Skip to main content

Lens Specifications and Performance

Lesson 33 from: Travel Photography: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

Lens Specifications and Performance

Lesson 33 from: Travel Photography: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

33. Lens Specifications and Performance


Class Trailer



Course Introduction


Camera Gear for Travel


What Camera Gear Should You Buy?


Gear Bags for Travel Photography


Location Research and Pre-Trip Planning


Importing and Naming Conventions in Lightroom


Processing Images with Presets in Lightroom


Lesson Info

Lens Specifications and Performance

We're gonna start thinking about shooting again. It's been quite a while since we've talked about that. We've been doing all this Photoshop and Lightroom work. With a lot of concepts that I'd love to spend time talking about, and a lot of it has to do with lenses, and how I think about lenses, and how I think about the settings that I use when I'm shooting. I find that when you first get started as a photographer you learn about zoom lenses, or just the fact there are different lenses of different focal lengths. The main thought you have is that it controls how much stuff you can see in the scene, and if you want to see a big scene, you need a wide angle lens, you see the big scene. If you want to isolate into a little area that's far away, you get a longer lens, a telephoto, and you isolate that area. But there's another aspect of lenses that it takes quite a while before you start to figure out, and learn from, but can make a huge difference in your photography. And that is the diffe...

rence between a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens, or anything in between, and how it affects near versus far objects. Because they're gonna do things, the relationship between a near and a far object is gonna dramatically change as you change lenses. Let me show you. Here I am in a train car. This is a mail sorting train car. I think I'm in Atlanta. And you see this scene, and look at how long the car looks, look at how far away the end of that train car looks. There's a green door at the end. I think there's a chair down there are the very end I can see, it's tiny in the distance. Then compare this view of this scene with this view of the scene. Now doesn't it look as if that chair is much closer to you, the door is much closer to you? So you might think that I just cropped out a lot of those bags that were on the side, and I, you know, concentrated on that. I did not. You're seeing all of the same bags, every single one of the bags that you saw. In fact you're seeing more of them than you saw before. Let's see if we can figure that out. And look on this bag in the left. Do you see there's a number on the bag? What's the number? 4-84. Remember that. Just remember there was a number. And on the right side there is a bag with the number 95 on it. Let's go back to the other picture. Do you see the bag called 4-84? And right over here is that one called 95? Isn't that weird? It's the same bag. How can I get it to have a difference between this, where this bag over here on the left feels so close to that chair, and this, where that bag feels like it's a mile away from the chair. It all has to do with how you think about lenses, and how they compress or expand space. A few other examples before I review, like, how you do that. Here we're in Iceland. And this image could probably use that dehaze slider because I can see in the distance on the right side, do you see a mountain? And that could probably use that a little bit. But watch that mountain, and maybe the mountains that are way in the distance over here, and compare this shot, with this shot. Same mountains, the mountains are the same distance away, and if I go back here, versus here. It's not just that I might have moved up or down a teeny bit, it's that the mountains behind there look bigger. Another example. Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Do you see some little marks right here? See those things? Those are cars. They're buried nose-first into the ground, 10 of them, one for each year in the 1950s. I don't know if you recall earlier there was a picture of a car full of graffiti with a cow looking through it? This is where I took that picture. But look at how tiny those cars look compared to this gate. Now look at them. See the difference? The difference is your mindset with what lenses you use, and how you think about the lenses. Lenses to me are not about how much stuff fits in the frame. Often times it's about how close does the background stuff look compared to the foreground. Here you see this text. The difference between this version of the text and this version of the text. Or here, do you see the motel that's in the distance, and its sign? It feels like there's a huge distance between the two, but then here they feel much closer. Even though the angle might not be as good on that sign, but what's going on? Let's see if we can figure out what's going on. More examples. Here. Do you see this little arch in the distance? That delicate arch? And this arch here, got these people in there. I want to, though, make this feel like I just pulled it close to me so it darn near fills in more of this arch. There it is. It's a different angle in that opening, so you don't recognize this as much as the same arch, but it is, and you see how close the other one feels. This is my bus. And look at this bridge, and the way it's curved, and where this feels, and compare that to this. Does that bridge feel really long right now? Whereas here it feels shorter? It all has to do with how you think about lenses. So how do we think about lenses? Well let's take a look. Let's say you had a person in your scene, and you had a car. And here you're getting a helicopter view of it, looking straight down. So you're looking at the top of the person's head, and you're looking at the car. And two different ways you can shoot it. The first way would be that you're standing up here, you're about 25 feet from that car, and this person is relatively close to you. You're gonna be using a relatively wide angle lens because you're