Posts By David Williams

I, Dave Williams, am back again for another #TravelTuesday on ScottKelby.com. I’ve been busy settling into this van of mine and trying to work out where everything goes whilst still working hard on my many projects. My plan to hit the road out of the UK is still on track and, as of today, there are 66 days to go until departure day. It’s all very exciting and I can’t wait to go, but I need to be patient and make sure everything is exactly as it should be before I leave to save myself from any nasty surprises.

These past few days I’ve been tucked away in the New Forest, one of the UK’s few National parks. It’s on the south coast not far from the city of Southampton and it’s famous for its roaming horses and deer. Whilst out exploring, I came across some of the local wildlife.

I was prepped for horses, so the donkeys came as a surprise and I just had to go and say “Hi!” A little herd of them were hanging out and as soon as I parked up they wandered over and immediately tried to make friends—probably in an attempt to get hold of whatever goodies I had in the van. They seemed to like it and I was surrounded. They were rubbing up against it, licking it, chewing it, and clearly having a great time. Herein lies the first tip for taking photos of animals: –

When we shoot images of animals it makes a huge difference if we change our perspective and get to their level. When we shoot from our usual perspective, which is usually straight down, there’s not a lot in the photo to grab people’s attention or be interesting enough, whereas when we get to the animal’s level and shoot them from a different perspective, we’re onto a winner. So that’s tip one— stick it in the bank—get to their level.

The next day I was busy minding my own business, as I usually am, when I was surprised to see another animal I wasn’t expecting. A hairy highland cow! I hope you’re ready for tip number two because it’s coming!

This time I opted for a different technique. Do you notice how this cow looks larger than life, almost like a hero? Well, that’s all down to getting lower than the subject. It applies to humans just as much as it does to highland cattle. If we get a perspective that’s lower than the subject and makes us look up at them, breaking the horizon by a long way, we make the subject look like a hero. Think about it—Superman standing with his cape flapping in the wind, with his gaze fixed on the distant scene of impending doom that he’s no doubt about to resolve…it’s seen from below.

Here’s the difference: –

Okay, maybe there’s a bit of exaggeration there, but hopefully, you get the point. Changing our perspective and making the subject a hero can make a massive change to our images.

Much love

Dave

Hi team! It’s #TravelTuesday so I, Dave Williams, am back! If you took a look at Scott’s note in the latest Photoshop User, which dropped yesterday, you’ll know he was surprised at how fast 2021 is passing us by. I have to second that! It’s been a strange time lately and it’s all blended into one in many respects. I’ll just take this opportunity to point something out – I wrote a little ebook called ‘the little self isolation ebook’ when Covid kicked in. My aim was to offer a few photographic ideas to pass the time in isolation or quarantine. I wrote that 17 months ago!!!

That got me thinking. With everything starting to return to normal, is it time to reflect? Is now the right time to look back, reflect on what happened, put it all in a box and put the box away with a view to moving forward?

As photographers, we have two main goals: – to capture light, and to tell stories. It’s these stories that I’m going to focus on in this attempt to explain what this is all about. We can use our skills to create a story of the past year and a half, making some sense of everything that’s happened (or not happened, as may be the case) in order to rationalise it all. We can also visualise a story moving forward to set our goals and targets.

What I’m doing right now is my escape plan. I’ve assessed everything during this pandemic, as well as before it, and used what I’ve gleaned to help create the story moving forward. My story will involve my camera, my van, and a lot of travelling.

The thing is, this reflection and forward planning equates to somewhat of a business strategy. When we look ahead we can translate the thoughts into a business plan and even formulate a five year plan to get our photography business exactly where we want it to be. Here’s a hot tip on that: – for each big step, break it down into smaller, manageable and achievable steps. That way every small success drives us forwards to achieving the big goal, and if we hit a bump in the road along the way we don’t have far to fall.

Having a plan seriously helps us in our photography, both as amateurs and pros. A plan gives us something to set our sights on, which in turn gives us the drive we need to get there and set further plans for further goals. Reflection and planning are huge so do make time for these things.

One more note before I leave you to enjoy the rest of your Tuesday: – my van is finished! If you’re interested in taking a look, it’s right here.

Much love

Dave

It’s #TraveTuesday and today I, Dave Williams, am back! It feels like the world is slowly opening up again and it feels like it’s time to refresh my top travel photography tips. Let’s do it!

Get up early

Sunrise is an amazing time and often has amazing light to boot, but unlike sunset photography, it tends to be far more peaceful. Light is extremely important to us as photographers and in the early morning, the soft, warm light helps us to create some spectacular images. This tip is at the top of the list for a reason – it’s very, very important and sunrise totally beats sunset.

