Monthly Archives September 2020

Dave Williams here for #TravelTuesday on ScottKelby.com, and this week I’ve been trying not to dwell on the fact that I’m not in Iceland when I should be, and when the northern lights have been kicking off large! (British term, hope you get it.)

It’s still a time of uncertainty for all of us, globally. Scott announced his annual Worldwide Photo Walk, but this year there’s a twist: it’s solo. I sincerely hope that as many of us as possible will take a walk with our cameras on October 3rd to continue the world’s largest social photography event and to support the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya, with 100% of the entrance amount being gifted straight to them. Walking solo rather than in a guided group, as usual, will be a little different, but there’s plenty of support coming from the team at KelbyOne.

Sticking with uncertainty, we often find ourselves uncertain about our photography. We also all strive for improvement constantly, at every level in this industry. Even Scott himself never stops learning and it’s very important to our individual success that we identify areas of improvement. Sometimes it’s not straightforward to do this, but all too often the things we need to improve are rooted in quite practical reasons why our photography may not be at the level we want it to be. To that end, this handy list of reasons serves to remind us where those roots are and what our focus should be when we’re trying to identify those areas of improvement. Let’s get stuck in.

Exposure

The exposure triad, the triangle, the weigh-off of shutter speed versus ISO versus aperture, whatever you want to label it, understanding and applying our knowledge of exposure has to be top of the list. Shooting in Auto doesn’t allow us control or understanding of the exposure triangle because we’re handing over complete control of it to the brains of the camera. So, doing some research into exposure and moving away from Auto onto a semi-automatic setting such as Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Program Mode should be our first step, followed by the absolutely-immersive and totally-overwhelming Manual mode. The thing is, once we get a grip on this understanding, we lose all sense of being overwhelmed and release a whole new level of creativity. We can also sway away from the rules and deliberately over or underexpose our images for that artistic edge, having understood the rules so we can effectively break them. Trust me, it makes sense! It also opens up the world of light painting, long exposures, and much more, which in turn gives us direction and education in itself.

Composition

Composition is a very, very close second place on the list. There are far too many photos taken that clearly give no aforethought to composition. Here’s the thing: Us humans are big subliminal fans of certain things. These things include even distribution, good placement, regularity, pathways, and other such things. All of these have a place within the realm of photography composition, such as the pathway found in an image containing leading lines or the placement of a subject when the rule of thirds is applied. There are a lot of resources available for what makes good composition—I’ve written several here on ScottKelby.com, and there are classes available on KelbyOne which help, among others. Composition should be considered—it can make or break an image. It’s even true to say that good composition can make an awesome image of a boring subject, whereas a really interesting subject composed badly will be an image nobody remembers. Remember that.

Perspective

This is also a very close position, only losing to composition by a hair. Perspective is another element that makes or breaks an image, and here’s why: –

We walk around all day, every day, seeing the world from our perspective— our eye level. When we take photos from our eye level they look normal. They look the way we see things as we walk through life. The photos that intrigue and captivate us, sometimes even leaving us wondering for a second or two about what we’re even seeing, are the ones that are taken from a different perspective to what we’re used to from our eye level. For example, a flower sits below our eye level and we look down on it—that’s normal. If we take a photo of a flower from the perspective of a caterpillar in amongst the foliage it creates an unusual perspective. Now we’re looking up at, or sideways onto, an object that we normally look down on, and that shift in perspective has made an everyday object look far more special. The same thing applies to Kaylee Greer‘s awesome dog photos, for example. We see dogs from above, but if we shift our perspective and get low, we see them from a new angle. And, in getting lower, so that we look up to them, we even step it up a gear and turn them into heroes, just in the way that iconic images of our superheroes are from an upwards perspective. Change your perspective!

Light

Learning to see light is an actual thing. It may not be something that many people understand, and it can even be the case that people think they can see light but the truth is, once you can see light, you know you can see light. Highlights, shadows, drop-off, gradation, tone, all these things suddenly come to light (pardon the pun), and it helps us really understand a scene and a photograph. I’m talking about blue hour and golden hour in this section, too. Knowing when the best light will arrive and recognising it when it does is the difference between a snapshot and a portfolio piece. There are lots of places to help us understand how to see light, and one of the best teachers for this is Glyn Dewis.

Projects

And by “projects” what I mean is that you haven’t done any! One of the best ways to improve, hands-down, in photography is to undertake a project. It takes us out of our comfort zone and helps us to understand a different genre of photography, educating us in the intricacies and nuances of another field and giving us skills that transfer into our own field. For example, if you’re a landscape photographer, shoot some portraits. If you’re a macro photographer, shoot some night skies. It could even be as simple as doing an alphabet project, finding everyday objects that resemble letters of the alphabet in order to improve composition and perspective.

Subject

That is to say, lack of subject. One big mistake people make, particularly at the beginning of their photographic journey, is to take photos that lack a clearly defined subject. Our brain works well at rationalising things. We try to understand what things are all about. When that applies to photography we’re looking for a reason, a rationale, and a subject. We look at a photo similar to the way we look at a piece of art in a gallery, and how many times have you looked at a piece of art and wondered, “What is this even about?” If we have a clear subject in our photos, we don’t leave people wondering what the photo is about and we free our viewers into exploring other elements rather than walking away scratching their head.

