Posts By hybriddave

It’s that time of week again here at ScottKelby.com – it’s #HybridDaveTuesdays on #TravelTuesday – and this week, I’m going to answer a question I’ve been frequently asked, and then I’ll break it down a bit more!

Take a look at my posts on Instagram, and you’ll notice a theme: they’re all geotagged with the coordinates, along with a marker pin denoting the country right there at the top of the caption. It look’s a bit like this:-

 

 

The question I’m most often asked is not “How do you do it?” but “How do you remember?”

We live in a world where you can have GPS right there in your D-SLR, but mine doesn’t have that, so I have to have a system for remembering where I take photos, particularly those in the middle of nowhere or of something potentially nondescript in and of itself.

The first and primary thing I tend to do is, when using my D-SLR, I will also take the same photo with my iPhone with my geotagging turned on, thereby marking the shot on a map. It’s so simple, and it’s a really good reminder of what was where when I’ve been away on a trip taking hundreds of photos one after another. There are, of course, things which stand out in my memory, but those things which don’t can be easily tagged on a map right in my pocket.

Here’s an example, starting with the (festive, because it’s nearly Christmas) D-SLR shot:-

 

Of course, we know this is the Rockefeller Center tree, but suppose we didn’t. All we’d need to do is take a shot at the same place on the iPhone (or another brand, whichever, but preferably an iPhone!), and then go into the photo on the phone and swipe up:-

 

Right there, it’s sitting on the map, showing us the exact spot the photo was taken. It’s a GPS solution to tagging photos that we already have right there in our pockets.

My second option is simpler still: once you’ve taken a photo, have a look around and see if there’s a sign you can shoot – a street name, a tourist sign, a shop name, anything that will jog your memory later would be great for getting a praise location for your photo.

 

 

This is a Svalbard reindeer, the smallest reindeer sub-species. He’s looking down my lens from the edge of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen. The glacial water flowing off into the sea through Adventdalen is pretty familiar, so as a reminder, in this instance, here’s what I did:-

 

Easy, right? Too easy to be telling you about? Well, it’s one of those things – it’s simple when you know what to do, but if you don’t do it, you’ll end up racking your brain trying to remember the name of a place you took a photo, so you’ll thank me when you start doing this!

I hope this was useful. Remember to check in here every week to see what other wisdom I have to impart from the world of travel photography and retouching, and you can reach out if you have any questions or topics for me by searching for me, Hybrid Dave, across social media :)

 

Much love

Dave

Hello one and all, and thanks for dropping by again for #HybridDaveTuesdays on #TravelTuesday here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider. I’m Dave Williams and I’m here once a week to share something with you from the world of Photography and Retouching, and this week it’s a little note on noise in your images and using the Reduce Noise Filter. Let’s get going!

So, last week I told you all that I was in Tromsø, Norway, and despite the -12 celsius conditions and occasional blizzard I persevered and got some awesome nights of Aurora and had some stunning views before me through the fjords and snow blanketed terrain. One image in particular though, the view from my hotel, was the inspiration for this post. Here it is:-

 

The view from the Magic Mountain Lodge in Lyngseidet, Norway

This was a snapshot caught right at the start of the day before a long drive north. The light was very low, the ISO was very high, and the grain in the image is testament to that. For me the most noticeable noise is up in the snow around the mountain to the right. So sometimes it’s good to leave the noise there, it’s quite a good characteristic to have, but often in the world of commercial photography it’s just not acceptable.

The Reduce Noise Filter

Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise

This tool has been hanging around in Photoshop for a while. It’s generally pretty good but it’s worth noting the name. It’s called the Reduce Noise Filter, not the Remove Noise Filter. The reason I point this out is because it’s pretty hard to remove the noise in an image without losing detail. This is because Photoshop is taking a look at an area of the image and trying to determine which pixels don’t fit, then replacing them with an average of the surrounding pixels. Make sense? So if I have a 9×9 grid with a white pixel in the centre and black pixels surrounding the edges, the noise filter will notice that the white pixel is the one which is out of place and stick a black pixel there. What this does on a larger scale is pretty catastrophic if you think about it. We invested in an awesome camera which we use to shoot RAW, capturing the precise colour and tone of each individual pixel, then we stick it through a noise reduction process which changes each one of those pixels based on it’s neighbour and spews out an average which it’s decided works better. That’s what you need to have in the back of your mind when you use noise reduction, along with this:-

“Nobody ever threw away a photo of their relative, their wedding, their partner, or their cat because it was noisy.”

