The 4 Coolest Places in New Zealand (That I’ve Photographed)

The 4 Coolest Places in New Zealand (That I’ve Photographed)

Do me a favor, close your eyes and picture this. You’re lying in a bunk on a boat, rocking back and forth, listening to the waves lap against the hall. And as you drift off to sleep, you hear thunderous rain pounding on the decks above you and roaring wind lashing against the size of the boat. Early in the morning, you’re woken up when the captain blasts the ship’s horn. And although it’s before daybreak, you leap out of bed, grab your camera gear, and you go charging upstairs to the upper decks of the boat. And when you get there, you find the rain stopped, but clouds obscure the world around you. Then as the morning develops, the clouds begin to clear and the tops of vile high peaks, rising straight out of the ocean start to appear. And you see that overnight. The rain turned into snow and those peaks are dusted with a fresh coat of white and has all of this registers in your brain. The sun eases over the Eastern wall of the world and light beams plunged down through the atmosphere and it looks something like this.

Greetings, my excellent friends. It’s no secret that I love New Zealand. I spent over a year of my life exploring and photographing. What is one of the most astounding countries on the planet. And it’s never far from my thoughts, but New Zealand is lodged even more firmly in my brain right now because they just announced that in the midst of this global pandemic, they have effectively stopped COVID-19 within their borders. If you’re a Kiwi, you can now go pretty much anywhere and do pretty much anything. And you don’t have to wear a mask. It’s a big leap, tremendous achievement. And so I wanted to celebrate New Zealand by sharing with you four of the coolest places in this country that I’ve had the great fortune to visit and photograph.

I’ve been all over the North and the South islands of New Zealand. And while they both have a lot to offer this South Island is what pulls me back over and over. Thanks to its rugged good looks and it’s vast wild spaces. And that wild place that I mentioned at the top of the video, it’s called doubtful sound. It’s in Fiordland national park and it’s one of the magic places of the world. And if you go there, I highly recommend that you do what I did and you stay overnight within the Fjord itself. You won’t regret it. And while I could gush on and on and make an entire video just about Fiordland, there are a couple other things that I wanted to show you.

Let’s move inland to a place called Mount aspiring national park. Man, as I like to call it is a stunning place full of rivers and forests and sexy, sexy mountains. And in my opinion, it’s one of the best places in New Zealand to hike because of its sheer size, the variety of scenery, as well as its relative accessibility. And in 2018, I got to access a very special part of the park in a very special way on a gray rainy morning, a small helicopter lifted off from the wee little town of maca Rora carrying me and my bag of gear 17 miles up the Wilkin river and depositing me on a gravel bar about half a mile from a place called the top forks hut. I spent the next five days living in the hut in near complete isolation. I spent my time hiking beneath massive hanging glaciers and eating rehydrated Shepherd’s pie next to a crackling fire.

It ended up raining most of the time that I was out there. And so I didn’t have the best light or conditions for photography, but that didn’t stop me from exploring and grabbing shots. Whenever the light did peek through because of that, I spent more time wet than dry and my feet were in the river. As often as they were out of it. It’s a very wild place back there. And I found that plunging headlong into it was the absolute best way to experience what it had to offer. And when it was all over, I hiked 10 miles back down the Valley to a little landing alongside the Wilkin river where a jet boat picked me up. Pearled me the rest of the way down the river. And back to my car, you could file that under, did not suck

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I cut my teeth in photography, shooting seascapes in Santa Cruz, California. And while I live in the mountains, now the ocean has carved out that really special place in my heart. So whenever I get an opportunity to visit a unique beach, I jumped at the chance and there aren’t many beaches, more unique or more beautiful than far Riki beach. I stumbled across this marvelous stretch of sand. When I was doing research for my very first dedicated New Zealand photography excursion way back in 2012. And it was love at first sight. And since then, whenever possible, I make it my mission to get back to firearm. Kiki. What makes it special to me is a couple of things. First of all, you have these towering stands, stone islands are called the Archway islands and they sit just off the coach.

And these things are huge. This arch right here, you could actually fit an entire soccer pitch underneath it. Second, the beach itself is made of this wonderful mix of black and gold sand, which formed in these marble jigsaw type of patterns. So if you’re an abstract photographer, you could happily spend a lifetime here. The sand is also beautifully reflective and the beaches incredibly flat. So a lot of the time after a wave rushes out, you’ll find yourself with this absolutely perfect mirror, smooth finish stretching off into the distance in front of you. 

And this can cause problems from a photography standpoint, but it also means that there are no sand flies there. And that’s a trade off that I will happily take every single time. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no wildlife. In fact, if you’re there at the right time of year, you can often find baby seal pups playing in the little title pools there on the beach. Now, if I were Ricky, it’s not really close to anything. It’s at the very end of a long quiet road in a long quiet part of the country, but it really is worth the effort to get there. I’ve never seen conditions changed so fast as they change and farro far-reaching every single time that I’ve been there, I’ve had rain, rainbows, clear skies and incredible light shows often within just a few hours of each other. Plus the sheep are really cute too.

Finally, I’d like to take you back to the mountains to an extraordinary place called out Rocky Mount cook national park. This is one of my favorite places in the entire world. And I’ve had a lot of really cool experiences that I could tell you about. Like the time that I woke up inside a cloud at Tasman Lake, and I got to experience being inside a full 360 degree fog low, or like the time my friend Jessica and I got stuck in the Mueller hut for three days during a blizzard. And we ran out of food and we had to get rescued by a helicopter after the weather cleared out. I could tell you about those times, but instead I wanted to tell you about a neat little place called Sefton bib. Now, if you’ve been to Mount cook, more likely than not, you’ve hiked the hooker Valley track and this track for those of you who don’t know, it’s just gobs.

Smackingly beautiful. It passes under huge peaks. You take suspension bridges over these wonderful glacial rivers. The track carries you past unrivaled views of our Rocky Mount cook, which is the highest peak in New Zealand. And finally it deposits you on the shore of a Lake that’s full of icebergs. I mean, it’s pretty freaking cool, but somewhere along that track, if you know the right place to turn off, you can follow a stream bed to a pile of talus, to a little cleft in the hillside to a very rough track that leads you up the mountain side to Sefton bef sift bib or bivy. It’s one of the maintained huts within the park. And I really mean it’s a hut. I mean, it’s just four walls, a roof and an outdoor toilet with the world’s most insane view. And this hut is normally used by mountaineers who are trying to climb Mount septin or the footstool.

And although I’m not enough of a Mountaineer to really tackle a serious objective like that, I do like to get up into the thick of things and Sefton bib it’s in the thick of things. So let me try to give you a sense of exactly where this is. Sefton bibs sits on a tiny spur of rock, surrounded by glaciers. Here’s a view of the mountain side as seen from the park village. And as I zoom in more and more look for a tiny orange stuff. Okay. Yeah, there it is. That is sifted bef pretty amazing. And for peer, you have a commanding view over the park, as well as easy access to some enormous glaciers. Now, when I visited, I only had enough time to spend a single night in the hut, but you better believe I was running around like a monkey chasing bananas, taking as many pictures as I could have this unique and wonderful place.

Now at one point is safety. If you ever have a chance to visit the bib, you should expect a very strenuous climb to get up there. And I recommend that you bring crampons and an ice ax as well. If you’re going to get on the glacier, that’s absolutely mandatory. And if you don’t have any glacier travel experience, you got to go with a guide or somebody who is experienced. I don’t want to be responsible for you being as dumb as I once was. All right, that’s going to do it for this video. If you enjoyed this virtual photo tour of New Zealand, please like, and leave a comment and subscribe. If you haven’t, that helps tell YouTube to show this video to other people which helps me grow the channel and make more videos. I really appreciate it. This is Josh Cripps signing off. So until next time travel well, be safe, love the landscape respected and as always happy shooting.

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Why These Photos Don’t Work (I tried, I worked the scene, and I FAILED!)

Why These Photos Don’t Work (I tried, I worked the scene, and I FAILED!)


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Ring of Fire

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Taken in the Empty Quarter of the United Arab Emirates on December 26th, 2019.

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Fall Color Landscape Photography in the Eastern Sierra Nevada

Fall Color Landscape Photography in the Eastern Sierra Nevada

I see that. Do you know what that is? That’s blue sky. Not only is it blue sky, but it’s just about the first blue sky I’ve seen in the last three to four weeks. You see? So it hasn’t been the easiest thing to get outside in the last month or so, but today here we are near the end of September and the winds have started the shift. So those clearing skies, along with the fact that the aspens are starting to change, it means it’s time to get outside for some fall color photography.

