Photographing Place: Capturing a Landscape in a Single Image | Alex Stead | Skillshare

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Photographing Place: Capturing a Landscape in a Single Image

teacher avatar Alex Stead, Adventure Photographer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Location Scouting, Planning & Equipment


    • 3.

      Planning Your Photo


    • 4.

      Shooting Your Landscape


    • 5.

      Editing Your Shot


    • 6.

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About This Class

British Adventure Photographer Alex Stead lets the landscape give life to the photographs he takes. In this 20-minute class, you'll follow Alex to the coast in Cornwall, England to explore the elements of a successful landscape shot that captures the expansiveness of a place. Alex will go over all considerations necessary to getting the shot you want, including:

  • Planning
  • Lighting
  • Weather
  • Subject
  • Point of View

You'll leave this class equipped to plan your adventure and inspired to explore your area and take photos that actually speak to the depth and landscape of a place. You'll learn to capture photos that make a place come alive.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Alex Stead

Adventure Photographer


Alex is a London based freelance photographer ready for local and worldwide commissions. Passionate for travelling and exploring the world, he enjoys travel, lifestyle and adventure photography. Working with brands worldwide to achieve their goals, Alex has created a valuable audience with whom he shares his work to. He has a current following of over half a million spread across Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Alex's creative photography style has captured social media audiences beyond measure with no sign of slowing down.