-Hybrid Dave, 2017

So let’s break it down. One type of noise that the Reduce Noise Filter can deal with is Color (I think that means Colour) noise. This type of noise is red, blue and green dots scattered across your image, often in the form of splodges rather than individual pixels, but it could be either.

When using this filter it’s best to reset the sliders to zero each time to start off, thereby effectively hitting the reset button on the filter and seeing the preview with no filter applied.

Back to the Color Noise, with the slider at zero give it gentle progress to the right until the color noise starts to blend with the rest of the image. Be careful not to slide too far!

 

 

Luminance Noise is next up on the list here. Unlike Color Noise, Luminance Noise is made up of dots which are grayscale, anywhere between white and black. Here’s a closer view from the bottom right of the image showing these dots:-

 

Removing the Luminance Noise comes as a two part process, with the Preserve Details slider activating once you move the Strength slider. What happens here is you effectively smooth out the image using the Strength slider, then bring the detail back with the Preserve Details slider. With the Strength slider set to zero, slowly move it to the right until you’re happy with the effect it’s had on the Luminance Noise. Once you’re happy here, start increasing the Preserve Details slider to bring back the detail without reintroducing the noise. This is simple to understand, and easy to use once you do understand, but without that prior knowledge of what’s actually going on it can be just a random set of sliders being moved up and down. Let’s move on…

 

 

Switching the radial selection from Basic to Advanced will open up the option to apply the noise filter to single channels of colour. It’s the exact same principle as the Color filter, but applied to Red, Green, or Blue only. If you’ve noticed that only one channel needs the filter more than the others it’s a handy tool to have, and it comes with the Strength and Preserve Details sliders right there.

The last thing to look at here is the box entitled Remove JPEG Artefact. This tackles the problem caused by compression in JPEG files. Each time a JPEG is saved the quality gets worse, and it wasn’t great in the first place! This check box will do what it can to reduce the noise caused by the processes a JPEG file is put through in order to try to preserve it from the compression effects.

So that’s my breakdown for you all today on the Reduce Noise Filter right there in Adobe Photoshop. It’a a fairly simple tool, but understanding it will help you to better utilise it, and I hope I’ve helped.

As always, I’d love to see what you’ve made, and I’m on Instagram and Twitter if you want to reach out. Keep an eye on my Instagram story today and tomorrow, I’m currently in the air heading across the pond to New York City to have a little look at how they do Christmas over there!

Much love

Dave

Winter is coming people!

It’s that time again, I’m back to share my weekly dose of photographic wisdom under the lovingly crafted hashtag – #HybridDaveTuesdays

This week it’s something I feel I have a good standing to talk about due to my love of cold places. I’m going to tell you about shooting in the cold in the form of a list. If the internet has taught me only one thing it’s that everybody loves a list, right? By the way, I realise that winter is only approaching in the northern hemisphere and I’m kinda excluding half of the population of the entire world, but I’m finding peace from that with the knowledge that you southerners are about to have your Christmas BBQ’s fired up!

So here goes!

 

Here’s some snow…… it’s authentic Finnish

 

Tip #1 – Never delete anything in camera!

Snow is a funny old thing. It tricks our cameras as well as our eyes. There WILL be shots you look at of snowy scenes on the back of your camera that look terrible, but then when you get them up in Lightroom or Camera Raw they’ll look amazing following a tweak or two.

 

Tip #2 – Keep your gear cold

When you take your gear from cold to warm (like in and out of a hotel or rental car) it puts a strain on it. Once it’s cold, keep it cold. It can short out the electrics if condensation forms inside the camera. The worst thing you can do is to actively try and warm your gear up or try to make it warm near the heat vent or under your ski jacket. Furthermore, if you see that shot and pull out your camera but it instantly fogs you’ll have nothing to show your friends! I remember shooting in Finnish Lapland where I visited the Wild Spirit Animal park and just after meeting Romeo the wooly pig and before meeting Spike the Husky I was taken into a small, round cabin with a fire burning inside for a hot drink to warm me up. I left my camera outside on a pile of wood so it stayed cold and was ready to shoot again as soon as I was back out.

 

Cold enough for an Arctic Fox

 

Tip #3 – Except your batteries. Keep them warm!

There’s some science here. I mean, I don’t know what it is, but it’s here! So basically, if your batteries are exposed to the cold they’ll lose power quicker. I’ve experienced this first hand, it definitely happens. I was shooting the northern lights in the Icelandic Westfjords up on top of a mountain. I couldn’t feel my face, it was that cold. Whatever was happening to my batteries due to the cold happened pretty quick. The power was just going. What I discovered is that if I kept my batteries in my inside pockets my body heat kept them going for longer.

