Category Archives Featured

On behalf of Team Epic I, Dave Williams, would like to tell the world that the Epic Photography Podcast has officially become a ‘thing’ and we’re geared up to fire a whole pile of epic content at you from a lineup of rotating hosts with a wealth of experience in photography and the creative industry.

The hosts are: –

Cathy Baitson, Dave Williams, Erik Kuna, Fernando Santos, Gilmar Smith, Mimo Meidany, Peter Treadway, Roberto Pisconti, Scott Kelby, Sian Elizabeth, and Stephanie Richer

Epic Guests

This is the second podcast I’ve hosted and I’d love to share what goes on behind the scenes of a podcast for today’s guest post. I’ll begin by explaining that our podcast is one of a kind in that I don’t know of any other show out there that features such a large cast of hosts on rotation. This is an amazing thing for the variety and quality of the content we can deliver, in that there is unlikely to be any ‘staleness’ when it comes to the topics and opinions we cover.

I feel like tackling the risk of stale, boring content is huge to ensure the success of this venture. As a team our aim is to give our readers a decent dose of educational and informative information in each episode, mixed in amongst inspirational and entertaining discussion.

Organising and scheduling a weekly podcast with different combinations of hosts, each with their own life and business spread throughout various time zones is a huge challenge. Perhaps much larger than we anticipated when we first broached the idea of a podcast. Through those challenges we are persevering and our aim remains as it was from the start: to educate and inspire. We carefully plan each episode based on the value each host provides, as well as their collective value as a small group. The amazing thing about this podcast is that we can put together these valuable little teams from the larger, encompassing Team Epic.

If we were to talk about portraits, for instance, we can put Gilmar and Sian together for an amazing discussion. For long exposures, Peter and Mimo are an absolute mine of information. Stephanie and Cathy can lay down more information about wedding photography than you even thought existed, whilst Scott and I can give our audience a ton of knowledge about travel photography. Put that with Pisco’s boudoir knowledge, Erik’s nightscape knowledge, Nando’s inside-out understanding of Adobe Lightroom, there’s guaranteed to be a lot to learn from Team Epic. By the way, I know I singled out just one subject for each host, but rest-assured that each of us has knowledge and experience far beyond our ‘key’ subject.

(more…)

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here as always! I’ll get onto today’s subject very shortly, but first, I have big news!

Instagram has restored the chronological feed it lost when it was acquired by Facebook, but the algorithm-driven feed remains by default. To get your chronological feed, click here.

Now, let’s get back to the main event: “When it clicks.” I want to explain that persevering in photography can bring great rewards.

At some point in our journey as a photographer, things start to click. The idea and the dream of taking on photography as a hobby can all come crashing down fairly quickly when we switch the dial to M and realise that the exposure triad is a whole puzzle we need to wrap our heads around. Just like the exposure triad, light is something we need to learn to see and read, as well as understanding composition, depth, and a whole plethora of other things.

Each of us learns these things in our own way and at our own pace. Understanding what our pace is, along with our individual methods of learning, will help us, but eventually, it will click. There will be times when you will feel like throwing in the towel, and that’s fine. But, please don’t. Please stick with it.

My dream was to have an image featured in National Geographic, and I see myself as being halfway there. National Geographic bought one of my images for their magazine, but my goal has shifted sideways, and now I want to write a feature. It’s a big dream, I know, but life would be fairly boring if we didn’t aim high. Having these kinds of dreams is often the reason people pick up a camera for the first time.

There’s often an overwhelming element of seriousness to photography, and it can honestly feel like all the pros we aspire to shoot like are so serious and professional when shooting. Well, let me show you what it really looks like at times: –

If you’ve ventured out on the path to becoming a photographer (rather than a camera owner) and you feel like it’s all a bit complicated, just stick at it and remember this one little piece of advice: –

Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

Photography can become a heavy subject and there are a lot of things we need to wrap our heads around when we first start out, but there isn’t a photographer out there who just picked up a camera and naturally knew what to do with it. Persevere, learn the theory, get out and practice, and eventually, it will all click into place. I promise.

Much love
Dave

Last week on The Grid we did an open Q&A and there were a number of questions surrounding moving to mirrorless or sticking with a DSLR, so today I thought I’d do a quick Q&A to address some of these questions. Here we go.

Q. How will I know it’s time to switch to mirrorless?

A. I would say it’s when the big camera companies stop making lenses for DSLR cameras and only make Mirrorless lenses. Another sign would be, of course, when they stop making DSLRs altogether.