Practice

Practice, practice, practice. Understand photography, understand your photography, understand your camera, learn why things work and why they don’t. A great way to do this is to study and copy other photographers’ work, and critique your own work whilst constantly practicing and striving for improvement. We’ve all heard the famous, “Your first 10,000 photos are your worst” quote, and it’s because it’s all practice, and it’s ongoing.

Keep taking photos. Keep thinking about why they do and don’t work. Keep striving for success. If you aren’t happy with an image, just take a step back and think about why. There are lots of things we can do to improve, and no photo is perfect. There’s plenty of time between now and October 3rd to register for the Worldwide Photo Walk and knock out some amazing photos and win some amazing prizes on a solo photo walk in the world’s biggest photography event!

Much love
Dave

I’m the guest on today’s episode of “He Shoots | He Draws” with host, British Superstar (and Britain’s version of Ted Lasso), Dave Clayton. We had such a great chat — we talked about everything from music to life, and everything in-between, it was an awful lot of fun. More like two guys just sitting at the bar chatting away.

That pic Dave shared above is from my first visit to London to meet with Dave and Glyn Dewis; went spent the day shooting and laughing. Mostly laughing. It was the start of two epic friendships.

You can listen right here: https://heshootshedraws.com/

Thanks to Dave for having me on — it really was a treat!

If you missed my live “Book Chat” from last Wednesday…

…celebrating the launch of the all-new version of my bestselling book ever, “The Digital Photography Book,” you can catch the replay (BELOW). It’s really…well…I guess you just have to see it. Wouldn’t hurt if you poured yourself a glass of wine, or two. Or four. ;-)

Deal of the century on my new book!

During that podcast, my publisher offered the deal of the century on my new book: just $15 for the print edition, and it’s in stock now ready to ship (just $20 if you want both the print and ebook edition). Here’s the link for the book deal: rockynook.com/kelbyafterhours

This year’s Worldwide Photo Walk 2020 is On! :)

In cast you missed the news — we announced my 13th Annual “Worldwide Photo Walk” on Friday. We had to kind of rethink how to pull off an in-person event like this during a pandemic, but with the help of our awesome community, we did it. It’s a bit different, but it’ll be awesome. I’ve embedded the video that explains everything below — please give it a watch because we’ve had to change a bunch of thing, but I think you’ll dig it. You can join a walk at worldwidephotowalk.com

That’s a lot for a Monday — hoping yours is a really good one!

-Scott

Your Dream Travel Photography Places with Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna

What places are on your photography bucket list? Join Scott and Erik as they share their favorite places they would recommend everyone visit and photograph, as well as the places that are on their lists that they would LOVE to photograph!

New KelbyOne Class: Hands On With The Sony a7R IV

Heads up Sony shooters! Join Larry Becker as he gets you up to speed with everything you need to know to start using the new Sony a7R IV to its full potential. After starting with some quick tips to get you going, Larry takes a deep dive into the settings and functions you can change, such as drive mode, focus mode, focus area, and much more. From there you’ll learn about key video functions and settings, followed by a rapid fire round of features that power users will want to know. Larry wraps up the class with a look at the Sony a9 II, and why it is such a powerhouse sports camera.

Holding a huge Photo Walk, with groups of people all getting together in person, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, well…it’s made us majorly rethink how to do a photo walk, and we think we’ve come up with a way to not only make it happen, but to make it truly awesome, and you’re invited.

This year’s idea for how we’re doing our Photo Walk is something born from some of the absolute stars of our online community, folks with big brains and even bigger hearts, who came up with this year’s plan so we can still make this year’s walk a reality.

Please take a few minutes and watch the video below which explains why we’re doing this; how we’re going to do it, how you can sign up, and why it all matters more than ever.

Thank you for taking the time to watch that — we really want you to be a part of it (and now you know what it’s so important that you do) and it’s still going to be awesome on so many levels.

Here are the details: 

Who: Everybody! You’re invited to join us — everyone is welcome!

What: A huge photo walk in 1,000+ cities around the world (here’s the link)

When: Saturday, October 3, 2020

Where: In a city near you (the cities have already been set-up and ready for you to sign up). Here’s the link to the official site.

Why: It’s a really fun event for photographers that has an important social mission (plus, this year you might win some really cool prizes, even if you don’t enter the competitions).

Have a great weekend, everybody. Go sign up go join your local Photo Walk – it’s on, baby! Whoo hoo!!!

-Scott

P.S. How we’re doing all this is VERY different this year. Don’t just go sign up — you really need to watch that video to see how and why everything has changed, but it’s still going to be great. Watch the video. It matters.