 

Tip #4 – Then warm your gear back up slowly!

I learned this the hard way! Kirkjufellsfoss, shown below, is an iconic Icelandic waterfall with it’s namesake mountain right behind it. Take a look here though – I have a nice wide lens mounted on my Nikon D810 but the middle of the shot is all hazy and soft. This is a direct result of having moisture build up inside the lens. It’s virtually impossible to remove in post because it ruins a whole portion of the image. Bottom line is to consider ways to warm your gear up slowly. Put it in the boot of the rental car where it’s that little bit colder and far from the heating, and put it inside your bag (closed) when you take it indoors so that it gradually adjust to the new, warmer climate. If your camera does get moist for any reason, keep it somewhere dry and of a consistent temperature, and leave ALL of the ports wide open to give the moisture an easy escape.

 

Kirkjufellsfoss, with Kirkjufell in the background – Iceland

 

Tip #5 – Overexpose for white snow

What our eyes see as pure, white snow filling the landscape, our camera sees as overexposed and so brings your camera down a notch or two. To combat this, it’s a wise idea to shoot a little over. It’s the number one tip you’ll always see on advice for shooting snow but it’s easily overcome so just be mindful of it and shoot over – you can always bring things back down in Photoshop if you’re way too bright. On a sidetone, your Auto White Balance will often change things a little towards to blue end – another thing to bear in mind. If you’re the type to use a grey card or a light meter then fine, but I’m not and I consider it all in post.

 

Some snowy bushes in Iceland

 

Tip #6 – Don’t concentrate only on snow

There’s so much more going on and snowy scenes are in themselves very romantic, I find. This shot below is of a couple stood alone outside the beautiful House of the Roundheads in Riga and although they’re only a tiny feature of the images, they add to it just enough. As with everything you shoot, snow has a tendency to get very ‘samey’ and breaking it up with details, much like you would when shooting a wedding, you’re giving it a new perspective and engaging your audience and lifting interest.

 

House of the Roundheads – Riga, Latvia

 

Tip #7 – Shoot the fauna

Even if it’s hard to find some! There are two animals which epitomise Iceland – horses and puffins – and here’s 50% of that combo! Shooting animals helps give a sense of their hardiness to the testing climates they find themselves in and if you get it right, showing their character, it can give the viewer an intense connection!

 

An Icelandic Horse

 

Tip #8 – And the flora

Good luck finding some! Much like the animals, showing the hardiness of the plant life can create a connection between the viewer and the image. It mixes up and breaks up the images of snow scene after snow scene too!

 

Lapland

 

Tip #9 – Capture the festivities

There’s a 50% chance (hemispherically) that winter means it’s Christmas! Alongside this, there’s so much going on and it all tends to give contrast to the cold. Warm fires, hot chocolates and fairground rides – it’s all beautiful, especially when you capture it right. Going to a Christmas market with a camera can yield some awesome results.

 

One of many Christmas markets in Berlin, Germany

So there’s 9 tips for shooting in the cold, I hope you can use them! Right now I’m in Tromsø, Norway, way up in the Arctic Circle (oh the power of the internet!) and you can check my progress on my Instagram story or on Facebook to see the snow I’m seeing :)

 

Until next time!

Much love

Dave

 

No time for an intro; this topic is way too important!

One of the most important skills in photography is the ability to see light. It may sound stupid, perhaps even too obvious, but it’s a thing. It’s a thing that if you think you understand, you probably don’t. When you know, you know. You don’t think you know. You know you know. You know? I’m talking direction, diffusion, tone, colour, intensity, contrast; I’m talking about really seeing light.

– It’s like speaking a secret language that every photographer must know

I firmly believe in being the master of your trade. Knowing all there is to know, and if you don’t know it, go and learn it! It all starts with breaking down the basics—understanding the fundamentals. Seeing light will determine whether you get “lucky shots” or whether you deliberately smash it time after time, and I don’t know about you, but smashing it time after time is absolutely what I’m going for!

Think about your Adobe Photoshop adjustments. It’s the light we’re really playing with at the start. It’s the Exposure, the White Balance, the Contrast, the Highlights and Shadows, the White and Black points, and the Clarity. These elements make up the light we saw, and accordingly, we adjust them to how we want things in post. It’s these things we use in post that we must translate to the real world in order to understand light. To understand the behaviour of light and how we represent it.