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1. Introduction: Hi, guys. I'm Alex Stead. I'm a London-based travel and adventure photographer. I'm here at Kynance Cove, which is in Cornwall, UK to shoot a Skillshare video. So, I'm best known for my travel and adventure photography, so in Canada, America, Peru, Japan, all across Europe, and the UK. So, I love to get out and about and discover new locations, which haven't been shot before. I want adventure photography attached behind my work, and find something a bit different and something which people haven't shot before or very little people come and do. Today, I'm going to teach you about landscape photography, not just the Vogue standards, normal stuff. We're going to go a bit more intuitive, be more creative with the composition. The project today is called the Decisive Moment. It's how I look for that one moment in the landscape, and capturegraphy. Notes I add, these little details which bring a landscape together: looking at the lighting, looking at the weather, looking at the location, where we stood, and all those little elements, which bring down into more interesting and intuitive product. This project, I want you guys to go and immerse yourself in the landscape. Taking base to tour alone, it really helps you create more interesting composition as well as play around with ideas. Think about what you're going to shoot, if it's sunrise, sunsets, night photography, making it exciting as possible. So, why do this project? This project I think it's become more creative your landscape photography, think of different ideas, and immersing yourself in the landscape, and finding out more than just the standard landscape job. So, concentration on composition, lighting, where you should be staged, and what you're going to do with it, as well as focusing on your settings. So, this project's time length, I don't think you should guys set yourself one because I think you should go out, and if it's bad weather come back, or if it's not the right lighting, you're not happy, come back. So, just take your time over this, it's no rush getting past that landscape photo. So, the trickiest part I find for landscape photography is taking this whole vastness of the landscape in front you and put it in perspective. How are you going to take all those elements and bring it as a first person, so you can feel the viewer feels like they're there? What lighting you're going to shoot in? All of that, those little factors, and where you are going to stand in. So, that's the trickiest part, knowing where you're going to stand, what elements you can bring in, what lighting you're going to shoot in, and to ensure your settings are right. 2. Location Scouting, Planning & Equipment: For this part of the Skillshare video, we're going to do the research on which locations to shoot, what I look for when I'm research and along the lines of. So, today we're in Como, UK and this is the area that we're looking at. So, I mean, I've shot in Como quite a bit. So, I look for the areas which you look at the light as well, so where the sun's going to rise, where it's going to set. For the video today, I've looked here when I first found this location I've scouted out. I went on Google Earth. You get these awesome rock formations here. Is it accessible? Where can I stand? Is it going to be too dangerous to do? Or is it going to be good? So, this is the area which was scouting out today, which is South Coast Como. So, for me, it's looking around which places to shoot. I know for a fact that the sun rises over in the west over there, so it's going to come over this way. So, different tools I use is mostly Google to find. I use other peoples' images as well, which is really cool. Actually, you can drop and people have been to these locations before. You can go in the first person and get an idea of what its location is going to be like before you go. So, this is really useful for me to scout out allocations and what it's going to be like in different environments and weathers. Also, one other thing looking at the tide, if it's going to be in, if it's going to be out. So, it's all those different factors which I got to keep in mind when thinking what time and where we're going to shoot this location, where I'm going to go. So for me, this looks perfect. It has huge rock formations here which is awesome. Look at the weather as well, so we get the weather right and hopefully we'll get some massive waves crashing over these rocks, as well as get the sun light which will rise over in this area here. So for me, this is like a perfect location. I will just go through a couple more images so, which like that. Then, I can scout it out, look what the terrain is going to be like and this is really useful for anything. But you're going to just find a mean of when I've been out shooting in different countries like America, when I'm in Canada. This is the research I do as well as having maps as well. So, we're just going to quickly go through what the equipment I use when I go out on adventures. If it's long-term, a day hike, or if it's for this one which is just about an hour shooting. So, for this hour shoot, I would bring along my main camera which I mostly use, which is a day 100. I mean, I've had it for four years now and it's never let me down. So, yeah. It's 36 megapixels and I've got a 16 to 35. It's my go-to lens as well, as I shoot a lot landscape, 16 millimeter to 35 is absolutely perfect. So yeah, it's quite a lot of weight to carry around but it's well worth it. Other things which I take out as well which will be taken out. Now, I've also sometimes play around with film, so you'll see me with this F5 which I got in Japan, but we're just a 50 mil prime. This is just a personal stuff work but this is just another piece of equipment which I sometimes play around with. It's actually a fantastic piece of kit. I got this in Japan and it was about $4,400, 250 quid, and it's one of the best phone cameras and its rapid. Other things which we'll take out, I may use, I may not, but it's worth it just in case the moment comes is a tripod as well. Not too big and heavy. It depends what I'm shooting. I always think ahead what I'm going to shoot, if I'm going to need a really stable tripod or I'm going to need something which is really small and steady, so I would consider that. If I'm shooting maybe a sunrise, sunset. If I want to get slower shorter speed, I can look at using, taking out my lee filters as well. So, I've just read a couple of gradients. I've got a 10 stop big stopper, which has actually created some awesome effects. But I don't hugely use it, it's just something which I like to think of if I'm out and about. I mean, all these equipments fairly lightweight, so we're not taking a huge amount out there, so it's quite easy to move around. 