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On Location: Artistic Choices

Lesson 11 from: Landscape Photography: Start to Finish

Matt Kloskowski

On Location: Artistic Choices

Lesson 11 from: Landscape Photography: Start to Finish

Matt Kloskowski

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Lesson Info

11. On Location: Artistic Choices


Class Trailer

Course Introduction


5 Things Every Landscape Photographer Should Know


Camera Gear


Gear Q & A


On Location: Weather & Safety


On Location Pre-Visualzation Sutro Baths


On Location: Camera Settings


On Location: Composition


Matt Klowskowski - My Story


On Location: Bracketing


On Location: Artistic Choices


On Location: Pre-Visualzation Marshall's Beach


On Location: Long Exposure


On Location: iPhone


On Location: Wrap Location


Location Challenges: How to Shoot in Open Sun with No Clouds


Location Challenges: How to shoot Cloudy, Stormy, & Blah Weather


Location Challenges: How to shoot Beaches


Location Challenges: How to shoot Waterfalls


Location Challenges: How to shoot Panorama Vista Scenes


Location Challenges: How to shoot Lakes


Location Challenges: How to shoot Mountains


Location Challenges: How to shoot Deserts


Location Challenges: How to shoot City Skylines


Location Challenges: How to shoot Snow


Location Challenges: How to shoot Backlit Situations


Outdoor Landscape Workflow & Organization


Basic Editing in Lightroom: Part 1


Basic Editing in Lightroom: Part 2


Lightroom and Photoshop: Intermediate Techniques Pt. 1


Lightroom and Photoshop: Intermediate Techniques Pt. 2


HDR for Landscape Photography


Panoramas for Landscape Photography


How to shoot Landscape with Adobe Photoshop in Mind


Sky Replacement in Photoshop


Processing Project: Stormy Mountains


Processing Project: Crashing Waves on the Rocks


Processing Student Raw Images


Final Q&A


Lesson Info

On Location: Artistic Choices

Artistic stuff. I'll tell you what that means in just a minute, but we're gonna throw over to a video. Alright, in this segment here we're gonna talk about artistic choices. Justin, what do you think? I think that we should absolutely talk about this. You know, we get to a place like this and there's just the main scene you can capture but I'm very curious to hear your perspective on what are the various ways you can play with the scene or the light, you know, if we have light, and how you can make this a little more interesting. I'm curious too. So this is an interesting one. And I'm almost glad it panned out this way because I wanna almost tell you guys that, leading up to this, I'd never been to this location before. So I'm coming out here for work to do this class and this was the location we're at. So I'm almost kind of assuming that you guys are along the same type of situation. You go to a place. That's where you're gonna be and you can't choose the weather. So it's not much...

