Skip to main content

Photo Critique

Lesson 15 from: The Landscape Photography Workshop

Taylor Burk

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

15. Photo Critique

Next Lesson: Workshop Conclusion

Lesson Info

Photo Critique

(ominous music) I just wanted to pick a couple of my favorite images. Talk a little bit about it, a little bit of the backstory, a little about the composition, and just kind of talk about my mindset going into it. So I have an image here from Gros Morne in Newfoundland it's Gros Morne National Park. Newfoundland is an Eastern province in Canada. It's this incredible fjord. It's actually fresh water. It's disconnected from the ocean. Freshwater fjord that resembles Norway. But it's right here in Canada. It's a place I've been wanting to go for years as a kid. I remember seeing photos of it in like photo books or postcards. I can't remember where exactly I saw it but I remember seeing images of that and being like, "I need to go there. I wanna see this for myself. I want to experience it." We were planning this for months. We joined some friends. They were kind of traveling there on their honeymoon. We crashed and joined with them for a little bit and combined trips. We got, you know,...

did our research. We found out that you have to take a test to be able to navigate the terrain. We were gonna do the whole traverse. It was, I think, five days traversing from one point of the park to the other fully in the back country, there's actually no set trail. You have to navigate yourself. So you have to know how to use a compass, how to navigate all these things. And they actually had a test that you had to take. Before you could do the hike, before you could get your permits. You had to go through it all and make sure that you knew what you were getting yourself into. So that was something that we kind of had to keep in mind. You know, we had to make sure we had all the maps. We had everything dialed, we need to know where we're camping, how to get to each place and do all that. So it was our first night and we took a ferry down the fjord to the other end where the hike started up. It was kind of overcast. It was, you know, in and out of rainstorm storms, conditions were not looking prime. I was really, really bummed because this is a place I've been wanting to visit for so long and I was so excited to finally get there and we got skunked, you know, it was pouring rain. We just got up to the top, set up our camp, and just retreated to our tents. I took a nap. I was just kind of, you know, still happy to be there and experience it. But I was so invested in, "I'm gonna get some incredible photos. This is gonna be, portfolio pieces ideally, things I can share and have for the long haul and sell prints, all these things." And so I was just trying to manage my expectations. I set an alarm. No, sorry. I'm in my tent, hiding from the rain. I ended up having a nap. I fell asleep. I didn't set an alarm and I just kinda woke up just kind of groggy, like, "oh, what's going on outside?" I opened up my tent door to this scene. Literally what's going on right now. The storm is breaking, clouds, fogs emerging up. These wispy clouds that are just lit up by the sun. It's going off. I scramble, find my camera, grab my lens, throw it on. I'm freaking out. Like trying to, okay, compose. What's my shot. What am I trying to get here? What's it doing? I'm just, trying to calculate it all in my head. And I noticed that there's this single ray of light shining onto, it's called Pissing Mare Falls. It's the actual name of it. But there's this, this ray of light going directly onto the falls, lighting it up. And there's these clouds all around it, just, you know, with that sunset glow. And it was just the most incredible, some of the most incredible conditions I've ever encountered. And it just happened to be at right place, right time prepared, had everything kind of ready to go, but just, it was lucky. It was a lucky shot. If I slept for an extra 15 minutes, I would've missed it. I would've woke up, the sun would've been setting, the whole scene would've been gone so that was just a great example of what a lot of landscape photography is. And it's just the right place, right time. Trial and error, spending time outside, you never know what you're gonna get. And this ended up being one of my favorite shots just because of that story behind it. It's a place I've been wanting to go for so long. I thought we were gonna get completely skunked with conditions and it turned out to be some of the most incredible conditions ever. And I just kind of composed this in a way that it shows that light beam, you have the falls on the left and you can kind of see the whole fjord and all the layers behind it. So just a little bit of a story behind that image and why it's one of my favorites. All right. Here's another image. And you can kind of probably see a bit of a common theme. Just moody, drama, clouds. Going into this we had no real expectations because we were driving into a huge snowstorm. We heard about this viewpoint from a friend in the kind of east room, the Grand Canyon. We figured out, you know we did some Googling, figured out that you had to get some permits. It was on Navajo Nation land. So we had to make sure we get our permits before going out there, making sure we're all set up. So we said, "you know what? Let's just go." Let's just see what, see what we can see. Expectations were low. We're driving. We were basically in a snow globe. Couldn't see anything around us. And just driving along this road. And all of a sudden the clouds start to drop and we realize we're driving along the side of a cliff. And we look out, walk out, look down, and the scene is unfolding. The clouds are parting. The sun is poking through. It's lighting up the canyon walls. The wind is pushing the clouds off. It's just a super dramatic scene that I'll never forget. I remember just standing there in just shock. I don't think I took photos for a while we were just in disbelief of what was happening and the scale of it all. The Grand Canyon is huge. It's massive. And it's so hard to capture because you can't really, there's no boats down the river or anything like that. It's just something that you just have to you have to see for