I Took 1st Place In The WPE International Photography Awards Landscape Category
I’m excited to share the news that I won 1st place in the Landscape category in the 2020 WPE International Photography Awards. I was super psyched (and I got a lovey cut glass engraved award), and I was equally amazed that I somehow edged out famous landscape photographer Peter Lik, whose work I’ve always admired. Thank you to the judges for choosing my image (taken near Guilin, China) — I’m truly honored.
It was just a few weeks ago that, on The Grid, where out topic was “Things you can do to make the most of your photography in 2021” I talked about why you should enter photography competitions because you just never know (and contests are uniformly kind if your image doesn’t win an award). This is exactly what I was talking about, and I hope this gives you a nudge to enter some of your images in competitions this year.
21 Questions With…Um…Me?!
I did a really fun interview with the social media crew at B&H Photo, and they asked some really interesting questions. If you’ve got a minute or two, here’s the link (or click the link in their tweet below).
Photographer @ScottKelby believes that, no matter how much experience one has, you can always learn something new about photography. He’ll discuss gear, travel and more! https://t.co/kPSNOmL7AE
The Grid: How Would I Edit Your Photo? – Episode 457
Ever wonder how Scott Kelby would edit your photo? Check out the latest episode of The Grid to see how he edits viewer submitted images including landscape, portraiture, architecture, and more!
New KelbyOne Course: Photographing the Arctic and the Aurora with Dave Williams
Learn how to get the best photos possible in a hostile environment! Join Dave Williams in arctic Norway as he shares his tips and techniques for planning, preparing, and keeping himself (and his gear) safe in extreme conditions. You may head above the arctic circle with the goal of photographing the aurora, but Dave explains how to be prepared for shooting the wildlife, water features, snowy scenes, and not so snowy scenes you may encounter along the way. Dave wraps up the class with lessons on knowing how to find, prepare for, and shoot the northern lights.
I know Scott Kelby and Brad Moore from the bygone days of journalism school, when I would attend photojournalism conferences as a college newspaper editor and wannabe photographer. Digital photography and smart phones were really becoming mainstream at the time and it felt like everyone wanted to be a photographer, especially in my circle of coffeehouse junkies and art nerds.
In those days, I was an okay photographer with no specific niche or direction, and there were a lot of kids who were a lot better than me. I took as many photojournalism classes as I could get my hands on, but kept my focus on my journalism major and working my way up the newspaper ranks, where I felt more confident and a lot less competition. I never even considered a career in photography, not because I didn’t love it, but because it felt a lot less safe, and I was pretty deeply insecure. I was creative, sure, but I had only ever had one art class, in 5th grade. I felt like an imposter.
Ah, The Post Grad Days Of Juggling Jobs And Trying To Find Your Footing…
After graduation, I got hired on as a freelancer for the local paper who, because of dwindling profit margins and much to my benefit, was happy to hire someone who could write and take the pictures, too! A great deal for us both. To pay the bills, I also got some very glamorous jobs as a school portrait photographer and sales gal at Pier 1 Imports. If you’re not juggling three jobs and eating a diet of exclusively BLTs, are you even in your 20s?
None of these jobs felt cool to me. But I didn’t feel like I deserved cool, either. I had imposter syndrome and a hardcore drive to get to something exciting, but I didn’t go into the workforce feeling like I had earned anything yet. I was ready to work hard and climb my way to my dreams.
Inexplicably, the newspaper allowed me to pitch and go after pretty much anything I wanted, and I ended up with several regular series, including a food column that introduced me to the person that got me my next job: as a product photographer for Kirkland’s home decor. I started as a temporary assistant, shooting product on white in a closet in the back of a warehouse in the middle of nowhere, Tennessee. Still not glamorous, but a step in the right direction.
I took a risk and quit all three jobs to pursue a temporary gig that had much more interesting possibilities, and decided I was going to work so hard that there was no way they could let me go. And they didn’t.
