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Check this out short 1-minute tip for folks using the new shallow depth of field effect for video. There’s a real “gotcha” here but Jefferson has two great workarounds. Check it out.

Want a truly wonderful photography course to watch this weekend?

It’s one of our all-time best, most celebrated courses, and it’s from a living legend of photography. It’s called “Another Day with Jay Maisel – it’s a street photography master class filmed on the streets of New York City. Jay is a marvel, and you’ll get wisdom and insight from him you won’t find anywhere else. He is truly a gem, and you will love this course, filmed entirely in black and white. Check out the official trailer below (and here’s a link to the course):

You will love that course – it’s packed with that next level stuff that really makes a difference. Here’s that link again.

Let me know what you think after you’ve had a chance to watch it. :)

Just 11-Days Until The Portrait Photography Conference Kicks Off

It’s coming up Nov. 2-3, 2021 and everyone’s invited (that means you!), and it’s going to be awesome! I’m teaching four sessions during the conference: 

(1) What Makes a Great Portrait (a free pre-conference session the day before, on Nov. 1st, for all registered attendees)

(2) Mastering the One-Light Portrait

(3) Introduction to Portrait Compositing

(4) My Top 20 Portrait Photography Tips

Those are my sessions, but there are plenty more, including session from portrait masters like Joe McNally, Frank Doorhof, and many more! Hope you can make it – here’s the link for tickets and details. If you can’t make it but you have friends or co-workers that would get a lot out of it, please let them know for me). :) 

Have a great weekend, everybody! #GoBucs and #RollTide! :) 

-Scott

I’ve talked a lot in my live seminars about photographers whose plan to make great photos is based on sheer luck. They’ll go out shooting and hope that something just comes their way – some great photo just falls into their lap, because they’re not really doing anything to make a great photo happen on their own.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for getting lucky (I call it “Getting even” because so many times there are things we can’t control, like the weather, that destroy the best laid plans), but it doesn’t make a very effective strategy.

The reason I’m thinking of this now, is because I’ve been watching photographers like Erik Kuna, or my buddy Paul Kober, who work really hard to make a shot happen, and it’s in such stark contrast to what I see so many of us do. For example, Paul had a shot he wanted to create of marathon runners and he wanted to use a really slow shutter speed so the runners would be blurred with a backdrop of downtown Chicago right along the river. So, to get this shot he envisioned, here’s what he did.

  1. Two weeks before the Chicago Marathon, he drove from his home in Michigan to Chicago to scope out locations along the route.
  2. The week before he set up his camera rig in his driveway and keep running by it, each time firing the camera wirelessly and trying different shutter speeds to see which one would give the right amount of blur.
  3. The day before the Marathon he drove back to Chicago and tried out his set-up at different locations (he wound up strapping his Platypod to a pole) and testing out different angles and positions.
  4. He got up at dawn and got in place before anyone was there for the race to make sure he could get the location he wanted.

Did he get “the shot?” He did (that’s it above), and it’s definitely a solid shot, but he feels like it was just his first try at it, and he learned a lot, and he’s already planning his next blurry runner marathon shot so the best it yet to come, but the important thing is that he’s working to get the shot, and that means it’s just a matter of time, and effort, not luck.

He’s not hoping a great shot falls in his lap – he’s out there trying to make it happen (like Erik Kuna does when he plans an entire family vacation around getting to locations where he can shoot the Milky Way with a great foreground).

So, this week – ask yourself this question, “Are you working to get the shot, or are you waiting for it to fall into your lap?” If it’s the latter, you might be waiting a long time. Put in the work. It’ll pay off.

Here’s to a week of hard work, learning lots, and making some great shots!

-Scott

P.S. It’s just two weeks to the Portrait Photography Conference. I’ve got some killer classes lined up, along with an absolutely top-notch instructor lineup – it’s going to be epic. Details and earlybird discount tickets right here.

It’s #TravelTuesday again and I, Dave Williams, am here! You didn’t think I’d skip the world’s favourite photography blog just because I’m full-time on the road now, did you? On that note, I’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone that tuned in to the premiere episode of Due North on YouTube on Sunday. I promise my videos will improve – I’ve just picked up Premiere Pro and the Adobe magicians have pointed me in the right direction.

I am now officially heading north and my first proper night was spent at the Scottish border. I woke up to a beautiful purple and pink sky, and all the vibes I needed to put my mind in the right place were there. Exploring and simultaneously sharing is what I absolutely love to do. Everything else that comes with it could be considered a by-product. After I captured a few shots of my sleeping spot, I headed towards Kielder Forest because there’s one shot I wanted to get. It’s that shot that I’m here to tell you all about.

