Posts By David Williams

Good day! It’s #TravelTuesday and because it’s Tuesday, it’s not Scott but me, Dave Williams, fresh from a red-eye flight from Calgary to London, coming at you loud with some kind of photographic wisdom!

Today, I want to touch on reverse engineering a photo, and this is something you can learn a lot more about from Glyn Dewis’ book Photograph Like a Thief if you want to dig deeper. Let’s do it!

So, in Banff National Park, there’s an iconic photo and I wanted it. I’ve preached time and again about being original, but I just wanted this shot bad! There’s a train line running through the park as part of the Canadian Pacific Railway network, and one curve, in particular, facing up to the mountains’ home to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. It’s Morant’s Curve, named after the Canadian Pacific photographer who took the first photo of the new rail line here.

As you can see here, it’s so popular because of the original shot that there’s a viewing area with railings.

When it comes to reverse engineering a photo, it’s a lot about light. When it comes to photos of people, we can usually work out the lighting quite easily by looking at the edges of the person and the reflection in their eyes to see how they were lit. But, when it comes to landscapes, it’s more about working out the location and the timings, which we can do quite easily with maps and PhotoPills.

What we’re looking for with the light is the time of day, dictating the direction, and other clues that will help us with the scene, like the temperature and tone and the softness.

We also need to reverse engineer the shutter speed and focal length used, so we can apply it to our image, or add a creative flair if we want to put our own spin on it.

The whole process of reverse engineering a photo is a combination of science and art, and we can use it to apply the exact look from the original photo or put it “into our own words” if we want. That’s what I wanted to do, and here’s my shot: –

What I’ve done here is pick a spot slightly back from the gap, giving the train a piece of the image but not the entire focus. The front end creeps through the gap in the trees looking somewhat like a face, and then the rest of the train twists and turns as a leading line toward those epic mountains behind. The whole scene is, of course, iconic, but it has my own little spin on it, too.

Reverse engineering a shot like this is a good skill to apply, and a great way to learn. Have a go at it. I promise you’ll enjoy it, and it will help you in critiquing yourself, as well as deconstructing and analysing a photo.

Much love


Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! Yes, that’s right, it’s so much of thing that it’s entirely appropriate to wish people a good day on #TravelTuesday! And with that I, Dave Williams, am here on, coming at you with wisdom and news and whatever musings have crossed my mind this week!

Firstly, just to recap on what I’ve been up to: I arrived back from the Faroe Islands on Friday and I loved it! If you ever have the opportunity to explore this off-the-beaten-track cluster of 18 awesome islands, do it! As for the next mission, well I’m currently in the air over the Atlantic bound for Calgary where I’ll be picking up a rental and heading to the Rockies—keep up on that over on my Instagram and Facebook if you so wish, and feel free to drop me a line with any suggestions while I’m there!

So, this week I want to show you some photos from Team Epic and tell you why they rock! The idea behind this post is to offer you a range of motivation, and show you some critique (albeit unwarranted; the team will only find out when they read this post that I actually did it!) Let’s do it, starting with Peter Treadway!

This photo rocks because not only does it demonstrate the lengths Peter went to in order to get the shot, it also demonstrates his understanding of colour and tone. He has balanced the light beautifully to give a good dynamic range across the scene, using his skill with controlling what our eyes are drawn to with a combination of light and depth. The image is nicely framed, with the boat entirely in the frame and considerately close enough to the edges to not waste space, but not so close that it looks off. Finally, keeping it brief, the actual moment itself with the clear love in the expression on this couple’s faces just tips it over the edge for a win. That’s why this photo rocks. Next up, Mimo Meidany.

Okay, this image clearly rocks, but here’s the reason why: – The framing is so well-considered, using the final distance of the lens in tandem with the actual distance from the doorway and the Louvre pyramid to get each positioned and sized just right. That also reflects in the framing here where Mimo has used a bold framing, which despite being quite large contains elements that break it up like the highlighted gates and the tire markings on the ground. Further to this, as well as Mimo’s signature hyper-long exposed clouds with their awesome streaks, this image technically shows a serious contrast between true black and white but has been adjusted in post to offer a range in between those two values, which somehow doesn’t appear to show a great deal of contrast. This image rocks! And next up, Mr. Fernando Santos!