relatively close to the subject matter. So that's one way I could shoot it. But what if I walked five times the distance away from that person? I walked until I was 50 feet behind. Then in order to get the same framing where I saw the person the same size within the frame, I can get a longer lens, wouldn't I? I'm five times as far away, so I would need to get a telephoto lens in order to pull that person in close. Does that make sense? Well if you think about what you just changed by doing that, going with a longer lens and walking further away, look at this and look at what these little pieces of text say. Here, if the person is 10 feet away and the car is 25, the difference between those two. The car is 2.5 times further away. So there's a big difference. The car is way over there 2.5 times far away. But over here, when I walk really far away. Imagine you walked 100 miles away. Then, compared to where you're standing, is that car very much different in how far away it is from the person, if you're standing 100 miles away? No, in essence they're the same. You're getting down to little tiny amounts when you're talking about that. Doesn't that make sense? Well it's the same difference here, only it's I'm going 50 feet. When I go 50 feet, now that car is only 1.3 times further away than the person, and therefore they feel like that's similar distances relative to me. So how does this work? How do you do this? Well... Here I have a wide angle lens, because I'm standing right next to this little railing that's here that's showing me the scene. And that just happened to be where I standed when I took that shot. But I want to get the same bags in the front of my shot, the same thing in the background, but I want to use a different lens. I want to use a longer lens, because long lenses compress space. Long lenses compress space. But when I put a long lens on, especially if it's a really long lens, then I'm only gonna be able to see like the chair and the door, and nothing else. So what would I have to do to still see the rest of the scene? Would I not have to walk backwards until I got far enough away that those bags were in the scene again? Does that make sense? Hopefully I have that space. I'm in a train car, so I don't have unlimited space. In a landscape you usually do. What I did was I walked as far back as I possibly could in the car, until my back is darn near against the opposite door on the car. Then I got whatever lens would allow me to zoom and get that front bag still in there. And that's all I did. So the difference between this shot, which is a wide angle lens, from right about feeling like where you'd be standing, just look at this photo, to this, here I'm really far away, and I'm a long lens. Same thing with all of the other shots. That's the only difference, is I walked further away and grabbed a longer lens. So the reason why, on this one, you see more water there, is just if you walk further away, the landscape goes up higher, and I had to be up in a higher position. If I could've I might have chosen to be lower, but the landscape just dictated that. Here, I'm standing really close to the fence, I'm right on the edge of where the road would be here. Here, I'm sitting there the equivalent to 3.5, four blocks away. I'm sitting on the edge of an interstate highway. That is what you would find if you looked behind me, going as far as I can away, getting the lens that would give me that same view. And you see how it compresses space. That's all the differences between all these. Isn't that cool? If that's something you didn't have in your head before, that's gonna allow you to create amazing photos in many instances. So before if you remember when I talked about framing things, you remember how I said find a doorway or an opening? Well it's not just find that doorway and opening with something in the distance to frame. Get that, take that picture, and then say, "That thing in the distance, "would it look better if it looked bigger "while this thing that's close to me "looked the same size." Because if you just stood there with a wide angle lens in front of a doorway, the thing in the distance might look pretty small. So then you look behind you and say, "Well, is it possible to walk back there "without getting some obstruction in my way?" If so, I'm gonna walk until I get to whatever obstruction is there, because I can't go any further. And now I'm gonna mess with my lenses and say, "What lens would it take now "to really get that same frame "that I found in the foreground, in my frame." And by getting to the longest lens that allows me to do that, suddenly what used to be far away is gonna be pulled much closer, gonna feel much bigger, gonna be much more compelling. And no one with an iPhone can get a picture like that. All that have is a wide angle lens, a mega wide angle lens. And that's why, with my lens kit, I mentioned that my lenses go up to 200 millimeters. Well I also have in my bag-- it's not sitting right here-- but a little white thing that's about an inch long that's a 1.4 teleconverter, and it means that I can attach that to my camera and then attach my big lens and it takes whatever millimeters my lens is, and you can multiply it by 1.4. So if I have a 400 millimeter, whatever 400 times 1.4 is, suddenly it's a longer lens, but I just added a little. It does make it so you-- It's not gonna be quite as sharp, and with most of them you might not be able to have the same aperture setting, you might not be able to get AA, you might have to f/4 kinda thing. But it's gonna make my lens even longer which means I can compress even more. So that is one of the huge things that I use when thinking about lenses, is it's not just how much fits in the frame, it's what happens to near and far objects, the relationship. I just wanted to acknowledge that that is so important to talk about with regard to travel photography as well. It's something that took me a long time to truly understand when thinking about what lenses to carry around. And I used to think that it was just sort of a f-stop, or the aperture that was gonna give me that-- certain tools, and I know that's different from compression, but