In Kielder Forest, there are several art installations. This particular one is called the Nick Shelter, at Blakehope Nick on Forest Drive in Kielder Forest, UK. The reason I wanted to shoot it is all down to having seen a friend’s shot taken there.

Rita the Ranger

I wanted the shot. It hit the list the moment I saw it and I wanted it. In photography, we’re concerned about copyright and other infringements, but we learn a lot by copying. It’s all summed up quite nicely in Glyn Dewis’ book, Shoot Like a Thief, which is a great resource for learning methods, along with the rest of his books.

I knew I’d learn something and I knew it would be worth my while in going and shooting this location with Kofifernweh in the centre of the frame, so I banked the image my friend took and didn’t look at it again. I headed out to Kielder Forest and found the sculpture, lined the van up, and took my shot. Here’s what I ended up with: –

It’s not perfect, but it’s mine. I love the concentric pattern of the pentagonal slats that form this sculpture, and the handy little parking spot across the road at the end is almost asking to be used for photos.

So there it is. My advice to you all this week is to find a photo you love and copy it! Add your own style, your own ideas, your own signature moves, but take inspiration from the work of others and use it to better yourself.

Thank you Duncan for allowing me to show your image of Rita the Ranger!

Much love
Dave

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here once more with something from the world of travel photography. This week is all about gear but first of all, I hope you all enjoyed last nights Facebook outage! I had a wonderful time on Twitter.

Let’s talk tech. I want to preface this blog by highlighting this Facebook post: –

I’ve anonymised it and I haven’t included the image, which was a lovely shot of a USAF F-15 from RAF Lakenheath. But here’s my problem. Imagine the post looked like this instead: –

Dave: That’s a lovely stir fry! What wok do you use?

Scott: Many thank. It’s an older Calphalon Signature 12-inch.

You see my point without me having to elaborate, right? What is it about us as photographers that makes us so obsessed with gear, and when does it actually matter?

I’m trying to learn 360 photography at the moment and for that, it matters. I could use any camera and shoot in every direction from one fixed point, then load the images into Adobe Photoshop and stitch them into a sphere. Or I could use a 360 camera and just get it done in one go. That’s an example of when gear matters. It isn’t the end of the world – I could’ve worked without it – but it helped me a lot having a 360 camera.

An emerging wedding photographer looking to really blow their bokeh might be looking to get a lens with a wider aperture. It’ll cost more than other lenses, it’s a good addition to the kit bag, but ultimately that photographer could continue using a low aperture lens that they already own.

I guess it’s all about what we want versus what we need. What is going to make our life easier? What is going to make our job easier?

But let’s get back on track. The photo was taken by the camera; I’ll take the opportunity to point that out right now before anyone raises any technicalities. But who actually took the photo? Who observed the scene, gauged the light, noted the size, speed, shape of the approaching subject, ensured the correct lens was attached, dialled in the settings, panned with the motion, processed the image and uploaded it to Facebook? It wasn’t the Fuji X-Pro 2, it was ‘M’.

When adding gear to your arsenal, take a moment to consider what value it actually brings. If it makes your life easier, adds value, or it makes you look cool, go for it. But remember, the gear isn’t making the photos, you are.

Much love

Dave

It’s a tiny, nearly flat bubble level that sits right on your camera’s hot shoe mount for getting your horizon lines straight (something a lot of folks struggle with).

I got this a couple of years ago and I love it. I love that it’s so small, and such a great deal, and I can just leave in sitting right there in my hot shoe all the time (well, at least until I need to put a flash transmitter up there).

Here’s how it looks on your hot shoe (below)

Here’s a link to it at B&H Photo.

It’s a great deal for the money, and it makes a great gift. Here’s wishing you a fantastic Monday!

-Scott

P.S. We announced “The Portrait Photography Conference” last Friday, and it is taking OFF!!! Get more details and tickets right there.

We are very excited to announce a new two-day, two-training-track, all online conference November 2, 2021 with an incredible team of instructors and it’s all to help you create your best portraits yet. We just announced the conference and hundreds of photographers have already signed up, and you can can too (it’s open to everyone), and if you sign up now, you’ll save a ton with our Early Bird special ticking pricing.

Best of all – the entire conference is archived for a full year so you can catch any sessions you missed or rewatch any sessions, any time – all streamed on demand for a year That is sweet! :)

Details, the full class schedule, instructor list, and tickets are available right here. I’m super psyched, and I hope I see you at the conference!

Have a great weekend everybody! #GoBucs, and #RollTide! :)

-Scott

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