Travel Photography: Gear and Techniques | Lucas Ridley | Skillshare

Travel Photography: Gear and Techniques

Lucas Ridley, Instructor and Animator

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5 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Intro

      0:28
    • 2. Gear

      4:14
    • 3. Post Processing

      10:20
    • 4. Exposure

      6:07
    • 5. Timelapse

      5:20

About This Class

This is a short course for beginners in travel photography. If you're about to take a vacation or want to understand how to approach techniques in travel photography this course is for you. I will discuss broader considerations in terms of gear and techniques I use to take my photos that has lead to my @everywhichaway travel Instagram account to gain over 14,100 followers and growing.

The main areas of discussion are:

  • Gear
  • Post Processing
  • Exposure
  • Timelapse

Here are links to the gear I use:

Transcripts

1. Intro: Hi, and welcome to my short course on Travel Photography. My name is Lucas Ridley. I got my start in wedding photography but now I do commercials and film. In this course, I will show you how to take pictures like these. This course is for anyone who's about to take a big trip or who's unfamiliar with the type of gear or techniques to use while you're traveling. Thanks for watching. 2. Gear: In this lesson, we're going to cover some of the gear I use while I'm traveling. I basically have my iPhone,a GoPro and a point and shoot. Currently I use a Sony RX1 100 mark 4 because it can shoot 4K and has a nice rotating selfie screen. I also use this camera because it has a zoom lens on, meaning I can optically zoom in and out where I can't do that with the GoPro or the iPhone, you can only zoom in digitally. So each cameras performing a different role in this arsenal, and all three combined still weigh less and take up less space than a DSLR does with the zoom lens. I also use an older GoPro version because I've had it so long. The feature I use the most on my GoPro is going to be the video and photo options. So you can actually shoot photos while you're taking videos. The quickest you can take at a photo interval is five seconds. So I'll watch the screen, hold out my GoPro, and you see the timer go down to five seconds. So I can shoot video and I typically will move in a rotating motion like this, and maybe pause every five seconds when you're taking a selfie. I use this gorilla pod with my GoPro. I don't use selfie sticks because this acts as a selfie stick and about a million other ways to use it, and here's some of the ways you can use this. So I'll actually just walk around with it for several reasons, it helps stabilize it and leave it on the gorilla pod. It's nice to be in the moment and not have a camera in front of your face all the time, and also to have it out and recording to capture happy accidents like this picture we're going to use as an example, I was just walking along and one of the five second intervals captured this, and we'll use this in the post-processing lesson as well. But it's just a great example of one of my favorite photos from the trip was one that happened to be on one of the five second intervals. It's also a great way to setup time lapses, either with a tripod or attached to some other stationary object. Another great way to use it is to make a huge selfie stick, and I've done this many times. One of my favorites is grabbing a stick or a tracking pole like this, but you need to have a lanyard attached to it so you don't lose the GoPro if it falls off. I got one off of another camera and girth hitched it on to the mount of the GoPro, and then I girth hitched the entire thing on to the trekking pole. A girth hitch is just a type of knot where you slip it through a loop, as you can see in this video. Then you attach the gorilla pod to the stick or whatever it is and you have a huge selfie sticks, so there's no reason to bring a selfie stick anywhere if you have a little Gorilla Pod like this, and it takes up a lot less space. I've done this many times and with a lot of success. One of my favorites was in India, when on a boat and using their spare or bamboo pole as the selfie stick. So I typically use my iPhone just to remotely look at the point and shoot or to look at the GoPro footage. If I'm going to set up a long time lapse with a GoPro, I'm going to want to make sure I'm framing it properly and this version does not have a screen on the back. So you can connect with the GoPro app through your iPhone and frame up the shot before you start a time-lapse. People here are having a good time. The other most important thing I use my iPhone for is for post-processing. The app I use the most is called Snapseed, we'll cover that in the next lesson. 3. Post Processing: Welcome to the course on Post-processing. In this course, we're going to cover Snapspeed. That's an app to use on your iPhone. This iPhone is pretty powerful. Let's take a look. Hey, I'm going to try to show these side-by-side, so you can see what I'm actually doing with my hands when I'm using this app. When I do post-processing, my favorite app to use is Snapspeed. Let's just jump right in and get started. We'll go to Snapspeed. Say, open, we'll go to open from device. I have one of these photos that we're going to do, is one my favorites from my trip. All right. So to get started, down here on the left is the histogram. If you don't know what a histogram is, it basically just represents the dark values on the left to the bright values on the right. The more there are, the higher these peaks go. There's a lot of