This is Antelope Canyon in Arizona, USA. It’s possibly one of the best ways to demonstrate the effects of light that I can think of. How it changes tone, fades from intensely bright to barely perceptible darkness and gives us contrast across the image. Here’s what I mean, take a little look at this:

 

 

That’s the view straight up whilst inside the slot canyon, minus the sky in this case. The light hits spots on the wall and highlights them, leaving other areas in total shadow. The detail in some places island incredible demonstration of the beauty of nature, and similarly the areas in shadow give us this same beauty, combined with mystery because we know that details are there too, we even see a bit of it, but the light fades off in such a way that leaves us guessing a bit. It’s this ability to see light, and therefore choose the right composition that gives this image the edge over a regular “tourist snapshot,” and here’s what it is that we’re seeing in terms of light:

 

 

This is a blurred version of that same image, removing all detail completely and leaving the light behind. You can see that the light hits a couple of the compositional techniques we love—it bisects the top-left third, it is diagonal across the image, and it pretty much fits a golden spiral, too. Having the light do that, rather than physical elements of the image, is building the time the viewer spends looking at our shot and demonstrates, so long as it was on purpose, that we can see that light. Let’s look at another:

 

 

Everything in this shot of sunflowers in Germany that we want the viewer to look at is bathed in light. The highlights catch nicely, the setting sun isn’t too overpowering, and the areas of shadow aren’t so dark that they distract. It’s from reading this light and dealing with it correctly, according to what it presented, that allowed this shot to come to life. Here’s the blurry version showing the light:

 

 

It’s hard to explain; it’s something to keep going at until you’ve got it. Keep practicing, be it with landscapes or with models or however you like to shoot. Look at shots in magazines and see what exactly it is that attracts you with the light. Take a closer look at portraits, like those in movie posters, and try to see what’s going on in the reflection in the eyes. Practice, practice, practice, and when you can see light, your photography will take a whole new turn.

This vase sitting on the floor caught the warm, diffused (by cloud) light and was just asking for me to shoot it. It’s recognising this light that means I was able to get this shot of what is otherwise a rather mundane object sitting on the floor and making it look just that little bit more special. As I said, it’s a secret language that every photographer must know.

 

 

So, here’s the truth about seeing light, if you hadn’t picked up on it so far: it’s all about practice! They say that practice makes perfect, and they say that for a reason. Have your eyes all about you and try to see light in everything you’re doing. Set yourself a challenge and take an object or a person and move all around it or them, shooting from as many angles as possible. Once you’re done, take a good look at the results and take notice of the differences based on the light—you’ll see distinct differences and it will all help in learning to speak light.

Much love

Dave

 

Hey hey! It’s #TravelTuesday again here on ScottKelby.com and that means it’s time for this weeks #HybridDaveTuesdays post! This week I want to talk to you about my prior aversions to auto-ISO and how I overcame them.

ISO stands for International Standards Organisation, and it’s a standardised scale for measuring sensitivity to light. That’s boring though. It pertains in todays world to how sensitive a sensor is, but was obviously used in its same scale for measuring the sensitivity of film. It’s one of the three elements of exposure, alongside Aperture and Shutter Speed, but although these two are commonly understood it seems that ISO is the link in the chain which causes the most confusion.

I won’t make this a lesson on ISO, more of a glimpse of why I have switched to auto-ISO. And it was a bit of a big deal for me because I like to retain absolute control with my camera and basically not let it think for itself….. here’s what happened:-

ISO at higher sensitivity always used to mean grainy exposures. Noisy images and a lack of quality. Well looking at recent developments in the quality of higher ISO performance it’s certainly fair to say that it’s no longer as relevant as it used to be. I’ve shot fully manual for as long as I can remember, but it’s because of one situation very recently that I realised that perhaps auto-ISO is the way forward. Here’s the shot:-

 

The Mechanic – An old mechanic in his workshop in Marrakech

 

So I was hunting for candid portraits all day in Marrakech with Scott, his brother Jeff, and good friend Mike. We found one thing universally characteristic of Moroccans – the aversion to having their photo taken! Finding our candids was no easy task so everything had to be set up exactly right for the moments which presented themselves, which were not at all prevalent. To get this shot which I’d seen from the minivan we were cruising Marrakech in I had to ask the driver to go around (which I wasn’t doing for the first time that day) to get another glimpse through the open door into this mechanics garage. Upon stepping, at the 200mm end of my lens, across to shoot this the old gent raised his hands and lowered his head. It was a split second, but knowing exactly what I wanted from my shutter and my aperture I was able to use auto ISO to get the right exposure.