Check this beauty out! Somewhere in deepest, darkest Austria lies a twisty-turns Alpine road with a quaint church nestled in the foothills, featuring towering peaks in the background. Utilising this scene to its full advantage, Chicky Nando has created a scene of warmth, depth, and of beautiful sectioned leading lines all pointing to one spot. Whether it’s the road, the grass, the hill, the tree line, or the Alpine peaks, each of the lines crossing through the three dimensions of this image points straight back to one spot: – the church! Very, very nicely done, and that’s why this photo rocks! And, I guess that leads us to Mr. Roberto Pisconti.

With Pisco, let’s mix it up with one of his epic portrait shots. Take a look here, firstly, at how technically perfect this image is with those eyes tack sharp and a great creative use of the light where the attention is drawn to the features of the face, falling off where it meets the shoulders and neck just enough that they remain an unobtrusive element of the image, but not so much so that they pull our attention. The top of the head is cropped just right where it’s enough that it’s deliberate, but not so much that it negatively impacts the look. In post, the toning has been expertly done, with quite a complicated set of colours, combined with a skin tone to add a massive punch of pizazz to the shot! Mr. Pisco, this photo rocks! And, on to Mr. Kuna.

A portrait of an entirely different kind, Mr. Rocket Man has composited a series of images here, blending them seamlessly to create a picture-perfect frame of a young astronaut with one of Mr. Musk’s finest rockets soaring into orbit overhead. When compositing images it’s important to create something that could pass as real in terms of blending the images, and this means matching the tones and where necessary, lining up the pixels. Erik has nailed it with this amazing image; it rocks! And now, Cathy Baitson.

Take a look at how captivating this image is. The scene we see is a metal worker in a forge, with a roaring fire off in the background and the sense of someone who has stopped for just a moment amidst a busy day at work. The feeling he gives of connecting with the viewer is no doubt a result of the expert direction of Cathy, and the consideration she’s given to the composition here is what helps to draw us in, but balances nicely that all that’s going on is a compliment to the scene rather than a distraction. Nice one Cathy; this rocks! Next up, the boss!

Founding member of Team Epic, Scott Kelby, has smashed it in this rocking Parisien scene. There’s depth, composition, framing, atmosphere, and most importantly, there’s this: – The Eiffel Tower, an absolute icon worldwide, has not been used as the subject of the image, but as a feature within it. This helps us to depict such iconic places in a new light and means we are likely to draw in an audience to an unfamiliar view of a familiar object.

And with that, I invite you to follow Team Epic on Instagram via their images above and to consider this unwarranted critique when it comes to creating your own images. Thanks for reading, and as always, you’re welcome to reach out to me if anything in this article needs a little more explanation!

Much love


Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! It’s me, Dave Williams, kicking my way onto just like every Tuesday!

I hope you’re all well! I have a little thing to share today about pushing yourself and getting your work out there. Without further ado (/adieu) lets get into it!

Us photographers are funny creatures. We tend to get ourselves into a status quo. Perhaps a sort of happy place. This is all well and good, but who got anywhere by being the same? That’s right, I hear your answer! Well if we’re going to get anywhere we need to be sticking our neck out and getting noticed. But how?

Easy! No, honestly, it is! If we’re going to get noticed we need to do two things: –

  1. Be so damn good they just can’t ignore us.
  2. Put ourself front and centre.

Honestly, get in their face! Have you tried it? You should try it! Ok, maybe I’m being a little extreme, but try this: –

Find a good shot of yours and try to work out who would be interested in it. Perhaps you’re a KelbyOne member and the KelbyOne community would be interested. Perhaps you used a Platypod to take the shot and Platypod would be interested. Perhaps you learned the technique you used for the shot in one of Scotts books, in which case Scott would be interested. Whatever the reason you come up with, take some action on it!

If you are a KelbyOne member you could share your shot with a story about how the KelbyOne community has helped you create the image and submit that for a Member Monday feature. If you used a Platypod, write a piece about exactly how the Platypod was the right tool for the job and send it off via their website. If you learned the technique from one of Scotts books, tell him. These are all small, simple things to do, and each varies in its end result. You may up featured on an Instagram post or in a blog post, or you may draw the attention of your favourite photographer. Whatever the result, we’ve actually achieved that extra little something special that we wouldn’t have if we’d stuck with the status quo – we’ve been noticed by someone, and it could end up with us being featured, and that could in turn result in our growth as a photographer. Simple!

Ladies and gents, go ahead and stick your neck out! If nothing happens, you’ve lost nothing, but if it gets noticed and you get featured, you’re on the path for a win!

