It’s #TravelTuesday right here on Scott’s blog, and that means that I, Dave Williams, am here!
It has been a full-on week with lots of prep and planning for a couple of upcoming missions for me. I’ve been working through files from my most recent trip to Norway, and I’m lining up ideas for a little trip to Dorset this weekend for my birthday. It’s all go here, and to top it all off, I’m formulating ideas for an awesome project that has already started rolling: The Diary of the Traveling Platypod, which sees a Platypod Ultra travel the world to help create amazing images (#TravelingUltra)! Larry, the creator of Platypod, sent it to Gilmar Smith to begin its journey, and now I have it! You can sign up here if you want to host the Ultra on its global journey.
But, let’s get back on track and take a look at a cool Adobe Camera Raw trick that can help you create an HDR look from a single file.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a look that has come in and out of fashion, but the concept behind it remains very useful. With this trick, you can take a single exposure, so long as it isn’t overly clipped either way, and create an HDR look from it by ignoring every piece of advice I’ve ever given you and going to 100 on a few sliders! Watch this: –
Here’s a fairly bland shot of a Norwegian road in Senja, turning a corner along the edge of a fjord, with the rugged mountainscape background (mountainscape—definitely a real word).
You can see it’s pretty “regular” looking—more of a snapshot than a creative photograph. By opening this RAW file in Camera Raw and maxing out some sliders, we can really bring it to life.
If we first consider what HDR processing involves, we can start by replicating it. We’ll do this by bringing in the darkest elements of the brightest exposure and the brightest elements of the darkest exposure by setting the Highlights slider to –100 and the Shadows slider to +100. We can give some “punch” to the image by also setting the Contrast slider to +100 and the Clarity slider to +100, increasing the contrast across the entire dynamic range of the image.
Once this is done, we’ll likely end up with something a little bit dodgy looking, but stick with me. The last little tweak is the Exposure slider. We’ll just move this slightly in order to reduce that overly dramatic hit. In this image, I’ve moved it to 0.60, and it has done just the trick.
We now have that HDR look from a single exposure, and it was incredibly easy!
There are stories of people doing various photographic experiments in heavily photographed locations worldwide, including Oliver Curtis who famously shot landmarks in the opposite direction. This week, I’d like to discuss methods of shooting places that are already heavily photographed, which is a common issue for me as a travel photographer.
So, I’m Dave Williams and happy #TravelTuesday to you all! Let’s get on!
This is Hamnøy, in the Lofoten Islands of northern Norway. This scene is “internet famous” now as a result of more accessible tourism to the area and the trending nature of big Instagrammers’ shots going worldwide. As is common with such images, there’s one shot, one view, one composition, shot in a variety of styles because there’s literally one vantage point. To shoot this scene depicting the small fishing town flanked by water and snuggled among imposing mountains, you have one option and one option only—walk up the road bridge, which connects Hamnøy with Sakrisøy.
To get a different view here means to get up and change position entirely. Seeing the same view time and again, as cool as it may be, is only gong to take you so far. It’s a cool souvenir shot and there are options to shoot it slightly differently, but rather explore and get a new view altogether, like this: –
Getting up close and personal with one of the buildings, using it here as a frame, I was still able to shoot the quaint wooden houses and their stilts, along with those mountains and the water, giving the same location a different look completely.
This shift to a different subject in the same location or to a different angle of the same location means your image is less “common.” The one thing that relates here the most is something I’ve said many times before and it’s this: –
When you stop, bring your camera up to eye level, and fire a shot, it’s a snapshot. It’s a souvenir shot serving as a reminder that you were there. The week-thought-out, well-composed, and deliberate shots, using a different angle, a different perspective, and a different exposure are the shots that stand out of common places.
The Eiffel Tower—the go-to example—has been shot so many times it’s unreal. Taking shots from a different place, at a different angle, with a different focus are the stand-out shots.
You can also focus in on detail to capture somewhat of a forced perspective to show the subject but not in its entirety, like something of an enigmatic composition, which can be made part of a larger story. Again, Instagram has kind of forced this position on us as photographers, but it’s not all as bad as it seems. For example, when shooting such well-known locations try cropping in tight on an element which makes it—such as the girders of the Eiffel Tower, the tiles on St. Peter’s Basilica, or the lava rocks at Jökulsárlón. Create a new way of seeing things that have been seen time and time again, and show people the way you see.
Hey hey, happy #TravelTuesday to you all! I’m Dave Williams and, this week, I’m in Norway where it’s currently –9°C in Skibotndalen. I’m writing this on 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, 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.
Focusing manually is important. If you forget to switch over to manual focus two things happen: – First, your camera will try to focus in darkness and will automatically land on some random focus point, which will probably not have the aurora in focus. And, second, you may miss the focus by rolling out to infinity. When you set 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 this 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!