What I’ve discovered is that contrary to my previous fear of raising the ISO, I’ve now swung the other way and would much rather have a well exposed image even if it does have a little grain. Nobody ever really looked at a well exposed and well composed image and turned their nose up at the noise caused by a high ISO. In fact there are many, many tutorials telling you how to add noise to your images. Furthermore, removing a thought process and giving the camera the decision with regards to ISO makes the whole process a whole lot easier unless there’s a specific reason why I need to retake control. I’ve found it a really rewarding experience to concentrate more on the image and less on the settings, particularly when I can’t afford so much time on a shot.

So in essence I’m telling you this:-

Have a read of your camera manual, learn about auto ISO (and what I’ll call semi-auto, whereby you set limits) and give it a try. You might love it just as much as I do.

Much love

Dave

 

(By the way, the picture I’ve shown you is actually two photos. The old man’s reactions were far quicker than mine – they really don’t like having their photo taken! One shot has a clear view of his face with a huge chunk of trailer in the way blocking parts of the workshop. If you think you can spot the major changes feel free to get in touch and I’ll tell you if you’re right! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram)

 

Happy #TravelTuesday to you all! It’s time for #HybridDaveTuesdays, once again, here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, and this week I’ll be telling you all about some clever AI I’ve come across to help with your Instagram hashtagging and keywording.

I’m Dave Williams, I’m a travel and aerial photographer, educator, and influencer right here in sunny London, UK, and every Tuesday you can catch my musings right here. If you like it, don’t forget to share it, and go find me, Hybrid Dave, on social media. :)

So, I’ve been putting a lot of work into my hashtag process lately, and I’ve come across a couple of awesome tools to help. I thought you guys might like to see them:

First off, hashtagging is pretty crucial in effectively reaching your desired audience on Instagram. Tagging your photos on the world’s leading photo sharing site with appropriate labels will maximise your engagement and show off your work to the world who wants to see it. It will gain you followers, comments, and likes. I write about it here pretty frequently because it really is that important for growth.

So, here’s the first one: it’s called AutoHash (currently available for Android). It’s a simple app, which scans your photo, determines what’s in it, then it scours Instagram for look-alikes and appropriates what it deems to be the right hashtags. Now, we all know that AI is a new technology and isn’t always going to always shoot and score. Take a look at this:

Yes. It’s goats in a tree.

So, it got it right throughout most of the hashtags, but there are a few clear errors: First, because I took this photo in Morocco, and then processed it and saved it to my Google Drive, then downloaded it from there onto my phone, then uploaded it to Instagram, and then uploaded this photo into the app from the “saved from Instagram” folder on my phone, the geotagging has totally failed and put it in my current location. So, that’s out. Second, it can’t seem to comprehend that there would be goats in a tree and, as such, has decided that they’re monkeys instead. My personal favourite tag here is #barbaric, but other than that, it’s pretty good. So, then I tried this one:

Old Harry Rocks in Dorset, UK

It’s a pretty accurate set of hashtags again, but it’s picking them based on the photo rather than picking hashtags known to attract engagement. It’s a good demonstration that AI can figure out what the photo is, but that’s not quite what I need.

What I need is the ability to have hashtags generated, which are on trend, as well as on theme. Recognising the content of the photo, and then assigning hashtags, which are aligned to that particular theme of image on Instagram is important for engagement. Have a look at this, which I’ve recently discovered:

This is Photerloo’s hashtag and tag app, which is online based. To use it, simply upload a photo on desktop or mobile, and it selects tags for keywording, as well as separately for hashtagging. Its functions allow users to change the number of tags, and it also allows the selection of more popular or less popular tags, which is particularly useful. Here’s why:

If you tag a photo using a popular tag, there are more photos constantly being added after yours, which causes your photo to move down the chronological feed a lot quicker, thus showing your photo to fewer people versus using a less common tag, keeping your image higher in the feed for longer. Having your photo in a feed longer gets noticed by Instagram’s engagement measuring algorithm, which raises your chances of being one of the nine top posts.

Basically, if you want engagement on Instagram, you need to use certain features to maximise your chances, and the correct use of appropriate hashtags, which differ on each post, is one of the biggest points to note.

Have a go and see what difference it makes for you. Let me know how you get on.

Much love,

Dave

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