I love shooting fall colors, but one of the big questions that I’m always confronted with is how do you keep it fresh? How do you keep being creative and shooting new and novel types of photos after all there’s only so many wide angles shooting backlit through the trees and creating a Sunstar kind of photos that you can take before. It just stops being all that fun. Which means that my big challenge for the day is can I find a way to approach fall color photography in a new way that keeps it exciting and fresh for me. But first we’ve got to find a place to actually shoot. Oh, that’s right. All my favorite spots in the local forest are closed right now. What about, or even crap? It looks like we’re going to have to go for a little drive. I’ve come to the humble Toyama national forest. And there’s a place here that I’ve been to before that is spectacular for fall color. The problem is I don’t quite remember how to get there.

Cool. Yeah. Maximum success here we are at green Creek, one of the best places for fall color in Eastern Sierra, Nevada, and Beck, just driving up the road to this Trailhead. I found an amazing hillside covered with aspens turning bright yellows. And I just had to stop for a quick shot. One of the reasons that I wanted to stop here because of these two bushes, you can see back here, you have this beautiful ill side, getting back lit by the mid day sun. And there are two dominant stripes of fall color on the hillside. Then you also have those two bushes down here below the conifers. And what I’d like to do is line those two bushes up with those dominant stripes of color. And this is a fantastic lesson that you should take away in your photography is being an active participant in the scene.

If I shoot that photo from right here, it looks something like this. You can see that misalignment, but you can position the elements in your frame, even though you can’t physically move those bushes or that hillside, you can adjust your relationship to them. So instead of shooting at it from this angle, if I walk over here a little bit more, even just that small adjustment to my position is going to create a much better alignment between those elements in the photo. And as much as I enjoy this photo and still left with that burning question, how do I bring something new to fall color so that it stays interesting and exciting for me. And actually I have an approach that I use for this exact kind of situation. It’s really simplistic, but it’s very powerful. And it’s simply, I do the opposite of whatever I have been doing. So if I’m super bored of shooting Whiting of photos, I only shoot with a telephoto lens. If I’m really tired of shooting horizontal photos, I shoot only vertical photos for awhile. It just helps get the creative juices flowing. And as I thought more and more about what exactly I can shake up with my fall color photography, I realized that I’m always shooting fall color from the grant. And I would love to have a different perspective. So today we’re going to shoot fall color from the sky.

This is going to be a huge challenge to actually launch a drone in this forest. It’s like threading a needle. These trees are so close together in the canopy. I don’t think it’s going to happen. We’re going to have to keep going.

Can we find an open spot? Oh man. That looks good.  And if you’re thinking, “Cripps it’s the middle of the day, it’s a pretty crappy time to be taking pictures. Don’t you think?” Well, actually love doing fall color photography in the middle of the day, especially when you’re shooting the leaves back lit by the sun. The colors absolutely explode onto your camera sensor. Now, whether or not that’s going to translate to the drone. We’re about to find out. 

It was a stunningly beautiful. Well, now I’d have to say that was a fantastic success, such a fun and cool and interesting way to get a brand new perspective on one of my favorite things to shoot the fall colors aspens here on the East side of California. Thank you guys. So very much for watching, I’m going to polish this video off with another photo or two. So until next time have fun and happy shooting.

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Landscape Photography on the John Muir Trail, Part 2: Darwin Bench to Lamarck Col

Landscape Photography on the John Muir Trail, Part 2: Darwin Bench to Lamarck Col

New days, make new man, as they say. And if they don’t say that they should, because today is a new day. I feel like a new man. It is incredible. What nine hours of sleep and a full belly will do for your recovery. Now we didn’t decide to continue on with our crazy plan to finish out evolution Valley evolution, basin Dusy basin, Bishop pass. It just would have been way too much, 60 mile days each day. So we’re sticking with plan B, which is the cruise up on the Darwin bench. Uber, what is it called? The Mark, which was the cruise up onto Darwin bench. And then tomorrow go over Lamar. Cool. Back down to North Lake, and I’m not going to bore you with the details of today’s hike. We basically slept in Ryan was able to repair his poles with some duct tape. We hiked through the forest and then climb climb, climbed up, reached a spur trail off the main JMT and kept climbing up here to Darwin bench, past innumerable, cascades, and wild flowers and beautiful vistas of all kinds. It wasn’t hard and I am tired, but we got our camp set up by one 30 and I was down for a nap like that. Now it’s already getting on towards sunset. So I’m going to move back down the Valley towards some incredible views of mountains with a river running right underneath them.

I hope you can hear me over the wind and the sound of that waterfall. I’m heading down to a place lower in the basin. Whereas I mentioned the Creek forms this big broad curve, and it looks out across the Valley to the far mountains beyond, but just coming down the Hill, I stumbled across this waterfall here, which I didn’t really pay as much attention to on the way up, probably because I was staring down at my feet, second desk. But what I love about this is the alignment between the water coming off of these cascades. And the mountain in the background was called Emerald peak. The way that I’m approaching this photograph, you can see, but there’s a lot of stuff going on. This is a very busy scene. It’s just a lot of stuff in the landscape. So I really need to simplify this as much as possible in order to make it an effective composition. So I’m going to really try to focus on just the waterfall, excluding all the extraneous stuff, just the mountain in the background, and then some sky for prints. [inaudible] It just keeps getting better and better. These are the nights of photography that you live for in the Sierra. Look at that sky. Look at those reflections. That’s the kind of night that makes you giddy to be a photographer.

Sometimes I have to admit the Sierra makes it almost too easy to be a photographer. So I got that incredible view. Looking back out over evolution Valley at the hermit at Emerald peak. And of course you had this wonderful Creek flowing out here, creating beautiful reflections and leading lines off into the distance. This is where I wanted to come to shoot the sunset. Now I’m going to roam around, try to find a composition that really speaks to me. All right. So here’s my first composition of the evening. And let me explain a little bit about what’s going on here. To me, this composition is all about symmetry. You’ve got this nice point in the mountain being echoed with the opposite shape here in the grass. And you have all the shapes of the rocks here in the foreground being echoed with the shapes of the clouds in the sky. So that’s why I’ve placed the mountain exactly in the middle of the frame with the horizon exactly. In the middle of the frame, because all of this symmetry, the mirroring between the elements down here and the elements up there

So for my second composition tonight, I’ve gone in much tighter, just on the mountains way out there that I really love that have that beautiful light splashing across their flank. So I actually zoomed in to 70 millimeters and then I stopped down to F 16 just to make sure I had enough depth of field. So I could get a really tight portrait of that mountain with the stream as a nice little leading line, going off into the distance. Now the light is just blowing up in every direction. So I’m going to put on the wide angle and I’m going to start shooting like a crazy person. Does it get much better than this? No. No, it doesn’t. Let me show you guys something. This is happening all the way around. Yeah. Oh yeah. That was ridiculous. That was just banger city. I don’t know how many keeper shots I got tonight, but it was at least more than zero and check it out. It is still just glowing. There’s color everywhere in this. This is one of those great glorious gifts from the gods of the Sierra Nevada. And I say to them, thank you.

Well, that’s going to call it quits for tonight. Time to grab some chicken Alfredo, head to bed. Good morning, everybody. See ya properly kitted up here for head until it’s not so much that it’s cold out here. It says that it’s windy and the wind has a bite. That wind well, it’s responsible for me having maybe not the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had. But when I woke up this morning, I was treated to the rarest.

A record is getting a little bit too windy to record. I’ve got to head back to the tent. All right. That’s a lot better. As I was saying, when I woke up this morning, I was three to two that most rare of rear gyms here in the Sierra, a beautiful sunrise. There’s almost never cloud at sunrise here in the summertime. In the Sierra swore we had lovely pigs. There was even some true album blow up on the mountains, Just getting too windy to keep filming now.

So I had to jump forward and time about three hours to film this interlude. The sunrise was lovely, but it started to get cold and blustery. So headed back to camp, packed up, ate some breakfast. And then we had to Vamos time to get the F out of Dodge, kind of a grim joyless day. So far today, this the wind have 14, 1500 feet to go straight up. This shit pile. Holy crap, man. What a stout climb really fun. No, and I know as my eyes just won’t stop producing fluids, just dripping like crazy. It’s howling wind is howling like a wild cat up there. We just popped up out of the park. We’re here at Lamar cold, 13,000 feet. We’re looking out back to the Owens Valley here. Amazing view. Now we just got a bomb down five miles or so back to the car. Well, this seems like as good a place as any to end this video with our final view of Lamar Cole in the background. Thanks so much for watching. I hope you really enjoyed it. Enjoyed the photography. If you liked this video, please subscribe. Share it with your friends. All that kind of good stuff really helps me out. Here’s wishing you guys lots of wonderful adventures of your own until next time. Have fun, happy shooting.