Q. How soon do you it will be before those things happen?

A. They’ve both already happened. The development of lenses for DSLR cameras from the big camera manufacturers has already stopped (they have all publically announced this), and so has releasing new DSLR bodies. For example, Sony’s last DSLR was introduced back in 2016, and it was discontinued last year. Canon announced back in 2020 that their 1DX Mark III DSLR (their big high-end pro body) would be the last version of their flagship camera that would be DSLR-based. All the big camera companies, and a number of 3rd party lens manufacturers, have essentially stopped developing for DSLRs, and are now focused on making lenses (and accessories) for mirrorless cameras. We all knew this day was coming – but even I’m surprised at how fast it arrived.

Q. Is there a lot of competition happening right now between camera companies that make mirrorless cameras?

A. Like crazy. Each one keeps pushing the limits of technology and trying to “one-up” their competition, so the releases of new bodies are coming fast and furious, with more features, better high ISO performances, and every bell and whistle they can think of. It’s an exciting time, and all this competition is great for us because it keeps prices competitive and each successive camera they release gets better and better. Right now Canon, Sony, and Nikon are making the best cameras they’ve ever made.

Q. What about the competition in the DSLR space? Is there still any?

A. Well…not really. Well, I’m sure the manufacturers would tell you there still is (each company wants you to buy their existing DSLRs and lenses), but since they’re not releasing new DSLR bodies or lenses, how much competition is there? Really, none. Their sole focus is on mirrorless bodies and lenses. They’ve all publically said so.

Q. If I switch to mirrorless do I have to buy all new lenses?

A. You do not – Canon and Nikon have adapters that allow you to use most, if not all, of your existing Canon and Nikon DSLR lenses with a mirrorless camera.

Q. How much sharpness do you lose when you use one of these adapters?

A. You don’t really use any sharpness at all, and that’s what’s so great about these adapters. You don’t lose any f/stops of light or levels of sharpness – it works like it did on your DSLR.

Q. I want to stick with my DSLR – I’m just not ready to switch to mirrorless. Should I post an angry comment here or on Facebook?

A. No. Neither. There is absolutely no reason to be angry or defensive. You can absolutely stick with your DSLR (I have a few myself), and they will work just like they always have. They are great cameras, and DSLRs will still be around for many years (you probably won’t see many, or even any new DSLR bodies or lenses introduced from here on out, but they won’t come and take yours away, so you’re all set).

Q. So, you admit still have DSLRs. Are you going to be selling them?

A. Yes. Absolutely. They become worth a little less each day, so I’ll be selling all of them this summer.

Q. What will I gain moving to Mirrorless?

A. Well, besides having access to a mountain of new lenses (and more as they come out), the sharpness of today’s mirrorless lenses is nothing short of astounding. You don’t have to spend a bundle to have legendary sharpness anymore. They are just so sharp that you don’t really have to be on the hunt for a really “sharp” lens – they’re all pretty darn sharp now (in fact, I don’t really hear any mirrorless shooters talking about lens sharpness issues at all). You’ll also get all the latest features on these new mirrorless bodies. Things like shooting long exposures are so much easier, and there are auto eye-focus features that track movement which means you’ll get way fewer out-of-focus shots. You’ve got things like completely silent shooting and frames per second that no DSLR can touch. Add in-body stabilization, lower noise, less weight, and smaller physical sizes (I could go on and on), but it’s a whole different world of cool stuff, especially if you’re upgrading from a camera that’s four or five years old. You’ll be astounded at how far things have come.

Q. What will I give up moving to Mirrorless?

A. The optical viewfinder. We’re used to it in our DSLRs, and it does take a little getting used to with an Electronic Viewfinder, but the ones coming out today are SO much better than the first ones on the first round of mirrorless bodies, that you can’t even compare them. Today, they’re pretty incredible.

Q. Will I have trouble getting used to an electronic viewfinder (EVF for short)?

A. I certainly thought I would, and that’s the main reason I held out on going to mirrorless for as long as I did, but when I got a loaner of the original Canon R-series mirrorless, after a couple of days, I wasn’t even that cognisant of the difference anymore. It was the #1 thing I was worried about and it seems I was probably more concerned than I should have been, but again, it’s because the first one I looked at years ago was pretty lame. Today EVFs are vastly better and offer lots of advantages over an optical viewfinder (most of which I wasn’t aware of before).