dark we can see in this photograph, and we're going to try to fix that. We're trying to make the image a little better, and really make it shine. When we're in Snapspeed, we access everything from this little pencil button down here on the right. The first thing I do is, go to tune image. I usually try to see what the auto adjustment is going to do, and that's a little magic one button down here. We can toggle back and forth between what they did, and the original on this top right button, by pressing and holding, and letting down when you see the histogram is already changing a little bit. But it's not really doing what I wanted to do. Actually, I might just cancel that and start from scratch. I'm going to go to an image, and to access all of the controls, we just click and scroll up and down, and to change them, we can go left and right, and so let's go. The first thing I usually like to do, because I underexpose one of the images, is I go to ambiance. Ambiance is going to even the exposure out across the image. As I scroll to the right, we're going to see that happening. It's lifting the blacks. We can watch it in the histogram as well, and it's keeping the highlights exposed as they were. Now we can see a huge difference just in one control on ambiance. But we can't see, it does have its artifacts in this far left-side, if you use two fingers, you can scroll around, but it's difficult. When you see there's like a dark fringe, so just be careful when you go at the extremes that you're just aware of the effects. That's the first step I like to do, and that's pretty far good. I mean, that's pretty good. Also, in general, when you're post-processing and you're trying to not make this so real, or hyper-real, unless maybe intentionally you are, but I usually just go for accuracy and fidelity. A lot of times, the saturation isn't what it looked like when I was there, so I usually bump up the saturation just to touch, and I usually keep checking it as I'm changing things to make sure I'm going in the right direction. Like that saturation, I might play with the warmth as well. This is going to depend on every photo is a little different. Was the white balance captured correctly? Or do you want to go in a more artistic direction, and push the the color temperature of the image? So I like that, I like where we're headed. I think I'm going to be finished with this adjustment. When I hit the checkbox, it saves it, and we can see there's a one now up in the top-right. When I want to go back to that, I could always go to tune image, and hit the edit icon there, and go back. We can see it's saved all the same adjustments I already made, so it's not doing a new one, we're going back into that original one. Now, we can just go back and it'll have kept that. But if we want to edit anything along the way, it's really useful when you do multiple things, and you want to go back to the original adjustment without messing up anything you've done after that. We can show that here in a second. The other thing I'd like to do, especially with the landscape, is to go into the structure, and bump that up a bit. We can see the change that's going to have, especially on a landscape area. It's not great for portraits. You're going to be careful if you have someone's face in the image, because it'll make it pretty gnarly. But for landscape, it really will make some of the details pop. You could go super heavy-handed with it, but I think that's a little much. Anytime I feel like I can see the post-processing in a photo, it's too much. If I see an image, the first thing I think is that's a cool image, then that's great, and if they did post-processing, then I don't really care, because I didn't notice it or see it. I think that's going in the right direction. Then let's add a healing. The healing brush is very helpful. It can be a little difficult. We can see as we zoom in, the brush size essentially is changing to be smaller. What I'm zooming into, is this little rope here. It's just distracting to me, I don't really like it there, and I want to take it out, because I think it'd be a better image without it. I don't think anyone would know is gone, if we can do this properly. I'm zooming in as far as I can go, to get the brush as small as I can get, and simply just click and drag along the rope. We can see it's not ideal. You have to play with this, and maybe tap it in certain areas, undo at the undo button, and redo until you get what you want. Also, you just have to remember really how much are people actually going to notice these changes, especially when you have something that gets a texture like this, I guess rock texture can do really well, and it's not going to be noticeable that any editing was done there. Once you start messing with people's faces, it's a little more obvious I should say. I think I lost my camera here. I'm trying to keep on going through the image, and making sure everything is taken care of the way I want it, and there's nothing really sticking out, even things that are in an image, I just think wouldn't be missed, and we'll make it a cleaner image. Is a huge help. Let's just take it before and after to have a look and see. I think that's a huge zoom all the way out, so we don't have the thing blocking that. I think it's really helpful. There's those couple of bright spots. This for whatever reason was brighter. Don't like that. I want it to be very inconspicuous. Whenever bright spot that is, I don't like that. I'll try to keep that edge. I just have to play around with it, and give it a couple chances to get it right. It's pretty forgiving