there's just so much that you can change up. Like for example, the images of the moon that's like really big next to a cityscape. Is that another thing that you can do using a long lens to get that compression? Are there any other main things that you-- Any time there's a near and a far thing and I want the far thing to feel bigger relative, that's one of the tricks you can use. There are also some things you can do with biding the lenses but that is a good portion of it. All right, cool. And so for people that maybe weren't with us at the beginning of this class when we talked about gear, can you remind us what your range of lenses when walking around was? The specific question was, "Is it easier to carry one lens around, "say an 18-250 versus like a 14, a 24-70, 70-200?" What was your theory on that again? Well my theory was somewhat multifold which is that what I like to have in general is from about 17 millimeters to on a full frame sensor. Which means if you have a sensor that's known as a crop frame sensor you would have to do the math to figure out the equivalent. But I find that range is good, and then I like having f/2. so I can isolate the background and knock it out of focus, which we'll talk more about here in a little while. But that's the general range that I find to be useful. I'd love to have things bigger, but it's a matter of, you do have a limitation of how heavy it can be when you're traveling all the time. So one other thing to consider when it comes to this is you're gonna have a different experience with things when you walk and zoom, versus stand and zoom. If you want to see it a little bit more visually, I can show it to you. If you just stand there and zoom your lens, these various angles here represent your field of view, or what you would see in the viewfinder. So that if I ended up here with a wide angle lens you can see that you can see that entire scene within your viewfinder, including the hedge that is at the back. If you might go to a medium lens you would instead be able to only see this. And if you went to a long lens you would isolate even more. Well what if I first framed up with my wide angle lens and I took that shot, but then I took my long lens and instead of just standing there when I shot it, I simply took that-- and let's see if this will work-- and I backed up until that car in the front, I'm trying to get the framing the same. So if I get the framing the same... I'm acting as if right here is my way I'm thinking. Right here we're gonna have the same care in there, but now you notice the box car, what have we done to it? We've made it fill most of our frame, whereas with the wide angle lens it's only filling how much of our frame? It's filling a little more than half. But does that make a little more sense when you see it visually from up above like that? You guys are wondering what that picture is that keeps showing up. That's a picture just so I don't forget there. Now there's some other concept about this. It's really the same concept, but applied in a different way, and that is when it comes to distortion of things. So here's a car that I shot. This is a car that I ended up light painting, and this was just beforehand when we were about to get ready I decided to do a little test with my lenses. And so let me show you the three different versions of this shot. We have this one, this one, and this one. Now, you might think that I walked left or right to get these, but the main difference is instead where I'm standing, how close I am. The closer you are to a three-dimensional object, the more distortion you're gonna get in the end result, where the back of the car is gonna feel much smaller than the front of the car. The further I walk away, then the less distortion there will be and the back of the car will feel very similar in size to the front of the car. And it's the exact same concept. It's just before we were thinking about two different objects, and the thing in the distance looked real small, and the thing up close was normal sized. But it can also be just a three-dimensional object you're walking up to, you find a car. Well if you're standing real close to the car, the back of the car is gonna look real small, the front of the car is gonna look real big, because the difference in distance between you and the car. Between you and the front, let's say you're three feet from the front bumper. Well the back bumper might be, what, eight or 10 feet behind you? Well what ratio is that? It might be that it's 2.5 times as far away. You walk away though, walk 30 feet away. Now the difference between the front of the car and the back of the car, ratio-wise, is a lot less. If you're not used to thinking that way, here would be a car example. This is actually a bus, but it's the same concept as the other. In fact, this is the same illustration and the same numbers, and the same graphic you saw before when you saw a person and a car, the Mini Cooper. I just replaced the person with the front of a vehicle and the car with the back of a vehicle. It's no different. And so when you're really close, relative to you, this is quite a few times further away than this is. But when you're far away, this in the back is not all that different in distance than this is from you. So the further away you walk, the less distortion you get in shapes. And so you just gotta think about, what is it that I'm shooting, and mightn't it be better to walk further away. This is also why you will find people taking portraits, they don't take portraits with 35 millimeter lenses, or 17 millimeter lenses. They grab 100 millimeter lens, or something similar. And you notice when they're taking the portrait, they're not standing right next to the person. They're standing back where I am compared to you guys, or something else, and this is why. Otherwise the person's nose looks huge in the picture. So if you back up though, get a longer lens on, 100 millimeter lens for a portrait isn't bad. Something like that, then you're making it so there's less distortion in their face, and their nose doesn't look like it's sticking way out because it's close to you, and their ears are really far away. They're very