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Landscape Photography on the John Muir Trail, Part 1: North Lake to Evolution Valley

Landscape Photography on the John Muir Trail, Part 1: North Lake to Evolution Valley

One of the cool things about making a blog is you can start it whenever you want. Today’s actually day two of this track. And yesterday day one, to be honest with you, it got off to a little bit of a Rocky start. First, we were stuck in road construction traffic for about two hours dropping off a car at our Southern trail head. And then we got stuck in thunder and hail and rainstorms on the way up to place called Paiute pass. So it took us a hot minute to actually get the trip going, but a new day is done and we were both incredibly stoked to be here because the trip that we’re doing, it’s one of the more famous multi-day treks here in the Sierra, partly because it passes through three incredibly beautiful high country basins, the Humphreys basin evolution basin, and Dusy basin. And I can’t wait to check them out at today’s starting off on a pretty bright note already. I walked out about a mile from camp to some wonderful Meadows and waterfalls that are overlooking the glacial divide. And even though there weren’t any clouds in the sky at all this morning, I still was able to get a couple of nice shots and I’ll show them to you here.

And by the time we arrived at our camp last night, it was basically already sunset, which meant we had just enough time to do a little bit of quick photography before slamming some food into our faces, jumping into our tents and going to sleep, which makes today the first full day of the Trek. And it’s going to be a long one. I think we have 20 or 22 miles to go to make it all the way up to evolution base. And so it’s still early. It’s only about six 45, which means it’s time to head back to camp, grab some breakfast, start getting some trail miles under our feet.

Well, the morning started off beautifully. We were having a lovely descent down from our campsite at Tomahawk Lake. When all of a sudden in the middle of the forest tragedy struck. So what, what happened uh, first morning? So first morning we’d get up early. She’d sent rise. Supersite to be out, pack up. Our camps are heading downhill and we’re doing this not very steep cross country, route down, kind of stick for foresty area with a lot of little pine cones. And I’m walking down like this and all of a sudden my feet about, and I’m on my poles. They bolt snap. It will you survive without any poles I would today, I would not have survived on the polls. Steep going up steep, going down my old man body. Well looking pretty solid chinks to be solid.

Well, all I got to say is I’m glad I’m wearing wicking underpants because the swag is definitely starting to form this marks, the end of our descent for the day, we’ve just come down about four hours of walking nine miles through pie Canyon. And we started in the high Alpine zone, the Sierra Tundra almost. And as we dropped lower scenery kept changing. We kept coming by the Creek, which grew larger and larger and larger. And the vegetation changed from Alpine conifers to aspens, to Manzanita, to Cedars, Jeffrey Pines, and the weather just kept getting hotter and hotter and hotter. Now it’s lunchtime, but after lunch, we cross this bridge and we start our climb back up to evolution Valley evolution basin about another 10 miles to go yet today in that direction, a couple of cruisy miles later, and we find ourselves here and what’s special about this place is that, that Valley up there, those gigantic Bluffs of rock in between them lies the entrance to one of the most fable, the most hallowed valleys in all of hiker dub a place.

So wondrous it’s rumored to be the most beautiful Valley on the John Muir trail. It’s the evolution Valley. Will it live up to the hype? I don’t know, but we’re about to climb up there and find out, well, we just passed our seven of actual hiking time today coming up on 14 miles, I have to admit I’m feeling a little fatigued, a little fatigued. We still haven’t even done half the track. We’ve only got two days left. So we really need to keep pushing and try to crank out another five, six miles, three hours of hiking today. 

We came to conquer, but we go for kind of defeated. So here’s what happened. We climbed up into the evolution Valley. It was a long, hot sloggy climb. Although we did pass some beautiful waterfalls and wonderful creeks and really is just a beautiful area, but we got to a place called McLaren meadow. We looked at each other and we realized that we were both wrecked done for the day. There’s no way we could carry on another five, six, seven miles up into upper evolution basin. So we basically did a 16 mile day today, plus whatever we hike this morning while doing photography. And that puts us approximately 25 miles into the walk, which means we still have 30 miles to go. So that’s a 15 mile day tomorrow and a 15 mile day, the next day and the way I’m feeling right now, I don’t think we’re really up for it. So what we’re going to do instead is take a little bit of a shortcut through the high country. We’re going to go up past a place called Darwin bench overload, Mark Cole, and back down to North Lake. It should shave about 20 miles off the trip, although we’ll still be out the same amount of days. And even though it means we won’t be able to get into upper evolution based on this trip, the nice thing is it means we can call it a day here in McClair meadow with incredible views in every direction.

Well, just about sunset time, add insult to injury, kind of bloody nose. I think the first time ever in the back country, who knows what that’s all about. Anyway, the conditions out here right now are really lovely. There’s almost no cloud in the sky, unfortunately, but there’s an incredible reflection here in the river. And there’s just the SURPI warm light, bathing all the mountains, looking up the Valley here. So here you can see the composition that I’ve got to set up. I got this little grassy guy breaking up the reflection over here. So there’s not just a pure reflection shot. And the continuity, the reflection over on this side to give the connection to the background and you can see how these two mountains are relatively balanced in the frame in terms of where the peaks are. So that’s something that I like to do a lot when I’m composing is just use a little bit of horizontal symmetry there. And in terms of settings, I’m shooting at about 26 millimeters and a barely far away from that little bank. So I think F 11 should be sufficient to give me enough depth of field there ISO 64 and a shutter speed of a 10th of a second.

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I recently had a chance to speak with Steve Arnold from the Open Shutter Photography Podcast. Here’s what Steve had to say about our conversation:

I’m delighted to welcome the one and only Joshua Cripps onto the podcast for episode 12, to hear his thoughts on how being a “technically minded” person can actually be an advantage rather than a disadvantage for photographers who want to be more creative. 

Joshua is a world renowned wilderness landscape photographer whose work has been published by National Geographic, NASA, Nikon, CNN and more.

Many people think it’s some kind of disadvantage to be more of a “technical person” than a “creative person” when it comes to photography, but Joshua is a perfect example of why that is not true – he left the field of Aerospace engineering to follow his photography goals! You don’t get much more technical than that.

In fact, in our interview he tells us how you can use your technical side to improve your creativity, not have it hold your creativity back.


Joshua’s FREE Landscape Photography Webinar – Watch Joshua’s free webinar to learn how to build a simple framework that will allow you, no matter where you live, who you are, or what kind of camera you have, to instantly start taking photos you love. Photos that tell the stories you want to tell. – Joshua’s website is a treasure chest of helpful and insightful articles, videos, courses, and more that will help you become a better photographer.

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Talking Points

  • Why having a technical background can help you be a more creative person
  • How to improve your creativity
  • The 4 step process for flexing your creative muscles
  • How to open your mind to what’s in front of you
  • How to use your technical mind to “solve the problem” of bad photos
  • The 4 things every great photo must have
  • Whar does being a “creative person” actually mean?
  • How to discover the story you want to tell of every scene
  • The golden rule of landscape photography
  • How to solve the problem of “bad light”

5 (Simple) Camera Tips In 5 Minutes To Help Your Landscape Photography

5 (Simple) Camera Tips In 5 Minutes To Help Your Landscape Photography

Greetings my excellent friends with Josh Cripps here. And in this video, I want to share with you five of my favorite, little quick camera tips and tricks that can help improve your landscape photography. We don’t get any time to waste, so let’s get into it. Let’s go!

We don’t have time for the intro. We’re going to do this thing as fast as possible. So I’m going to start the timer right now. We’re going to try to get through this in five minutes. No cuts, no edits, just frantic landscape photography, camera tricks, my favorites to help you improve your photography.

1)Exposure Delay Mode

So the first one I’m going to talk about is exposure, delay mode. And this is kind of like mirror up mode, except you don’t need a remote to do it. The camera does it automatically. It’s available on Nikons. I’m not actually sure about other camera brands. This is just a good reason for everybody to switch to an icon. Anyway, what it works is like this. So with the mirror delay mode or Mira boat, you hit a shutter button. Once the mirror comes up and that lets the vibrations from the camera die off and then you hit the button again and then it takes the picture.

