Posts By David Williams

It’s a funny old thing, photography. There’s a bunch of photographers who are keen to share, but there’s a larger group who aren’t. But why?

It seems to me that a lot of photographers really don’t want to share their ‘secrets’ with others, as if they’ll lose out because of it. Is there actually any real chance of loss through sharing ideas and creative processes with others? Let’s tackle that first: I certainly don’t think there is, and here’s why.

When you share an idea in, say, the field of real estate photography, what would have to happen for you to lose? Basically your idea would have to be put into practice by your nearest competitor. That is to say the competitor in your town or area, attracting your clients, hunting your target market, and shooting the same style as you would have to be the person causing you a loss owing to you sharing your ‘secrets.’ The offs of that very specific set of circumstances becoming a reality is extremely slim, as I’m sure you’d agree. In sharing your idea you’re helping other photographers in your field but (noteably) out of the scope of your target market to grow and to develop their skills, knowledge, understanding, and creative abilities. I don’t see any loss there at all! So as they say, sharing is caring. 

Photography is challenging enough already as an industry with the pressures and nuances coming from the outside, with a completely unnecessary spanner sitting in the inner works that we need to lose. We need to grow as individuals in this industry, and also as a community. We all started somewhere, and we all grow from that place. In order to achieve that growth we need to take some chances, show some vulnerabilities, and from that foundation we need to move onward and upward. The vulnerable side of us in that growth is the side of us which is taking chances on releasing what is becoming a progressively better portfolio, where each image is better than the last. Retrospectively this makes the last photo worse than the current and so it shows those “bad shots” in broad daylight. This cycle never really stops – we’re always showing this vulnerability because we’re always releasing better shots and thus, through time, revealing those same shots as getting progressively worse as the next good shots come to the surface. So here’s the next thing: –

That cycle links in to the need for critique. Not heavy, harsh criticism, but creative, objective critique. It helps us to grow and it helps our community to grow. It leads us to achieve better things, better shots, and reveals new talent. We all started somewhere, as I said, and we’ve all needed guidance whether we sought it or it came unsolicited to us. It’s done from groups, communities, and from more experienced photographers. We’ve all been helped and as such we should all pay it forward. 

Help people. Show strengths rather than pointing out weakness. Encourage growth, offer solutions, and add value to work that needs improvement rather than devaluing and discouraging through focusing on negatives. We’ve been in positions in our own growth, be it in photography or otherwise, where we’ve felt like throwing in the towel, and a little skill sharing and positive contribution to steer us back on course always helps – let’s make sure it’s strong in the photographic community and remember where we started, and as I said, that we lose this fear of giving away too much. There’s actually nothing to lose. 

Much love

Dave

Last night, I sat down to write this post and I had a bit of a situation. Well, a bit of a disaster actually! I dropped my phone onto my laptop screen and everything went dark. I’ve just taken my laptop to Apple and owing to my carelessness, I now have a five-day wait and a £460 bill to pay for a new retina screen, and it’s caused a delay in publishing this post! My apologies. Let’s get cracking!

So, every #TravelTuesday, here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, I land with a little something for you from the world of Photoshop, photography, travel, and life. Today, I’m going to tell you all about something you should be using, and which Scott showed you yesterday—Adobe Spark Page.

Adobe Spark is a creative suite in itself, within the Adobe ecosystem, which allows users to create social graphics, webpages, and videos on a web or mobile platform, and it’s awesome! In fact, all my header graphics here on Scott’s blog and on my own blog at capturewithdave.com are made using Adobe Spark Post.

Scott used Adobe Spark Page to create his story yesterday about his visit on the USS Harry S. Truman, and it delivered an amazing result both in terms of its aesthetic prowess and its storytelling ability. The user interface for creators is top-notch, as is the interface for the end user.

The app allows us to quickly and easily lay out our images, videos, and words, and it encourages good design and placement. The text alignment and animation creates a user experience with apparently seamless links from one section to the next. The ability to decide on the positioning of our images in a variety of styles, and with additional copy over them, gives us the ability to customise our page and truly tell the story in the way we want it to be seen. 

As a photographer, I am of course a creative, but one friend of mine has some strong words which this app brings to life for me. Graphic Designer and KelbyOne instructor Dave Clayton says in his latest awesome class that a graphic designer is a photographer’s best friend. Knowing how to present your work in the best possible way is important for a photographer, and a graphic designer can help you to do this. It seems that this series of apps is the first step towards that goal.

Adobe Spark is part of your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, and its best comparison is that it’s basically Microsoft Publisher turned up to 11, and it’s fast!

You can take a look at one of my stories on the northern lights here and one of Terry White’s stories on Iceland here

Have a closer look at the Adobe Spark range and I think, as a photographer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what it can do for you. 

Much love

Dave

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!

Catch you all next week and, in the meantime, please do keep in touch over at @CaptureWithDave on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Much Love

Dave

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.

Much love
Dave

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.

Much love

Dave

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 KelbyOne instructors 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’s Danny 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!

From here in Birmingham,

Much love

Dave

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