Category Archives Photography Tips & Tricks

Hello one and all! It’s #TravelTuesday with me, Dave Williams, here at ScottKelby.com where Scott gets the day off and I jump in to lay down something from the world of photography, Photoshop, travel, and life! Today, it’s all about photography with a little bit of travel – I want to show you something awesome I found recently in Montenegro.

Arizona has Horseshoe Bend at the edge of the Grand Canyon, but it turns out Montenegro has its own, green version. Pavlova Strana is a viewpoint way above the horseshoe bend of the Rijeka Crnojevica River, meandering through to Lake Skadar. Last week, I had a little road trip shooting around Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro and this viewpoint was one of my stops.

Now, there’s a whole load of people out there telling us that we should be shooting at sunrise and sunset, but if we do it right, we can get some great images in the bright, midday sun as well. Don’t believe me? Well, one method we can employ is the sunny 16 rule. What this means, in short, is that we should set up a balanced exposure with an aperture of f/16 and we will have a well-exposed image.

With our aperture set at f/16, we simply need a shutter speed that is the inverse of the ISO. If we are at ISO 100, we need a shutter speed of 1/100th. If we’re at ISO 200, we need to shoot a shutter speed of 1/200th. It’s as simple as that!

The thing is, as with all the rules, the rules are there as a guideline. If we break away from golden hour, be it because we simply cannot be at a certain location then or for any other reason, we can switch to the sunny 16 rule to effectively capture good images in bright sunshine. The sunny 16 rule tricks your camera, which is in fact falling for a trick in the first place. Here’s the secret: your camera is being tricked into metering reflected light which, in bright sunlight, causes it to read the scene incorrectly because of harsh highlights and shadows. This means it reads the scene as being brighter or darker than it actually is. We’re bypassing that system with the sunny 16 rule, balancing the scene much better than relying on metering at smaller apertures in such lighting conditions.

If we learn to use the sunny 16 rule, creating balanced images in bright, midday sunlight can be so much easier. I’m glad to have helped!

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

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

This one is on where to focus for portraits for really sharp shots.

Actually, every Friday is quick tip Friday if you follow KelbyOne on our Facebook page, or our YouTube page, because we put out a new one every Friday, and they’re all from our awesome KelbyOne instructors. Plus they’re short and sweet, just like that one above. Hey, here’s another one:

These are cool, right? OK, one more just for fun (this one’s a Photoshop tip from Photoshop wizard Bret Malley):

If you dig these, follow us (KelbyOne) on Facebook, or YouTube, or better yet, go sign up for our FREE KelbyOne membership plan, and start watching some real full-length courses this weekend, like my ‘Crush The Composition’ course (it’s been viewed more than a quarter-million times!).

Have a great weekend, everybody, and here’s to an awesome Photo Tip Friday!

-Scott

Hi all! #TravelTuesday has come around again! Aren’t you lucky?! That means I, Dave Williams, get to put down something for you to pick up and, this week, it’s all about how you, as a photographer, can make sure your website and/or blog succeeds!

Having a working and effective website is crucial. One element, which I’ll focus on is SEO—that’s Search Engine Optimisation. Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer in Tennessee. If you’re going to want people to find your website by searching the term “wedding photographer Tennessee,” then let’s be honest—there’s a good chance you won’t be #1 in their results. In fact, when I searched that term just a moment ago, only half of the results on page one were actual wedding photographers. The rest were agencies, blogs, media companies, etc., who had good SEO and had posts containing those three words. As a point of note, the top four results were paid results or ads too!

In order to optimise your own SEO (rather than pay a company to do it for you), I recommend these points to consider: –

(1) Update your content regularly!

When you search on Google, those little bot things that run around and scour the internet are looking for many things relating to your search term in order to decide which order to present their results. One of those such criteria, and perhaps the most important one to differ you from other results containing the same keywords, is how relevant your site is to the person searching. A measure of relevance is how recently the site was updated because a fresh website is likely to indicate strong, relevant content. Be sure to keep updating!

(2) Publish relevant content!

