Posts By David Williams

Instagram is the main social media platform exclusively centred around imagery, but things have changed and video is becoming as important as still photography. What else do we need to know about the ever-changing Instagram in 2020? Well, it’s #TravelTuesday, I’m Dave Williams, and I’m about to share what I’ve learned so far this year. Let’s go!

Instagram remains a huge means of exposure and if we want to progress our photography, be it as a hobbyist or a pro, we need to be seen. It can be said that to be seen we need to take risks, and it can also be said that putting our images on Instagram is becoming a risk, owing to the recent judgments that Instagram posts may be shared without credit. That’s not what it’s all about, though. It’s not just a case of getting our images shared and “stolen” because of these judgments, but also about the potential rewards. When we have our images shared without credit it’s annoying, it’s an irritation, but it’s usually not benefitting the person sharing it. The difference is that it can benefit us. To get that exposure we need to “work” on Instagram. Here’s how: –

First, it’s not as easy as it used to be. There are algorithms in place which dictate our exposure, our audience, our limits, and if we work to the algorithm, we can take advantage of it rather than dwelling on the negative aspects. The “work” we need to put in involves one thing and one thing alone: engagement.

If we engage with others, it encourages and attracts reciprocated engagement. That engagement is noticed by the algorithm and offers us more exposure because the algorithm “sees” that we are doing well and are, therefore, worth showing to more accounts—more people.

The “post and forget” strategy simply doesn’t work. If we post a photo and just close the app, we aren’t going to get engagement and exposure. We need to genuinely and sincerely interact with other accounts, particularly those similar to ours. The reason is twofold: first, we’re interacting with the person who posted the photo we’re leaving a nice comment on, and second, we’re exposing ourselves to their followers who see our comment.

There are bots, automations, engines, whatever you want to call them, and we can pay for services to do this for us…BUT DON’T DO THIS! It simply doesn’t work. The comments are not real, the likes are spam, everything the bot does stands out to people, and, perhaps more importantly, to Instagram (who will suspend your account because of a breach of terms.) There are entire studies on this and it’s nothing more than a way for someone else to make some money—it will not grow your account.

When we post images (or videos) we need some kind of strategy. The account needs to have a focus so that people who follow us do so because they know what to expect. It could be that they see a certain editing style or a certain subject matter that attracts them to hit the Follow button, so we need to deliver this attractive element to an audience and encourage them to hit that button in the first place. A grid that looks cool is just as important as an image that looks cool.

Stepping it up, there’s a location field and a description field that we need to make the most of. Tagging a location is another way for our image to be found—people search locations and if our image doesn’t have a location, we negate this method for being discovered. The description also pulls people’s attention—if they are drawn to read our description (or caption) and like it, they are more likely to also hit the heart to like the photo or even drop a comment in. If this happens within the first hour or so of our image being posted, we’re far more likely to attract further attention or even end up in the Explore tab.

Hashtags are a hot topic, but there’s the potential that we can go very wrong with them, as well, so check this out: –

Instagram allows 30 hashtags per post, either in the caption or in the comments. Many, many people have noticed that rather than using all 30, a post performs better when 10–20 are used. When selecting hashtags we need to ensure they’re applicable to the image, and that our image will not get lost among a plethora of posts. If we use a popular hashtag, such as #landscape, we’ll have people post the same hashtag soon after us and our post will be pushed down the list very quickly, whereas if we use a less popular hashtag, such as #landscapephotographer, we’ll retain a position close to the top for longer, offering more exposure before our post is lost down the list.

Finally, take note of what else performs well on Instagram. Bear in mind that the most “liked” image is simply a stock photo of an egg! What we find to be technically and artistically the best images are not the ones that perform well. The truth is it’s the vivid, vibrant colours, scenes packed with action, adventure, and things people can relate to that actually do the best and attract the most attention. Also, cats!

PS: You should totally follow me!