They had a larger, much nicer photography studio at their corporate offices in Nashville where they shot styled images in a faux “home” setting, and I made it clear that’s where I wanted to be. Then I worked hard enough to get there. It didn’t happen overnight, but over my three years there I eventually went from being a temporary assistant to just an assistant, and eventually, simply, photographer. We spent all day shooting and styling and set designing and painting and laying floors and hanging art and it was amazing, even if it wasn’t 100% my personal style.
I loved the creativity and teamwork and immersing myself in the world of design. And it reminded me of something: the reason I worked at Pier 1 after college was because I had experience working there in high school, when I thought for a year I might want to be an interior designer. (Feel free to laugh here, because at 17 taking that job in retail felt like relevant job experience to becoming an interior designer. But hey, it funded my shoe addiction and that was enough for me at the time.)
My point is, I remembered something about myself that I had let go of in order to pursue a career that felt more safe and logical. I traded my interest in design to go down the path of journalism, and here fate had brought me back to it.
In 2016, my husband and I decided to move to my hometown of Charleston, SC, where there weren’t any large corporations hiring staff product photographers, and starting my own photography business was pretty much my only option if I wanted to continue down this path. So I did.
In this challenging time in life, it can also be challenging for us to find inspiration for our photography. (By the way, top writing tip: – never use the same adjective twice in one sentence!) Anyway, let’s dive into today’s post. I’mDave Williams, this is #TravelTuesday with Dave, and we still can’t travel…I’m not bitter; I’m just saying.
Something I’ve found myself doing, and I’m sure many of you are in a similar situation, is watching more Netflix than a healthy human being should. This got me thinking about another way we, as photographers, are able to take inspiration from the everyday things in life.
Although there are, of course, some exceptions and some bad examples, the majority of what we see on our screens is well-planned, well-choreographed, well-executed photography. Whether it’s a drama, a nature documentary, or a blockbuster movie, the scenes we see are packed full of ideas we can take away into our photography.
The biggest pointers we can take, in most cases, are light and composition.
When it comes to light, be it natural or artificial, take a moment to notice it. I mean, really notice it. Being a photographer is centered around the ability to see light. By that, I mean noticing the shadows and highlights, recognising a light source or multiple light sources, and recognising the colour of light. Applying this to what we see when we “Netflix and chill,” thinking about what it is we’re seeing, and making a concerted effort to reverse engineer how we would recreate that style of lighting, is a brilliant way to stimulate our technical and creative mind, and to stay energised and focussed when photography may be just out of our grasp.
A great way to reverse engineer TV- and movie-related photography is in movie posters. Next time you see a movie poster with a photo, rather than a graphic or CGI, take a long, hard look at it and work out what lighting you think was used to achieve that result. Top secret tip: – if there are people, take a close look at their eyes and see if you can find any softbox reflections that may give you a clue!
The other thing to look out for is composition. Almost every scene is carefully composed with writers, directors, and photographers having input into how the scene is shot. With this in mind, would you adjust the composition of any scene? Take note of the headroom given to scenes cropped on a person or a couple of people. Take note of the cut off points of people’s bodies—is it cropped at a joint, such as an elbow or at the waist, or is it different? How about depth? Is there any suggestion of depth in the scene with a distinct foreground and background? Do you recognise any compositional techniques you already use, or can you spot any you’d like to try?
Next time you find yourself letting time pass you by with your eyes glued to the big (or little) screen, take a moment to engage your photographic mind and try to develop your knowledge by recognising what is happening in order to create the scene. One big pointer here is that if a scene executed well, you won’t even consciously notice why that’s the case.
Whatever our field of photography, we can learn a lot just from Netflix.
Last week the box I’ve been waiting for arrived from B&H Photo with my new Canon EOS R6 and a Tamron 150-600mm lens.
When I shared the photos of my delivery on social (taken with my iPhone), I had a number of folks asking “Why did you choose the R6 over the R5?” so I thought I’d cover that here today (and why I decided to upgrade from . Here we go:
Lower Noise / Better Sensor
This was probably the biggest thing for me. My main sports camera has been the Canon 1Dx. Not the Mark II. Not the Mark III. Just the original 1Dx, which is a boss when it comes to low noise. Literally the best camera I’ve ever used in low light. Just incredible, and it has a wider dynamic range. It’s an incredible sensor, and somehow the R6 (not the R5) has the same sensor in it as the Canon 1Dx Mark III, at a fraction of the price. The 1Dx Mark III body alone is $6,500. The R6 is $4,000 less at $2,500. This was the main reason I went with it. The rest is just icing on the cake.