similar in distance, and it helps. Then let's talk about our mindset when it comes to aperture settings. Sometimes what you want is to narrow your depth of field, to isolate something. Here I'm at a vineyard, and this is one of the vines, just little isolated area. And a lot of the times when that's what you want, you end up switching to f/2.8. f/2.8 is wide open on a lot of lenses. Wide open means the largest aperture that it can have, which means the lowest number. And you shoot it. But what do you use other times, when you're not just looking for that little slice of focus-- or I shouldn't say focus. It's really acceptably sharp. There's only one spot that's in focus, that's where you focused. Everything else is getting softer. And so it's not truly in focus, it's just acceptably sharp, and that's your depth of field range. So what if instead I have something like this? I have something very close to me, and I have something far away. What aperture setting do I use? And I don't want an answer, I'm just asking myself. But the main thing is you just gotta know what to use. Some people will just go, "Well I need to up the field. "I'm gonna do f/22 or whatever the highest number is, "because that's what gives me it." That's not always how I think, and so let's talk about a few reasons we might think differently. Let me see if I can find one little chart in here. I hope it's at the bottom. Yes. So we have our aperture settings we need to choose between. And this one shouldn't be there, because your lens is never so open that the aperture blades disappear, but it just means bigger is something like that. If you have a wide angle lens, I use a different mindset when I'm shooting than if I have any other lens on. And I want to describe why because I think it will help free you, mentally, from some things if you don't think about them as being different. With a wide angle lens, it's hard to get areas to be out of focus. It's just difficult to do. The longer the lens is, the easier it is to knock things out of focus. And your lens is not the sharpest wide open. It's sharpest when you close down the aperture a little bit, a couple stops down, and usually the sharpest. If you want to get it nice and sharp you could shoot at like f/8. That's gonna be a nice, sharp image. And let me show you what happens with a wide angle lens at various settings. I know it's numbers, we're visual people, we're not into that, but it might help. Hopefully I got all the numbers typed in right. But here are various lenses. These represent what you might have in a wide angle lens. Like a Nikon 14-24, that's really nice, wide range there, that's what I used as my option here. And these are various f-stops you can use, thinking about shooting wide open versus shooting at f/8. Then this over here tells me what would be sharp. And the infinity symbol in here means that once you get to infinity, everything beyond that is in focus automatically. On lenses that have focus scales, that's what at the end of your scale. Your scale never goes to, like, 5,000 miles away for getting the stars or something. Instead there's a limit, and that limit is infinity. Once you hit it, it means, "Okay, you hit the point "where now everything beyond that is in focus." So take a look at this. If you have a wide angle lens on your camera and you happen to be shooting at f/8, because f/8 is nice, it gives you a nice sharp image because when you close down the aperture a bit, it's kind of a sweet spot in your lens. Well look at the range that's in focus. At 14 millimeters, f/8, everything from 1.8 feet in front of you to infinity is in focus. How often do you have a subject that's closer than 1.8 feet? On occasion you got something on a tabletop and you go right up to it, but 98.6% of the time, isn't what you're shooting more than 1.8 feet in front of you? So if you happen to have your camera set to f/8, do you not have to just not think about depth of field, because it's all gonna be sharp? That's only at 14 millimeter though. Let's go to 16 millimeter, and look at f/8. Oh, two feet to infinity. Well, most of the time my subjects weren't two feet away, especially in street photography and travel photography. Most of the time it's 10 feet away or something. Well then let's see, 18 millimeter, we get to seven feet away. Pretty much the longer the lens becomes, the shorter, the shallower the depth of field becomes, and once we get to 24 millimeters it's 12 feet-- I'm sorry, it's 4.7 feet. I need to look at f/8. 4.7 feet to infinity. What that tells me is when I'm walking around with a wide angle lens in my camera, as long as it's bright enough, I'm gonna set it to f/ and just not think about it and shoot, because everything will be in focus. And the only time I'm gonna deviate from that is when I get something close to my lens. How close to my lens? Closer than five feet. Five feet is pretty short. I'm 5'9" and that means I can just think about my height, and say, are they closer to me than I am tall? If so, I need to start putting aperture in my head and thinking about it. Otherwise if I happen to have my lens set to f/ I can go around and shoot quickly and not think about it. And that's because everything from the closest subject distance, whatever is the most important-- I shouldn't say most important. Whatever is important in the scene-- as long as the closest thing that's important is more than five feet away. Then I can be at f/8 and not worry about it. Then if you get in that mindset you can be very lazy about it once you do. You gotta be careful when something gets closer than about five feet to you. That's when your brain should start going, "Boom! "I need to start thinking about aperture settings. "I need to start figuring out what the right one would be "to get what I need to be sharp." But that's what this tells you. Down here it's just telling you the equivalent lens on micro four thirds, that's like the Olympus OM-D camera, that type of thing. Seven millimeters is the equivalent to a 14, would be your wide lens, then the opposite end of that zoom would be a 12 millimeter is equivalent to a 24. But in there, the f-stops aren't quite the same, so these