Much love
Dave

Hi all, I’m here! I’m Dave Williams and this is #TravelTuesday on ScottKelby.com, and although I realise we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, I want to share some tips that will be useful where and when travel is allowed.

Today is about the mountains and all their splendour. The mountains ground us somehow—their majesty and beauty captivate us and inspire us, as well as offering us an awesome adventure. There are some awesome photos to be had of and in the mountains, and it’s well worth getting back to nature and giving the mountains (and ourselves) some attention.

Top of the list for mountain photo tips is to remember two key words: “foreground” and “composition.” These two things alone will make our mountain photography stand head and shoulders above the rest. If we can include a foreground element and employ a compositional technique that links the foreground and background together, such as the leading lines here for this Canadian Pacific train running through the Canadian Rockies, we’re set for a win.

Shooting in bad weather works with mountains because it creates drama and often mystery. The weather that we see as bad weather for walking in is usually the weather that’s great for photography in the mountains for this very reason, just like here at Vestrahorn in Iceland. Planning ahead and scoping the area, the route, and the weather will help us to be in the right place at the right time to smash an epic shot of a moody mountain.

It’s never a bad idea to include water in our mountain photos and the reason is largely twofold: First, it offers us an easy foreground element. Second, it can double our photo to have a mirror image.

Mountains are huge and we can exaggerate their size by including something for scale, such as a building, person, or animal. We need to keep our eyes open for these opportunities to arise and if we don’t find them, we can create them by getting into the scene ourselves.

The mountain doesn’t have to be the subject—including it as a feature of a photo can be just as effective, like here in Rio de Janeiro where I’ve included this mountain to break the scene. The subject here is nature and the sunset, with the mountain simply helping to draw attention to it.

Finally, we always need to ensure we have the right gear. There’s no feeling worse than making the effort to find a beautiful location and not having what we need when we get there. Sufficient batteries and memory cards, along with a tripod/Platypod, filters, remote shutter release, lens cloth, and anything else that will help us to create the shot we want is crucial to pack and to use, just like for this shot in Senja, Norway.

There’s a reason people so often say “the mountains are calling.”

Much love
Dave

One thing #TravelTuesday has great potential for is an epic road trip, and having embarked on plenty in my time, I thought it would be a good idea to share 10 tips for road trips. This isn’t about the photography—it’s about the trip itself. With lockdowns taking place throughout the world, these tips will come in handy when restrictions are lifted, so save them and don’t use them until it’s zero-risk!

A classic road trip is a bucket list item for many of us, and there’s a good reason for it. The freedom to explore and take in everything at our own pace is a very exciting prospect. With airlines up and down at the moment (pardon the pun), the idea of hitting the open road is very inviting. It takes good planning and a decent plan to make it work, so let’s check out the top 10 tips!

Keep a Clean Car

Before and during the trip, a mess will do nothing but annoy us. Keeping a clean car, with all our gear easily accessible, makes a huge difference. There’s nothing worse than empty drinks bottles and gum wrappers getting in the way and rattling around. It can be a tight space in there, particularly if we’re sharing with others. As the trip progresses, it’s well worth taking the time to jettison anything we don’t need in there!

Check the Vehicle

Oil, water, tyres, spares, it’s all really important and becomes more important over greater distances. Don’t rely on anybody else to check it all, even in a rental!

Have a Plan

With goals in mind, we feel good when we achieve them and they help us to have a track to stick to. The planned stop each night is likely to be a range of different hotels. Having hotel reservations and activities planned and paid for will also keep us on track, and keep us well-aligned to our end goal.

Use Back Roads

Main roads, highways, interstates, motorways, autobahns, and the like will help us to cover a greater distance in a shorter time, but rarely will they offer us a chance to pull out and see something epic. Back roads are where we’ll find all manner of awesome sights and stunning scenery.

But Plan to Escape to Main Roads Where Necessary

There may be a time that progress is important, and some back roads may be nothing more than strip malls or trees. Where this is the case, have a plan to get to a main road and move on!

Anticipate Trouble

I’m talking about rush hour, roadwork, and other such delays. I quickly learned there’s never a good time to drive in Los Angeles, for example, and in order to get anywhere, you must travel at the right time and anticipate this traffic trouble.

Divide the Work

Sharing driving time is good for the mind and the soul, giving everyone an equal chance to stare out of the window and at the landscapes passing by and dividing the tasks like sharing the snacks, reading the maps, and formulating back-up plans.

Load Up the Entertainment

A good playlist is key, and to be honest, I’m surprised I left it until so far down the list! Sometimes a local radio station will be okay, but a talk show in an alien language can throw that right off. Occasionally, the tedium of an apparently endless drive can be remedied quite simply with an in-car karaoke session!

Insurance

And recovery! Anything could happen, and in a rental, a small dink can be astronomically expensive. Complete insurance and a roadside recovery plan are very, very important, and can get us back on the road quickly if anything does go wrong.

Documents

Knowing the documents we need to carry, wherever we are in the world, will verify us a lot quicker. Not all countries require us to carry all our documents, so knowing what we do need and having it readily available will help if we’re challenged for any reason.

Here’s to some epic post-COVID road trips!

Much love
Dave

#TravelTuesday is back to relative normality, with travel corridors opened up in lots of Europe. Hopefully travel to and within the United States and Canada will also resume – getting infection rates down by reducing contact and wearing a mask when near anybody else will bring back travel and the economy. But anyway, I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here to talk photography!

Today I’m on day two of a takeover of the KelbyOne Instagram Story where I’m sharing some landscape photography tips from Iceland. One of the tips is about the relationship between foreground and background in a photo, and I’d like to explore that a little more with you right here.

Any great photo has a foreground and a background; most also have some sort of middle-ground. The foreground is simply the part of the image that is closest to the camera, the background is the part that’s further away, and the middle-ground falls somewhere in the middle. If we consider all three and a link between them we will end up with a better image.

No foreground – naughty photo!

There’s one simple trick to start composing stronger images by filling the foreground, middle-ground, and background of your images and it’s this: – 

Think before you press the shutter button. When I took the bad iceberg photo above, I’m sure there was something nearby that could have made for a more interesting foreground if I’d just looked for it. Another smaller iceberg in the foreground is far more inviting and adds a whole level of depth to the image.

Foreground ice – better!

For the better photo, I just took a few minutes to play around with different compositions until I found something I liked. It was simply a case of trying different foreground features. Once we start thinking deliberately, we’ll automatically start taking stronger photos.

One of the easiest ways to start using the foreground is to get close to something with wide-angle lens. In the photo below, I was just a couple of feet away from the rocks in the black sand which make up the foreground; the middle-ground and background then just happen naturally.

If we’re taking portraits, we probably won’t have much of a middle-ground, but the background is even more important. A bad background can distract from an otherwise great portrait. We can use a wide aperture and a good prime lens to make the subject the foreground element and isolate them from the background.

An isolated, blurry background doesn’t have to be boring. It’s still part of the image, and this is where we can play around with different textures and objects behind our subject.

As with any photography “rule”, play around with it and feel free to break it if you’ve got a good reason to. Sometimes your best photos will fly in the face of every convention.

While saying ‘make sure your photos have a foreground, a background, and, if possible, a middle-ground’ may seem like really obvious advice, you’d be surprised at how many photographers fail to consider it. Start thinking about what elements are in each part when you take your photos, try and link them together, and I guarantee you’ll become a better photographer.

Much love

Dave

#TravelTuesday is here and I, Dave Williams, have this week’s installment of wisdom for you, free of charge!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but who are “they” and what else do “they” say? Sometimes, all we need is a little inspiration, a little motivation, and a little quote. From the world of travel and photography, here are some of my favourites to put you in the right frame of mind on this sunny Tuesday before travel comes back to life. Well, it’s sunny here in the UK! Hopefully, it’s sunny where you are, too!

Which is my favourite photograph? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.

Imogen Cunningham

It’s weird that photographers spend years or even a whole lifetime, trying to capture moments that added together, don’t even amount to a couple of hours.

James Lalroupi Kelvom

If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.

Lewis Hine

Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.

Peter Adams

The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.

Susan Meiselas

My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.

Steve McCurry

If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.

Jim Richardson

You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.

Joan Miro

All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.

Richard Avedon

You don’t take a photograph – you make it.

Ansel Adams

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

Elliott Erwitt

What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.

Karl Lagerfeld

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.

Ansel Adams

I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.

Diane Arbus

Photography has nothing to do with cameras.

Lucas Gentry

The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality.

Scott Lorenzo

Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.

Diane Arbus

It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.

Paul Caponigro

Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.

Don McCullin

We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.

Ralph Hattersley

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.

Aaron Siskind

When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.

Alfred Eisenstaedt

Photography is the story I fail to put into words.

Destin Sparks

The eye should learn to listen before it looks.

Robert Frank

It’s not enough to just own a camera. Everyone owns a camera. To be a photographer, you must understand, appreciate, and harness the power you hold.

Mark Denman

The context in which a photograph is seen affects the meaning the viewer draws from it.

Stephen Shore

The way that light hits objects, I think, is one of the more important things that sculpture and photography share.

Rashid Johnson

What do we feel when we look at a good photograph? We just want to be there, right at the exact moment that photo taken.

Mehmet Murat Ildan

When a moment in front of me appears to be particularly special, whether it be by beauty or experience, I capture it. I usually find a reason to justify taking that photo – symmetry, or color, or contrast – and it’s my hope that my photography sheds light onto what I see and do on a daily basis.

Connor Franta

The art of photography is all about directing the attention of the viewer.

Steven Pinker

It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography, everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.

David Bailey

Ok, so that was 31, but who was counting?! I hope there was some inspiration in there for you and I hope you all have a great day!

Much love

Dave

Zoo photography counts as travel photography, so for #TravelTuesday today I want to share my top tip for photographing animals in the zoo. I’m Dave Williams and I’m here every Tuesday on ScottKelby.com—let’s begin!

I realise that zoos aren’t for everyone, so let’s get that out of the way straight off. Personally, I’m careful to ensure that any zoo I visit has credibility in conservation because, as an animal lover, there’s nothing I loathe more than visiting a zoo with animals that aren’t properly cared for. There is a difficult balance, I realise that, but so long as there’s no mistreatment etc., I’m happy to visit.

I won’t mess around with a clickbait-esque title—I’ll cut to the chase. My number one tip for photographing animals in the zoo is…

Make it look wild!

It can be tricky to achieve this, but making the scene look wild will add so much to our images. Freeing the animal back into the wild gives a much greater connection to the animal’s natural environment, and that connection will cause the viewer to lend more appreciation to our image.

To achieve this our best tactic is to ensure the background is absolutely clear of any “zoo clutter.” By this I mean any unnatural enclosure features, like cheesy fake rocks, fences, walls, cables, walkways, all the stuff we see at the zoo that makes it so fake.

Something else we can do is crop in close on the animal, perhaps not dissimilar to a portrait shoot showing just the head and shoulders. This will bokeh out any unwanted background and give star-focus to the animal we’re photographing, revealing their character. When we do this a key portrait rule applies: always focus on the eyes! Bonus tip: if the animal is at an angle, focus on the closest eye.

And, finally, also themed around aperture, is this: –

When shooting through a mesh fence, like in a predator enclosure, we can lose the fence by shooting wide open if the subject is a reasonable distance from the fence. This wide aperture pushes our plane of focus and depth of field away from us (and from the fence), so we can often get a cool image with no fence in it.

I hope that tip was useful, and if you keep an eye on my Instagram for the next few days you can catch a few more tips!

Much love

Dave

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