Hey hey, happy #TravelTuesday to you all! I’m Dave Williams and this week I’m in Norway, where it’s currently -9c in Skibotndalen where I’m writing from the side of the road right on the Finnish border waiting for a recovery truck. Yes, a recovery truck! I’ve just seen the most amazing aurora and I got a little too excited in my rental car, and now I’m stuck in the snow….
Anyway! This week I want to tell you about the camera settings I use for the Northern Lights. It’s not dissimilar to shooting waterfalls actually in its concept – if you want the aurora to be sharp with its detail and motion preserved you need to shoot fast, at around 5 seconds max.
Focussing manually is important. If you forget to switch over to manual focus two things happen: – firstly your camera will be trying to focus in darkness and will automatically land on some random focus point which will probably not have the aurora in focus. Secondly you may miss the focus by rolling out to infinity. When you put your lens to infinity it’s often actually a bit too far. The aurora is around 100 miles up, but even so the way our lenses are made means we’re pushing the glass a touch too far at optical infinity. Hitting infinity and then making a tiny adjustment back the other way is, in my opinion, the best spot to focus for the Northern Lights.
If you do choose to have the camera focus for you, find a bright star or something else with brightness and contrast to help your autofocus work its magic.
So, what about different strengths of aurora? Well if the aurora is weak I shoot for up to 30s and ISO between 2500 – 4000. If it’s strong I’ll shoot between 2s and 15s and ISO 500 – 3200. In both cases the aperture will be large at f.2.8 to allow the maximum amount of light to hit my sensor.
I hope that has been helpful and entertaining! Now I’m going to wait for the recovery truck to come and get me out of here so I can head to Senja and find my hotel.
Hello, hello, and happy #TravelTuesday to you all, as always! I’m Dave Williams and this post is a quick roundup of what’s been going on over here in the UK at The Photography Show at the NEC in Birmingham.
First of all, I’m here with Platypod, whilst they get a foothold in the UK and Europe, and it’s been a great show. Having a Platypod stand here at The Photography Show for the first time has opened up the UK’s eyes to what the USA already sees as a fantastic piece of kit. So, I’m proud to be involved in it all as an ambassador for this awesome company, along with Cathy Baitson, who has worked hard on the stand showing the capabilities of this great product.
A big shout-out to my brother from another mother, Team Epic member Peter Treadway who, along with Dave Clayton, is playing a key role in running the live stages here at the show. Speakers who were up included KelbyOneinstructors Joe McNally, Moose Peterson, Glyn Dewis, Lindsay Adler, and making an impact on the UK was Gilmar Smith, who nailed her live stage appearances with a live shoot and retouching session.
Gilmar did an amazing job capturing the minds of the audience, with even the standing room at the back crammed with people. She asked me before the show whether I’d mind jumping up on stage with her to be the model for a live shoot. But, little did I know, I’d be dressing up as a clown and stretching my face through a dynamic range of expressions in order to catch just the right moment. I can honestly say I can’t wait to see what it is she’ll do to that shoot to get the final image!
Elsewhere around the show, it has been great to see some great brands and great people represented. Whilst Gilmar is over here in the UK, she is also running a workshop at Amersham Studios, and at the time of writing this, there are only tw spots left open if you want in! Getting her over here from sunny Orlando was 3 Legged Thing, and I was lucky enough to have caught this moment of Gilmar with 3 Legged Thing’sDanny Lenihan. I don’t shoot photo reportage, but if I did!
What’s always great to see is the brands such as 3 Legged Thing and, as seen here, Rocky Nook who, much like Platypod and KelbyOne, have a genuine passion for the art of photography and the photographers behind lens. I chanced upon a moment of calm over at the Rocky Nook stand, whilst Lindsay Adler was there doing signings and proudly grabbed some pin badges of the cover art of Dave Clayton’s and Glyn Dewis‘ newest books to plug onto my show lanyard.
The show is getting bigger and better every year, and I’m so glad to be a part of it. With the addition of The Video Show this year, and another bar set, I’m sure 2020 will be another great year. But, for now, with one more day ahead, it’s time to get a coffee and get back to work!
And, with that, thanks to Peter Treadway and Brigitte Gathercole-Day for some of these photos of the show, and right here next week, I’ll be back with more education and wisdom from the world of photography and Photoshop!
It’s all part of knowing who you are as a photographer and it defines you to the world around you. Some say it’s a crucial element to photographic success. So, why should you have a signature look?
I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here every week on Scott Kelby’s blog for #TravelTuesday.
I always used to say that my style was to not have a style. What I’ve since realised is that actually, I was still busy finding it! Regularly taking the time to assess where you’ve come in your photography journey helps to highlight key turning points and to appreciate the journey you’ve been on, as well as helps to make sure you’re moving in the right direction. On a side note, doing this can also help, at times, when you’re perhaps feeling lost or disillusioned in photography.
The key part of your signature look is this: – When people buy photography they are often actually buying the face behind the photos. You’re being booked for your look and for the style of image you’re creating. When you get booked it’s because it’s you—it’s the personality in you that’s transposed into your photography which people are buying. It’s your signature look.
