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Scene Details

Lesson 7 from: Travel Photography: Creative Storytelling

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

7. Scene Details

Next Lesson: Photographing Food

Lesson Info

Scene Details

Telling a great story means getting all of the details: exteriors, interiors, people, and details. Again you'll notice I'm traveling pretty light, I'm still working with a 16-35MM. I've got other lenses if I feel I need them, but for travel photography, you're gonna find it's easier to move quickly with a very minimal setup and work all the way through the scene. As I get into the details, I start to look at little things like the forks and knives lined up on the tables, the kinds of lights, and what are the elements that make the place unique? What is the feeling that you get when you go into a place? You have to learn to see things with fresh eyes every time you go into a different room, you want to say is there a big fishing wheel on the wall or some sort of a different kind of a light bulb setup on each table that gives it character because character is ultimately what we're telling in the story, the different people, the different elements of the scene. I'm gonna work through show...

ing you how I'm gonna do it, how I'm going to choose different details, and why I'm choosing the ones I'm choosing. I'm gonna take a quick look and just test and look at my lighting and by looking through the camera and pressing the button only about half way, I'll look at my settings, and so I'm still at ISO 1600. I think for the details, I can go back to ISO 800, a little more sensitive but less sensitive than what I was shooting at with people because I'm not really focusing on moving objects. I'm focusing on inanimate stationary objects so I can get away with that, and at f4.0 I'm getting 1/600th of a second, so that's pretty fast. That gives me a little room to get a little more depth of field, should I choose. So at f8.0, where there's more depth of field, I'm getting 1/25th of a second, so I can still handhold. The way I'm able to determine that handholding is based on the focal length of the lens. The general fast, quick rule to knowing if you should handhold something or not is judging on the focal length of the lens and the shutter speed. You wanna make sure your shutter speed is atleast equal to or faster than the focal length. So if my lens is a 35mm lens, I wanna make sure that my shutter speed is at least 1/35th of a second. Looking at this, I've got more than enough room to be creative, I don't need to worry too much about my shutter speed. I can have a lot of fun just working the depth of field and aperture in different scenes. Our gentlemen have left and one of the things that I like about the table and how I can help tell the story is one of the things they relayed when I sat down and talked to them is, up until a couple months ago, there were four of them at the table. Sadly, one of them has passed away, so now we have three glasses at the table, and that's a nice way to illustrate how many people are here especially with the photo of four of them up above it. I'm gonna take a few different shots, and it's similar to shooting wildlife or flowers, I wanna work the scene. The light is quite beautiful, it's coming in evenly, it's reflecting off of the varnish of the table itself. I wanna get a little bit higher up and get this shot as well and it might be hard for me. Let's take a look. I'm looking through. I could do it this way, or similar to how I might shoot when I'm real low to the ground, I can just turn on Live View mode as well. It's a little easier to do it this way. Check your Auto Focus and then fire off a few frames. I'm shooting at f8.0, just to make sure I have enough depth of field because the glasses come up a little off the table so I don't wanna have super shallow, which would be down here, I wanna make sure I have a little depth so everything is nice, equal, and sharp. I get that shot and now I'll take a wider shot as well with the lamp, make sure I'll turn off the Live View. Get lower... and I'm not really interested in what's going on outside the window. It doesn't really tell anything to the story, it doesn't add to it at all, so I'd rather have everything much brighter, lighter looking, so I'd rather expose for the indoors. Let the windows get blown out, have them overexposed. Not even gonna focus on that in general. It'll give a nice sort of bright airy look. If you ever open a magazine or go to a website, you'll notice the images tend to be very bright, very clean. A big part of how they do that is simply overexposing and letting the window light come in and do its thing. Now I'm gonna get the shot, we'll make sure I see the photo in the background, and it's subtle. It's super wide, it's getting lost, especially since its in the shadow. So I'm gonna take a step back and zoom in with the lens and see if I can bring all of those elements tighter. Because by zooming in, and I'm still at the same aperature, my focus is on the cups and the picture, I'm able to get a pretty clean shot. I'm using the sense of symmetry and line. I'm getting low to the table. Generally speaking, when shooting any sort of architecture or interior, I try to get low and equal to the table, the counter, whatever it is it might be, and shooting across at it. Or if I'm shooting food and things like that, in which case I might... Stand up and shoot straight down, or I might try and get super close. There's not a real reason to go super detail. You might feel like you wanna shoot macro or something along those lines, where you get very very very tight. Unless you're shooting something like a bowl of blueberries, you don't really care about the actual exterior, I don't think you really will need that, or not very often. Only in some rare situations or cases, you might want to isolate a certain element or subject matter, especially if you're focusing on agriculture or some sort of farming and there might be a detail that might be more pertinent, but for the most part if you're trying to shoot travel and you're trying to shoot food, you're looking to get ambient detail, you're looking to show a wider shot. The 16-35mm does it really well, as I said. I might bring out a 24-70mm in a larger venue, but it's a pretty intimate, cozy Seattle setting, and so for the most part this lens really helps zoom in and tell that story.

Ratings and Reviews

Black Fender Productions

If you are interested in shooting a travel story for publication, this is a helpful class. Ian breaks down the elements of storytelling through photography. He shows you what to look for in building that story and how to shoot it. This is a journalistic documentary viewpoint, not a go on a family vacation and take great photos class. In addition to the story-telling education, I also found it helpful to learn about the technical details; how he uses ISO, shutter speed, Aperture priority (Av), how to shoot into windows, and the importance of shooting both in portrait and landscape. If I were to add to this class, I would include segments on how to pitch your travel photos to publications and perhaps an interview with an editor to find out what they like to see from photographers. I would love to see more locations as well. I've taken some of Ian's other classes, and I think he's a great instructor. This class was definitely helpful.

Chris Miedema

I guess travel photography means different things to different people. I understood exactly where Ian Shive was coming from in this presentation and I found the information was extremely useful. I guess if you are looking for a video on how to photograph the Eiffel Tower, when traveling with family, this is not for you. If you wish to take back a deeper memory of a place, or wish to submit an article for travel publications, this series of videos would be more to your liking. I enjoyed watching Mr. Shive go through the process of documenting the cafe, its owner and its patrons. His general advice and strategies were useful to hear and see in action. He did provide some technical information on settings, although I did note he was in a well lit establishment. It would have been interesting to see how he would handle a place with less than ideal light. Overall, that is a small criticism. I very much enjoyed the flow of the videos and recommend them to anyone who is interested in seriously documenting the interesting locations they come across in their travels.

Marwa Elchazly

as the title is "travel photography" what came to my mind is walking through the street of a city, but it wasn't ... Ian Shive took "Salmon Bay Cafe" as a case study for traveling photography, through which he gave good tips for traveling/ magazine essay / telling a story in general. I've learned a lot about the effect of ISO and "handholding" the camera, tips for how to get the authentic story of a place and tell it with photo... It's not all you need about traveling photography, but it gives a good start and lots of valuble tips

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