of a sunset. What kinds of things would I do when it comes to light and direction? You know, if I'm looking out at this scene there's an arch and there's a rock back there. The first thing that I'm gonna look at is can I position myself on a sunny day where the sun is gonna go between that arch? That'll be a really cool shot. Take my 70 to 200 lens. I could even take a wider lens but try to get the sun where it's going right in between that arch. That's a really neat shot. So I'm gonna look at that. I'm gonna be down near the rocks. You got water coming up on the rocks. So I'm gonna be down near the rocks and I'm gonna play with depth of field. I'm gonna play with focusing on the rocks with a shallow depth of field, meaning I'm gonna use a lower f-stop and I'm actually gonna go against the settings that I talked about before where I said I'm usually always gonna be on f/16 or f/8. I'll experiment a little bit. You know, I'll get down near the rocks and I'll shoot at maybe f/4, f/2.8, and I'll focus on the rocks and let everything else go blurry in the background. Then I'll use f/16 and I'll focus on the rocks. Everything'll be sharp. I'll play with my shutter speeds a lot. So I'll try to get as creative as I can with the depth of field here. The other thing is gonna be color. So in this example here, right now what we have is a lack of color. If you haven't realized it, it's really kinda gray out. It's almost kinda monochromatic. I'm gonna probably, I'm almost thinking about processing right now in what I'm gonna do to my photos and I'm gonna go that direction. They're gonna be very monochromatic, maybe even black and white. While I don't do a lot of black and white, I've actually been getting more into it and I can appreciate it and I think this would be a good scene for it. So guys, I look out here. We could make a photo of just this scene right here. If you were to think of, we've got a wall. That's gonna be my angle in the foreground. There's not gonna be a straight line in the foreground. You can see, it's gonna kinda angle up from the bottom right toward the left. And then what happens when it angles up into that left side? If you look just above it, there's a rock. So now you're kind of leading up into the rock and then if you look over from that one rock in the middle, to the right, there's another one in the right corner. So what we do by setting it up this way is we're kind of bringing people in and then back across the photo. Alright, so I'll kinda go a little bit wider with it. I'll go ahead and take a shot. Remember, I have my camera set to bracketing mode so it's gonna take three different versions. I don't think I'll need all three versions but I have 'em in case I need 'em. I'm covered. But as I look at that shot there, I'm almost already seeing black and white. I'm seeing a moody shot. I'm actually gonna play with the atmosphere in it, where it kinda has a foggy type of an atmosphere. I might even try to see if I can play with that a little bit more and enhance it rather than try to make it appear to a shot that it's not gonna be. So I think definitely when it comes to mood we're gonna play with it here in color. If we had color what would I be looking for? I'd be looking at these rocks. The sun's gonna go down over there. Believe me, it's out there. When it hits these rocks, these rocks have a golden color to 'em. They're really gonna light up. They're gonna get a real nice golden color to 'em. So I'm gonna look at that. Also when it comes to color, you see all these waves? I'm gonna try to backlight them. Because the sun's going down behind 'em. When the waves crash and they kick up a little bit of spray, if there's light you'll get a lot of nice backlit spray that'll almost glow and you'll have a color that goes whatever color the water is. So that looks cool as well. So there's a lot of different things that we can do here. I'm kinda going over what I'm faced with in this situation, which is gonna happen to you guys as well. So you work with what you have, shoot with what you have, but also know, if the sun's out, I'm looking at color. I'm looking at where the sun is gonna be. And those are gonna be two real big focal points of my photo if I had more color out here. Justin, I know you're looking out there and you're thinking we didn't get too lucky today. Yeah, that's true. I think, I love what you said about the hole in the rocks there. The sun that's right, that would be an incredible shot. It'd be awesome. But, you know, given what we have, I'd love to hear, you mentioned mood. And I'd love to hear a little bit more about what you mean and how we can use the setting and maybe the light we have to tell a story with mood. Yeah, so, I think mood wise, it has a gray feeling to it. It's got a very gray, almost somber feeling to it. So as I'm thinking of that, I'm gonna try to, I'm gonna try to limit my photo to be what the moody part is. So as we stand back here, and I don't know how much everybody's gonna be able to see in the camera, but there's some rocks over here. There's even some water down here. There's a lot of different stuff. That, to me, doesn't have the mood in it. To me, what has the mood, is kind of the atmospheric rock back there. It's already kinda, it's already more hazy than the rocks that are closer to us. So as I look at that stuff I'm thinking, alright, that's a lot of mood, 'cause I have some depth to it. I have some, I don't wanna use the word sharper, but there's more detail to what we have up front, but then it gets kind of foggy as it gets back there. So I think that gives us a nice mood. I think when we slow down the shutter a little bit we smooth out the water. That gives us a nice mood to it. It really soothes the scene. It calms things down, makes it feel again, a little more somber, a little bit more gray. Interesting, very cool. Cool, so not so lucky in the weather aspect of it. I'm pretty sure that's probably happened to all of you before, happened to everybody out there and there's not many things that are guaranteed in life, but you can guarantee it will happen again. So the photo that's up on screen here is about what my camera was pointing at. I know that at a lot of times it was hard to see the camera but that's about what my camera was pointing at. So compositionally, you can see we've got a lot of nice angles going on there, coming in from the bottom right, a little bit of curve on the left hand side. Interest going throughout and then we kept with barely close to the rule of thirds there so doing pretty good. I talked about mood and everything. I could really easily, like I'm in light room right now. I could hit the V key, changes it to black and white. And then if I were to re-shoot this, 'cause we were shooting with a wide angle lens out there, but I might put my telephoto on. I might have repositioned myself to isolate that rock but that's a totally different shot too. So there's a lot of different things you can do. In fact, I definitely would have, when we see the long exposure segment, you'll see my shot of this. I'm a little bit more zoomed in but I would have put a longer lens on it. I would have moved myself to where I could isolate that one rock and just done a simple monochromatic scene. And I think that would've been nice as well. So let's talk a couple of