3. Planning Your Photo: So, today, for our Skillshare video, we've come out to shoot the Kynance Cove. So, we did a little of research before on computer, Google Maps, other people's work as well, trying to scout the location before we turned up and shot. So, we've chosen to shoot at sunrise. The sun is coming from over there, near Land's End, so we have perfect light. We've got a bit of cloud cover, which is actually not a bad thing at all as it creates a bit more drama than a clear sky. So, I've stopped to this location as it really stands out to me, the things that stands out to me is the leading into the sea. I've got Alex over there standing in the distance, so credit composition. In my work, I like to create, put figures in the landscapes, gives it innovative space and creates a better composition. For my settings for this kind of shot, I'll be trying to shoot the aperture, so I get as much detail as possible so hopefully above FA, F10, and also trying to keep the eye so quite low as the light is really good as well. So, when I'm trying to find a decisive moment in landscape photography, I'm looking for all sorts of elements, which bring a composition together. For me, the light is really important, so today, I've chosen to shoot just a couple hours after sunrise as well as shooting the sunrise at the same time. So, we got a really good light, we've got drama from the clouds. We've also got all this drama from the waves as well. So, when I'm shooting, I'm waiting for the waves to crash into the rocks at the perfect timing and that's when I shoot. I shoot when the waves come in and come over instead of having the waves coming in and no drama, having the sea spray coming up. So, the moment, I sent Alex into the far distance over there to put the landscape into scale, and bring the environment together, and we've also got really awesome cliffs, perfect lighting. We don't want him to be lost in the landscape as well, so I'm bringing him forward to make sure he's outlined clearly against the water, which is the clearest spot. If he was outlined against the landscape here, we'll just blend in. Other things I'm keeping in mind as well is also other thing, elements we can add. So, there's the sea gulls flying around, which add a bit of drama to the situation. I'm waiting for the rocks, so when the waves crash over the rocks, it's not just it crashing over, it's when it goes, it stops, it goes back down, it creates this awesome texture. So, the moment I'm put my focus point around Alex in the distance, try to get him in the focus as much as possible. The light is just coming over the hilltop which gives that flare and atmosphere. But, also, you've got to consider how your settings are done because you could either have the sky a bit too overexposed, or you're going to have underexposing, there's going to be too much highlights. At the moment, I'm balancing my settings between both because I want to be able to bring the highlights back and have that Sun, but also to bring out the detail of the shadows and all the rocks because I want to have that detail as well and not just an outline. Another thing I'm focusing on here and thinking about is how I'm gonna do these shots. So, if it's commercial use, if it's for personal use, for social medias. So, social medias have different layout, some formats. So, if Instagram, I love to have my photos long, so portrait. So, here, I'm thinking about how I can bring that together in an Instagram photo as well, so keeping those things in mind. 4. Shooting Your Landscape: So, for this part of the skill share video, we're going to go through my workflow, my editing, how I do that. So, quite a lot of photographers like to use lightroom, bridge kind of stuff, for me which is kind of kept over the years, I've kept on using eye photo. I'm not hugely sure it's available still but I'm pretty sure it's somewhere online to get. I really like it because it's easy to look at, you can find the photos, you can flag them and it's really visual and it's kind of easy to keep everything in by date. So for now, I'm going to go through all the photos, I'm going to flag them, pick which ones I like and then I chuck them in Iphoto, Photoshop role and edit from there. So at the moment, I'm just looking for which ones kind of best composition, best lighting and also looking at elements like the waves down here, which one has the best drama as well. So I have stopped on these two because you got Alex who is up there in the far corner of the left. I really love how the waves are crashing over, you got to see spray, the light is not too overexposed as well there and I should be able to bring out the detail. So I'm going to put this in flagged. So I would go through all my photos, I don't know how many there are but you know pick all the best and stuff like this I would kind of go through which one I'd flag. So something like that. So I would just start off with one for the moment which is this one. So this is a shot I have picked to go through and edit. So, at the moment, I'm looking which elements I want to bring up. Do I want to bring up the detail over the black. So at the moment, I'm using Photoshop blur. Its is kind of like is very similar to Lightroom layout and stuff but I just prefer the workflow. But it's like try what you prefer and go with it, there's no right or wrong where it is, as long as it's got all the tools. So remember, I'm trying to bring up the detail and remember I don't want to bring up too much. So it's not too over brought out and stuff but I like to have that factor. So, also going to increase the exposure a little bit just to increase the overall brightness of the photo. But also at the same time, I'm going to bring down the highlights just to bring this area over here so it's not too much light coming through. So I'm also going to increase the clarity and bring out the colors as well. I don't usually like to work on the contrast as well, I like to play around if we're going to play around with contrast to go into here and bring up the lights, bring up the darks, bring off the shadows, that kind of thing. At the moment it's looking pretty good. I do want to bring out the detail of these rocks here but not in everywhere, so there's different tools I can use. I can use the gradient tool or I can use a brush as well. For the moment I'm going to try the brush, so just make sure it's all reset down