when it that's small in the photo, we're not going to see it. You also have to think about, how this is going to be shared. If it's going to be a five-footprint. You don't want to do something else. But if this is going to be shared on Instagram, then Snapspeed is perfect. The other thing we can do is, I don't like all these people here, let's take them out. That worked pretty quick and good. You can get that to work. We're so close to getting it to work. There we go. That just makes it so much cleaner when we just take out those details that are distracting to what we're actually photographing. I like that, and I'm going to save that. Again, if we want to change anything, now we have a number 3 up here, we go three, we go back to the tune image, and we could adjust things and tune image. Let's say, I have a brightness of 1, and just say I want to take it to six, hit "Okay", and then go back to healing, and then go back, and now we've still got all the changes we've made up to this point. Timeouts. Well, let's go. I don't know what happened here, but let's get rid of those hot-spots again. Look out for anything that's repetitive as well. Like anything that's like a pattern, there's going to be jarring. Great. I think this is in a pretty good spot. The last thing I might do is crop it just a little bit. Because I know I'm going to share this on Instagram, I'm going to favor the more square formats. I'm going to take some of the aspect ratio out, especially, because there are some people over there on the left-side anyway. I'll crop then out. That centers what we actually took a photograph of, and highlights a little better. Now, we have our post-processed image with Snapspeed. We can say, "Save". I usually like to save as a copy, and it will export it out, and we'll have a nice post-processed image. Thanks for watching. 4. Exposure: Let's quickly talk about exposure. I typically like to underexpose a lot of my photographs because, as you can see here the clouds are a little blown out if we take a photograph. Let's turn on HDR and see the difference. The other thing we can do is click and drag next to the little sun symbol to drop the exposure down a little bit. We can bring back details in the clouds. That'll give us a little more latitude when we're post-processing. Okay, let's take a closer look at the photos we just took. I've put a heart next to each one and favorite them so we can see which ones they are. We have five even though we've taken three photos. Why is that? On the iPhone when you turn on HDR, you'll actually get two photos. You'll get the normal one and then you'll get the HDR one. We can see that by the HDR in the top left here and we don't have the HDR symbol there. We can also see, when you zoom in there's no detail and the clouds here, it's totally blown out we've lost all that detail. When we zoom in on HDR, all that detail is there, so when we did our post-processing, we're going to have a lot more information to deal with. Sometimes I dropped the exposure. You can see the first one, no HDR, so it's just by itself and the clouds are overexposed. Then we have the second one, it's still overexposed but then its partner HDR, is going to be have the clouds exposed. Then I dropped the exposure and so everything is a little dark. This is just the normal photo, but then we go to HDR everything's kind of properly exposed. We might not have needed to go dropping the exposure on this example because it was so overcast, there wasn't a ton of contrast in the scene. The sun was out and there's a lot of shadow and light and dark areas. It might have been good to do that or something that was highly reflective are very bright. But for this example I think, if we just turn on HDR it properly exposed the sky and the foreground together. When I use my GoPro, I also like to under expose it, but the only way to do that is to go inside of the app on the iPhone and go to the protune settings to lower the exposure. All right, so for us to change the exposure on the GoPro, at least on this Hero3+, you need to go into the protune settings and the only way we can go into the settings of protune is to use this app. We can turn on protune from the GoPro itself, but we can't adjust the settings of protune until we go into this app. Let's jump in with the camera and then we'll go into the wrench here in the bottom right. Then when we go down, we can see protune is already on. If it isn't, we can turn on the switch and then it opens up all these other options. You have to be careful as well because at least on this model, if you turn on protune, I believe it turns off the ability to do video and photo at the same time. It limits the type of dimensions that you can film video in. There are limitations using protune. I typically use it if I know I'm going to be doing time-lapse. Because typically that's going to be the sky and all point of underexposing your images a little bit, is so that we make sure the sky is exposed with the landscape itself. White balance is important, because if we're going to do time-lapse, especially, one consistent white balance, because it's going to be taking a photo after photo after photo. It could possibly if it's on auto be adjusting the white balance for every photo and we don't want that, because there's going to be jumping around between cool and warm photos possibly throughout the time-lapse and it's going to be this staccato look we don't want. Then ISOs are important to keep it low just for noise. It's a sunny day usually doing time-lapses as cloud, so we don't need to worry about low light. If you're in a low