yourself, and it can be tough with a photo to kind of give that proper scale. But for this one, I just want to show that. Highlight the clouds, and the drum, and the mood and show that the storm is breaking and the cliff is being revealed and that you can kind of see that dark moody river down below. So that was just once again a common theme of right place, right time, just keeping expectations low, hoping for the best. Typically, if you go out in a storm and you try and find when it's ending you're gonna get rewarded with really, really, really cool conditions because the light's gonna pop out. Things are breaking up and it's gonna create a lot of mood and drama. If it was just a clear day it would've still been beautiful but you wouldn't have had this drama that I love so much and this made it a standout photo because you're not gonna get conditions like this all the time. It was a high snow year. And it was just happened to be the exact right timing. So that was an image that stood out. It garnered a lot of attention. And that kind of helped propel me up again with my photography career, because it got shared a lot. A lot of people are talking about it. So it's moments like that, that I love that I just, you just kind of happen to stumble upon and you're prepared for it. This is an image that I was kind of joking about when I posted it. I just was saying that I was taking a photo and I sneezed and my photo was blurry, but I actually kind of liked it. It's kind of half true. It was a bit of an accident. I was on a boat and it was getting really dark. As you can see, the moon was just rising over the cliff. And I was trying to manage my settings get everything dialed in. And I had a shot that was kind of blurry. And I realized, you know what I'm gonna have some fun with this. I'm gonna play around with my settings a little bit and see if I can capture that blur and create the line that was coming out down on the ocean. See if I can emulate in the sky to create one straight line down. So what I did was I had my settings, a slower shutter, where then I can then create some motion by moving it, moving my camera. I had a telephoto lens on. So what I did was, I took dozens, and dozens, and dozens of photos that didn't turn out. But I happened to get one where I was perfectly still and I was able to go up down. That quick up down that I was perfectly still in that moment. And it just created this really cool image, which at first I didn't know if I liked it or not but once I kinda, started editing it a bit, I realized that maybe there was something a little special here and it's a fairly new image that is now one of my favorites. And I encourage you just to kind of play around with settings. This was just having fun with it, playing, you know trying to capture something a bit different and unique. Most of the time you probably just capture the moon rising and that's it. So this just added a little bit of element of a playful element to it that made it stand out from other moon photos. This has been one of my most successful images. I've sold the most prints of this image. I've had artists recreate this image and paint it. We actually did this beautiful big piece. We were able to donate to the BC Children's Hospital. It to me is just I think it's a beautiful photo. It's nice, clean, minimal, it's unique conditions, but the story behind it is just what makes it for me. It was actually on Mount Cheam. I was up with some friends and we were hiking up. And one of those things, it was an overcast cloudy day, for shooting conditions. We're probably, we weren't gonna get much of a sunset. We're gonna be in the cloud. It's gonna be nothing too exciting, but we're here. The intention, the goal was to go having like, outside and spend time with friends, hiking in nature. It wasn't for a photo in particular. And I think maybe it's with that intention is why it kind of happened. But we're hiking, hiking, hiking, making our way, gaining altitude. And then all of a sudden we're in the clouds. Next thing you know, a little bit more elevation, and boom pop out of the clouds. A huge, the whole everything around us fully, you know, massive inversion fully covered except for the peaks peeking out. And, you know, lo and behold, Mount Baker, one of my favorite mountains just the points poking through right at the top. Right as the sun's setting, you got that band of glow, you know a (indistinct) glow right on it. You got that nice color, even sky. I was losing it. I was like freaking out. I was like, "oh, this is amazing, this is amazing!" I think it was one of the first inversions I've ever encountered. And I'm just like, shooting like a madman, trying to capture it before we lose all the sun and the light. And I just kind of honed in on this. And I was like, this is the shot. This is my favorite mountain, you know, unreal conditions. This is something that I'm never gonna forget. And an image that I'm just really, really happy with. And primarily because I wasn't expecting to get anything. And lo and behold, I got quite a few images from that hike that are some of my favorite. And once again, I've kind of stood out and garnered a lot attention around my name. Got shared around a lot. People wanted prints of it. It just was a lucky shot you could say.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Astrophotography Checklist
Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Selby Wilkinson

Incredible course! I learned so much watching this. I loved Taylor's teaching style and found it really helpful to get to see how he works out in the field. Everything about it was so well thought out - I appreciated the little details he included in the course like the PDFs and photo book recommendations. I would definitely recommend!

Jason Webb

This course is awesome! Great insights into landscape photography. Highly recommend.


This course was great--Taylor's approach and delivery of the topics is straightforward and extremely helpful. I am somewhat comfortable with my camera/settings and know some of the basic rules of photography, but his explanations help translate in how to use those tools to create YOUR own images no matter what you are trying to achieve. Can’t recommend this course enough to any aspiring landscape photographer.

Student Work