here so it doesn't go into the old presets. So now I'm going to use one of the brushes. So, with a brush you can pick areas which you want to bring up. So at the moment, I want to bring up these detail from the rock but not too much, increase the clarity than other parts of it. So, I'm just going to brush away some parts. Most of it might go way like down here its the waves, I want to bring up the sea spray a bit more as well. So I'm just trying to lighten bits of the image which kind of make it a better composure. So I've increased exposure a bit, other things which I'd like to do is might play around with the shadows to see if it becomes too much. So, I don't want to have it too much or it will look a bit odd. Might just increase the clarity just to bring detail a little bit sharper. I don't want to bring too much or it's going to wreck the image a bit. So that's kind of brought the image together which is good, most are going to go back to the overall settings as well and bring down the blacks just a tiny bit, just to contrast it between so you have more contrast with the waves and stuff, so only a couple of notches. Other things you can do is it depends if you want to have the curvature of the lens so you can do lens correction. Which sometimes looks better but sometimes it doesn't look so good. So, in this case, it hasn't made a huge amount of difference. It depends which lens you're using. I prefer like that but sometimes images have different qualities. It's the effect you want to go for it with that image. Okay, so the last thing I want to look at is horizon because it's kind of on the [inaudible] a bit when I took it. I'm going to check it in Photoshop so I'm just going to save it as one and check on my desktop and put in Photoshop. So the one tool I don't like on Photoshop rule is the horizon thing. It's a bit weirdly designed, but on Photoshop normal it's pretty easy to get it pretty straight. You can just check it by bringing down that and yeah spot on. [inaudible]. So kind of different things and we'll play around with is all of these. So, at the moment, I'm going to play around with bringing up detail. If it's something I want to have the outline of Alex and the hills or do I want to bring up the detail I'm going to see that. So I may have to bring it up quite a lot which is quite- which could actually bring noise up but it hasn't bought up a huge amount. So I have to push it right to the limit trying to get all the details out. But this is the thing about shooting raw. You can bring up so much more than shooting jpeg so always shoot raw because you are going to be able to do this with a jpeg file. So I've pushed that to its max I don't really want to go much further or it's going to start getting a bit noisy. But I really like how it's brought this foreground detail here. It's brought up the details here as well as- So I'm just going to play around with the exposure. Bringing everything a bit up a bit more. It's the kind of mood you want to go for the shot as well, if you want to have a dramatic mood I could bring the clouds down, make them really dark, change the colors and stuff, play with light balance. But for the moment I'm just going to keep it quite natural. So I brought the highlights down just to get the, so this area up here isn't over exposed. I don't want to bring it down too much because it can get- kind of look very very odd and kind of solarized there. So you got to play on the edge of what's realistic I guess. Different things I want to play with is see if the warmth, what kind of white balance do I want, do I want it to be a really cold image. Do I want to reflect the mood of the time I shoot, or do I want to bring up this area. I could put a gradient in overheads, bring the warmth over and then how it kind of colder here where the sea is. But for the moment, I'll just play around the whole image just bring it up a bit. That actually works really nicely because there's a lot of the warmth coming from [inaudible] the sunrise so it's not overly pushed across the whole image. Different things I'm going to do as well is push the clarity up a bit kind of get that detail up a bit more and also see how the vibrance, bringing those little colors up as well. I don't like to hugely oversaturate my images because I think it can become especially greens and stuff, becomes overwhelming in photos and it's quite obvious at the same time. I think the exposure's just a bit more. Just to lighten the whole image up and play with the highlights just to bring it down a bit too much. Yeah and then I'm going to go over to lens correction. It's something that works on either image. I mean it's kind of effect you want to go for. For this kind of shot I would want to correct the image but in other shots you could actually really like that kind of effect it gives so it's down to you at the moment. Another thing I need to do is just correct the horizon last of all and it's good to go. I just save my image and check it in Photoshop normal. I'm checking it in Photoshop normal because I find it a lot easier to correct the horizon, it's a lot clearer as well. How to do it on there, it's got a kind of weird tool, is one annoying thing. Yeah it's pretty pretty sweet. That actually came out quite nice. 5. Editing Your Shot: So, for the final thoughts of this video, I'm going to reflect on what we've done. We've got to be more creative with our composition, and we looked at how we stand, where we look at, the lighting, locations, throw everything through, and hopefully, created a more exciting, and compelling image. So, here, when we're looking at this photo, which was actually one of my favorite of the day, and I really like it because of the lighting. You got this really warm light coming through. We've thought about how we've taken it. We've looked at where the Sun rises, we did the research ahead. We look where we should be standing, the weather, we don't want it to be too stormy, so there's bit of cloud cover, which creates a bit of drama, but not too stormy that it's all wiped out, and you actually get some light, and also, that there's gonna be a bit of waves down here to create some more interesting drama as well. I've thought in symmetry as well, even in nature, I've got central to Alex who's standing right there, and yeah. So, I think the important thing to focus on in photography, is how you compose your image, and let everything follow, including light settings and that, like learn the settings, but get out there and shoot, and been able to be more creative with your composition is real skill 6. Explore Photo Classes on Skillshare: