Posts By David Williams

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It’s #TravelTuesday with me, Dave Williams, and today I’m in the KelbyOne studios recording some classes for you beautiful people! If you’re waiting to learn a little more about how to make some money and about how to prepare for travel photography, you’ll love my two new classes! But before they land, I’d love all you KelbyOne members to join me in an exclusive webcast about where to shoot in Iceland, and if you aren’t a KelbyOne member you can sign up for a free.

Today, I want to touch on something else. Right now I’m planning on changing my camera, and it made me think a little about that age-old conundrum: whether or not gear makes the photographer. Well, my answer is no, and my argument is that if you give a pro photographer a $700 camera, and give a rookie a $5,000 camera, the pro will produce the better image. One main reason for this argument is that the pro will be concentrating on the creativity whereas the rookie is more likely to be focused on the gear. Here’s why: –

When a pro photographer and a rookie photographer each shoot 100 images, the pro is more likely to say that one is good, and the rookie is more likely to say that 90 are good. If they then look at each other’s images, the pro is likely to say that one of the rookie’s is good, and the rookie is likely to say that 90 of the pro’s are good. Self-criticism lands front and centre, and the pro is far more critical of themselves than others. But it goes beyond that: –

When the pro screws up, they are far more likely to blame themselves than to blame the gear. They are probably shooting Manual, may have added some extra gear, such as filters or lighting, and have planned the shot. If something goes wrong, they are far more likely to blame the application of their knowledge than they are to blame the gear. Here’s the point: they will use the same gear and try again until they get it right, working on correcting their technique rather than switching out the gear.

There’s a lesson to be taken from this. Being honest about your skills, having the understanding to apply them, and giving objective evaluation to your creative vision will help you to become a better photographer and not to rely on the gear, rather to rely on yourself. I’ve been through this process and continue to do so, as does every other pro photographer, and it’s extremely valuable to think this way.

I hope to catch you all in the comments tomorrow on The Grid!

Much love

Dave

It’s #TravelTuesday with Dave! I’m Dave Williams and I’m here every Tuesday with something for you from the world of Photoshop, Photography, Travel, or life, and today was never going to be the exception! This past Saturday I had the pleasure of hooking up with The Kelby’s in my home town, London, England. Scott and his son, Jordan, were over in Europe on a trip and we went on a little jaunt to Greenwich in South East London, and this is the inspiration for today’s post.

Travel photography doesn’t actually require travel! Big news, right? Well here’s why: – the whole point behind travel photography is to make the viewer want to be there, in the photo, seeing the sights, smelling the smells, and feeling the feels. It doesn’t mean you, the photographer, have to be in another country, rather it means the viewer needs to be seeing a place with which they aren’t familiar or where they want to go. Whatever the underlying style, be it landscape, architecture, lifestyle, portraits, so long as the image makes the viewer want to be in the place depicted you’re succeeding as a travel photographer.

From this we know that travel photography can be a little closer to home for us, so that’s exactly what I did with Scott and Jordan. We went to Greenwich to shoot travel – architecture in this instance, but travel nonetheless. The location is just down the road from me, thousands of miles from Scott and Jordan, but regardless of distance it’s travel in that we wanted to show the location in its best light and, from our photos, make people want to be there. Well, Scott and I did. Jordan maybe not so much, but it seemed he was having a good time learning that the paint on the walls is probably older than the USA!

As Scott explained here yesterday, he was here to be a tourist. He wanted to get some shots checked off the list. For me the little exploration mission was travel photography, but it wasn’t travel. I hadn’t actually gone anywhere. It hit the point home that travel photography isn’t necessarily about the photographer travelling, rather it’s about everything else I’ve mentioned. We had a good look around at Greenwich before heading back to central London: –

What a pleasure it was to take Scott and Jordan on tour in London, and next week I’ll be writing from KelbyOne where I’ll be recording some classes. Show me your travel photography and keep up with mine on Instagram!

Much love

Dave

Hi all! It’s #TravelTuesday here on Scott Kelby’s blog and that means I’m here to lay down something from the world of Photoshop, photography, travel, and life. Today is no exception! I’m Dave Williams—let me tell you a sad story.

There’s a shot I want to get so bad. It’s here in the UK and it’s dangerous! I want to get out on the water of the English Channel to shoot the Beachy Head Lighthouse from the sea. The problem, however, is that where there’s a lighthouse, there tends to be a reason! The lighthouse is accessible from land about 1.5 miles west or 2 miles east because of the high cliffs behind it. The only way is to launch from one of these two points and going via the water.