The Lower Price
The R5 is pretty expensive at $3,899 ($1,400 more than the R5), and that allowed me to save enough also to get the Tamron lens I’ve been wanting, and still have enough left over to buy…well…lots of stuff!
The lower megapixels (What?!)
For me (and in my opinion, for most photographers out there), more megapixels just mean more hassles. Your cards fill up faster, your drives fill up faster, Photoshop runs slower, and you’re always dealing with huge files. My current high-end camera, my 1Dx, is an 18-megapixel camera, and it’s what so many pro sports shooters — commercial photographers who make their living shooting for magazines and news sites, use day in and day out. The R6 has a couple more at 21-megapixels, which is great, but it’s all I need (even when making huge prints). The R5 is 45-megapixels which, is 50% higher than my old EOS R at 30-megapixels, which was already more than I needed. For me, the lower megapixels are a big plus.
I don’t shoot video. At all.
If I hit the video button on the back of my camera, it’s by accident. I wind up editing a lot of videos, but I don’t shoot any at all. The R5 is a video camera that shoots stills. It’s aimed at the video crowd, and they absolutely love it, but I feel like it’s video first and stills as the sideshow, so none of the video features that make video folks drool over the R5 mean anything to me, so that helped make my choice easier. The R6 is a camera for the still shooter (even though it still has some pretty impressive video features)
I don’t like CFexpress cards
I love that the R6 takes fast SD cards. I hate that one of the card slots on the R5 is a CFexpress slot. I don’t really need two slots in the first place, to be perfectly honest, but if I have two, I don’t want to require really expensive cards that I don’t have. Now I have to carry two types of cards? Nope. I’m going with the R6.
Why Did I Upgrade From My Beloved EOS R?
All the stuff I mentioned above But especially the better sensor
Built-in Focus Stacking The EOS R didn’t have it, but weirdly the lower-ed EOS RP does. Canon could have added it in a firmware update, but the just never did.
Built-in Image Stabilization Most of my lenses already have stabilization, but people are raving about the performance of the built-in version.
Another bonus for me is the physical Mode dial on top Changing modes through menus on the R was kind of a pain. I love a physical dial.
More Frames Per Second Way more. I can use this body for sports. The Autofocus is better, too.
Way Better Buffer The buffer on the R6 is crazy good (and way larger than the one on my EOS R).
More Buttonsand a Better Main Dial Menus are great until you need to change something quickly. There’s a reason so many pros like buttons — they keep you from having to dig through menus when you need to make a quick change. Also, the Main Dial (from the 5D Mark IV) that I loved so much is now on the R6, and man that thing is the best in the business. I’m thrilled to have both of these features.
Better ergonomics How it feels in your hands matters more than you’d think, and the R6 has a refined body (and did I mention more buttons) and a better feel, and even looks better. How it looks matters.
In short, this is the camera I’ve been dreaming of — with more of the stuff I love and less of the stuff I don’t need. It’s like I just got a Mirrorless 1Dx with way more features at a fraction of the price. I’m thrilled! This is my first week shooting with the new camera, so I’ll have more of a shooting report later on, but for now, I wanted to answer that question that everybody was asking.
One more thing: Another thing folks were asking me was how does my new Tamron (bought to shoot aviation) compare to the Sigma with similar range. I have no idea. I don’t have the Sigma; they never send me a lens a try — I have no idea. I’m a Tamron guy, and the lenses they have been coming out with in the past few years are just incredible, and an incredible value (the closest Canon lens is their 100-400mm, so it’s not nearly as long a zoom, but it’s still $1,000 more). It was an easy decision to go with the Tamron (especially after I shot an airshow a couple of months ago with a Canon 100-400mm, and 400mm really doesn’t get you close enough. All the pros out there were shooting 500mm or 600mm, or that exact Tamron I bought, so I’m pretty psyched. Now, I just need an airshow I can drive to. LOL!!