So it removes any like hand pushing shake from your camera. What exposure delay mode is, is it takes out that second push. So you set a delay like up to three seconds. When you press the shutter button, the camera snaps the shutter up, it waits for three seconds. Then it takes a picture. So this is great. If you’re too lazy to carry a remote like me, or if you just don’t have one with you, but you still want the effects of that mirror up mode. So exposure delay use it. Don’t abuse it it’s awesome.

2)Back Button Focus

Okay, next one. We’re going to get into his back button focus. If you guys aren’t using back button focus, I 100% recommend setting it up. And this one, I know every single camera manufacturer does it. You’ll have to check how to do it with your brand, but you basically set it up so that this button back here is your focus and not your shutter button.

And this is incredibly important because a lot of times you want to be using, say like the central focal points in your, your camera. They’re the most accurate, they’re the fastest. But if you’re setting up a composition and you focus and then you re compose like this, and then you press the shutter button and that’s still where your focus is, your camera might change. Focus. If you’re set up a composition, you focused on a tree like this, and then you move a little bit and you focus in the middle of them inadvertently by pressing the shutter button. You don’t want that, right? You want your camera to focus once and to stick with that focus until you actively change it again. So by back button focusing, you can set that up. You focus on your subject. You can recomposed as much as you want. When you press the shutter button, the camera will not re focus. It’s fantastic for not screwing up your shots.

3)Live Preview Histogram

Okay? The next one I want to talk about is the exposure preview histogram. Almost every modern camera has this. Now it’s this little guy you can see right down here into display. And what that does is it shows you your exposure. Before you take a picture, it almost makes metering obsolete, because you can see exactly what your histogram, at least what the camera thinks the histogram is going to look like. And you always have to go back. And after you take the picture review the actual histogram, the playback histogram, but that live preview histogram is going to get you so close to a perfect exposure before you ever even tripped the shutter button. It’s incredible. Now I think this works best when you use it in tandem with the blinkies.

3a) The Blinkies (Highlight Warning)

So you want to go to your playback display options and turn on the highlight warning or whatever it’s called into your camera. The technical term definitely is the blinkies and that will just show any blown-out parts of your photograph. So, you know, whether your exposure is too bright in, on some cameras, you can also turn on a shadow clipping so that, you know, if your exposure is too dark. Now, here’s a really good question for you though. How do you know that this histogram is accurate? How do you know that it’s representing what the actual raw data is?

4) Neutral / Flat Picture Control

Well, the way that you do that is through what are called picture controls or picture style. Yeah. And for these, I highly recommend that you use the, the most neutral, the most flat one that you’ve got. So that’s going to be something like neutral or flat. Imagine that. Image that! Woah somehow little accents started to sneak in there to my voice. Anyway, what those picture controls do? So your camera records all this raw data, right?

And then depending on the picture control that you’ve applied, like landscape, vivid, portrait, et cetera, it’s going to add contrast saturation, sharpening to that image. And then it’s going to show you that transformed image that has those adjustments. That’s the image that you see when you press play on your camera. That’s also the histogram that the camera shows you. So how can you say that your rod or your histogram is accurate? If you’re actually looking at a modified version of the raw data, right? You’ve taken the raw data, you’ve added saturation contrast sharpening, and then it shows you the histogram for that. But what happens if you, if your photo is almost blown out, the raw data is almost blown out and then you have something like a landscape picture control that adds evan more contrast. It might stretch the histogram out. So the fact to the point that the highlights that the histogram is showing you are blown out, but they might not be blown out in the raw data.

It’s just that transformation. It’s just that adjustment that’s happening in the camera. So if we use the neutral or the flat picture control actually gives you the best idea of what the raw data actually is. And that’s fine because in the field, we’re not trying to actually take the best or the should say, we’re not trying to create the prettiest possible picture in the camera. What we’re trying to do is capture the best possible data and using that flat or neutral picture control gives you a more accurate idea of what that raw data is. Shoot.

5)Clean Your Image Sensor

Okay. Now the last one that I want to talk about is incredibly important to you guys. Don’t be a dummy like me and do things like before you go on some gigantic important photography trip, forget to clean your sensor, please. You guys clean your sensors, especially if you’re a mirrorless camera shooter, clean that thing all the time.

Every two weeks, every month at an absolute minimum, don’t be an idiot. Like I am and forget the cleanup for like six months at a time anyway. And if you’ve never done this yourself before, I know it’s intimidating, but it’s actually not that bad. It’s not that scary. Once you get into it, you just need a couple of tools. I recommend, you know, like this and a drill and you can’t forget the staple gun and no, I’m just kidding. Don’t need any of that stuff. What you need is a rocket blower. You need some swabs like this. You can order these on Amazon. I’ll put a link down below and he needs some sensor cleaning food. Like this stuff. You just put a couple of drops on this, not too much now, just the right amount. And then you put it at a 60-degree angle across your sensor.

I’m not gonna do it right now because I just cleaned it. And you just go swipe once, swipe back. That’s it. You’re done. Sensor is clean. It’s easy. It’s not that scary the scariest time, because the first time, but trust me, you guys clean your camera sensor, going to make your life so much better anyway, who were done? How do we do a six minutes? Crap. I didn’t make an under five, but I hope that you guys got a lot out of that. Anyway, those are five of my best, not five that’s 10. Those are five of my favorite camera, tips and tricks to improve your landscape photography. The guide enjoyed this video. I would love it. If you could subscribe to the channel like it, share with your friends, all that good stuff. It really helps me out a lot. And until next time have fun and happy shooting.

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Photographing Thunderstorms at Mono Lake (This Place is Weird!)

Photographing Thunderstorms at Mono Lake (This Place is Weird!)

Crap it’s hot. I mean, not here, not here in the mountains. It’s amazing. It’s like 75 degrees. That’s heaven. I’m talking about down in the valleys down there. It’s triple digits, baby. And know what happens when you get that kind of heat and you combine it with a little bit of moisture in the air. You get thunderstorms, which are my favorite conditions to shoot in because they’re just so dramatic and unpredictable. So I’m going to head on over to Mono Lake and I invite you to come along with me for the ride. I’m going to try to get some photos tonight of these thunderstorms. What do you think about that, Mr. Squirrel? Yeah, I think it’s a great idea too. Let’s go!

Pop it over to a part of the Lake where I’ve never been before. And the reason that I came here today is that I saw the potential for some interesting patterns. Looking out on Google satellite view will look like some really interesting landscapes from above some really fascinating patterns and cool rock formations and things like that. And I’m looking forward to getting out there to see what’s actually there. My main worry is that it’s going to be a boggy mess. And when I actually start stepping down through some of these grasses and marshlands, that I’m going to sink up to my knee or my thigh, but the only way to find out for sure is to actually just walk out there, Asian, the ground wasn’t wet in the slightest, easy walkout. And now I find myself in this bizarro landscape. It almost looks like a giant dinosaur crash as it, these were all nests and eggs from some huge prehistoric colony of beasts. Time to get out in there and see what it’s actually like.

I’ve just had a nice wee little walk around and I have to say, this is one of the coolest weirdest places that I have yet uncovered here in mono Lake. If you’ve ever been to death Valley, if you’ve heard of a place called cotton ball basin, this is cotton ball basin, except here at mono Lake with the mountainous Sierra towering above it. It’s got the same salt and mud patterns. It’s got the same cracks in the soil. It’s got the same cookie dough consistency to the ground. So I’m trying to be really careful about where I walk. And there’s actually, it’s a little friendlies. We’re wondering what the heck am I doing here with these amazing patterns and textures? This place is a seascape photographers, dreamland, but for me today with a sky like this and foregrounds like these, I can’t help, but get out here with my ultra wide lands. So I’ve got my Nikon 14 to 30 lands here on [inaudible] and I’m roaming around looking for those in your face, smack you in the eyeballs bore grounds. There’s some pretty sweet little mud cracks right here. That’ll definitely do in a pinch for a quick grab shot. And since there’s still over an hour until the sunset, I just want to roam around and see what kinds of different compositions I can come across.

Now we are at a Lake shore, so it makes perfect sense that the part of I get towards the Lake, there’s going to be water, but what’s really unusual about this place is there’s not a clearly defined shoreline. It’s more like the mud simply transforms into water. Gradually as you get farther and farther toward the Lake, she had these amazing pools and channels running in between all these rocks and the best part is it smells terrible. It’s like a seal colony mixed with a decaying whale blubber factory. So just tops, Oh, that stench could choke a starving Wolverine. So as interesting as it is out here, there’s too much wind to allow any reflections to form the water. And it’s clear to me that the best compositions are back on dry land, where those patterns intersect and a little bit more coherent way. So I’m going to head back there and get ready for sunset.

