Posts By David Williams

#TravelTuesday with Dave has come round again, and this week I’m in Norway. More specifically, I’m in Troms, just at the gateway to the Lofoten Islands and within reach of many of the most beautiful places in northern Norway. Note that I said “within reach” rather than “within easy reach.” That’s because things that are so close can actually take a long time to get to because of the requirement to circumnavigate mountains and fjords.

Within reach yesterday was the North Cape—the northernmost point on continental Europe. It’s so far north of where I was that if I’d continued and doubled the distance I covered in the car yesterday, I would reach the North Pole. Fun fact: the first person to travel to the North Cape for tourism did so in 1664, which is before the great fire of London and over 100 years before the Declaration of Independence. That’s not the point, though. The point is that it was really hard to get there! There was snow, ice, slush, mountain passes, twists, and turns, and getting there safely at the start of the winter meant not taking my eye off the ball for a second—100% focus was required. That got me thinking—it’s 100% focus that we need in the pursuit of our photographic career, too.

The creative world is a dynamic one, just like those mountain passes. When I drove north to reach the cape the road conditions were completely different from how they turned out to be on the drive back south. Similarly, if I stop taking note of changes in the photography industry, both technically and creatively, I’ll miss a beat and things will have changed without me. It’s crucial to keep up to date, and part of this is practice and training.

Ask Scott or any other photography rockstar and they’ll tell you the exact same thing as me—keep practicing and keep learning. Don’t take your eye off the ball. Continuous learning results in us being at the top of our game, and skipping opportunities to practice and learn leaves a noticeable hole in our skillset. This puts a very serious spin on what is otherwise an escape from reality or a means of expression, so to that I’ll repeat something I was told by Glyn Dewis a few years ago: – Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously. It means we should give ourselves a break, not put pressure on ourselves, but give the task at hand our attention in order to achieve our aim as best as possible, be that for ourselves or our clients.

Practice and education—the keywords in that last paragraph. These are things we need to take responsibility for and continuously review. Without wishing to plug KelbyOne here, I must say that for both of these things it’s a fantastic resource and community. Everything we need is right there in one place. But on top of that, there are so many ways we can practice and educate ourselves to make sure we are on top form all the time. I can’t stress how important it is. Just like keeping up with the changes on the mountain pass, we need to keep up with changes in style, technique, tools, tech, and all that comes with our photography passion.

So, having taken a selfie pointing at the top of Europe, I now prepare for the rest of my Norwegian adventure, secure in the knowledge that I have imparted a wisdom nugget that you should all take very, very seriously. Just don’t take yourself too seriously ;)

Much love

Dave

It’s time for #TravelTuesday with Dave (I know it’s Monday; deal with it), and today, I want to touch on a landscape photography term that’s used throughout photography: blue hour. Let’s not waste any time, here goes.

Blue hour and golden hour go hand in hand. They aren’t accurately measured as being an hour, but we know them as the hour before and after the sun sets and rises when we have the best light for photography. The reason golden hour is so beautiful is because the light from the sun diffracts through the atmosphere as its beams travel through so much more of our atmosphere laterally than if the sun were overhead. When it comes to blue hour, there’s a whole other science at play.

Blue hour, in photography, is a fairly broad term when compared to the scientific community’s version of what blue hour actually is. First of all, the different colours of blue hour are caused by the scattering of the shortest wavelength of light—blue—based on something caller solar elevation. This, in real terms, is dependent on the season and latitude and is the angle of the sun below the horizon.

Blue hour is further broken down into different degrees of twilight, and the term “degrees” really helps us to understand why. When the sun is at different levels below the horizon, as measured by angle, results in different levels of light and different visibility of stars.

The first type of twilight, where the sun is highest in relation to the horizon at between 0 and 6 degrees below the horizon line, is civil twilight. The sky during this time can still be yellow or orange in the direction of the setting sun.

The next type of twilight, where the sun is between 6 and 12 degrees below the horizon, is nautical twilight. During this period, with clear weather conditions, the horizon is faintly visible. Many bright stars can be seen, making it possible to use the position of the stars to navigate when at sea, hence the name “nautical twilight.”

The next type of twilight, where the sun is between 12 and 18 degrees below the horizon, is astronomical twilight. Astronomical twilight is almost indistinguishable from nighttime to the naked eye. During this time, most of the stars and other celestial bodies can be seen. To be able to see fainter stars and galaxies, you’d still need to wait for the sun to pass lower relative to the horizon.