light situation, you'd go high but we're going to try to keep it as low as possible. Then the big one, of course down here is the exposure. We going to change that to 1.5 is where I like to keep it and maybe do a test shot and then check it in snap SSI and see how it looks. But again at the end of all this and you might want to go back in here and turn it off or go into the GoPro itself and just turned it off protune to be able to get back to filming and shooting photos at the same time. Those kinds of features that get turned off when he turned on protune. This is the only way to adjust while you're taking photographs with the GoPro. All right, thanks for watching. On my Sony point and shoot, I usually like to go to manual. That will allow me to see the exposure. Most cameras will have an exposure meter here. This is saying it's going between zero and maybe a little underexposed. But if I'm on manual, I can change the settings of either the aperture or the shutter speed to either under or over expose it. I said, I like to underexpose a little bit to keep details in the clouds. I also with this camera shoot raw, and that will allow us to have a greater latitude in the lights and the darks when we're post-processing. 5. Timelapse: Another way I like to use my GoPro is with time lapses. Especially in a place like this, if the guide stops and talks for a little bit, it's a good opportunity to set the GoPro down and do a time-lapse while the guide is talking. You want to look for clouds moving or people moving, something with a little bit of motion that shows the passage of time. Let's quickly talk about time lapses because I mentioned them in the video that I take them, but now, I want to show you how I process them after I've taken them. Currently, GoPro has two applications: one's called Quik and one's called the GoPro Studio. Quik is a way to import your footage, and currently, it does it in a pretty organized way. There's a GoPro folder with the dates. What I currently do is, go through the folders that say time-lapse and I will put a underscore at the end of the folder. I know that that's actually a time-lapse, because these other folders, there's only two photos there. Those are just times when I had the photo and video running at the same time, but I wasn't actually shooting a time-lapse, and the way Quik imports things, it will still name it a folder that it's time-lapse even when it isn't. You might have to do some organizing like that to make sure you know which one is which. We can't use Quik to actually use the time-lapses. We're going to need to use the GoPro Studio, which is what I use if I'm in a hurry. I'll also show you another way. So we'll say Import new files. Now, you can see that we've done those underscores, we can see which folders are actually a time-lapse. So we hit Open, we can see how long it is at that frame rate and we can add clip to the conversion list to export it. Then we're good to convert it. The other way that I prefer to use it, which I have a little more control over, is with After Effects. I've already loaded all of my time lapses in here, but the way to do it in After Effects, you can also download a free trial of After Effects for 30 days and test this out for yourself. You can double-click in the project window over there to bring up the window to import things, go to the folder. You can select any one of these and it'll recognize it as a JPEG sequence and you want to have that check. When you open it, it's going to list it as that frame range of 737 to whatever, 824, and we can see it's 88 frames and this is considering it at 24 frames a second. I've already loaded this [inaudible] which can delete that, and we can adjust this a little bit. Let's say we don't want it at 24 frames a second, maybe we don't have as many frames or photos as we want, so we can go to Interpret Main and we can say interpret this as 12 frames a second instead. Now, we're going to have a few more frames. If we bring this in and we watch it for a second, we can see it's square and that's not probably how we want to export it. Instead of clicking and dragging things into the Create a new Composition, what I like to do is to create a new comp from scratch. Because these clips are photographs that are quite large, we can actually export the compositions in 4K and work in 4K so that's 3,840 pixels by 2,160, and we leave the frame rate in 24 frames per second. We have this comp here and now we can click and drag, we'll just do the same one, click and drag it in here. We can see now it's cropped a little bit, but it's going to be the 16 by 9 ratio that people are familiar with, and that's going to work on YouTube and other places. You can work with that crop and move it up and down a little bit. This is why I like After Effects more because you have more control. That's just a quick tutorial on that. Just real quick, if you don't know After Effects, you can hit Command Shift, whatever this one is, or you can say, open the composition and [inaudible] composition, Add to Render Queue. That'll pop up in the render queue as well. Then we can set all the settings in here by clicking on the text, say what kind of format we want it in, and make sure the dimensions are correct. We don't have audio, so we could say put audio off all that stuff and then click on that and tell it where to save it. Then we would hit Render and it'd spit it out. That's a quick run-through on how to use After Effects with time-lapses. Thanks for watching. Thanks for watching this class on travel photography. Get out there and have some fun and share your photos.