Four Tips for Better Scenic Photos: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace

Four Tips for Better Scenic Photos: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace

Hi everybody welcome to another episode
of Exploring Photography, right here on Adorama TV. I’m hanging out it and not so
exciting beach here on the Caribbean Sea and you can see behind me here that
we’ve got sort of cars and buildings, and all kinds of things going on, and not
only that but some of my gear – my video gear, was stuck in customs and so I’m
shooting this whole thing with my Osmo pocket… that’s what’s following me around
right now… so it’s gonna be a challenge making this video today. The goal is I want to see if I can take this scene which is not very pleasing and use the
appropriate gear… the appropriate composition… and the appropriate
post-production to make this look like something that you would want to hang on
your wall. so what we’re going to do is we’re going to start in the way that maybe you shouldn’t take this photo and what I’m going to do is I’m going to use
my 50 millimeter lens set at f/8 and I’m just gonna take a picture of the sea
here. S f/8, ISO 100 I have my camera set to aperture priority mode. When i take this shot… it’s at about the 180th of a second…. it looks like right now… and yeah that is absolutely an incredibly boring shot, we don’t want
that, we want to make this scene look more exciting. Now up in the sky we have
on and off some pretty exciting little puffy clouds coming in and out. Maybe we
can take advantage of that. Also we have over here we have this little pier
coming out, it’s got some rocks and things behind you… don’t think you can
see that in the video but what we want to do here is take advantage of all of
that stuff… so I’m going to switch to a 21mm lens, the appropriate gear
for the job… the 50 is not what we need to use so what I’ll do here is I’m going
to take my 50mm off I’ll put my 21mm on, now we’re getting to
where we need to be, let’s take another shot and see what our 21mm lens
does for us. So I’m going to set that again at f/8, but this time I’m going to
set my lens to hyperfocal… that means everything is in focus from the very
closest, to the very farthest away. I’ve made videos about this… links are in the description below, but now let’s check this out and see what our 21mm
lens does for us… so I’m going to take this right here… level that out…. take a
shot get a little bit of the beach… take this
again… get a lot of the sky. Okay well now what we can see here is…
we’re getting a little bit more of all of this stuff that’s behind me, and it’s
a more interesting shot, but I think we can do better. One of the things that I
can do is instead of standing at eye level… I can actually come down here… and
shoot down closer to ground level, and I’m getting a much more pleasing
shot. Let’s get a better look at what I’m shooting here. I’ve got this these rocks
that are going out into the ocean and then I’ve got just the sea behind me, and
I’m gonna use these rocks here to pull our eye into the scene. Again I’m getting
down low, so that we have more foreground interest showing us out to the ocean. Alright so that’s good we have a wide-angle lens, we’re shooting at hyper
focal distance or a shooting closer to the ground, but we can do even better.. we
want to make this into something that is unrealistically pretty. So what I’m gonna
do here is.. in my camera bag I have another tool that I use all the time,
this is a ND filter. This is a 1.6 I believe or 1.8, it’s a 6 stop neutral
density filter. Now if you don’t know about neutral density filters… have no
fear, I’ve made videos about those as well. Links are in the description below.
So what I’m going to do here is I’m going to take and put this on my lens… a
neutral density filter by the way… it’s just a little it’s a like sunglasses for
your lens, and so it’s going to make this darker by 6 stops, and that’s gonna allow
me to slow my shutter down considerably. Now slowing down my shutter is going to
do some things for us. 1. It is gonna smooth everything out which is really, really good…. and so that will make everything sort of smooth and unworldly looking. I need to use a tripod to do that, so I have my tripod right here. I’ve got this set up, so I’m going to put my camera on my tripod, because now when I’m doing this…. I look into the lens I’m seeing that my shutter is 1/7 of a second 1/7th of a second… so I’ll take a slow
shutter here, things are starting to look really good, so what I want to do is I
want to slow the shutter down even more. So I’m gonna get a manual exposure, so
I’m going to manually put this on two seconds, so now I’ve got on one two
seconds… here, what that’s gonna do though… it’s gonna blow out the sky… the sea
should be okay… but let’s just take a quick shot and see what happens. I need
to make sure I lock this shot in, either come back just a little bit to make this
work.. you need to make sure I lock this shot in exactly where I want it to be.
They’ve got it all level they’ve got my log in the scene, all right I’ll take
that shot, it’s two seconds and it looks pretty good.
The problem with this though is things are being blown out, so what I need to do
is I need to be able to do some post-production magic, I need to be able
to shoot multiple exposures and then combine all of those things. So I get the
sky and the foreground and the sea I can get that blurred kind of look that I
want, and I want to be able to tone everything in a custom tone, to make it
look unrealistically pretty. So what I’m going to do here is, I’m going to go into
my menu and I’m going to set my camera to auto exposure bracketing… what that
will let my camera do is – it will shoot one photo overexposed, one photo exposed correctly, and one photo underexposed, and even for some bonuses I’ll probably even
shoot one way up and one way down. So it’s really easy to do, I’m just gonna go