All right. Check this out. So on the way back here, I found this perfect little S-curve and I set up a quick little composition with my wide angle lens. And a couple of things really caught my eye about the same, obviously the beautiful leading line going off to those clouds in the distance. But I really loved the way that those two Rocky mountains, when you position yourself just right, you can get the tips of both of those reflected nicely in the S-curve. So that’s what I’m going for with my composition right here on the wide angle lens. And I’ll show you that photo right now.

Oh, it happened, but the wind has died. So it’s time to actually go back out towards the water and explore some of those reflections a little bit more. Cause the sky is incredible right now. Come on, look at that. Are you kidding me? This is incredible. What’s really incredible about this scene is the way that the sunlight is striking the tufa. And yet the water’s reflecting the darker clouds up in the sky. Those warm and cool tones are just clashing against each other, making this amazing scene. And these little guys, these little islands, they look like they’re just floating in the sky. So I’m going to grab my mid range lens here, my 24 to 70. And I’m going to zoom in on some of those little twofer reflections.

This is just too much, but now are these photos going to win any photography awards pick? Yeah, they are. They’re going to win the Josh Cripps. I’m having a great time being out here and shooting photos award, and that’s all that really matters. You should just be out having fun, enjoying photography, exploring the world and doing it in a place that smells horrifically bad. It’s like a rotting sheep carcass being pooped out of another larger rotting sheep. Oh man, it just keeps getting better and better out here. You get these amazing anti corpuscular rays happening over here. There’s this bonkers thunderstorm light happening over here. This is one of those nights where you could literally shoot in any direction, except maybe that way. So I’m going to let that be my cue to put a pin in this video and get down to some photography. Thank you guys as always for watching. I really appreciate it. If you enjoy the video, please give it some YouTube love really helps me grow the channel and make more videos like this.

I’ll end this video with a couple of photos from tonight and until next time! Have fun and happy shooting.

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Photographing the Full Moon Over California’s 2nd Tallest Mountain

Photographing the Full Moon Over California’s 2nd Tallest Mountain

Heyo. So today is the full moon. It’s June 5th and I’m actually supposed to be in a place called Independence, California lining up a full moon photograph. That’s about a two hour drive from here. Instead, I’m up at Mono Lake having a great time shooting the sunset. And the last time that I was down in this place called, uh, actually is called Kearsarge. The place that I’m actually going to be doing the full moon shoot. I got completely shut down. I can’t shoot from here. It isn’t going according to my plan! Biscuits and gravy, I’m struggling a little bit. This isn’t going to work getting shut down. There’s a little bit of a problem left and right out here, it’s just not going to happen. The moon is not going to align there. It’s going to be way over here, son of a frickin burrito. Ah, I tried three different ways to line  this shot up and I got absolutely smacked to the ground each time: I just couldn’t make it happen.

But while I was there, I took the time because sometimes, you know, all the planning in the world won’t help you until you actually get out in the field and see if the boat is going to line up or not. In that case, it didn’t line up. But I was able to see in those moments that today, well actually tomorrow morning, June 6th, the shot that I had in my mind is actually possible. And I am super excited to see if I can pull it off. If you guys follow me on Instagram or on my newsletter, you know that I love shooting. The full moon is one of the most satisfying and challenging technical, creative, artistic pursuits that I’ve discovered so far in nature photography and every good moon photograph starts with an idea. And it starts with a vision of how you want to see the moon appear in the world.

Do you want to see it over a mountain? Do you want to see it rising over a two foot tower? Do you want to see it setting over the empire state building? You have to start with that idea and then everything flows downhill from that. So for this photo, my idea, there are a lot of tall mountains in California. We have some of the tallest in the contiguous us, and one of them is called Mount Williamson. It’s actually the second tallest mountain in California. It’s 14,293 feet or something like that. And then just past Mount Williamson, there’s another mountain called Mount Tindall, which is also fourteener. And it looks a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot like Mount Whitney, it’s got the same kind of pinnacles, the same beautiful flat East face, and then the broad Western slope going down the backside. And I thought, how cool would it be to see the moon setting right in between those two?

Fourteeners the only thing is the angle that you have to be at in order to actually see that is very far North looking back to the South. So the only time it turns out that that’s possible do is in June. Now, why is that? So if you’re not aware of this, what happens is the full moon always appears in the sky directly opposite the sun. So as you go farther and farther here in the Northern hemisphere, as you go farther and farther into the summer, the sun gets farther North in the sky, right? Which means that the moon, the full moon will be setting farther and farther South. Whereas in the winter time, as the sun goes farther and farther, South, the full moon sets farther and farther to the North. So that means if you have a specific idea for photo in mind, but the moon only lines up at a certain time at a certain angle, you can think about where the sun’s going to be, and that will help you figure out where the moon is going to be for that season.

So in June, we’re approaching the June solstice, right? The sun is the farthest North. It’s going to be in about two more weeks, which means the moon is the farthest South it’s ever going to appear as a full moon, which means that for this specific alignment, even though I could shoot the moon setting over Williamson at all different times of the year, it’s always going to be from a different angle. The only way that I can get it dropping into the slot between Williamson and Tyndall is now in June. So that’s the idea that I had. That’s where this photo started from. And I should be down there right now, lining up, doing the final kind of lineup with the mountains, things like that. But I, I’m not. I’m about two hours North at mono Lake, and we’ve had thunderstorms, these beautiful thunderstorms all week. The sky is absolutely freaking gorgeous out right now. It is just too fun to be out here. So I’m going to do the shoot here. You can see there’s this core jus light on the trees, just this beautiful, warm light cascading across the mountain. So I’m out here just roaming around, seeing what I could find. I got no destination fine, but after the sunset I got to get in the car, I’m going to high tail it. I’m going to book it down to Kearsarge because this full moon Bodo is waiting for me.

Well, sunset’s starting to wind down a little bit, starting to cool off as well. I’ve had to put my hoodie on here, but uh, Oh my God, it smells unbelievable out here. I don’t know if you guys know this or not. Well, I’m having some really serious wardrobe issues right here. If you’ve ever shaved your head, you know what happens is you get like Velcro. It’s like head Velcro. You can barely put your freaking clothes on. Cause everything just sticks to it. Anyway, if you guys have never had a chance to go into a Jeffrey pine forest in the summertime, I highly recommend it because it smells like butterscotch and I’m not teasing you. I’m not kidding at all. So if you find a Jeffery tree, hold on a second, Like this guy, this beautiful tree right here, and you stick your nose deep inside. I don’t know if this one’s going to be the perfect example, cause it’s all burned out on the outside.

Actually smells pretty. Dang good, smells like butterscotch. So that is reason alone to go to a Jeffrey pine forest, at least once in your life to stick your nose inside a tree. Anyway, let’s talk more about the plan. How do you actually set up a moonshot? Once you have the idea in your mind, how do you know where to stand? How do you know what to shoot and all that sort of stuff? And this can actually be a pretty complicated in-depth process. I’ll go over it really quickly with you guys. How I do it. I’m a pretty systematic guy. So I like to have kind of a four step process. And the first thing that I look for is the timing. I’m always trying to time my moonshots so that I also have a light on the landscape, which makes my exposure a lot easier to manage.

And I really love to do this around sunrise. If I’m shooting the moon set or around sunset, if I’m shooting the moon rise now for the shot in this blog, I’m going for a moon set shot at sunrise. So first thing I do is I just look and see what time the sunrise is. And it’s like 5:35 AM. So basically that means I’m trying to get to a spot where the mood is going to disappear behind that mountain. The thing that I’m looking to shoot around five 35 or a little bit after a little bit before, just so that there’s relatively nice light on the landscape and you can get the details of the moon and the landscape in a single shot. So when you’re shooting something like a big 14,000 foot mountain, the closer you get to that mountain, the higher you look up into the sky, which means that the earlier the moon is going to disappear behind that mountain.

And so the first thing that I typically do is I just drop a pin in PhotoPills. I drop a black pin on the top of the mountain and I drop a red pin just roughly on a guesstimated shooting location. And I see what time the moon is going to disappear behind the mountain. From that vantage point, if the moon disappears behind the mountain too early from that spot, I basically have two options. The first one is I need to go farther and farther to the East because the more that you back up, the more that your local horizon drops and the later the moon is going to disappear behind the mountain, giving you a little bit more buffer for the sun to get in place and light everything up. But even if you back up all the way, as far as you can, and the moon is still going to disappear before the sun rises.