Q. What do you like about an electronic viewfinder?

A. I would get fooled a lot by optical viewfinders, because they show you what your lens is seeing, but not what your camera sensor will actually be capturing. So, for example, I’d be taking a shot that looks good to my eye; looks the same through my optical viewfinder, but then I take the shot and my sensor captures something completely different, and my subject is totally backlit and in shadows. An EVF shows you the scene as your camera’s sensor is going to capture it, which is a huge advantage and you can adjust for things like that on the fly. Plus, the amount of information you can choose to see in your viewfinder, which is very customizable, is pretty awesome. Another benefit is that you can review your images in your viewfinder, so seeing your images on the screen outside in bright light isn’t an issue anymore – you can just view them within the darkness of your viewfinder. Try it once, and you’ll fall in love with it. Also, instead of taking a shot and then seeing you’re clipping the highlights, you can see this warning in the viewfinder, so you can deal with it before you take the shot, and not after and having to retake the same shot again. You also can actually see your depth of field before you take the shot, instead of taking the shot and then seeing how it came out. You’re seeing things like you’ve never been able to before and that’s exciting (and saves a ton of time on wasted shots). If you need another advantage; EVFs work great showing you the scene in front of you in low light situations, and they are absolutely killer when doing long exposures (you can skip the first three steps altogether that you’d have to do with a DSLR when shooting long exposures).

Q. Do I need to switch to Mirrorless right now?

A. Nope. But I would certainly start getting used to the idea of going mirrorless, as it’s not just where the camera industry is headed, it’s where they already are now. That way, when it’s time for you to make the jump to mirrorless, it won’t freak you out. In the meantime consider this: sometime very soon the only DSLRs you’ll be able to buy will be on the used camera market.

Q. What if I never switch?

A. That’s OK, too. There are still some folks out there shooting with their film cameras and they never went digital (probably the same folks who are still using Lightroom 6). You can still order traditional film online, and send it off for processing. It all still works.

Q. Well, I don’t think I’ll ever own a mirrorless camera.

A. I hate to be the one to tell you, but you already own a mirrorless camera. It’s in your phone.

Hope you found that helpful, and remember – you don’t have to post a comment telling me you’re sticking with your DSLR. Lots of people will wait until the last possible minute to switch, just like people did with their film cameras. It’s OK. We all have our own timelines – today I just wanted to make sure you’re up-to-date on where the market is today, what’s going on with the big three manufacturers, to help you make the decision easier when it’s time to make the jump.

Here’s wishing you a better-than-average Monday. :)

-Scott

This week I got to share a bunch of travel photography tips on a wonderful podcast from photographers Jeff Carlson and Mason Marsh, and if you want to hear some of my favorite tips (including some real insider stuff), we cover all that in more in this podcast. Let it run in the background while you’re editing your travel images.

You can check it out right here (below):

Hope you found that helpful. A big thank you to Jeff and Mason (two very awesome, and fun guys) for having me on your show – it was an honor, and hope we can do it again some time. :)

Here’s wishing you all a glorious weekend, filled with sunshine and moonshine! ;-)

-Scott

P.S. We talked a little about my latest book, “The Travel Photography” book, which is now, finally, available in print (it’s been a while coming), and I humbly invite you to pick up a copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Visual storytelling has always been something that fascinated me. Not just the stories, but everything that takes place “behind the curtain” where the magic truly happens. Sort of the science behind the art has always been enthralling to me. Even from childhood I knew I wanted to be some form of visual artist. Originally, my primary focus was special effects and 3D graphics. In film school, I wanted to learn about modeling, texturing, lighting, animating and rendering 3D characters and environments. The school I went to required 3D animators to also take regular film school classes. As a young arrogant artist, I eschewed this idea and assumed there was no real use in learning about such an outdated medium and the methods to work with it. Part of the curriculum was stage craft for special effects. No computers, no digital wizardry, no slick compositing, just plain old “analog” or “practical” effects. At first, I assumed this was just more archaic methods taught by an obsolete instructor unwilling to part with methods that were no longer relevant. I told myself I’d also be sure to stay off his lawn. 