Landing on your look—your style or your image—is a journey. It comes from looking at a lot of photos by other photographers and learning what concepts you like, what concepts you want to imitate, and what you want to ditch. Take all the points that you do like and try to figure out why. It’s a journey of self-examination.
Taking the time to analyse your work, so as to properly work out if and how you have employed the concepts you’ve landed on as being things you want to imitate and replicate in your own way, is key to moving forward. It’s not necessarily about what is right in terms of technically correct photos, it’s much more about the art of photography. Finding your style is about the look, not at all about the histogram.
While you can try to imitate the looks you like, be careful to not compare yourself to that work or try too hard to exactly emulate it, but simply use it to push yourself in the right direction.
Thinking of the right pro words to define your photography can aid in reaching your signature look, too. The creative words which come to mind when you look at your work, which describe your work, and which resonate through your work are those which you can confidently take forward with you in creating your next images.
Another important thing to keep in mind when finding your style is to assign yourself personal projects. Having personal projects gives you a chance to try to apply a look to a series of images, perfecting and honing that style, and then further refining the style, which ultimately results in—your style.
Having a style is important for success in photography. Find yours!
Hi all! #TravelTuesday has come around again! Aren’t you lucky?! That means I, Dave Williams, get to put down something for you to pick up and, this week, it’s all about how you, as a photographer, can make sure your website and/or blog succeeds!
Having a working and effective website is crucial. One element, which I’ll focus on is SEO—that’s Search Engine Optimisation. Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer in Tennessee. If you’re going to want people to find your website by searching the term “wedding photographer Tennessee,” then let’s be honest—there’s a good chance you won’t be #1 in their results. In fact, when I searched that term just a moment ago, only half of the results on page one were actual wedding photographers. The rest were agencies, blogs, media companies, etc., who had good SEO and had posts containing those three words. As a point of note, the top four results were paid results or ads too!
In order to optimise your own SEO (rather than pay a company to do it for you), I recommend these points to consider: –
(1) Update your content regularly!
When you search on Google, those little bot things that run around and scour the internet are looking for many things relating to your search term in order to decide which order to present their results. One of those such criteria, and perhaps the most important one to differ you from other results containing the same keywords, is how relevant your site is to the person searching. A measure of relevance is how recently the site was updated because a fresh website is likely to indicate strong, relevant content. Be sure to keep updating!
(2) Publish relevant content!
Like I just mentioned, the important word here is “relevant.” Quality content is the top SEO driver and nothing substitutes that. We all know (even if we don’t practice what we preach) that having a one-track website is very important. We shouldn’t start talking about gardening in a blog post on our camera review website—it just doesn’t make sense. Fine-tuning that principle, quality and relevant content created specifically for our intended audience increases our regular traffic. Take this site you’re on right now. People visit Scott Kelby’s blog daily, or weekly, because the content all ties in together. It’s relevant to the audience. Bear in mind that you want to drive further traffic through SEO, but having that base audience already present shows the little search bot things that you do have a trusted website and, therefore, are relevant for the search results. However, also bear in mind that whilst you should be plugging keywords and phrases that you want people to be searching for in order to land on your website, you should never sacrifice the quality of your content for SEO. And, on a side note, you can use bold, italics, or other similar methods to emphasise these keywords or phrases to the viewer, as well as the search engine.
One quick example, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, is this: –
If you wrote a piece containing the best five spots to shoot in New York City, make sure your article contains the terms people may search for in order for your post to be relevant. Phrases like, “the best places to photograph in New York” and “these are my favourite spots to shoot Manhattan” are two such examples to include naturally and flowing within your post.
Okay, I may or may not have made up that word, but you totally know what it means. So, two notes on links: – Having a link, preferably reciprocated, between your site and another similar site demonstrates to the search engine that your site is relevant and that it is similar to another site, which it will now associate to yours and consider for SEO rankings. The link to another site will benefit both sites. But, here’s the other thing: – When you mask a URL behind the words “click here” or something similar, you provide no value to the link other than the link itself. If I were to link to my own website, using a phrase like “check out my awesome travel photography,” it will give meaning and value to the link within the search engine, applying terms to what is actually there through the other end of the link. Make sense? (Also, I have no shame to that slight piece of shameless self-promotion. ;)
When you make a site, either on WordPress or something similar or using HTML coding, you can implant metadata. It’s contained within the <Head> of the page and it describes the site through keyboarding and descriptions. Make sure you use this to its full effect by selecting a short list of keywords which relate to the content, because this information is searched by search engines returning your site in the results!
Finally, everyone loves a list! When you search things online, you’ll notice that there are lots of “Top 5” this and “Top 10” that, and there’s a reason these lists are so popular. So, just as I have in this post, make a list!
Hi all! Dave Williams here, coming at you this week from a very cold Chicago where I’m spending a few days shooting in the city. Perfect timing, it seems, to share some top tips for shooting a cityscape.
