style inside of that how do those two things interact well I think that like I said it's it's it's really crucial let's just go to my screen really quick to well well I'm kind of chatting here it's so crucial to ah to consider what you're doing tio to work on your personal portfolio your personal style and what you're putting out in the world like I said is really what's going to be coming back to you if you're if you're like I'm I am inside I know I'm a landscape photographer but all I should his weddings and all you're doing is putting out putting out wedding images because that's your work you d'oh then how are people ever going to know that you have a passion something else how are people ever going to know that you have a desire to shoot something else you know um and and obviously it's that there's a fine line because I find a lot of you're like yeah you know this is the job I'm doing or this is what I'm stuck in photography but I want to elevate and shoot different things well you have to take kind of that risk to start promoting those other things so in terms of developing a style um that's one of those things that I you know it's it's a really hard thing it's hard to just throw out there like this is how you do it I found for myself and one of the coolest things I've been ableto been really lucky to have some great friends in the photography realm guys who were super talent you guys should all look up and no like corey rich and tim temple in a lot of these other keith dudzinski lies they're talented photographers and in a lot of ways our stories just think we all came into our own by doing some sort of a coming of age sort of rite of passage road trip where we basically were able to work uninhibited and produced imagery on a day to day basis that helped us to kind of create our own percent are in style obviously these things change I mean our styles evolve and change and get you know better and worse or something over the years but it was it was a really cool thing to hear the similarities you know I spent fifty days on the road shooting california place that inspired me right I was shooting something that inspired me and in turn giving a lot of myself to it sleepless nights a lot of energy you know I can't stress enough you know maybe some people don't want to hear this but you know you have to suffer for your craft a little bit if you want to be willing to you know be shown something that is gonna ultimately give back to your ultimate is gonna come back to you know show you I guess what you love about it you have to be willing to kind of give something of yourself and for the people who aren't willing to I don't really know what to tell him you know there's there's not really much I can offer except for for me that's always been important it's always been important to um be willing to thrust myself another conference situations it's been willing to experiment with photography been willing to push work out there that you know made me feel vulnerable made me feel like maybe it wasn't my best work but it was something that I was really trying to uh you know develop and get feedback on you know obviously I felt at the time like it was good but looking back I probably wasn't very good so those are all ways we can help develop your own style

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Shooting outdoor photography is a powerful way to commune with nature and experience the fullness of life. Learn how to train your eye on incredible shots and convey the energy of the outdoors in The Outdoor Photography Experience with Chris Burkard.

Chris’s beloved images of life on the world’s coasts are alive with action and emotion. In this class, he’ll share the tools and techniques he uses to capture the photographs he sells to magazines, brands, collectors, and publishers.

You’ll learn about his shooting style and the gear he brings on his global adventures. He’ll also talk about the business of photography and share tips on marketing and selling your work.

If you want insights on how to create rich, dramatic images that let you enjoy more time outdoors, don’t miss your chance to learn from Chris Burkard in The Outdoor Photography Experience.



I've been staying up all night to watch the live broadcast. As somebody else here mentioned (latsok), it's emphasizes on the non-technical aspects (emotion, engagement, colour and composition) rather than the technical stuff like shutter speeds, iso and f-stop. Although I can use some help in both, the technical aspects are not only camera specific but fairly objective as well. The non-technical aspects however are something much harder to grasp. Getting help in this by no-one less than Chris Burkard is just amazing. I bought this class so I can re-watch certain parts of the broadcast again whenever I need it. But also to show my appreciation for Chris Burkard and Creative Live for providing this great online course!

Matt Redfern

This class was packed full of amazing knowledge. I really enjoyed the topics covered and have found it super helpful for my work. I have had so many takeaways ranging anywhere from how to put myself out there, finding my style that stands out, practical applications, etc. I would highly recommend this class to everyone interested in photography! Big thanks to Chris and CreativeLive for putting this together.


This was a phenomenal class. I highly recommend it to anyone. Chris is not only a sensational photographer, he is a wonderful teacher. He provides such detailed information and freely gives same to his students. He is really really available and eager to answer questions and so easy to understand. I learned so much and I was thrilled. I am very very grateful I found this particular class.