At anything lower than 18 degrees below the horizon, it’s simply dark!

It’s important to bear this little nugget of information in mind when planning photos. Different situations require different circumstances, and the circumstances won’t always exist. For example, at polar latitudes, we notice midnight sun during the summer where it doesn’t get dark at all for months according to the definition of night. We can find the timings for these twilight times by using PhotoPills or timeanddate.com

I hope that was useful. Have a great day!

Much love

Dave

Photoshop as a verb. Now there’s a thing! Adobe Photoshop is huge and it’s the industry standard, so it’s no surprise that the word “Photoshop” has become a verb, meaning to retouch an image, and this blog post today is all about why it’s so important that us photographers should be proficient in its use. But first!

I’m Dave Williams, and as usual, this post for #TravelTuesday on ScottKelby.com is by me, dropping in once a week to impart some of my bountiful wisdom. Before we get into it, I’ll take this opportunity to remind you all that the walker contest for the Worldwide Photo Walk is now open! Get your image entries in now for a chance to bag a haul of awesome prizes!

So, I’m probably addressing an audience who already knows the importance of Photoshop, but in any case, if this isn’t brand new information it still serves as a reminder. Adobe Photoshop is a world-famous photo manipulation app that is used by photographers, designers, and other creatives, and it’s so simple yet it holds so much depth. It can turn basic images into absolute masterpieces.

There’s a school of thought that we shouldn’t need to use Photoshop because as photographers, we should be able to get it right in-camera, but while it’s true that we should get it right in-camera, we can still add so much to an image (or take away from it) by using Photoshop creatively and effectively. We can correct our mistakes, if we make them, by tweaking exposure, shadows, highlights, perspective, straightening, tone, crop, etc., to just give our images that little bit of a boost that we may not have straight out of camera.

Shifting up a gear, we can use some simple, yet effective tools to move elements, remove elements, add texture, resize images—you know, all these little things with big results. As I said, preaching to the choir here, so here’s the real deal behind this post:

The “purist” crowd—the people who are abject to using Photoshop to manipulate their photos in any way because the image should be right in the first place and shouldn’t require any adjustments—it’s you who I’m talking to here. Adobe Photoshop is no longer a huge investment; it’s a subscription. Personally, I feel like that big investment is worth it anyway, but we’ve seen a shift away from that model, and the point to highlighting that is that it’s easy to give Photoshop a try if it turns out I’m right with this.

Photoshop is an incarnation of something that’s always existed in photography. All of the basic tools we have at our disposal were not created for Photoshop. They’re things that were done in the darkroom already and have simply been given a digital spin, making it faster and easier than it was before. Cropping and levelling are things that were done in the darkroom by simply rotating and framing the photo. Dodging and burning, adjusting shadows, highlights, exposure, these were done in the darkroom by covering and revealing parts of the photo to allow the exposure to develop at differing rates. Almost all of the “everyday” adjustments made in Adobe Photoshop are inherited from the days of the darkroom, and although they’re achieved through the use of expertly crafted algorithms translated into simple button clicks onscreen, the truth of it is that it’s nothing new. Take a look at this marked-up image of James Dean in Times Square: –

This marked-up image on the left and the resulting image on the right shows the darkroom workflow that we apply in Photoshop today—it’s just that it happened on a film photo rather than a digital photo. So, all of you “purists” who don’t believe in Photoshop—get over it. Photoshop is awesome. Embrace it, learn it, and make the most of it.

*mic drop*

Much love
Dave

#TravelTuesday still isn’t quite what it should be, but then again, nothing is at the moment. Something else that’s adapted to the change in the world around us is this year’s Worldwide Photo Walk, and that’s what I want to explore today. I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here every Tuesday on ScottKelby.com.

Yesterday, Scott showed a video explaining the reasons for the Photo Walk, one of which is the Springs of Hope Kenya orphanage. There are other reasons to get involved, but today, I want to address the things that may be missing from a regular photo walk. The thing is, networking is a big part of it. Sure, there are awesome prizes, but the long-term benefits of getting involved with such an awesome, grand, and sociable photographic event revolve around networking. First up, if you haven’t seen the video, watch it.