OK, There you have it. I hope you found that helpful, and more to come on the camera and lens as I chance to chance to shoot with it. :)
This is a cautionary tale — one where I was literally just one click away from getting my $1,450 Canon EOS-R Mirrorless body ripped off. Here’s what happened:
I wanted to buy the new Canon R6 Mirrorless body
It has all the stuff I want on it, (and yes, for goodness sake it has two card slots), and I’ve been waiting for what I hope will be the perfect camera for me, and well…it came in yesterday. Anyway, to get this body I decided to sell my beloved Canon EOS R mirrorless body I bought back in 2019, so I listed it for sale on eBay (as seen below).
I’ve sold a number of things over the years on eBay, and I don’t do the whole auction-thing — I only put stuff up with a “Buy It Now” choice. I take my own pics of the product (seen below and throughout), so it’s the actual one they’re getting, and I price it to move, and it usually does pretty quickly. I had a few low-ball offers, but then within a day or so, it sold at full price, and I could see the guy paid in full, but PayPal put a hold on the funds to make sure I actually sent the guy the camera body. Apparently, theft and scams for what PayPal referred to as “high-priced consumer electronics” is a fairly common thing.
Things start getting a bit sticky
I get a message from the buyer saying how excited he was to get the camera, and how he couldn’t believe they actually got it. He also told me the shipping address on the account was outdated, and now he lives in Delaware and could I ship it to where he lives now instead, and he gave me his new address. I’m like “Sure, no problem.”
I messaged back to the buyer that I would be shipping the camera body that day and I would send the FedEx tracking number shortly, and I went to create the shipping label.
The buyer dropped me a note again, and said he noticed that PayPal had put a hold on the funds. I’m not used to this happening (neither was he), so I went “old school” and called PayPal on the phone to make sure it was OK to ship the camera body (I didn’t want to get scammed, and have the buyer pull back his payment after I shipped the camera, saying he never received it). They assured me it was OK to ship it, and that the payment would be released the buyer received the camera. So, as I’m writing back and forth the buyer, I wrote, “That’s going to the Delaware address, right?” He wrote back, “What Delaware address? I live in Tennessee.”
Well, as it turns out, the first messages I got weren’t actually from the real buyer. They were from someone posing as the buyer of my camera, using a different eBay account. He got the buyer’s name after seeing it on my Facebook page, because the actual buyer wrote there, “Hey, Scott. I just bought your EOS R” so this other guy posed as him, used his name, and son-of-a-gun I was one click away from shipping it to the scammer at tthat Delaware address. I would have lost my camera; the real buyer would get hosed because now he’s not getting a camera either, though eventually he would have his money released back to him by PayPal, but the bad guy in Delaware would have pulled a fast one and I’d be out $1,450. I was that close. One click from printing that label and shipping it.
A Rookie Mistake
I’ve been told (since) you never, ever ship to an address other than the address on their account (by the way — the guy in Delaware closed his fake account immediately after I told him I was shipping the camera that day).
I Dodged A Bullet!
The real buyer confirmed he got the camera and he’s loving it. I’m about two days away from having PayPal release the funds from the sale, and my new camera (along with a new 150-600mm Tamron lens) came in yesterday in a glorious B&H Photo shipping box, and man…I just got lucky. This story could have had a very sad ending.
I hope this story of near-disaster helps you if you’re selling any gear online, and at the very least makes you double-check and triple-check before you ship.
Here’s wishing you a wonderful, safe, non-ripped off weekend, and we’ll catch you next week. :)
P.S.A big thanks to everybody who attended our Travel Photography Conference this week. It totally rocked, and the feedback has just been stellar!!! Such a great group of photographers, with lots of great questions and discussions, and laughs throughout. Also, a high-five to all our wonderful instructors and my production team here at KelbyOne who worked so hard to make this conference such a success. I’m indebted to you all. Can’t wait to share what’s next. :)