different, kind of take it off of the beach where we were at and just kind of talk about artistic color, mood. The joke was in the beginning, let's talk about artistic. So the first take of that video, I wasn't, it was a long day for me. And Jim's sitting, he's like, okay Matt, your next one's artistic. I'm like, okay. Hey everybody, let's just talk about artistic stuff and Jim's like. So, artistic stuff is now what all this stuff is called. Color, mood, texture. This is Justin's photo sitting in the back there. So this is from the trailer that they did for this class. They did a really nice job on the trailer but when we're talking artistic, I saw this photo, and I'm like, you know what, it's a beautiful photo. In some ways it goes against, you ever hear people say you gotta be out at sunrise or sunset? I've been guilty of it. You gotta be out at sunrise or sunset. You gotta be out at sunrise or sunset. This photo's not at sunrise or sunset. I don't think it would've looked good at sunrise or sunset. So why does it work? Why is it beautiful? It's the colors. He got the blue sky with the sun and the golden grass in the front. It's those two complementary colors. You look on a color wheel and the blue and the oranges and yellows are opposite from each other. That's why that shot works. You know, it's the color. The composition, I mean, it's impeccable composition. It's awesome. But the color is what really really jumps out to me in that photo. Same thing with that. This is the aspens in Colorado during, in fall. Just look up and the sun's there. It's backlighting them so they glow. Another little tip for ya, I'll probably say it again. I've probably said it before. When something glows, shoot it. Take a picture. If it's glowing, take a picture. It's flowers glowing, take a picture. But these are little formulas. If something glows, take a picture of it. But what works in that? Again the blue and the yellows. What works in that? The red, the blue. Same thing with this. So the colors, or, when we get into something like this, almost the lack of color, right? They're not gonna have that color. Go with it, go with it. Simplify the scene so that the lack of color actually becomes part of the shot. Again, you know, I've got these complementary blue and golden colors. The one thing that you'll see as we go through here is blues and yellows go together really really well. In photography, at least in my opinion, if there's two most powerful outdoor color photography color combinations, it's gonna be your blues and your golden yellows and reds. Again, your night shot, the golden lights below, with the blue sky. How does that happen though? If I waited two hours, that shot's totally different. The sky goes black. Remember somebody asked about twilight before? That's when that happens. I like to shoot my city skylines at twilight, a half hour or so after the sun goes down because you still get color in the sky. Incidentally, you want another couple little tips on skylines? So don't ask me how. I've done way too much research on this. But middle of the week is best. What makes a skyline special? The lights, to me they look best when all the lights are on. So middle of the week tends to work best. Friday's a bad day. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is a bad day because you don't have a lot of people in the offices. But I've done way too much research on this. Most people stay late to work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Most cleaning crews come on Wednesdays. So, I've done way too much research, but, you want the lights on in the buildings. You don't want big gaps in the buildings in the lights. Pastels, gorgeous when you just get this pastel flat color. 'Cause when you do that, what stands out? Whatever you're shooting. You make everything kinda, it's a little flatter, nice pastel look. Back to the photo we've before, blue hour. We're using the blue of the blue hour to make the shot. I think beaches, that's the time to shoot, is during the blue hour. You get the pastel colors. Remember, light hits part of something, shoot it. Light just shines down on part of the trees? Take a picture of it. Gray days, if you can find a color to put up against a gray sky, really really powerful image. We'll work the post-processing tomorrow on a photo like this where we can pull back the sky, make it look really dramatic and gray and ominous. And if there's a color in there it's really gonna stand out. Again, just monochromatic almost. Something like that, aside from that little patch of blue in the top it almost looks like a black and white. Simplify your scenes. See it that way. And then when you get that monochromatic like the clouds if you can mix color in there, that's a shot. I'm looking out back at all of these trees out there and it's like I'm focusing on the patch that's all snow covered and gray and then you've got these colorful trees right in the middle. And then be creative. Shoot into the sun. Shoot into the sun. What's gonna happen when you shoot into the sun? It's gonna fade everything in the photo. It's gonna give it a warm faded look but to me, that says New York morning. This was, I think it was like an August or September morning. It was hot. You just kind of felt hot, like, I get the feeling of it. It's almost a black and white, but it gives you just enough of that color tint in there just to make it feel like sunrise. And then some scenes just scream black and white. It's like, I saw that. This was Iceland. I saw that, as I was taking the picture, I'm like this is gonna be black and white. Some scenes just scream black and white at you and when the light and the tones take over, to me that's a great candidate for black and white. Think of what we see in a black and white. We see the light and the tones. That's all we're gonna see. When the light is the star, but it's not colorful, I think it's great. Same thing with this. This is actually not converted to black and white. It's just so white and the sky is so white that it almost looks like a black and white photo. It's actually a glacier. So it looks like a mountain. But Iceland is almost all, Iceland is just a big volcano. So these glaciers are not all blue. They're formed from the ash landing and then building up over the years. So it's actually a glacier. There's an ice cave in there somewhere.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Matt's Photography Gear

Ratings and Reviews

Christian Ruvolo

Mat Kloskowski class is really amazing, full of very useful tipps and inspiration. Wonderful pictures by him help to understand the explanations an I am learning A LOT from him!!! Thank you for the class!!! TOP!!!!


I love Matt's teaching style, humor, honesty, friendliness. I love On1 and all the other demos and critiques he does. He makes me enjoy the craft/art of photography much more and is a great inspiration.

a Creativelive Student

This class was for beginners and I believe Matt did a great job of giving students an great introduction to landscape photography. More on the practical than technical side, but that seems appropriate for an intro class. He comes across as a "real" guy who loves what he does and is eager to share his knowledge. Those new to photography will get a lot of helpful information and tips in this course.

Student Work