numbers aren't quite the same, so it's a bit different. With your micro four thirds, f/5, f/6 you might think of as a starting point for that same idea. I'll walk around at f/5, f/6 if I have that kind of camera. So that frees me a lot, in that when I've got a wide angle lens and I'm walking around I don't have to constantly think about aperture settings, I just think about how close is my nearest important thing. And it's only when it hits that five foot range where suddenly my brain lights up and goes, "I gotta start thinking about aperture settings." And the closer it gets the more critical that is. Because what happens is with wide angle lens you get so comfortable with everything being in focus that then suddenly you need to shoot something that's right here in front of me, and your brain is so used to not thinking-- That it's impossible to get something out of focus is what your brain is used to thinking. But pointing at this, this close, it's easy. And that's when your brain should light up and say, "I need to think about aperture." So what aperture setting do I use when I'm walking around and doing stuff? Well that's where this comes in. You're like, "When was he gonna finally get there?" Well we're gonna make some really high-tech illustration here to do this. So let's say that I have here a buffalo, and I would like the buffalo to be in focus. So from right here, to these trees. That's what I want in focus. I want the other stuff in the background to be soft. Well the way focus works is you have this certain distance where things are acceptably sharp. Beyond that it's not acceptably sharp, it starts feeling soft. And beyond it in the other way it also starts feeling soft. Well, this area known as your depth of field is where it's positioned compared to where you focus, is the focus point would be 1/3 of the way across it. Imagine that's 1/3. What that means is wherever it is you focus, the depth of field happens 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind. So how do I think about that when I'm in the field? Well, I have a near object and a far object. I want them both to be in focus, and I want other things to be soft. So I need to focus 1/3 of the distance between the two. That's where I want to focus. How do I figure out how to focus 1/3 of the way? Well I can visually look and I can say is there anything within the scene that happens to be approximately 1/3 between those two things, and if so, focus on it. You got it. But that's not always convenient, you don't always have something in the scene you can focus on. So how else can you do it? Well I take my camera lens, and I focus on-- in manual focus, focus on the nearest object, and I remember where my fingers are. I might take my fingers off and position my fingers so now they're right at the top and bottom of the lens, so I remember, I can get back to there. And then I focus on the other thing. And then I move my hand so it's halfway in between. Halfway in between. Halfway doesn't sound right. You said 1/3, what's going on? The scale, the little focus scale, is not evenly distributed, it's not what's known as linear. It's not like a ruler. Instead the distance between things gets greater as you get to things. So moving it where it's physically about halfway between where you hand was on the focus frame when you focused on the near object, and your hand was when you went to the far object, about halfway on that ring ends up, on the little focus scale, being about 1/3. It sounds kind of weird, but it works most of the time. So therefore if I wanted to figure out where should I focus, near object, far object, I either visually look for something about 1/3 of the way between them, focus on it, or focus on the near one, focus on the far one, and then put that thing halfway in between. But then what number do I use? f/2.8, f/4, f/11? How do I know? Well, there's a button on the front of your camera, it's called depth of field preview. And if you have an electronic viewfinder, what I call a modern viewfinder. It's kind of like a modern camera or something. When you press it, your viewfinder will not get dark, and so you just suddenly see, instead of-- Your viewfinder is almost always wide open. Wide open meaning that you see what it would look like if you're shooting at the lowest number your aperture goes to. Like you have 2.8 on my lenses. And that's what you see. In order to get a preview of what would happen, it actually needs to close down the aperture, the little opening. The problem is, on an optical viewfinder do you close down that opening? Your viewfinder gets dark, because you're cutting off the light. With an electronic one, you got a sensor sitting right back there and it goes, "Hey, it's getting dark. I better brighten up." And so your viewfinder doesn't get dark, you can see it. With an optical one though and it's really dark, it feels hard to use. It doesn't have to be. What you do is stare at the nearest object. Ignore everything else in the scene and just stare at it. And then push the button and let go, push the button and let go. That's gonna make your viewfinder get dark and bright, dark and bright, and just stare at the nearest object. Did it get sharp? That's the only thing you have to know. You don't have to think about what's going on in the rest of the scene, you just need to know did it get sharp, did it get sharp? And if the answer is no, put your f-stop to a higher number. Try it again. Did it get sharp, did it get sharp? And if it didn't, put it to a higher number until it did. Once that nearest object is sharp, then glance at the farthest one, do the same thing. It should be sharp if you focused in the right spot. It takes some practice with that and everything, but it's how you can work. And if you have an electronic viewfinder it doesn't get dark so it's much more user-friendly. But I find a lot of people end up, with depth of field preview, they just never use it because they hate that it gets dark. But if you just stare at the object and just flick it, I find it can be usable. Doesn't mean you enjoy using it. So if I want in this diagram to now get this guy sharp, and also get this guy sharp, and I don't care about the mountain behind. Then I need how much depth of field? I need this much. So where am I gonna focus? 