Okay, so now you should be well aware of the charitable benefits of the event, as well as the prizes! Those prizes are amazing, by the way, and because of the nature of the Worldwide Photo Walk, this year Scott will be joining everyone by way of a live video, broadcast throughout the day. I’ll also be joining him, along with other photographers and KelbyOne instructors, and we’ve all teamed up to add to the prize pool—there are some seriously cool, bespoke opportunities to bid on, as well as standing for a chance to win big. You’ll see more about that soon enough, and it’s explained in the video. But back to my point…

Networking and feedback opportunities that come from meeting up with peers and pros for the Worldwide Photo Walk may seem to be missing this year because of the stupid Coronavirus getting in everyone’s way, but those opportunities haven’t vanished altogether—they’re just a little different.

Let’s start with feedback. This shot is of a group I led in London some years ago (beardless, as you can see), and the point is that those who wanted feedback, critique, advice, or just someone to bounce their ideas off, could just ask. Well, here’s the thing: you can still just ask! Despite being “remote” from the pros in this year’s Photo Walk, I promise you that the feedback is there and available for you. If you have an idea or want some feedback, just as if you were standing there with your walk leader over the past 12 years, you can still ask for that now. All it takes is a simple message to whomever you think is best suited to answer you. Another thing: every single KelbyOne instructor or walk leader does what they do because they want to share, teach, and inspire. We aren’t in it for the money; we’re in it because we love doing it. Trust me—have you found a millionaire photographer in our community? No! But, you’ve definitely found a whole heap of amazing photographers with a lot to give and a passion for education, so all it takes is a message. A question. A chat. Myself, Scott, and every other KelbyOne instructor really are approachable and willing to help.

On top of that, there’s an awesome community inside KelbyOne, with loads of people just like yourself who are willing and able to help answer your questions, anytime. If it’s on the day of the Photo Walk, just jump into the chat on the live video! Even if your question isn’t picked up by Scott and the team, it’ll still be noticed by the other walkers.

So, networking. It’s a big deal in our industry, and the Worldwide Photo Walk is great for it. Despite this stupid virus, it hasn’t gone anywhere. Also beardless, this is the walk I led a couple of years back in London with Peter Treadway. This group was constantly throwing ideas off one another, and gently probing for connections. As well as the social aspect to the Photo Walk, there’s an element of networking that really is effective. Throwback a couple of years before this photo, and I was with Scott for the walk he led in London, followed by a meetup at Byron Burger. That particular branch of Byron Burger is now closed, along with many others because of COVID (sorry to break it to you this way, Scott. But, anyway, I’m getting off-topic). The thing that stood out the most to me about that moment was seeing the one and only, Mr. Danny Lenihan, present Scott, with one of his brand-new 3 Legged Thing tripods. I have no doubt that 3 Legged Thing would’ve reached the level of success they have without it, but the point is that they reached it very quickly stateside because of that little bit of networking. I also vividly remember asking Danny if he had a spare for me, to which he replied, “When you’re famous like Scott.” Well, I’m still waiting. ;)

Seriously, though, I bought my own 3 Legged Thing tripods, and they’re awesome. But, the point is that the networking opportunities provided by the Worldwide Photo Walk still exist. Just like reaching out for feedback, you can reach out to network with people and companies. In these times, it’s expected. One big piece of advice I want to give is that if you want to work with someone, life’s too short to sit back and wait. Reach out and ask! If you genuinely feel that a tandem project is worthwhile, take all the reasons why you’re right for the project and put them down on paper. Compose that into something sensible and objective, then reach out and make the connection. If you want to work together, it’s down to you to make it happen. The worst response you can get it a “no,” and that’s the worst response you would’ve received in person anyway, so don’t fret over it. Some of my favourite projects have come off the back of simply sending a carefully composed e-mail—my motorcycle ride to Norway started exactly that way.

I can’t stress how important networking is in this industry, and I also can’t stress enough that in lieu of meeting people physically, it continues for the reason that it is so important. It’s simply gone online now. Genuinely, if you want to work with someone, tell them. I can guarantee you that it isn’t going to happen if you don’t make that connection.

I wish you all an amazing day at the Worldwide Photo Walk this weekend, and as I said, just drop a message if you want to!

Despite being “alone,” you aren’t actually alone at all.