I didn’t expect this class to make more impact on me than any other class I ever took. I learned the ways of old school masters who had to invent a new medium and pioneer tricks to craft a live effect, without having the benefit of electronic assistance. It was a bizarre mix of chemistry, physics, ingenuity, cleverness and just a bit of downright crazy! We were igniting clouds of coffee creamer to create fireballs! we were using flakes of instant potatoes to create falling snow. We were using sheets of glass with objects glued to them to make things levitate live on camera. It was beyond amazing! It felt more like learning magic tricks than learning film making. Practical effects seemed to share more with sleigh-of-hand artists than with computer graphics. I gained so much respect for those creative minds that went before us. For those brave adventurer-artists who birthed a new medium of visual storytelling. Do you have any idea how the special effects artists crafted the tornado in the Wizard of Oz? They certainly didn’t have computers to render the effect for them, and they didn’t go capture and train a real tornado… I won’t spoil it for you, but I encourage you to look it up, it’s truly fascinating!

Side Note: There’s still some practical effect wizardry happening today that would do those Masters proud. They are usually relegated to Broadway shows, but they are no less impressive or ingenious. Case in point would be the rig used to create the flying carpet in the musical Aladdin. It’s an ingenious feat of practical engineering! So much so, they even filed a patent on the method to protect their idea.

So fast forward a few too many years and I find myself in a career that primarily uses Photoshop to composite effects. Frequently I’m working a visual project that needs a particular effect and before I launch that browser window and spending a credit on Adobe Stock for fireballs I ask myself three important questions:

1. Could I somehow shoot this myself as a practical effect?

2. If I did shoot it myself, would it be better?

3. Would it be more FUN? 

If the answer to any of those is “yes” (OK, mostly the last one) then I will absolutely try to shoot practical effects. I find the very process to be creatively therapeutic. It gets me out from behind my desk and it challenges me to figure out a way to create the effect. It’s like solving a puzzle or visual riddle. I’ve often said it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had with my camera!

In my newest course here at KelbyOne, Shooting and Compositing Your Own Special Effects, I demonstrate three different practical effects and how to create them using regular household items and the techniques I’ve found to reliably shoot them, and how to use those as digital assets for your own special effects.


Water Splashes

For a long time, shooting mid-air water splashes frustrated me. It was the age-old photography struggle of needing a fast shutter speed to freeze the action, but somehow still getting enough light in to the sensor to make the water drops bright enough to be seen. The first time I worked with this project, my equipment was woefully inadequate for the task. The drops were either blurry or underexposed. or both. My high-speed synch wasn’t working (or I wasn’t using it right) so I was struggling to find a solution. The answer was as bright as day. Literally.

(more…)

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here once again! I write today from the valleys of North Wales where I intend to spend a couple of days geeking out and taking photos of low flying military aircraft (because I’m an “avgeek,” if you didn’t know) and that’s all part of my plan to reinvigorate myself by undertaking a personal project. Anyway, that’s not what I’m going to write about today. Let’s get into it.

I want to make one solid point today. As photographers, we cannot underestimate the value of constantly learning. Take a look at your favourite “all-star” photographers and you’ll find they are all constantly learning. The quest to better yourself as a photographer falls down to learning, learning, and learning. There are so many fantastic resources out there. Take a look at KelbyOne for instance and you’ll see what I can only describe as an absolute plethora of content that’s geared to providing the maximum learning opportunity to us all.

Reading books, watching YouTube videos, listening to podcasts, reading tutorials in magazines, attending workshops and conferences, whatever method works best for you, I implore you to please do it. I mentioned that our favourite photographers are constantly striving to improve, and this is absolutely true. You’ll find Scott at workshops, and you’ll find me studying books, you’ll find Kaylee Greer diving into webcasts and literally, every KelbyOne instructor will be doing something similar because we cannot possibly teach you if we aren’t up to speed ourselves. Here are some of my favourite resources: –

I mentioned KelbyOne already, so here’s the official lowdown: KelbyOne is a collective of absolute legends in photography and retouching, and with no holds barred, they share their skills and knowledge with one aim – to help you.

YouTube channels including PixImperfect, Photoshop Training Channel, and PhotoshopCAFE are all great places to learn about how to retouch images in Adobe Photoshop and other Adobe apps. Knowing how to do this stuff after we’ve taken our photos is really valuable.

I could spend a long time telling you about books, but I’ll simply say that reading any of Scott’s many books will help with learning if old-fashioned paper is your method.

Honestly, learning is critical. Learning can be the difference between us being booked or not, or between us selling images or not. It’s the difference that’s going to help us succeed in photography, whether that’s personally or professionally, and we must never underestimate the power of learning.

Much love
Dave

Close