That means you basically just got to come back the next day when the moon sets about 45 minutes later. And that’s actually what the plan is for this shot. The full moon was on the fifth, but I’m doing a shot on the sixth because the timing works out a little bit better. So that gives me the linear distance that I need to be from my subject to get the timing that I want. The next thing that you have to pay attention to is the asthma angle, which is how far the moon is around the compass, as well as the elevation angle for that moment in time. And these are both pretty easy numbers to figure out because PhotoPills gives them to you. You can see something like this at five 35, a M PhotoPills tells you exactly where in the sky the moon is going to be.

And if you have those numbers, you know how high up it’s going to be? You know exactly what angle it’s going to be. All you have to do is get yourself and your cute little camera to the GPS location that matches those things up. So from this spot, which I know that I’m going to see the moon setting behind the mountain right around sunrise. I could say that the angular distance between me and the top of the mountain is 6.6 degrees roughly. And so that means that my alignment is going to happen when the moon is also 6.6 degrees up into the sky and using PhotoPills. I can see that when the moon is 6.6 degrees up in the sky, it’s at an azimuth angle of, let me look it up about 234 degrees around the compass, which means that I just need to get into a position where I am 234 degrees around the compass from my subject.

So I just put together those couple of pieces of information and I drop a pin on planet earth. And that tells me exactly where I need to go. And I find myself in a spot like this, ready to shoot. I got all my equipment ready. I’ve got my plan. I’ve got my idea. At this point. My part of the process is really done. There’s nothing else to do except to go to sleep in the back of my car and to wake up early in the morning and to see if the moon and the weather all cooperate with my plan

And we’re looking out pretty good this morning. We’ve got a gorgeous sunrise happening up here to the South, got a nice kind of Sierra wave cloud going on over the crest. The moon is just setting into a little bit of a bank of clouds there above Mount Tindall, but I’m hoping that it’ll still pop out here and there. Now, the reason that I came to this location, as I said, when I was talking about the plan is the timing the sun will be coming up in just a couple of minutes and it should paint a little bit of light over the Sierra crest just before the moon disappears from view. So we’re going to have that really awesome combination of the moon with the sunrise light, and maybe we’ll even get a little bit of a pink up in the clouds up there. Now I got the cameras all set up over here behind me and they’re just shooting automatically.

So I can just kind of run around and be free at the moment, which is great because usually when I’m doing moon photography, the last few minutes are just a frantic scramble because I’m not quite in the right spot or I’ve slept in too long and I’m screeching down the dirt roads to try to get to a location. But this morning, everything kind of came together pretty easily and more cleanly. And the alignment works better than I expected it to. And in terms of the gear here, I’ve got my Nikon, [inaudible] attached to the knee core 200 to 500. And the reason that I love using that setup is the combination of the inbuilt camera stabilization. Plus the lens stabilization helps me get a really, really sharp shot when I’m extended out, you know, to these high millimeters, like three 50 or 400 to 500. And I’m using a ball head here from Colorado tripod company because it’s got an incredible amount of locking force.

So it really holds this whole setup incredibly still. And for the same reason, I actually use VR, even though I’m on the tripod because I don’t want any little bit of wind or my hand motion or whatever to cause vibrations within the camera. And I’m also of course, using exposure delay so that, you know, after I press the shutter button here, it takes three seconds for the camera to actually make an exposure. And I typically like to set up two compositions if I can, one with my super long telephoto waiting for the moon to drop from the place. And then I’ve also got a wider time-lapse going on at the same time. It just gives me a couple of different options of things to shoot and compositions to use later.

All right. So I got good news and I got bad news. The good news. It’s a beautiful morning out here. The bad news is clouds. Ah, man, this is the bane of my existence as a mood photographer. There’s always a fricking bake of clouds over this year, a crest and it snuffs the moon out at the last minute, every single time. And that’s exactly what happened today as well. The light is just starting to bathe this mountain range here, but the moon dropped behind some clouds and you can’t see it anymore. So that ha it’s frustrating. I’m not going to lie. It is a challenge to come out here to put in all the hard work, to drive down to these locations, to sleep more or less uncomfortably in the back of my car and wake up ass early to then have the shot, not pan out.

And to know that well, you might be able to shoot it again another time. Maybe I’ll have to check the alignment for July to see if the sun is still high enough in the sky to put moon in the right location down here. And if it’s not, that means I actually have to wait until next June. I have to wait a full year in order to be able to try to take this photo in the alignment that I want. Now I did get the moon as it was dropping into a little clear section of cloud above the mountains. And I’ll show you that photo. It’s the best that I’ve got from the morning, but it’s not what early what I had in mind. The light is not on the mountains. It’s not dynamic. There is very little definition in the mountains. They’re basically just uniformly lit without any, uh, there’s no shadow detail.

There’s no highlight detail. It’s just this flat gray mountain with the moon sitting up above it. And this is why the PhotoPills guys always say plan and pray. There’s only so much that you can do. You can be absolutely meticulous, but mama nature has to come and meet you and the rest of the way. So that’s going to do it for me in this video. I really appreciate you guys watching. If you like this, please comment and subscribe and give it a thumbs up and share with your friends and all that great YouTube stuff. It really, really helps me grow the channel and keep making videos. And until next time have fun on your own moon chasing have fun and happy shooting.

Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter and YouTube channel for even more landscape photography how-to.

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4 Common Landscape Photography Myths BUSTED

4 Common Landscape Photography Myths BUSTED

Greetings, my excellent friends, Josh Cripps here. Now we are living in strange times. We’re living in an era of unprecedented access to information. And yet ironically, there’s a ton of bad information floating around out there. And the landscape photography community is no exception. So in today’s video, I wanted to tackle four of the most common myths I see lingering around in landscape photography.

Myth #1: A Wide Angle Lens is The BEST/ONLY Lens for Landscape Photography

Right now, without any hesitation, let’s jump into the first one, which is that if you ask what the best lens is for landscape photography, 99 out of a hundred photographers are going to tell you

Look, wide angle lenses can be incredible for shooting landscapes, but the thing that they are the best or the only lens that you should be using is an incredibly limiting belief. In fact, my personal favorite lens for shooting landscapes is my 70 to 200. And there are a bunch of reasons why that is. I think telephoto lenses oftentimes allow you to create more personally expressive photographs than a wide angle. Does you see wide angles are cool because they show you this big grand Vista. They show you the whole scene, but that’s kind of the downfall too. They lose any sense of mystery because you’re like, here’s the whole scene. Here’s everything I was looking at. Whereas with a telephoto lens, you can zoom in and isolate just certain parts of the photograph. And that creates a lot more opportunities to draw your viewer into the image, by forcing them to ask questions.

If I show you a photo like this, which is a single shot, this is not a composite going on here. You have the reflection and the thing above the reflection that are totally different from each other. It forces the viewer to ask, well, what the heck is going on here? Draws them into the scene a little bit more. Whereas if I had shot this same scene with a wide angle, yeah, it’s cool. It’s beautiful. It’s nice. But it shows you everything. It completely removes the sense of the mysterious from the scene and the viewer can easily say, Oh, I get it. That’s what’s going on telephoto lenses. They allow you to look at the landscape in front of you and say, you know what? Out of this whole situation that’s going on here, what I’m really interested in is just this little part right here.

So if I show you a big grand wide shot like this, yeah. As cool as dad, some nice clouds there’s reflection. That’s freaking great, but there’s not a whole lot going on here in terms of overall interest. When I was there in the moment in the scene, what was interesting to me were those mountains way in the background that are scrunched up the tiny little dots because of my wide angle shot. Whereas if I get out the telephoto and I zoom in, I can really tell the viewer what was important to me. And when you do that, when you start to pull out these little vignettes from the overall scene, you’re able to tell a story in tiny parts of the scene. So check this out. This is a photo from the Eastern Sierra. Here’s a wide angle shot. There’s actually not a lot going on in this photo, but way in the background here above this mountain called Mountaineer. I noticed that there are all these beams of light coming out just to net one tiny little spot as the sun was setting. So I threw on my super telephoto lens, my 200 to 500, I zoomed into 380 millimeters. And I was able to take this photo, which is full of color and drama and story and interest at the wide angle shot just
can’t convey.