1/3 of the way across. And I don't know if I'll get exactly 1/3 here. Imagine this was 1/3 of the way across. That's where I should focus. I can either pick an object that seems to be that far away, focus on it, or like I said, focus near, focus far, and go halfway between on your focus ring. You can get there. Depth of field preview to figure out the number to use. Then you can look up, if you were to move these-- Let's say what I really wanted to focus on was over this way instead, and it included the mountain. And let's just say I focus. This depth of field I can get where if I focused here and I used a particular aperture, and let's just say it happened to end up like this. Well now, once you get to the very end you would end up hitting infinity. "Infinity and beyond!" There's a certain point on your lens when you hit infinity. I don't have it here, but I can invent it. Each lens has a different infinity point, and if you have a focus scale you can see approximately where it is. You just look and see where the numbers end, and you get that little sideways eight. With a wide angle lens you're gonna find infinity is really close to you. Infinity will be probably about here. As you get longer lenses, it will be further away. But if you want to get the absolute furthest thing in focus and get absolutely as much of the foreground in focus, Google something-- My brain just blanked out-- called the hyper focal point, and read up on. We don't have time to really get into it here. All right, now, I want to just talk a little bit more about the shooting aspect, then we're gonna pop in to retouching. I'm just gonna show you some pictures, because usually you see somebody's best pictures or something. You don't see all the pictures they took. I'm just gonna quickly go through and you can see my mindset of how did I shoot a scene. And we'll just do that for a few scenes. Iceland, church. And here are the concepts I'm using. Lead the eye to the church, that's what I'm trying. I'm not gonna just try that though and say, "Oh, got it. Bye!" Instead I'm gonna work the scene if I have time. Don't always have time though. So here, did that. Then I said, let's find a foreground. Remember that was a concept? Find a foreground. There's a foreground: a gravestone. Now isolate, isolate the interesting. So I do that, I find a view. Oh, find a foreground again, I'm using. But I'm just seeming to randomly choose foregrounds. It doesn't really seem to be doing it yet. There's another foreground. I'm just trying different ones. You see how this merges with the little walkway so it's less successful. But I'm working the scene, I'm trying, what are all these various foreground elements I could use, and would it work. I usually wouldn't take that picture because the little thing that's covering up the church but I took it for you, so you know I was there and I tried. There's my other foreground. I'm like, well, it's so far away. Now what I wasn't think about right here is my lens. Longer lens, further away, and I'd pull that church closer. Might have been much more successful. This was many years ago before I really had that really good in my mind, so I wasn't using that as a trick. You always evolve over time. But I was getting pretty good at framing back then. So there's the entrance, you see me framing it. I was getting proud of myself there. I was like, "Oh, look at that!" I just need to crop so it's only that and stuff. But I didn't stop there. I just said, "Well, can I push it any further?" And I said, "Well, can I include that little thing to lead the eye?" Not really, because it's not helping me lead the eye so much, you can't see it. Ah, there, I got a gravestone in it, but now I'm getting some busy stuff in the lower left, some detail that doesn't need to be there. Is there a way to clean it up, to work it a little more, try to work it-- Oh there, I isolated, I got it more full. And then oh there, I'm getting a little foreground. Ah, maybe I got it. You see how I walked around the scene, I worked it, worked it, until I was like, "I hope I got it. I think I got it here." And I just kept working a little bit. Iceland, I just go around shooting. But let's see, I think I had one other here. London. Okay, I found the bridge. I wanted to shoot it, but just shooting the bridge, all by itself, that's like what every person with an iPhone is gonna take, so how can I do something else? I searched the surroundings for other things. I found that thing. I think it's like either a-- what do you call a clock-- a sundial. I think it might be that. I'm not sure. So I found that. Can I put those together? Eh, maybe if I get closer and I just started working it. I was like, "Eh, that's too dominant." I tried filling in the area with a tree and a little light post. Oh, and I found that. I was like, "Yeah, wait a minute. That's kinda cool." Tried different angles and I ended up with this. But the main thing is I worked the scene, I walked around. I said what are my foreground elements, how can I pull them together in all of those things. So it's a combination of how you think about your lenses, how you think about your aperture setting, and how you think about composition. You're not gonna get it all at once, and that's why I try to just concentrate on a few concepts at a time until they're natural. When they're natural you don't have to think about them and you can start shoving more concepts in your head. And that's why that little pocket guide you guys will get if you purchase a class has them in a way where you can load as a PDF on your phone and just say, "What concepts am I gonna concentrate on today?" And you just skip over the ones that are already in your head, because they're natural.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lightroom Presets Quickstart Guide
Lightroom Preset Sampler
Pre-Trip Planning
Actions Sampler Guide
Travel Photography Handbook
Actions Sampler
Lightroom Keywords
Big Set of Lightroom Presets
Practice Images
Travel Photogtaphy Mobile Guide
Gear List
Lightroom Tips and Keyboard Shortcuts