The shot will look amazing. I want to get a wide shot with the stereotypical red and white lighthouse centre-frame and have the enormous white cliffs taper off in either direction, and I want it at sunrise. I’ve tried to get this shot three times and failed. Here’s what happened: –

The first time I had an inflatable kayak. I drove through the night (it’s a 170-miles round trip) to arrive in time for sunrise. I was there on time and the twilight gave me the blue hour, so I hauled my gear—the kayak, life vest, paddle, waterproof bag with camera and drone—down a dead-steep hill to the cliffs and then down the cracks and ledges in the limestone, and was at the water’s edge about 15 minutes before dawn. The water was rough and I walked along the tide line trying to find a safe spot. The water was just too rough, though, for an inflatable kayak and there was no safe place to launch, so I had to turn myself back around and carry everything back up that insanely steep hill, back to the car, and try again another day. My legs were burning from lactic acid with all that weight on such a steep hill, and it was all for nothing.

The next time I quit halfway there, the weather report changed and it wasn’t even worth going. That’s two goes, and a couple of days ago was attempt number three. I left home before 1:00 a.m. to make it down to the coast. First light was forecast at 4:00 a.m. and sunrise at 4:46, so I had to get there with plenty of time to get in position. The first challenge I had was, with this attempt being at the other location, I needed to carry the rigid kayak I’d got down the stairs to the stone beach I’d launch from. It wasn’t light!

The next challenge was the launch. All the planning I’d put in by checking weather, wind, tides etc., was telling me there’d be a high neap tide with low wind, which tends to suggest the waves will be minimal. What I actually faced was something altogether different: –

The waves were enormous, but I pushed on. First, I put the kayak at the water’s edge and climbed in with my waterproof bag between my legs. But, before I could get the spray deck attached, the water swept over me and flooded me out. Unperturbed by this setback (as is my nature), I pulled the kayak back, turned it over to empty it out, and tried again. The second launch wasn’t all that much better though, turning me sideways and showing me the sheer power of the water. I was done in again by the sea and gathered everything back together to try again. Third time’s a charm, right? Unfortunately not. This time I’d managed to get settled and get the spray deck attached in time for the first big wave to come in and hit me, but the power of the sea was still just too much and I was fully inverted. I had to give up.

When I said this shot was dangerous, I meant life-threateningly so. I was cold and drenched through every layer—the sea had beaten me and I still don’t have the shot! Shame too because the sunrise was pretty cool that day.

But here’s the thing: if you have a target in your sights, don’t give up on it. I’ll be back to get that shot! (By the way, if anybody reading this has a boat in Eastbourne, please feel free to get in touch!) I’m not giving up on this shot—I’ll get it one way or another. It’s not worth giving up on something good just because it’s a bit difficult.

Don’t give up just because things are hard. I have a tattoo on my left arm which says “aut viam inveniam aut faciam” which is Latin and means either find a way or make one. If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it, because some things that are worth having don’t come easy. You are so much stronger than you think. Someday you’ll look back on all the progress you made and be glad you didn’t quit. If you fall three times, stand up four, because winners aren’t people who don’t fail—they’re people who don’t quit.

Much love

Dave

Top Tips for Better Travel Photography – Here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider for #TravelTuesday it’s me, Dave Williams, and on the eve of Photoshop World East (which I hope to see you at) I have an offering of top tips for travel photography.

I’m going off-piste here though with no bullet points and no numbers, I’m bucking the online click-bait trend and I’m going to simply hurl the tips at you, paragraph style – let’s go!

Everyone with a phone in their pockets has had a go at travel photography – it’s a genre that’s so broad it may as well not actually be a genre because in fact it incorporates a range of other genres in itself. Everything from National Geographic’s magazine covers down to the holiday snap that goes no further than your phone’s camera roll is a travel photo, be it a landscape, portrait, macro, wildlife, nature, almost anything really. Travel photography is invaluable in many senses, being the million dollar business that sells people vacations and gives the world an insight into life and experience. The best way to achieve the kind of shots worthy of that Nat Geo cover is to do the following: –

They say that the best part of the camera is the few inches behind the lens – that’s the photographer. Getting great travel shots includes getting great shots of people, and great shots fuelled by people. Chatting to locals and building a rapport, perhaps throwing down some of the local language, can help no end in either getting shots of the locals themselves or in getting extremely valuable information about the best places and things to shoot in a location you’re unfamiliar with. If you’re shooting street photography it can be slightly different in that generally you’ll be shooting people in stealth mode, however for travel it’s normally a different story in that you’d usually want to build a rapport and get them on side before shooting a posed portrait (and maybe even having them sign a model release too!)