Much love
Dave

Dave Williams here for #TravelTuesday on ScottKelby.com, and this week I’ve been trying not to dwell on the fact that I’m not in Iceland when I should be, and when the northern lights have been kicking off large! (British term, hope you get it.)

It’s still a time of uncertainty for all of us, globally. Scott announced his annual Worldwide Photo Walk, but this year there’s a twist: it’s solo. I sincerely hope that as many of us as possible will take a walk with our cameras on October 3rd to continue the world’s largest social photography event and to support the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya, with 100% of the entrance amount being gifted straight to them. Walking solo rather than in a guided group, as usual, will be a little different, but there’s plenty of support coming from the team at KelbyOne.

Sticking with uncertainty, we often find ourselves uncertain about our photography. We also all strive for improvement constantly, at every level in this industry. Even Scott himself never stops learning and it’s very important to our individual success that we identify areas of improvement. Sometimes it’s not straightforward to do this, but all too often the things we need to improve are rooted in quite practical reasons why our photography may not be at the level we want it to be. To that end, this handy list of reasons serves to remind us where those roots are and what our focus should be when we’re trying to identify those areas of improvement. Let’s get stuck in.

Exposure

The exposure triad, the triangle, the weigh-off of shutter speed versus ISO versus aperture, whatever you want to label it, understanding and applying our knowledge of exposure has to be top of the list. Shooting in Auto doesn’t allow us control or understanding of the exposure triangle because we’re handing over complete control of it to the brains of the camera. So, doing some research into exposure and moving away from Auto onto a semi-automatic setting such as Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Program Mode should be our first step, followed by the absolutely-immersive and totally-overwhelming Manual mode. The thing is, once we get a grip on this understanding, we lose all sense of being overwhelmed and release a whole new level of creativity. We can also sway away from the rules and deliberately over or underexpose our images for that artistic edge, having understood the rules so we can effectively break them. Trust me, it makes sense! It also opens up the world of light painting, long exposures, and much more, which in turn gives us direction and education in itself.

Composition

Composition is a very, very close second place on the list. There are far too many photos taken that clearly give no aforethought to composition. Here’s the thing: Us humans are big subliminal fans of certain things. These things include even distribution, good placement, regularity, pathways, and other such things. All of these have a place within the realm of photography composition, such as the pathway found in an image containing leading lines or the placement of a subject when the rule of thirds is applied. There are a lot of resources available for what makes good composition—I’ve written several here on ScottKelby.com, and there are classes available on KelbyOne which help, among others. Composition should be considered—it can make or break an image. It’s even true to say that good composition can make an awesome image of a boring subject, whereas a really interesting subject composed badly will be an image nobody remembers. Remember that.

Perspective

This is also a very close position, only losing to composition by a hair. Perspective is another element that makes or breaks an image, and here’s why: –

We walk around all day, every day, seeing the world from our perspective— our eye level. When we take photos from our eye level they look normal. They look the way we see things as we walk through life. The photos that intrigue and captivate us, sometimes even leaving us wondering for a second or two about what we’re even seeing, are the ones that are taken from a different perspective to what we’re used to from our eye level. For example, a flower sits below our eye level and we look down on it—that’s normal. If we take a photo of a flower from the perspective of a caterpillar in amongst the foliage it creates an unusual perspective. Now we’re looking up at, or sideways onto, an object that we normally look down on, and that shift in perspective has made an everyday object look far more special. The same thing applies to Kaylee Greer‘s awesome dog photos, for example. We see dogs from above, but if we shift our perspective and get low, we see them from a new angle. And, in getting lower, so that we look up to them, we even step it up a gear and turn them into heroes, just in the way that iconic images of our superheroes are from an upwards perspective. Change your perspective!

Light

Learning to see light is an actual thing. It may not be something that many people understand, and it can even be the case that people think they can see light but the truth is, once you can see light, you know you can see light. Highlights, shadows, drop-off, gradation, tone, all these things suddenly come to light (pardon the pun), and it helps us really understand a scene and a photograph. I’m talking about blue hour and golden hour in this section, too. Knowing when the best light will arrive and recognising it when it does is the difference between a snapshot and a portfolio piece. There are lots of places to help us understand how to see light, and one of the best teachers for this is Glyn Dewis.