Ratings and Reviews


This was simply an amazing experience! Without a doubt the best investment of time and money I have experienced in quite awhile. Ben's complete command of the subject, the practical tips, suggestions and reference information was outstanding. I have enjoyed point and shoot photography for some time and recently decided to invest in some decent DSLR equipment (Canon EOS D70). I have a trip to Cape Town and Johannesburg South Africa rapidly approaching and thought it might be a good idea to take some classes and make an effort to get up the learning curve ASAP to take advantage of this travel opportunity. "Discovering" Creativelive and Ben Willmore's class was literally an answer to prayer! There is nothing like sitting at the foot of wisdom, taking notes, and having numerous "ah-ha" moments! This was great....looking forward to more classes. Thanks for the high quality effort!

a Creativelive Student

Genius! Ben is a brilliant master teacher - focused, clear and holds back no information. The best! This course has condensed the equivalent of 10 courses into one. He is a perfectionist in his approach and knows how to present the material. He is the leader in photoshop and photography "par excellence". Highly recommend any of his courses. Save your time and start with the best - everyone loves Ben!!!!

Nichole Sams

I feel the title of this class, Travel Photography, is much to limiting for what you are really going to get. As a wedding photographer, who dreams of traveling, I attending the class live in Seattle, and was hoping to get some inspiration for on location shoots. What I got, however, was a WHOLE LOT MORE. I would recommend this class to anyone with a camera and Lightroom. What I learned about how lightroom works and how to integrate it with photoshop is invaluable. I actually think they should charge WAY more for this course. The bonuses with purchase from the keywords (we are talking every key word you could possibly imagine) and the presets (holycow everything you would ever need) are worth exponentially more than the course price itself. Ben is a gentle easy going teacher and nice to listen to. His ease of teaching pretty complex ideas was truly wonderful. If you are reading this you must buy this course, it is well worth it!

Student Work