Posts By David Williams

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, write this week from the UK where we’re just around the corner from The Photography Show. There are a lot of other things happening in the UK right now, too. Things feel different. The status quo has changed and we’re coming to terms with what’s happened with the loss of our Queen. As this is a photography blog I won’t go into the subject here aside from to express my thanks to Scott and many other American friends who have send messages of condolence, and to say God Save The King.

I was recently in Iceland shooting landscapes as part of a project with Russell Brown for Adobe Max and I had a lot of opportunities whilst I was there to go off-piste and fly my drone in search of patterns and colours. If you’ve seen my KelbyOne class on drone photography you’ll be aware that one of the main points I make with regard to it is that we must remember it’s still a camera – it’s simply a camera displaced from us. Shooting drone images can cause people to fall into the trap of forgetting about applying compositional techniques and other photographic principles. When it comes to shooting straight down, or topdown images, this becomes all the more important. With this style of photo we have no sky to rely on, so we have to construct the scene ourselves with patterns, shapes, colours, textures, and anything else we see down there. Here are some of my topdown shots from Iceland that I hope inspire you to shoot your own.

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My message for today is two-fold: –

Firstly, there is beauty in nature. So much of it. We should appreciate and respect that beauty alongside the imperfections.

Secondly, we can find and show that beauty with our photography. With these topdown drone photos it’s a case of finding engaging or unusual patterns, shapes and colours as a foundation to our scene and with a normal, land-based camera we can employ much the same techniques. Let’s look for the beauty and show the good things we see.

Much love

Dave

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here again. Today, from back in the UK, I want to talk again about AI in creativity and what it might really mean. Let’s start right here: –

Recently, a piece of AI generated art won first place in a contest, and this bugs me. This takes the argument of purism versus Photoshop and completely changes gear on it. MidJourney is perhaps the biggest player in the game thus far and we’re seeing the art it’s producing all over social media. It’s a crazy concept when it comes to our future as photographers and creatives, and one we should be keeping a close eye on.

Part of my income stream is stock photography via Adobe Stock and Getty Images. Having clients select images from these stock libraries relies on me (and others) creating the images they want in the first place and finding the closest match to their vision. The ability to simply type in a description of what they want in a text field and have the AI generate a bunch of variations based on that description is potentially quite a threat to my income stream in stock photography. Why would a client search for and find my images if they can simply write down what they want and get an almost instant, likely cheaper match?

Getting access to MidJourney to create this AI art for ourselves is limited right now, with a wait-list and hordes of beta testers doing all the work, but we can get close with Neural Filters in Adobe Photoshop. Here’s a shot I took last week at Haífoss, Iceland: –

This is the original shot and I ran it through the Neural Filters in Adobe Photoshop to change the look. I used the Landscape Mixer option to turn last week’s summer scene into winter, and here’s what I got: –

The filter has added a hint of the presence of trees to the mix, but aside from that addition the rest of the scene is pretty accurate to what this place would look like when covered in the snow of winter. This is the result of ML, Machine Learning, and the AI, in this case driven by Adobe Sensei, is taking the input of thousands upon thousands of winter images to determine what this photo should look like in winter. Using Neural Filters to explore the AI that is currently available to us is a great way to find out the level of precision and accuracy it currently offers and I suggest you do that because, team, this is the future, and it’s not far away.

Much love
Dave

PS, here’s the scene without the snow, as generated with Neural Filters

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here as always. this week I write from Reykjavík, Iceland, where I’m currently engaged in a plan B!

Over the past couple of years the volcanic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula has picked up following 800 years of silence. There have been two volcanic eruptions in as many years and guess what – I missed both of them! For the first one I was heavily engaged with other projects and for this second one I was commissioned by Russell Preston Brown of Adobe to shoot red hot magma for his Viking series for Adobe MAX, but the eruption stopped the day before I arrived in the country! I had to enact plan B and shoot elsewhere in Iceland, finding Viking-worthy backgrounds.

With everything we do in photography, more-so when it involves nature and the great outdoors, we should have a plan B to fall back on.

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I wasted no time in hitting some spots I’d scoped out for drone photography as well as exploring some magical locations close to the highlands. Having a plan B already in my mind meant no time was wasted and I was still able to be productive in spite of the primary mission being a failure.

I highly recommend building a plan B into all your photography plans, especially if they’re in Iceland!

Those of you attending Photoshop World today, I hope you have an amazing time and learn a lot from the awesome line-up of instructors.

Much love

Dave

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here as always. Today I’m getting prepared for another quick trip which you’ll see over on my Instagram Story from Friday but whilst I’ve been getting my admin and backups up to speed from the last trip, I’ve been thinking. It all came from this: –

This is Neist Point, Isle of Skye, Scotland. To my left and right while shooting were Scott, Erik, Nando, Paul Kober and Jeff Kelby. They know the truth behind this scene and when I posted it to Instagram a couple of days ago I made it clear what was real and what wasn’t with this simple phrase: –

‘Not real from the waist up’

The starry, night sky is all me. It’s nothing more than a Graduated Filter to a darker Exposure and a shift in Color Temperature toward the Blue end of the Slider, followed by a few splatters of stars using a star Brush.

In a world where AI and ML artwork is very much a reality and getting better by the day, a whole new case needs to be opened about what the limits are for photography. I often see exchanges in the comments sections in Facebook Groups about photography where it’s clear no two people can agree on where to draw the line on photography versus retouching, or reality versus interpretation. I’m reminded of this TedX Talk by Scott Kelby himself. Take a watch: –

To me, photography is my interpretation of what I saw in my minds eye when shooting a location. I use Adobe software to recreate what was happening in my mind and to enhance and hide the things I want to emphasise or remove. I’m essentially controlling what you see in my images and how much attention you give specific elements within it using composition, light, and retouching. So, do we need to draw a line? Do we need to specifiy that our images have been retouched, or should it be implied that nowadays all images have been, as is being considered here in the UK and in many other parts of the world?

Going back to basics, every image outputted by a digital camera has been retouched. A bunch of edits determined by algorithms built into the camera are applied to the JPG output, and if we shoot raw (which we should) we add edits ourselves. What do you think? Where’s the line? Do we need labels?

Much love
Dave

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here! This week I’m writing from Skye, Scotland, where I’m in the company of Scott, Erik, Fernando Santos, Paul Kober and Jeff Kelby. Because of other commitents there are some absent Team Epic members but the trip is Epic, nonetheless.

This trip has, as you will know, incorporated Scott’s Edinburgh walk for his Worldwide Photowalk and we all had a great time meeting everybody and talking shop. The walk, as well as this entire trip, has reaffirmed the belief I have that photography should be a social experience and we aren’t in competition with other photographers. It’s a unique industry and we all need to back each other, sharing knowledge and having a great time along the way.

One such example of how simple it can be to help other photographers comes from our sunset shoot at Neist Point Lighthouse where shutter speeds and ND filters were being shared, along with shooting spots for the optimum view. Here’s a shot of Chicky Nando right before the fog rolled in and gave us an awesome atmosphere for the lighthouse shoot, enveloping the mountainous sea cliffs in a shroud of fog bathed gently by the light of the setting sun.

It’s not always about the serious, calculated shots. Sometimes the social side of photography can be incorporated with the fun of just getting in amongst a herd of Hairy Heelan’ Coos (which is Scottish for hairy highland cows) and firing off some shots for the sake of memories.

We photographers should share more and stick together, meeting new, like-minded friends and forming epic teams of our own. And with that I hope you have a great Tuesday.

Much love

Dave

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am back once again with a little insight into the world of photography, this week from Valhalla. Well, The Netherlands, but close enough!

Coming up soon is Photoshop World Conference and the opening Keynote features Adobe’s very own Russell Preston Brown alongside Scott Kelby. I’ve been fortunate enough to be with Dr Brown here in Valhalla for a few days shooting Vikings for his upcoming Adobe MAX Pre-Con and I’d like to use the opportunity to explain the importance of Behind The Scenes (BTS) insights.

Here’s the entire studio team on day one of shooting. As you can see, the Vikings are genuinely straight outta Valhalla, and the space we had to work with was excellent (Studio34X, Almere, Netherlands)

The shooting involved rotating the Vikings through several different sets and lighting setups so they wouldn’t get bored and start smashing the place up. Each station had different attributes and local photographers Michiel Fischer, Edwin van der Lee and Thijmen Hendriks were kept busy. My task was basically to just be present, stir things up a little, provoke ideas, and I got to work showing the BTS action.

BTS shots, particularly in social media and blogs, are a fantastic engagement and insight tool to help promote ourselves as photographers, as well as to demonstrate our abilities and showcase our characters. If we’re thinking from the perspective of other photographers looking at the BTS we’re reaching out to with ideas and creativity, showing lighting setups and the larger scene, or if we’re thinking in terms of clients we’re doing a great job in revealing our excellent personality and why a client would want to work with us. The chances are strong that BTS images will cause a little stir and be viewed for a moment longer while the viewer explores the scene and it will help to boost our engagement, training that algorithm to see we’re worthy of exposure.

BTS images can also help us to show a new perspective, revealing the gear we’re using and the way everything is setup. This, if we’re looking for affiliate marketing opportunities or perhaps even sponsorship, is a tool we can use to show the before and after, as well as the bigger picture, often with unique results like this collection of hands surrounding the subject of the photo here, The Warrior King.

Social media isn’t going the way we all want it to and the results of our posts can be hidden in the crowd but if we use BTS photos and videos to give a unique look at what we’re up to, we can beat the algorithm and win at Instagram.

Much love
Dave

PS, the Worldwide Photowalk is just a few days away! If you aren’t already booked, go find a walk to join or lead, and if you’re walking in Edinburgh I’ll see you there!

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