With much love, as always


(By the way, I’m in the Faroe Islands, hence the selfie, and you can keep an eye on me over on my Instagram story)

#TravelTuesday has landed here again on and I, Dave Williams, have a nugget to share with you!

Making progress in photography means many things to many people, but to me, it’s important to keep photography social if we stand a chance at making progress. Having a social angle allows us not only to network and to make and maintain relationships, but also to share experiences and ideas, and to challenge ourselves and our skills. On Sunday in London, I hosted a small meetup of photographers and it compounded my belief in creating and maintaining relationships in photography rather than doing what so many photographers do and seeing everyone else carrying a camera as a competitor. On that note, they’re not your competition! Trust me, they’re really not. A competitor is someone working in the same field as you, in the same location as you, reaching out to the same market as you. Even if you find yourself competing, if you’re staying on top of your game by networking and practicing, then you really have nothing to worry about anyway!

So, with the Worldwide Photowalk fresh in our minds as one obvious idea, what else can we do to be social in photography?

#1 – Engage on Social Media

If we see something awesome, we should say so! When an amazing image catches our eye for its aesthetics, its composition, its light, its tone, its worth, saying something. Every time you see something awesome, leave a positive comment and tell the photographer why you like it. Think of it the other way around—if you posted an awesome shot, you’d want people to say something nice, so leaving positive comments can kick-start that cycle. Another way to engage on social media is through Facebook groups. I have one here, where I look to people for advice and feedback, and there are some other great groups, such as the Photoshop and Lightroom Group, the Friends of the Grid, and PhotoReview, which all encourage sharing and learning through feedback. If you aren’t involved in groups on Facebook, I strongly recommend taking a look around and finding some groups that fit your interest and getting involved with them.

#2 – Enter Contests

This is a cool way to interact with other photographers and it can be very, very rewarding. I was fortunate enough to be in the final round of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and the excitement and feeling of pride that came with it was insane—and I didn’t even win! There are contests in photography all the time, largely published on social media. I’ve run the Sunrise Challenge for the past two years and the community that forms around it is great, with everyone getting involved in the contest hashtag and checking out each other’s work. Another thing a contest can do is give you the opportunity to put your images in front of the biggest names in photography who often make up the judging panels, and they give you a goal to work towards as well.

#3 – Join a Club

This is perhaps one of the best things in the photography community. Through a club, you’ll have the door opened up to attend talks and events with big names in the industry, have critique on your images, and meet like-minded people who meet regularly with the same passion. Lots of things can happen in the in-between times as well, and it’s also possible to work toward a professional affiliation or recognition through a photography club with the right mentoring to get you there. If you don’t have a photography club near you, make one! Failing that, there are other ways to recreate the photography club experience, such as becoming a KelbyOne member and interacting in the forums with other members and learning through online courses (and there’s a sale on right now, too!)

#4 – Photo Walks!

This is the simplest, most engaging way to be social in photography. Scott organises the world’s largest photo walk each year, but there’s nothing to stop you from running one throughout the rest of the year. They can be fantastic ways to meet people and to forge and maintain friendships. I’m lucky to say that a lot of the people I have had attend my photo walks have become friends, and the reason is this: –

The photo walk, being the part with the camera, is the small part of a bigger picture. Meeting up and taking photos is cool because we can learn from each other whilst our lenses are pointed in the same direction, but it’s the bits in-between and afterward, that really matter the most. The walking between locations gives us an opportunity to really dig deep and share our experiences, both in photography and in life, and taking the time afterward to have some food or coffee (or beer) to further share and build those relationships. We’re one big team of photographers, we aren’t really competing, and we need to behave that way and help each other. You could be missing one small yet vital nugget of wisdom and all it could take to realise it is meeting with other photographers to help unlock that one thing to push you miles down the road in your photographic journey!

Jump into social photography, meet people, introduce yourself in those Facebook groups (say Dave sent you!), and see what a difference it makes.

Much love

Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! I’m Dave Williams and I’m here on with some top tips for you.

What I’m sharing today is something I’ve seen time and again on Facebook groups – people asking how to focus in the dark for night time landscapes and astrophotography. It just so happens that this features in my new book about the Northern Lights, so in my experience shooting the Aurora I’m quite well versed in how to focus when you can’t see anything and I have three methods to share with you.