Stay out late

Now, although sunrise is better than sunset, in my opinion, that doesn’t mean we should disregard sunset. Some shots require the angle of light we get at sunset rather than sunrise, and some people just aren’t that good at getting up at the crack of dawn. At sunset in a city, we get better results for blue hour shots than we tend to at sunrise because the city lights are illuminated in the evening, but often they aren’t in the morning.

Plan

Planning is massively important. We need to know where we want to be and when we want to be there, so doing the research beforehand on maps, social media, and any other resource we like to use, will help us to no end. If we go with a plan, we’re far more likely to achieve success than if we don’t.

Scout

When our planning is done prior to arriving at our destination it helps to continue the planning by scouting where we can. This can be beneficial in working out terrain, light, the number of people at a location, the weather conditions, and all manner of other things. Combing our initial planning with our scouting can fully arm us and give us the potential to produce some amazing travel photos.

Learn

The best photographers in the industry never stop learning. It’s not the filters or presets that make the best images, it’s our knowledge as photographers. If we practice as often as possible, so we really get to grips with how our camera works and what it can do, as well as learning techniques and spreading our wings by challenging ourselves with personal projects, we offer ourselves the best chance of success. We can become more skilled and resourceful if we take the time to learn new techniques and skills, particularly if we broaden our horizons and have a go at other genres of photography.

Gear

As travel photographers, it’s important that we give consideration to the gear we’re carrying. Most of the time, we are literally carrying our gear on our backs and everything we add to the bag adds to the weight and size we’re carrying. Packing well and making sure every item in our kit bag adds value to our shoot will make us far happier and therefore more likely to turn out some great photos.

Composition

Composition is king. Having knowledge of compositional techniques and knowing when and how to apply them will give our images the edge over all the others out in the market, so make sure to think about this when shooting and when planning. It’s often a good idea to shoot the same subject with a variety of different compositional methods to show things in their best light. We’re often likely to choose the second or third technique on our final image, so never be satisfied with just one idea.

I hope these tips are useful to you. Be sure to apply them and take your time when shooting travel photography. Make sure the viewer of your images wants to be there in the scene, and take the time to get it right rather than rushing from one location to the next and risking having a bunch of photos that aren’t useable rather than a handful of great shots. If the clouds or the light aren’t quite right, maybe it’s worth waiting to see what changes. Be patient. Take the time to create better travel images.

Much love

Dave

This week for #TravelTuesday, we’re going to sleuth around and learn to easily and quickly find any images we may feel have been stolen and used online. I’m Dave Williams, and every week I’m here for Travel Tuesday with Dave. Let’s crack on!

I’ve written recently about the problem with image theft and the problems it causes. In the post, I mentioned reverse image searches. This is a search function incorporated well by Google into their search engine, but it’s particularly well done with the Google app. Here’s an image I took from Cape Canaveral a couple of years ago, having been told about the spot by Erik “the Rocketman” Kuna.

The reason I’m choosing to search this image is because I know it’s out there on the internet, so Google should be able to find it wherever it exists. I said in the intro that there’s a very easy way to do this in the Google app, and here it is:

First up, fire up the app.

At the right side of the search bar, there’s a camera icon. Go ahead and tap that.

Google Lens will open up. This is a very smart searching tool so I encourage you to try it out, but what we’ll do instead is change the mode to the image search by tapping the framed image beside the shutter/search button.

We now have our camera roll, and from here we can choose the image we want to search. I’ve selected the image and this screen came back to me:

The top match is presented, along with the option to “See more.” This top result is from The Express, a British newspaper.

Now we can simply go over the results to make sure any use of our images complies with any permissions or licenses we’ve granted. It’s as simple as that!

Much love

Dave

Hi team! Dave here for #TravelTuesday again, and this week my congratulations go out to Italy for winning the European Championships over here on this side of the pond! It didn’t come home, but there’s always next time. Personally I think we have some work to do in terms of dealing with hate first, though. But that’s another story.

Shifting the focus back to photography, this week I want to touch on watermarks.

If, like me, you’re a member of any photography groups on Facebook, you’ll notice that the question of whether or not to watermark an image is a good idea. By ‘good’ I mean whether it offers any advantage to us in terms of protecting our photos and therefore protecting us as photographers and creators.

Ultimately the decision is yours. I’ll get straight to highlighting my stance, but I’ll offer arguments for both cases. But mostly mine ;)

Team Yes

The base argument for Team Yes is that applying a watermark to an image, be it bold and aggressive or minimally intrusive on the content, means that anyone considering using an image where they perhaps shouldn’t had a moral dilemma. If they misappropriate our watermarked image they are displaying to the world (or the one viewer, whichever it may be) that they have taken it from elsewhere and it belongs to someone else. The watermark itself may even prevent this from happening in the first instance.