Myth #2: A Landscape Photo Has to Be Sharp From Front to Back

All right, for our second myth, we’re looking at the idea that every landscape photo has to be sharp from front to back. And in order to understand a little bit more about this, you need to realize that what depth of field and focus and sharpness and all of that are doing is allowing you to tell your viewer exactly what they should look at within your photograph. In other words, if you want to leave your viewers on a visual journey through the photo, from the front to the back then, yes, everything should be in focus like in this photo. For example, I freaking loved these sun cups here in the foreground. They’re an integral part of the story that I wanted to tell at this place. And I wanted my viewer’s eyes to go from there to the mid ground, to the mountains in the background.

But you can see if my foreground is out of focus, the viewers, I just kind of slides over and lands on the background and it really hurts the story that I’m trying to tell. So this is the tool that we have as photographers is to tell our viewers eyes what they should look at within the photograph. But somehow this has been translated into the idea that every landscape photo has to be sharp from front to back all the time. But what if, what if there’s something in your photograph that you don’t want the viewer to look at, then it actually benefits you to make sure that it is out of focus. Take a look at this photo of a Wanaka tree. You can see that the foreground is completely blurred out. In fact, I shot this at F four, in order to deliberately throw these foreground rocks out of focus and push your attention to the tree in the back of the frame.

And the reason that I wanted to do that is because those rocks in the moment were ugly as crap. This is what the scene looked like from eye level. You can see that there’s just random chaos of rocks and puddles. And I wanted to diminish the importance of that within the frame. Now I know that I can’t just cut off the bottom of the frame because that’s going to make the tree feel like it’s not anchored to anything. So I need to include some foreground, but I really don’t want you the viewer to linger on that. I don’t want your attention to stick to those rocks. So what I decided to do in this case, like I said, open the aperture all the way up, focus on the tree, throw the foreground rocks out of focus. And in this case, what it does is it provides that grounding for the tree. It gives the composition balance, but it forces your eyes to sneak right past those rocks hit the tree in the background. So bear this in mind when it doesn’t suit you or your composition to have everything in focus, it’s totally okay to have some things soft in your frame.

Myth #3: The Best Light and Photos ALWAYS Happen at Sunrise or Sunset

All right, for our third myth, we’re going over a biggie, which is the idea that you can only shoot photos around sunrise or sunset. And that it’s impossible to take banger landscape shots outside of those magic hours. Now I may ruffle some feathers by saying this, but in my opinion, good light is a crutch. And the sign of a truly creative, truly unique photographer is what they do when they’re confronted with challenges such as quote unquote bad light. And in my opinion, there’s actually really no such thing as bad light. There might be light that doesn’t work for the scene that you want to shoot, but in situations like that, it’s more a case of you just need to get rid of those expectations and understand what the light is actually giving you and create photographs that go in line with that. And if you are shooting, say in the middle of the day, there are a couple of things that I found can really, really help you create fantastic imagery.

Now, of course, anytime you have an atmosphere that helps a lot, it breaks up the direct sun. It gives your photos, depth and dimension. And in fact, a lot of times photos like this are only possible during the middle of the day, when you have the combination of the sun high in the sky and cool atmosphere down below, take a look at these photos. For example, these were shot in the Alabama Hills at about two 30 in the afternoon on an absolutely blisteringly clear, harsh, bright day, but there was fresh snow on the mountains. And there was a wicked wind whipping off the tops of creating all of this Spindrift and the combination of that high sun angle and the backlit Spindrift created this incredible atmosphere that showcased all of the fantastic shapes and geometries and graphical elements of these mountains. And this photo wouldn’t have been possible at sunrise or sunset.

The other thing you can do when you’re shooting outside, the typical magic hour is to be thinking about black and white. A lot of times, these high contrast black and white photos work best when you have strong light on the landscape, creating these bright highlights and deep shadows. But don’t think that the only way to shoot in the middle of the day is to somehow cope with the light or adjust for the light, because there are scenes that actually work best with this kind of bright sunlight, such as backlit trees. When the fall color is popping or small intimate scenes, when you have bright sunlight striking just one part of the scene. And another thing you can do when you’re shooting in the middle of the day is just shoot in the shade, find somewhere where the sun isn’t shining and use that to your advantage. This photo for example, was taken about 1130 in the morning, but in the shade of a cliff. So I actually had all of this beautiful uniform even light.

So whenever you’re shooting outside of magic hour, it really is all about getting rid of your expectations, seeing what the scene is actually presenting you with and then taking advantage of those actual conditions to photograph what’s there in the moment. And I just want to take a quick commercial break. Now, if you guys enjoy this video, would you please do me a favor and do all the YouTube stuff like, and comment and subscribe and share it with your friends? It really helps me out a ton. It helps me grow the channel helps me creating more videos. 

Myth #4: You Should Always Use a Tripod for Best Results

Now tripods are great. I’m a huge proponent of shooting with a tripod. And I probably do at 90 or 95% of the time, what they let you do aside from all the normal stuff that people talk about, like getting the maximum detail and sharpness and removing any handshake and doing long exposures, all that right,

Good stuff is it allows you to be meticulous and systematic and make small adjustments

Spins to your settings and your composition so that you can fine tune things as you go. You can make the best composition. You can make the best choice for your camera settings. Tripods are wonderful for that sort of thing, but sometimes they get in the way, right. They’re kind of annoying to use. And if you’re ever in a situation where you have to really react fast to the moment shooting going to, tripod’s probably going to get in the way of that. This photo. For example, I was giving a talk at an Instagram meet way back in 2016, and I could see the people looking over my shoulder, looking behind my head, something going on behind me, which was the sun setting and shining all of these crazy beams down through the minarets here in the town of mammoth lakes, where I live. And as I turned around, I didn’t have time to get my tripod out from my backpack.

I just had to grab my camera and whip around and take shots because I had to be opportunistic about grabbing this shot before the conditions changed. And there are other situations when a tripod is completely useless like this, for example, I was shooting these photos from a fricking plane. How the heck are you going to use a tripod? When you’re in this tiny little plane that’s bouncing around and it’s moving and it’s pitching and rolling. Now, you just have to crank up your ISO, crank up your shutter speed, turn on your VR, stick your camera out the window and shoot a bunch, trying to get the sharpest shot that you can. And now that I think about it, it seems to me that whenever I’m shooting with my telephoto lens, I’m less likely to use a tripod because a lot of the scenes that I come across, I simply have to be opportunistic and ready to shoot like this photo.

For example, from Columbia, my buddy, Joe and I were on a hike. We just walked out of the forest and we saw these amazing light beam striking the ground. There wasn’t time to get a tripod out. I just had to bring the camera up and start shooting. The same is true here. Right? It’s not like I could go up these horses and be like, okay, just hold on a second. You guys, if you could just stay there, that would be great. Cause I got to get my tripod up. So I’m gonna undo the leg locks. And now I just got to get my camera and put it on top and think, Oh, you’re like 50 feet down the road now. Dang it. No, you just gotta be ready sometimes to shoot or in this image, there’s absolutely no way a tripod would have helped me take this because what I was doing was focusing on these comments of water that were coming down from the top of Yosemite falls.

And I was tracking them with my lens as they were falling. And I had to complete freedom of movement with my body and my camera in order to create this photograph or like this image, for example, it’s a 30 minute exposure at about 200 millimeters and I just tucked my elbows in and I just held that shutter button down and I didn’t breathe the entire 30 minutes. I’m just kidding. Of course, I saw that one on a tripod. I’m just messing with you guys. And on top of all of that, the truth is our technology is changing all the time now, right? I’m shooting with a mirrorless camera that has in-body stabilization plus stabilization with the lens. And this thing can hold the scene. Rock steady up to a surprisingly long shutter speed. And there are certain situations that’s incredibly advantageous. Like when I was shooting this beach in New Zealand, for example, these ways are powerful and they’re pounding.

And I just couldn’t stand there in the surf with my tripod, getting smashed by these things. And so what I would do there was that actually led away have come up the beach and as it would retreat, I would run down along the beach, wait for these patterns to appear. I would take a deep breath hunker down on my haunches, tuck the camera in. And I would shoot these photos at a sixth or an eighth of a second to get completely sharp results. Even though I wasn’t using a tripod. And that way, when the next wave came in, I could stand up and run back up the beach before I got obliterated. So don’t think that you always have to use a tripod. Your photos always have to be sharp and run the back. You always have to use a wide angle lens and you always have to shoot at sunrise or sunset. There’s so much opportunity for creative photography outside of those myths. Okay. And now that’s going to do it for this video.