into my menu,s and go into my menu to the drive mode… I’m gonna go into exposure
bracketing… and then set that to five frames… one stop over and under on each.
So once I have that locked in I’ve got my image all set… I’ll take a
picture – my camera’s going to take five images… that’s all done, so I’ve got some
that are overexposed, some that are underexposed, and now what I can do is I
can go into post-production take all of this stuff that we used… interesting
composition, slow shutter speed, using a neutral density filter, a wide-angle lens
to pull the viewer, in foreground interest, and then we can take it to the
next level. Another thing I’m doing here before I go inside, I’m just going to
stay out here for probably another hour waiting for the Sun to change, waiting
for the clouds to change, I’m getting different viewpoints here… I’m using
something a little bit closer to the beach, a little bit farther away, I want
to make sure I give myself every single opportunity to succeed that I can… so I’m
just gonna hang out here.. shoot a bunch of different shots before I go inside. Well in the middle of the day, I wasn’t too impressed with the quality of photos. it was just too bright in the sky, the dynamic range was too much, and the clouds were not interesting. So I just waited until the Sun went just down… right above the horizon, to the Golden Hour. We got some sunset, we got some pinks and blues, and amazing colors in the sky, and now we’re getting much more incredible results. The Sun is now set, but I’m still out here shooting some images, because again I want to give myself every possible chance to succeed. So I’m gonna get back to my camera and we’ll just keep shooting and see what we get. This is so much better… well I’m back
from the beach. I think all the hard work has paid off, we’re about to hop into
post-production and work on this image, but let’s review the four things that I
did to change how things looked. The first thing I did was… I changed from a standard 50mm lens to a wide-angle lens,
and that opened up all kinds of possibilities, and specifically when I
paired it with the second thing… which is changing my point of view going from
standing at eye level, to getting down low, that really changes how we view the
scene… it allows me to add foreground interest, and pull our eye into the scene.
Later on I went from the right side of those rocks to the left side of the
rocks, just looking for the best composition possible. The third thing I
did was I slowed the shutter speed way down… that allowed us to smooth out the
ocean… and create a look that is better than reality. This sort of makes the
ocean look like glass, which I absolutely love, and then finally I just changed the
time of day, and what that did was it allowed me to shoot with really slow
shutter speeds, even without the neutral density filter… also added a lot of color
to the scene, and then the most spectacular thing totally by chance there
happened to be a storm rolling in, and there was a lightning strike that
happened, and I was able to capture that on one of the images, and so that’s the
image that we’re going to start working with right now. So let’s hop to it and
hop into Lightroom… here’s my final lightening image. Before I showed you how I edited this… let me just show you the images that I shot and edited through the day. So these first two images are images that I created during the day time. You can see that this first image it’s one shot that came out of the camera… it’s a two-second exposure you can see it we’re getting this nice
smooth ocean. That was using a neutral density filter.. that technique
that I showed you… the other one here this is an HDR image, and so what I did I
can go back and show you that. I took five images, here are the five images. I
shot this using the technique I showed you called auto exposure bracketing, to
shoot these five images, and then I combined those to create this final HDR
image. Now I’ve created tutorials on editing HDR images so make sure you look
at the links in the description of this
video… to learn how to do that, what I really want to do is show you one
technique using graduated filters. To create images like this lightning shot
so to do that, let’s jump over to the develop module. I’m going to use the shot
that came out of the camera because it doesn’t look so exciting at first glance
and so what I did in the develop module is… I first created some basic tonal
adjustments in the develop module. So I’m going to just save some time and click
on a snap shot that I created, and what this does is it applies all those
adjustments that I made earlier so I cropped this… I leveled this out…
I changed the white balance, and then some of the basic exposure contrast,
highlights, shadows… etc the thing that really makes this image work though, is a
technique I used using this tool called the graduated filter, what a graduated
filter allows you to do is… edit different regions of a photo independent
of each other… so the sky I want to edit in one way… the ocean I want to edit in a
different way, and then these rocks over here, I want to edit those in a third way..
so I have the sky, the sea, and the rocks… three different regions, so we’re going
to use the graduated filter to edit the sky and the sea, and then this paintbrush
to edit the rock. So let me just show you how this works… the first thing I’ll do
is… I’m going to click on the graduated filter, when I do that I get all these
controls that I can use to add to this filter on the image itself. I get this
little square so if I click that and drag down you’ll see that on the top of
the screen everything turns blue… so the sky… so the filters applied opposite the
direction that you drag… so I’ve got three lines here. Let me show you what
they do… the first, the first and last line here, this shows you the transition
area of the filter. So the filters up here… this blue area, it starts fading out of this first line… the midpoint of the transition is the center line…. and the last line here is where the filter is doing nothing… so down here nothing is