Team No

Team No generally have one of two thought processes. Either they don’t care if their image is stolen, or they will allow it to be stolen and deal with the matter afterwards, proportionally and professionally. I take the latter stance. Images contain metadata and although this can be altered, it takes someone who knows a little about what they’re doing to make the necessary changes and even so it doesn’t change the fact that the copyright belongs to us. There are also reverse image search engines, Google being the simplest to use, that we can employ to find our images if we fear they have been used. This is easy, but quite arduous. We can have this done automatically by using services like Pixar.com to find our images for us and even issue takedown notices or proceed with legal action.

The reason I don’t watermark my images is because I will use these systems to find my images and take action where it’s appropriate. If someone shares my photo on Facebook it’s no biggie deal to me, but if a company uses my image to advertise their services or products it definitely is a big deal and I’ll send them a bill along with an explanation. I haven’t had anyone refuse to settle the bill yet. If I’ve created a photo for a client with any exclusivity, I simply won’t be sharing it and therefore there’s no risk of it being stolen.

Watermarks are horrible looking things that take a lot away from an image I created and I’d much rather deal with image theft than ruin my photos. Looking over the responses to this question on the Facebook groups I belong to it’s quite clear that there’s a strong divide between those who watermark and those who don’t.

So with my two cents, here’s the big question: –

Are you Team Yes or Team No?

Much love

Dave

Hi all! Dave Williams here for another #TravelTuesday post. I hope you’re all well and that you all had a great day on Sunday for the 4th!

Straight off the bay, I couldn’t come up with a better feature image for this post than what I’m going to call ‘real life Photoshop’ with my bestie Peter Treadway.

Today I want to touch on something that’s come off the back of a bit of news from Norway. Legislators there have made it a legal requirement for influencers and advertisers to label images that have been retouched or have filters applied in a bid to address “body pressure in society.”

The law is an amendment to the marketing Act 2009 and was passed with an overwhelming majority support of 75 to 15 in Norwegian Parliament.

The law, due to be introduced shortly, will require that any sponsored or advertising posts need to declare where a “body’s shape, size or skin has been changed by retouching or other manipulation” be clearly marked to declare the presence of edits. Failure to mark such images will result in a fine being issued.

The changes are outlined with a list of examples that includes enlarged lips, narrowed waists, pronounced muscles, and other such edits. But what’s behind all this?

We all know that it’s extremely rare for one of our images to be Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC) and not edited or retouched in some way. If we take this news at first glance, that is to say that we haven’t made ourselves familiar with the finer details about the extent of the retouching done, it can appear that almost every image on social media in Norway is to display this label of having been retouched. Society has normalised retouching but it is in a different way to that we expect as photographers. When we retouch images we tend to approach it from the perspective that we are looking to make the image more appealing, to gain more traction, or to attract more clients for ourselves because of the quality and calibre of our work both in camera and in post. We’ve ended up in a situation where we are stuck in a bit of a touch position because the world uses the word ‘Photoshop’ as a verb, so an image that looks good is seen as something that must have been ‘Photoshopped’. An unfortunate circumstance that has come out of this is that the youth of our society are influenced, hence the term ‘influencer’ I suppose, but with that come negative implications in that body dysmorphia comes to the forefront, sometimes to quite extreme ends.

Young people, particularly young girls, grow up receiving the influence of the world around them and with that comes an impression cast upon them of what they are meant to be like, and look like. There are those breaking the trend, of course, but this is still commonplace and carries a certain mental health stigma in that people will go to extreme lengths in order to appear a particular way because of something or someone they’ve seen on social media, such as a Kardashian with a warped door frame behind their retouched body parts, or extra hands for example. There was a campaign some years ago by Snickers that highlighted this quite well. I took a moment to retouch Snickers advertising image and ‘fix it’. Here’s the image highlighting the errors: –

It isn’t these errors that are causing a problem, of course. It’s the photos that are passing as genuine and in turn having a negative impact on the youth worldwide who pick up on the retouched images and perceive them as being real, altering their habits and aspiring to be something that isn’t real because society is leaving that impression. I for one hope none of us are the cause of this and that it actually is the influencers and advertisers, but it’s important that we, as photographers, consider our actions when retouching and the impact it could have. Perhaps Norway have taken a step in the right direction.

Much love

Dave

PS – here’s my ‘fixed’ version

PPS – if you’re interested in finding out what’s behind my van situation, here’s a little bit of reading

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