When we shoot a cityscape, we can often relate it to landscape photography, applying similar camera settings to achieve similar results. What differs in the main is the objective of the photo. We are quite often seeing a faraway land and putting our spin on its appearance by making notable points within the scene stand out, by bringing something in focus (whether that be one element or the entire skyline), and sometimes reflecting the local culture within the shot.
Yesterday, I was shooting Chicago with KelbyOne member Kevin Scott, who I know reads this blog daily.
Tip 1: Golden hour and blue hour are the best times for shooting a cityscape. As the sun rises, the city is quiet, as it begins to wake up. The changing colour of the light can bathe the city and warm it up, ready for the day ahead. In a similar way the sunset changes the light of the city, but the difference here is that the lights that are probably switched off at sunrise are being switched on for sunset. The tones in the sky are usually quite beautiful and there’s a harmonious balance between nature and the influence of people.
Tip 2: Change your perspective! The city is usually shot from a handful of good locations, over and over again. If you get the opportunity to shift perspective and shoot from somewhere else, you should absolutely make the most of that.
Tip 3: Bad weather = good! So, yesterday, I was moaning quite a lot about the cold—I won’t lie about that. That cold weather did something for the city, though, and the ice was an extra element. This translates to a rainy day, too, where the rain gives nice, shiny, reflective surfaces to shoot within a scene. The reflection not only adds a mirroring effect or a deeper element to the photo, but it also adds a level of saturation and an often overlooked location can look really great!
Tip 4: Consider the foreground. Speaking of bad weather, the ice was my foreground yesterday and it’s a foreground that isn’t permanent, so it gives my photos an edge over the rest of the market. I won’t go too much into the subject of foregrounds, save to say that they’re a good thing!
Tip 5: Lead in with leading lines. Leading lines are a powerful compositional tool because they force depth and they cause the viewer’s eye to move exactly how and where we want it to. What can potentially be a messy scene can suddenly become coherent with this simple addition.
Tip 6: Stabilise. To get the length of exposure we need, in order to keep the entire range in focus for such a deep scene, we often need to use a tripod, or where tripods aren’t allowed or are too heavy to carry around, a Platypod.
Tip 7: Use your imagination! Look for patterns, look for light, think about movement, such as water and vehicles, and capture the essence of the city as best as you can! When planning your city shoot, use the tools available to you to get the best shots in the best locations: – Instagram, 500px, Pinterest, Flickr. Take a look at what everybody else is doing, so you can decide on your location. And, most importantly, have a great time!
Do you notice from the photos I’ve shared that there’s no real right or wrong? It’s more a case of considering what’s there and how to make the most of it, whilst keeping the photographic principles we know in mind!
Hey hey! Happy #TravelTuesday, once again. I’m Dave Williams, coming at you from the UK to share something about Photoshop, photography, and life. This week: photography! Pick up what I put down, and let’s go!
Time and time again this question lands in my inbox: – “How many megapixels?” Well, in truth, the only time you really need a lot of megapixels is when you’re shooting something for a billboard. Here’s why:
Photography is both an art and a science. It’s an art in terms of its creativity, but a science in terms of the application of all the elements that lend themselves to the creative result. The science is made up of gigabytes, megapixels, photons, and a whole load of other cool sounding words. The problem can often derive from people’s scientific or technical way of thinking being transposed into the art of photography, and particularly, in terms of the requisite number of megapixels, it’s often misunderstood.
Here’s the marketing myth that goes with the theory: – the more megapixels you have, the better the camera.
So, a megapixel is basically a million dots. These dots make up the image. It would seem that more megapixels mean a sharper photo, but this is not necessarily the case—you could just have more dots on a bad photo. The lens you use, the sensor in the camera, and the photographer’s grasp of light and composition are far more important factors about what makes a good photo than the megapixels cameras are arranged by in the electronic store. It’s often said, in various different ways, that the most important thing about a camera are the six inches behind it.
The big things to consider when buying more megapixels, along with the aforementioned potential creative differences, are that more megapixels mean bigger file sizes, which in turn, means you need more hard drive space. And, that more megapixels cost more, owing to the marketing value associated to megapixels when retailers rank cameras.
Let’s go back to the billboard thing. You know when you watch TV and you have the option to go between the regular channel and the HD version of the channel you’re watching? On the whole is there actually a difference? Perhaps there’s a difference on a huge screen, but on the average TV screen, it’s not noticeable. This is exactly akin to comparing what most people will use a photo for versus the one in 100 photographers who is shooting that billboard ad. Make sense?
Taking that a stage further, a very common use for images is social media. Often we find that we’re downscaling the images before we post them, and then the posting algorithms of Instagram and the like will resize our image and its resolution, once again, when we upload it. Those megapixels you invested in are, in this case, wasted.
In short, if you’re going to make a tight crop on an image or shoot for that billboard, megapixels matter. In almost all other cases, they simply don’t.
Megapixels matter in some cases, but not many! If you’re shopping for a new camera, look at other things first—read reviews on sensor quality, ISO performance—and make sure you invest properly in your lens, as well as the camera.