Category Archives Photography Tips & Tricks

Happy New Year, everybody! Some quick stuff to kick off the new year (I’m technically still on vacation until Monday, so don’t tell anybody I was blogging here today, and over LightroomKillerTips.com. Here’s what’s up:

My Top Nine Most-Liked Photos From 2019

Thanks to everybody who stopped, liked, or commented in 2019. Much appreciated! :) To see your own nine most-liked photos in Instagram for 2019, visit https://bestnine.net

My New New Travel Photography Course on how to Make Portraits of the Locals

For a lot of travel photographers, it’s one of the hardest, most intimidating things to do — getting photos of local people in the place you’re visiting. So much so, that many travel photographers return home and the only people in their images are other tourists. That’s why Rick Sammon and I put this new online class together — to give you proven strategies and techniques so you come home with more than just shots of monuments and tourist attractions — you’ll come home with great shots of the locals, adding an entirely different dimension to your travel photos.

We cover a wide range of tips, tricks, and real-world scenarios to change the way you capture travel images of people from this day forward. I think you’ll find it really helpful and it will make a big difference in your travel photography. Here’s the link to the course and the official trailer where Rick and I go into more detail about the class. I think you’ll find it really helpful.

Photoshop Upsizing Tip from Viktor Fejes

I’m a big Viktor Fejes fan — and his tip here for increasing the size of your image and keeping as much detail as possible is a really great one. It’s short and sweet (part of our KelbyOne “Photo Tip Friday” Series). If you’re a KelbyOne member, and you’re a bit more advanced, make sure you’re checking out Viktor’s Photoshop, color and retouching courses. They are ‘next level’ type of stuff.

Well, that’s it for my “vacation day” post. LOL!! Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend, and we’ll catch you back here on Monday for your regularly scheduled blogging experience. :)

-Scott

It’s now T-Xmas (read: “T-minus Christmas”), and as we’re now in the holiday season for so many people of so many faiths, it’s time to share some holiday photo tips! Before I get too far I want to apologise for laying down last week’s #TravelTuesday post on what was, as a one-off, #TravelMonday— thanks to everyone who pointed it out, and I’m firmly blaming the jet lag, having just arrived back from Canada!

So, on the whole, we want our holiday shots to be light and airy, but as always, there are exceptions to the rules, so don’t think of them as hard and fast! I’ve been aided in this post with some fabulous images by some fabulous photographers, so be sure to check out their links to see more!

I’m Dave Williams, let’s do this! Go tips, go!

Crank your ISO!

We tend to have some atmospheric light going on around the holidays, with fairy lights and candles and all kinds of contrasts going on, and it’s a good idea to bump our ISO to let the light flood the sensor, giving our images a light and airy feel. What I mean by this is knowing the ISO limitations of your camera and pushing those limits to give a nice, bright, festive photo, without causing any damaging highlights. A good benchmark on a newer, higher-level mirrorless or DSLR is pushing to 6400 ISO, and with something like a Canon Rebel or Nikon 5300, try somewhere around the 1600 ISO range.

By Cathy Baitson

Throw some props around!

Santa hats, mistletoe, that weird little elf thing, it all adds up to setting the scene and making it crystal-clear when our shot was taken, acting as a souvenir shot for us or our customer. These little props really go a long way.

By Gilmar Smith

Get creative with composites!

Beautiful starry skies, flying snowmen, steam-puffing trains, and a ton of other things lend themselves nicely to a festive composite. Throw in the odd starburst, and check out some KelbyOne courses about how to create seamless composite images to really add some punch to your holiday image.

By Stephanie Richer

Get tight!

No, I don’t mean skimping on gifts, I mean getting in close to the details! The details of all the things that come out at the festive time of year are special, and it’s often in the little details themselves where the real meanings and feelings come out. Keep your aperture low and your focus on-point to make your image really special.

Think about the light!

Off-camera flash is way cooler than on-camera flash, so make the most of all the light sources around you at this time of year (including natural light). Take advantage of beautiful, bokehlicious backgrounds by making that aperture nice and wide to knock focus out and keep the attention on your subject in all its festive glory.

By Stephanie Richer

Tell a story!

This time of year, no matter your faith or creed, is packed with awesome, meaningful stories. So, bring that to your photography and tell a story of your own, while making some awesome memories of the 2019 holiday season!

These images, in order of appearance, have kindly been provided by Cathy Baitson, Gilmar Smith, and Stephanie Richer, with thanks!

Much love

Dave

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

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