Method 1 – Focus on the brightest thing

This is the best way, hence sticking it up at number 1 on the list. It’s far better using Mirrorless cameras, but can still be done on DSLR’s. First up, get Live View up and running. Using the + key on your camera, zoom in on the brightest object in the distance (perhaps by moving the camera to face another direction.) When you’re zoomed in, manually focus until the object is tack sharp, then lock off the focus by keeping it on Manual Focus mode. The bright object could be the moon, a bright star, or a lit farm or building in the distance.

Method 2 – Focus while it’s light

This method requires planning and preparation – but it works if you can do it. Before you lose the light, focus on something in the distance which is compatible with the focus you’ll want when you’re shooting in the dark, then lock off that focus by switching to Manual focus. You can take it up a step and, to ensure that focus doesn’t accidentally get knocked off-point, taping the focussing ring to the barrel of the lens with some gaffer-tape.

Method 3 – Focus on infinity

This doesn’t mean twisting the focussing ring as far as it goes – it means hitting that sweet spot. Take a look at the markings and there’ll be a particular point at which the lens is focussed on infinity – usually either the centre of the infinity symbol, or a line demarcated next to the infinity symbol. This tip requires light, which obviously kind of defeats the object of being able to focus in the dark, so remember that when you create your own light to use this method, be courteous to other photographers around and don’t flash bright lights all over the place and, where possible, use a red light to maintain your own night-visibility that your eyes will have adjusted to.

I hope these three methods are useful to you, and if you haven’t had a go at photography in the dark you really should give it a go!

If you’re in or around London, UK, this Sunday it’d be cool to see you. I’m holding a photographer meet-up and you’re invited.

Much love


#TravelTuesday with Dave is here again! Mostly because it’s Tuesday….

I have recently switched things up a little (after what I’m going to label as occasional passive-aggressive pressure from Mr Kelby) and I just thought I’d offer an explanation. I was using the handle @capturewithdave but made the switch to @idavewilliams. Let me tell you why.

Every week I interrupt proceedings on to give you something inspirational from the world of Photography, Photoshop, Travel or Life, and this week is no exception.

Firstly, I’ll point out that I’m losing some link-backs here and there because of this in that there are lots of blogs and what-not out there with my name shown as @capturewithdave so it was hard for me to actually make this move (and if anyone operating any of these blogs wants to retroactively switch my handle, I’m ok with that!) because of losing those links, but I reckon the pros outweigh the cons. Here’s why: –

It’s important that we have a uniform approach wherever possible on social media, which means having the same handle with the same identifiable profile photo (more on that shortly) because we need to be sure that people recognise us when switching from one place to another. When they see us in the Twitter ecosystem for example, they should be able to easily recognise and find us in the Facebook ecosystem. I hope you appreciate my use of the term ‘ecosystem’ there, and of course it applies across all platforms and to our blog/website. Bottom line – it should have our name in it! Along with this we must also be clear about what it is that we do. If we’re a wedding photographer, we must make it clear in the profile that we’re a wedding photographer. Ultimately, we’re looking to get attention so we can sell ourselves as photographers, and often this is right where it all starts and the traction can build.

My ‘set selfie’
My ‘hold on, this might be important’
whats wrong with my other profile picture?’

So, the profile photo. Again, Scott put a little pressure. Apparently I looked a little moody in my last one so last time I was over at the KelbyOne studios I was cornered and told I was getting a new shot done. I complied, offering little resistance in the Florida heat after a day recording on set, and was looking straight down the barrel of Scotts lens. It took a while – I’m not used to having my photo taken – I’m a role model, not a fashion icon, after all. We went through the usual – you know, shabang and all that – and following a little bit of me fooling around we ended up with a shot that made me kinda look like I know what I’m talking about and that, at the end of the day, is what we need for a profile photo. We need to convey the message to our prospective clients that we are the one they need to hire and a profile photo for a photographer is actually kind-of a big deal. Think about it, is a photographer with a poor profile shot likely to get hired? No, because how can a good photographer possibly have a bad headshot?! 

So, take a minute and assess your tag and your headshot. Please.

Much love


Images Copyright Scott Kelby 2k19 ;)

By the way… I wrote a book all about the Northern Lights. It’s called ‘The Complete Aurora Guide for Travellers and Photographers’ and it’s out now. If you’re heading to the cold, dark north, this is the book that will help you find and shoot the Aurora, complete with Eskimo stories and everything :)