Bonus Myth: You Have To Be A Photoshop Expert

What, bonus myth? Yeah, sure. Let’s do it. 

Now I couldn’t let this video go by without addressing the idea that you have to be a Photoshop expert in order to create beautiful landscape photos. This idea is so prevalent within our community and culture right now. In fact, there are photographers who have built their entire careers on perpetuating this myth either directly or indirectly, right? You see this all the time, the photographers who are like, all right, you guys. So here’s my rough file. And then I’m just going to add a little bit of focus, stacking some lens, blending, a little bit of time, mixing mountain warping, light painting and sky replacement. And I get something like this. And that’s how I create these incredible images. And if you want to learn how to do that too, you can for the low, low price buy in my tutorial right now. Look, I got nothing against post-processing.

I think it’s an amazing tool to achieve your artistic vision, but it’s not the only way. It’s not the only path that you can take that leads to creating awesome photos. There are many, many different paths and extensive post-processing is just one of them. You don’t have to do that to create beautiful photography. The truth is if you have some amazing moment, all you have to do is set up a strong composition that shows that off and intelligently apply your camera settings. And you’re good to go. All the post-processing. The backend is just icing on the cake. So let me show you exactly what I mean. This is one of my favorite photos here. Now you might think that it took a ton of post-processing to get to this final result, but you guys here’s the raw file. All I did was add a little bit of contrast and saturation.

I brightened up the water streets and wallah. I got that final result. I didn’t have to do any crazy luminosity masking or exposure, blending or warping or painting in new elements or clone stamping or anything like that. The moment itself was magic and I was able to capture in a way that required minimal post-processing here’s. Another example is photo from Tahoe. And this one I spent about 17 hours in posts and I was compositing in the sky and creating the reflection and warping this in luminosity dodging that no, just getting, I didn’t do any of that stuff. You guys, I was a little bit of contrast saturation again, maybe an exposure adjustment to get this final result. And for one final example, here’s my eclipse photo. And for me, this truly represents the epitome of a magical moment. This was captured in camera. Here’s the raw file.

All I had to do to get the final image was fine. Tune the exposure to a level that I like had a little bit of saturation to bring out the warm and that’s it. The craziness was in the moment, not in the post-processing. So if you’ve been feeling like you’re never going to be an amazing landscape photographer because you don’t know Photoshop, all these tools are too complicated. You don’t understand about luminosity masking and focal length, blending and compositing. That’s okay. You don’t need to. All right. That really is going to do it for this video. Thanks for watching. And I’ll catch you in the next one until then have fun and happy shooting!

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I Hiked To The Most Beautiful Place In California And Didn’t Take A Single Photo Of It

I Hiked To The Most Beautiful Place In California And Didn’t Take A Single Photo Of It

Hey there. In this video I wanted to talk about a really important idea when it comes to taking pictures, which is being 100% totally okay with not taking any pictures. So, let me back up a second and I’ll show you what I mean.

Today. Today is a mental health day for me. Like many of you, I have been spending way too much time over the past few months stuck inside, sitting on my fat ass, doing absolutely Jack shit and eating way too much pizza and ice cream and cookies than is healthy to do in such a short period of time. And to be honest with you, it hasn’t been that bad because where I live, the weather hasn’t been wonderful. So getting outside hasn’t been that appealing. But today, today is one of those blisteringly beautiful Sierra days that calls to you. It’s one of those days that would be offended if you didn’t get outside to take advantage of it.

So today, today I decided I had to go out for a hike. And the reason that I chose this specific hike is, well you see, I have an ankle. I mean I guess most people probably do, but my ankle is totally *bleep*. I completely demolished it playing volleyball earlier this spring. And at the time I didn’t know if I had sprained it, broken it or just grounded it up into a pulp inside. And actually I still don’t know because I didn’t go see a doctor. And partly the reason for that is because I’m a stubborn idiot. And the other reason is the American healthcare system sucks and I didn’t want to have to pay a thousand dollars or more out of pocket just for an x-ray to say, actually your ankle is fine. Go ahead and walk it off. And over the past three months, my ankle has started to heal a bit, but it still bothers me.

And so I’ve been doing a lot of PT. Stretching, strengthening, walking, and it has improved to the point where I was ready to give it a challenge. And so I decided to pick a hike today that would really put my ankle to the test. I decided to come here to the North Fork of Big Pine Creek because it’s five miles in, five miles out, and about 2,500 feet of elevation change in each direction. And this trail leads to one of the most beautiful places in California, if not the US, if not the entire world. And of course I brought all of my photography equipment with me. But here’s the thing, I actually don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it. If my ankle is going to tolerate hiking the entire way in and the entire way out. And so, I started today’s hike knowing very well that I might not actually make it to the destination that I have in mind, which means that all of the purpose and enjoyment of my hike today has to come from simply being here and being outside. Not from making it to a specific place, not from having a specific destination or specific goal that I achieve. Which means that my goal for the day, ironically, is to not have any goals at all. And that got me thinking a lot about the journeys that we take as photographers.

See, the journey that every landscape and nature photographer goes on in their life is a circle and you start so much closer to the end than you ever realized. And hold on a second, let me just take this off because I’m sweating like a greased hippo in Alabama sandstorm.

Okay, so like I was saying. Circles. Every photographer I have ever met has told me a story like this. I got into photography in the first place because I love being outside and I was having these incredibly beautiful moments and then I wanted to learn how to better capture and share those moments with the people that I love. Right? Does that sound like you? I know that’s how I got started. So, you get a camera and you start to learn a little bit more about landscape photography and you take your first step around that circle and somewhere along the way, 180 degrees across the circle from where you started, it becomes all about the image itself instead of the experience. But when you start to prioritize the image over the experience, and this is totally normal, it happens to every photographer, it happens to me.

But when you do that, a lot of bad things can start to happen, not the least of which is that you stop paying attention to the magic that’s going on around you all the time. You stop paying attention to the experience when your thought process is, “I have to get to this spot in order to take this photo.” You don’t pay attention to what you’re actually going through in the moment. You start to lose out on all those beautiful, wonderful, magical things that are happening around you all the time in nature. So you get this tunnel vision that completely cuts you off from so many amazing things that are going on all the time. And because of that, you start to miss out on the hundreds of photos that you could be taking because you’re so fixated on that single photo. That’s your objective. And in order to complete your journey as a landscape photographer, in order to start back down that other side of the circle, you have to give up on that idea of photography as a destination.

You need to start looking back at the idea that photography is an extension of your experience in the outdoors. It’s your opportunity to capture the magic of what’s going on right now. Photography is not a destination and one of the best ways you can start to do this is to completely give up on the idea of taking photos. Give up on the idea that you have to come home with a specific photo from a specific spot. How many times have you been so fixated on a place? You’re rushing to get there,that you’re not even paying attention to what you’re walking on, where your feet are going? Maybe you’re accidentally trampling brush or you’re stepping on flowers because you have this objective. You have to get to this spot to take this specific photo. It’s happened to me more times than I can count and I really want to break that habit in myself.

So today, just like I have to be okay with the fact that my ankle might not allow me to get all the way to the end of this trail. I want to be okay with the fact that I might not take any photos at all. But let me be clear about something because it’s not about deliberately not taking photos. It’s simply about not having a destination photo in mind, which allows you to be way more present and open to what you’re actually seeing in the moment and to be able to create photographs that represent those things.

Well, good news. My ankle feels great and I was able to make it all the way here to a place called Second Lake, which as you can see, looks out on this gob smackular view of a mountain called temple crack. And having actually made it here, I asked myself, would I be disappointed if I hadn’t been able to do it? If I had to stop a mile back and turn around, would I be disappointed? And quite frankly, yeah, the answer is yes, I would be. I’m not totally zen monk buddhist about this whole thing – yet. But in terms of the photography, as stunning as this view is, I have to say it’s not actually doing anything for me photographically speaking. Whereas along the hike on the way up here, I found lots of really beautiful, cool little scenes just off the side of the trail that were really calling to me and I was able to enjoy being a photographer.

Whereas if I’d had it in my head that the entire success or failure of today’s excursion depended on getting here to take the most epic photo of temple crack, this would have been a failure. Right? But because I had no expectations, I completely got rid of the idea that I needed to take a photo of this destination. I was able to stop and enjoy a lot of those different scenes along the way. Are they the most monumental photo of this area that anybody’s ever seen? No, of course not. Far from it, but there were scenes that spoke to me in the moment and I enjoyed photographing them. And honestly, at the end of the day, that’s really what it’s all about.

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