Further to preparing yourself with people, it’s important to prepare yourself with gear. The best way to achieve preparedness with gear is to have a versatile gear. I just got back from Paris where I was travelling with minimal gear. This made me mobile and saved my back from weight because of the miles of walking. The thing about the gear I took is it was versatile – I was able to achieve a lot using just a little. I took my Nikon D810 with a Three Legged Thing L-bracket, BlackRapid strap, and a Platypod Ultra – together giving me a tripod and effective means of carriage – and I took a Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikkor 28-300 f/3.5-6.3. With that bare minimum I was armed to shoot a huge range which is the ideal position for a travel photographer because of the unpredictability of the subjects being photographed and to avoid missing moments when switching lenses.

Shooting at golden hour and blue hour is key. These times offer the best light, and in the morning the water is still, the air is quiet, and nobody is awake yet so you can get shots that are empty of tourists with beautiful light. Setting an early alarm may be a struggle, but it absolutely pays off. When you are up bright and early, try experimenting with new composition. There’s time to play with different angles and positions, and to try and use your photos to tell a story.

Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs, and travel photography encapsulates a range of styles into one. The things we are ultimately aiming to achieve are to convey a timeless feel, and to make the viewer want to be there.

Much love

Dave

Happy #TravelTuesday everybody! It’s me, Dave Williams, taking over for the day as I do every Tuesday here on Scott Kelby’s blog. Let’s be honest, Scott deserves a break with Photoshop World East coming up soon, and I’m pretty excited to get over there and hope to see some of you!

Let’s start by addressing a little myth that’s circulating social media right now, and that’s the myth that Adobe has scrapped their £/$/9.99 Photography Plan. The answer is: – they haven’t! Go take a look at Adobe’s subscription plans if you don’t believe me, and if you’re quick, you’ll catch a flash sale they have, too.

Okay, onto the main event! Today, I want to address something rather important in photography. Can a photographer be “good” because they have good gear? Well, my immediate answer to that question on absolute face value is “no.” I think it’s much more important to work on your eye first, and here’s why: –

The most important thing a photographer can do is understand why. Whatever gear you’re using, if you’re just starting out or an old hand to the game, the most important thing really is to understand why. Why does a certain lens perform in a certain way? Why does a certain camera’s sensor give a particular look to the colour? Why does composition lend itself to conveying a particular message? Why does f/16 generally work in bright sunlight? Why does the exposure triangle make sense? Why does light soften as the source and subject get closer? 

If you want to be a better photographer, you must understand why. The belief that a new camera makes you better, for example, is not true unless you understand why. Understanding why you want that new camera is crucial because if you don’t, you don’t know if it’s the right one. There’s the old adage, if you’re new to photography, that a pro photographer can do better with any camera than a rookie can do with a top of the range prosumer camera, and it’s true. You know why? It’s because the pro knows why. Having spent the time to understand not only what happens when they press the shutter, adjust the light, set the aperture, etc., the pro knows why these things happen. We all want to improve ourselves and our photography—it’s our human nature—but often the problem is that we can be mistaken that better gear makes us better photographers. It’s certainly true that the bokeh on a shiny new f/1.4 lens can be phenomenal, but without a good understanding of light and composition that can all be wasted. Perhaps, if you’re looking to spend money to improve your photography, consider spending it on training or on gaining experience and you’re on the fast track to understanding the answer to that all-important question: why?

When I started out in photography I thought I needed shiny new toys, loads of different lenses, and tons of megapixels. I quickly learned that what I, in fact, needed was answers and no amount of money spent on gear would substitute training and experience. The most important thing a photographer can do is understand why. Know why a camera or a piece of kit does what it does, and you’ll know which one best suits your purpose.

I hope that means something and makes a difference to your progression, no matter what stage you’re at. There is one exception, however: – buy a Platypod. ;)

I’m off to Paris today, so I wish you all a great #TravelTuesday and you can follow along with me at @capturewithdave if you like. I’d love to meet you in the comments!

Much love

Dave

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