Zaria Love, location in Brooklyn, NY (Photo by Eugene Mertz)

My Journey: My Disability Become My Invincibility

On June 5th 2018 I became a different person mentally, spiritually, and physically.  In other words, I was triggered, exhausted, and just plain defeated. All of these feelings came from being diagnose with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

MS is an autoimmune disease that affects an individual’s brain (nervous system) and spine. Being struck with this kind of news lead me into a dark and depressing universe. The first thought that came to mind was “How are you still going to be a photographer and cope with this disease?” Many thoughts popped up with a mixture of confusion.

Before I was diagnosed with MS, photography became my passion, love, and sanity. Photography all started with a trip with my best friend to New York in 2014. Just being able to see New York in its true essence was an eye opener in terms of my creativity. New York became my canvas and the paint brush was my phone camera. Another canvas was Washington DC. Being around the area allowed me to work with other photographers/models and grow as a creative.

Patrick J. Pierre, location in Washington, DC (Photo by Zaria Love)

By August 2018, my disability took a heavy toll on me and the treatment I was on was ineffective. I came to a point where I refused to complete crazy tasks in my condition. Luckily, this all changed when I was scrolling down Instagram; it was like a light blub moment. I figured that I can continue with photography. My new journey started at that moment.

The first photo shoot I accomplished after being diagnosed with MS was when my siblings had to help in regards to my balance while shooting. To paint a better picture, my sister was assisting me by holding my legs and my brother was standing behind me holding my upper body. To the average bystander we all looked silly but it was very much worth it. After that shoot, I knew photography was here to stay evermore.

Wasilat, location in Maryland (Photo by Zaria Love)

Early 2019, I took a leap of faith and moved to Los Angeles, California. The move was to continue my growth in photography and to start a new chapter. Being able to work with other creative individuals on the west coast brought a whole new perspective.

For example, I was able to execute a photo shoot on Will Rogers State Beach. At first, I was very nervous but once both of us were comfortable everything began to flow and go accordingly. My walker was deep in the sand and the currents were pretty high but the photos depicted strength.

Additionally, I find it truly fascinating on how others are still willing to work with me given my condition. It’s a beautiful feeling. Although MS is my disability it did not stop me from living my life and pursuing the love and passion I have for photography.

Kudzanai, location Will Rogers State Beach, CA. (Photo by Zaria Love)

Special Thanks: I would love give a special thanks to Eugene Mertz, who is a great photographer, for inspiring me to get into photography. And a special thanks to Polly Irungu for her support and creating an amazing database for Black Women Photographers.

You can see more of Zaria’s work and keep up with her on Instagram.

#TravelTuesday is here once again and it comes with me, Dave Williams, here on ScottKelby.com to inject a dose of motivation into your day. Here’s hoping that happens as we touch on something from the world of post-process in the form of a very simple yet effective tip.

Before I get too deep into it I’m going to vent a little, corona-wise. Amongst a plethora of cancelled trips was Iceland. Plethora was definitely the correct term to use there, by the way! I was supposed to be in Iceland right now, but their quarantine rules have changed for us Brits and all many other incoming nationalities. With a two week quarantine, it simply isn’t worth going for me, having to lose out on two weeks worth of accommodation payments before being able to get out there and shoot. One thing I was supposed to do was hook up with local guide Alex Palmi, who sent me this last night.

It translates to something like, ‘my evening walk.’ So if we could all just take responsibility and wear masks, avoid crowding, and maintain hygiene, that’d be great! It’s not about whether or not Covid-19 is a conspiracy or an election tool, it’s about getting back to life as normal and reducing infection transmission (and saving lives!) I’d quite like to see the rest of the world again sometime soon.

So, the half rule…

When we work on our images it’s tricky to get the retouching balance just right. We often reach out to friends and peers for confirmation and critique, and there are lots of things we can do to make sure we haven’t over-retouched our images, such as taking a break for a short period of time and coming back to look at the image again with a fresher pair of eyes. This technique, along with others, certainly does work, but here’s an idea I’d like to share with you about how to implement changes to our images and maintain some realism.

The half rule is something I’ve been doing for a while and it’s so simple and effective. All we need to do is consider halving our slider adjustments, be that in Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, or Lightroom. For every slider adjustment we make, all we need to do is remember the figure beside the slider and half it, making comparisons to our original image. The reason this works so well is because we quite often over-zealously shift our sliders and end up with something too powerful and overbearing, when in fact we are simply targeting the correct adjustment just a bit too much. By breaking the adjustment in half we can often give the right amount of that edit, or at least use it to consider something somewhere in between the original and the half which sits easier with people and doesn’t look so unrealistic.

This trick works with all the sliders, but more-so with those outside of the Basic adjustments, such as Clarity, Dehaze, HSL, etc. It’s simply a case of using this method to work out whether or not the initial adjustment is too much, too intense, too unreal, and using the half rule as a point of reference to work this out. It’s not hard and fast, but it’s a brilliant back-pocket technique.

So, before I go, please all keep your fingers crossed that my next trip (Norway, mid-October) doesn’t get cancelled! I leave you with someone else’s view of Iceland last night.

Keep yourself and others safe.

Much love
Dave

Close