Like I just mentioned, the important word here is “relevant.” Quality content is the top SEO driver and nothing substitutes that. We all know (even if we don’t practice what we preach) that having a one-track website is very important. We shouldn’t start talking about gardening in a blog post on our camera review website—it just doesn’t make sense. Fine-tuning that principle, quality and relevant content created specifically for our intended audience increases our regular traffic. Take this site you’re on right now. People visit Scott Kelby’s blog daily, or weekly, because the content all ties in together. It’s relevant to the audience. Bear in mind that you want to drive further traffic through SEO, but having that base audience already present shows the little search bot things that you do have a trusted website and, therefore, are relevant for the search results. However, also bear in mind that whilst you should be plugging keywords and phrases that you want people to be searching for in order to land on your website, you should never sacrifice the quality of your content for SEO. And, on a side note, you can use bold, italics, or other similar methods to emphasise these keywords or phrases to the viewer, as well as the search engine.

One quick example, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, is this: –

If you wrote a piece containing the best five spots to shoot in New York City, make sure your article contains the terms people may search for in order for your post to be relevant. Phrases like, “the best places to photograph in New York” and “these are my favourite spots to shoot Manhattan” are two such examples to include naturally and flowing within your post.

(3) Linkability

Okay, I may or may not have made up that word, but you totally know what it means. So, two notes on links: – Having a link, preferably reciprocated, between your site and another similar site demonstrates to the search engine that your site is relevant and that it is similar to another site, which it will now associate to yours and consider for SEO rankings. The link to another site will benefit both sites. But, here’s the other thing: – When you mask a URL behind the words “click here” or something similar, you provide no value to the link other than the link itself. If I were to link to my own website, using a phrase like “check out my awesome travel photography,” it will give meaning and value to the link within the search engine, applying terms to what is actually there through the other end of the link. Make sense? (Also, I have no shame to that slight piece of shameless self-promotion. ;)

(4) Metadata

When you make a site, either on WordPress or something similar or using HTML coding, you can implant metadata. It’s contained within the <Head> of the page and it describes the site through keyboarding and descriptions. Make sure you use this to its full effect by selecting a short list of keywords which relate to the content, because this information is searched by search engines returning your site in the results!

(5) Lists!

Finally, everyone loves a list! When you search things online, you’ll notice that there are lots of “Top 5” this and “Top 10” that, and there’s a reason these lists are so popular. So, just as I have in this post, make a list!

Good luck!

Much love

Dave

(PS: Here’s a token photo.)

Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! I’m Dave Williams, coming at you from Tallinn, Estonia where I’m exploring this old city in search of coffee, burgers, and awesome views! This week, I have a secret tip for your drone photography.

 

 

Everyone wants to know what they’re doing wrong, right? Well, here’s what you’re doing wrong! The top rookie drone pilot mistake, aside from flying in the wrong places (I won’t go there, though), is…

When people get a drone they go through actions not dissimilar to when they get a window seat on a plane. What us humans tend to do is take a photo of that place down below us, familiar to us, from a new perspective. We get on the plane and, as it takes off over our local city, we see things we recognise out of the window and shoot them for the sake of shooting them. It’s not a bad thing; I’m not saying that at all. If anything, it’s pretty cool to get that new perspective of such a familiar place and to see how things look relative to one another from up there. It’s tantamount to what we all did when we first discovered Google Street View—we suddenly had the technological ability to literally go anywhere we wanted in the entire world and despite that, we all did the exact same thing. We opened up the map, we took hold of that little man, and we all dragged him and dropped him into the exact same position: our front door! We like to see things from a new perspective; it’s clearly in our nature. This little trait we all seem to have rubs off in our drone photography and we need simply to be aware of it in order to avoid it.

 

 

When flying a drone, as I’ve explained in my KelbyOne class, we need to fly like a movie director. This means not simply lifting off and turning the camera to view the place we took off from. It means applying all that we know about photography, such as light, composition, and subject matter, and applying it to the new camera up in the air. It’s simply another camera, which is now removed from us—the same rules and principles apply.

Don’t be the passenger in the window seat. Make your drone photography stand out among the crowd.

Much love

Dave

 

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