Projects

And by “projects” what I mean is that you haven’t done any! One of the best ways to improve, hands-down, in photography is to undertake a project. It takes us out of our comfort zone and helps us to understand a different genre of photography, educating us in the intricacies and nuances of another field and giving us skills that transfer into our own field. For example, if you’re a landscape photographer, shoot some portraits. If you’re a macro photographer, shoot some night skies. It could even be as simple as doing an alphabet project, finding everyday objects that resemble letters of the alphabet in order to improve composition and perspective.

Subject

That is to say, lack of subject. One big mistake people make, particularly at the beginning of their photographic journey, is to take photos that lack a clearly defined subject. Our brain works well at rationalising things. We try to understand what things are all about. When that applies to photography we’re looking for a reason, a rationale, and a subject. We look at a photo similar to the way we look at a piece of art in a gallery, and how many times have you looked at a piece of art and wondered, “What is this even about?” If we have a clear subject in our photos, we don’t leave people wondering what the photo is about and we free our viewers into exploring other elements rather than walking away scratching their head.

Practice

Practice, practice, practice. Understand photography, understand your photography, understand your camera, learn why things work and why they don’t. A great way to do this is to study and copy other photographers’ work, and critique your own work whilst constantly practicing and striving for improvement. We’ve all heard the famous, “Your first 10,000 photos are your worst” quote, and it’s because it’s all practice, and it’s ongoing.

Keep taking photos. Keep thinking about why they do and don’t work. Keep striving for success. If you aren’t happy with an image, just take a step back and think about why. There are lots of things we can do to improve, and no photo is perfect. There’s plenty of time between now and October 3rd to register for the Worldwide Photo Walk and knock out some amazing photos and win some amazing prizes on a solo photo walk in the world’s biggest photography event!

Much love
Dave

#TravelTuesday is here once again and it comes with me, Dave Williams, here on ScottKelby.com to inject a dose of motivation into your day. Here’s hoping that happens as we touch on something from the world of post-process in the form of a very simple yet effective tip.

Before I get too deep into it I’m going to vent a little, corona-wise. Amongst a plethora of cancelled trips was Iceland. Plethora was definitely the correct term to use there, by the way! I was supposed to be in Iceland right now, but their quarantine rules have changed for us Brits and all many other incoming nationalities. With a two week quarantine, it simply isn’t worth going for me, having to lose out on two weeks worth of accommodation payments before being able to get out there and shoot. One thing I was supposed to do was hook up with local guide Alex Palmi, who sent me this last night.

It translates to something like, ‘my evening walk.’ So if we could all just take responsibility and wear masks, avoid crowding, and maintain hygiene, that’d be great! It’s not about whether or not Covid-19 is a conspiracy or an election tool, it’s about getting back to life as normal and reducing infection transmission (and saving lives!) I’d quite like to see the rest of the world again sometime soon.

So, the half rule…

When we work on our images it’s tricky to get the retouching balance just right. We often reach out to friends and peers for confirmation and critique, and there are lots of things we can do to make sure we haven’t over-retouched our images, such as taking a break for a short period of time and coming back to look at the image again with a fresher pair of eyes. This technique, along with others, certainly does work, but here’s an idea I’d like to share with you about how to implement changes to our images and maintain some realism.

The half rule is something I’ve been doing for a while and it’s so simple and effective. All we need to do is consider halving our slider adjustments, be that in Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, or Lightroom. For every slider adjustment we make, all we need to do is remember the figure beside the slider and half it, making comparisons to our original image. The reason this works so well is because we quite often over-zealously shift our sliders and end up with something too powerful and overbearing, when in fact we are simply targeting the correct adjustment just a bit too much. By breaking the adjustment in half we can often give the right amount of that edit, or at least use it to consider something somewhere in between the original and the half which sits easier with people and doesn’t look so unrealistic.

This trick works with all the sliders, but more-so with those outside of the Basic adjustments, such as Clarity, Dehaze, HSL, etc. It’s simply a case of using this method to work out whether or not the initial adjustment is too much, too intense, too unreal, and using the half rule as a point of reference to work this out. It’s not hard and fast, but it’s a brilliant back-pocket technique.

So, before I go, please all keep your fingers crossed that my next trip (Norway, mid-October) doesn’t get cancelled! I leave you with someone else’s view of Iceland last night.

Keep yourself and others safe.

Much love
Dave

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