happening, the only thing that’s happening is above this middle line here.
The center line I can hover over that… click and drag to rotate this filter. So
if I have an even horizon or something, so these work with horizontal or vertical areas in an image, and then what I can do on the other lines is… I can click and drag to make the transition sharper, or much much more gradual. So I want this to be a pretty sharp transition. So I’m going to drag these together and then I can click on the dot itself to move the entire thing… so I’m going to move that up so it’s right on the horizon, and I’m gonna make this a very, very, very sharp transition here. So what I want to do is… I want to take the sky, I want to apply some things… I want to change the color temperature, and exposure, and contrast, and leave the bottom alone. So let me just really quickly change these values… all right, clearly I have those values figured out in advance, but you would be able to experiment with this till you get the look that you want. So I’ve applied this to the top of the scene, and I’m just moving along really quickly, let me just add another graduated filter to the bottom of the screen. So I’m gonna go here, click new and then I’m going to click on the horizon and drag up, because I want this to be opposite where I’m dragging, which is the bottom of the screen – then I will make this go on the horizon and then I’m just going to really quickly add some values to this… changing my color temperature, and my exposure and also my saturation just a hair…. okay that looks pretty good. Now you’ll notice that I’ve got some issues when I close this, and that is over here on these rocks… I have this… top of this… that is being impacted because this is not a horizontal. It needs to be jagged so these neutral dents, and these graduated filters are affecting this rock there has to be a way that I can change that. There is… so I’m going to go back up here click on my graduated filter. I will click on the top
one, and we’ll just do one of these. I’ll show you how to change this, so I’m going to click on this. If I hover over it you can see this pink that shows up… that
shows me where this filter is applied. If I click on it, I can now make edits.
Notice this filter is just a horizontal line, so that’s why it’s cutting across
this rock. We want to be able to take this horizontal line, and make it jagged
to match the rock, you can do that by going over here and clicking on brush, now what you can do is…. you can add and subtract to your filter
using a brush… so I’m going to erase this little part of this top filter…. I’m just
going to do this very very quickly and roughly, because I need to save time. Then
what I’ll do here is… I’ll close that, and then I’m going to go to the bottom…
graduated filter…. I’m going to go to a brush.. and this one… I’m going to click
the A brush – that’s going to add… and then I will add in the filter from the bottom
to these rocks, and so I’m changing just this little shape right here. Of course I
would take much more time if I was just doing this in real time, so what I can do
now is I can hover over this, and now you can see where I’ve painted on the right
side… that the filter is matching the contour of the rock… so I can manually
change this horizontal line when I come in contact with things like mountains or
rocks or something like that. it’s really really simple. Now the last thing I need
to do is… I want to change these rocks over here… so I can just click on this
brush, and then what I’m going to do is I’m just going to use a brush to paint
in a filter on these rocks… really quickly, and then once I’m done with tha,t
then what I can do is… I can change the saturation and some things and I can
really quickly bring that to exactly the point that I want it to be, because this
is sort of orange and yaki, and so I can just play with that just a little bit.
Well after spending quite a bit of time… I was able to dial this in exactly right,
so let me show you the final results, so the graduated filter, I’ll click on that.
If I hover over the top one… and let this show me exactly where I’ve edited things.
You can see that it matches the contours of that rock exactly… and the same thing
is true of the bottom one. It is matching the horizon and the rock exactly, which is exactly what I need this to do, because I want this to be a nice and
clean edit, so if I print this it’s going to match exactly. Also if I click on the
brush, then you can see where I have edited the rocks. I’ll go down here and
hover over this dot, and you can see that that is matching those rocks exactly. So I was able to create an image and isolate three different zones, and then
edit those independent of each other once I set my first tonality and I think
the results are pretty spectacular. Well I hope this helped you out… for basic
changes to go from drab to fab… Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of Exploring Photography. Don’t forget to subscribe to Adorama TV. it’s totally free… Make sure you turn on the bell so you get notifications, and why not just follow me on instagram that way you can see me posting some behind the scenes images and you can follow me as I travel around the world and get some insight, and you can interact with me ask me questions… it’s pretty awesome… so do that, thanks again for joining me and I will see you again next time.

12 thoughts on “Four Tips for Better Scenic Photos: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace”

  1. Thanks Mark for the video. I like the composition in the second shot @2:21 better though, more sky, less of the log. Of course the HDR @9:51 works too as does the lightning shot.

  2. Mark, did you use a "Lightning Bug" or other device to capture the bolt of lightning or was that a stroke of luck on your part? Very informative video..thanks!

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