Category Archives Photography Tips & Tricks

It’s #TravelTuesday again and I, Dave Williams, am here from Salisbury Plain, home of Stonehenge, with about as much wisdom as I bring to the party every Tuesday. Let’s go!

This morning I woke up bright and early to shoot sunrise over Stonehenge, a neolithic stone monument here in the UK on Salisbury Plain. Whilst I was here, I noticed two other photographers had similar ideas, though not quite the same idea. One of them was up early and then disappeared before the sun was up. One appeared once the sun was up, missing the bit before dawn. It was a little odd because they both had cameras on tripods, so I wanted to quickly explain why I shoot the whole sunrise.

The photographer that was up before the dawn broke was shooting the blue hour. Blue hour is so named because the sky is largely blue because as the sun hasn’t breached the horizon yet its warm light doesn’t cast. It’s worth noting that it isn’t actually an hour, but can be longer or shorter depending on the season and latitude. Here’s my blue hour shot from this morning: –

The other photographer missed out on blue hour and shot golden hour. Again, this isn’t actually an hour, but it’s the time just after the sun breaks the horizon in the morning (or just before it does so in the evening) and, owing to various environmental and scientific factors including the effects of the wavelength of red light and the distance from us, we get a red or orange sky. Here’s what that looked like this morning for me: –

I was left a little baffled about why, if you’d dragged yourself out of bed at 6am, you wouldn’t shoot both types of light. It dawned on me, if you’ll pardon the pun, that perhaps they’d each only ever seen the one type of morning light and perhaps weren’t even aware of the other.

I know it’s a big ask, but here’s what I would like you all to do:

One day, when you have the time, get yourself up an hour before the sun is due to rise. The sky should still be a little dark and you will probably be able to see a star or two. Now, just watch what happens. Take a camera, or don’t take a camera, it’s entirely up to you, but be sure to observe exactly what is happening in the sky all around you. Notice the colours change. Watch what happens just before the sun breaks the horizon. Then how fast it moves. Watch where it goes. Watch how the light changes. Just take note of all that happens at sunrise and how it can affect a photo. Then, if you want, make a cup of tea and go back to bed.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Sunrise totally beats sunset.

Have a great day!

Much love
Dave

I, Dave Williams, am back again for another #TravelTuesday on ScottKelby.com. I’ve been busy settling into this van of mine and trying to work out where everything goes whilst still working hard on my many projects. My plan to hit the road out of the UK is still on track and, as of today, there are 66 days to go until departure day. It’s all very exciting and I can’t wait to go, but I need to be patient and make sure everything is exactly as it should be before I leave to save myself from any nasty surprises.

These past few days I’ve been tucked away in the New Forest, one of the UK’s few National parks. It’s on the south coast not far from the city of Southampton and it’s famous for its roaming horses and deer. Whilst out exploring, I came across some of the local wildlife.

I was prepped for horses, so the donkeys came as a surprise and I just had to go and say “Hi!” A little herd of them were hanging out and as soon as I parked up they wandered over and immediately tried to make friends—probably in an attempt to get hold of whatever goodies I had in the van. They seemed to like it and I was surrounded. They were rubbing up against it, licking it, chewing it, and clearly having a great time. Herein lies the first tip for taking photos of animals: –

When we shoot images of animals it makes a huge difference if we change our perspective and get to their level. When we shoot from our usual perspective, which is usually straight down, there’s not a lot in the photo to grab people’s attention or be interesting enough, whereas when we get to the animal’s level and shoot them from a different perspective, we’re onto a winner. So that’s tip one— stick it in the bank—get to their level.

The next day I was busy minding my own business, as I usually am, when I was surprised to see another animal I wasn’t expecting. A hairy highland cow! I hope you’re ready for tip number two because it’s coming!

This time I opted for a different technique. Do you notice how this cow looks larger than life, almost like a hero? Well, that’s all down to getting lower than the subject. It applies to humans just as much as it does to highland cattle. If we get a perspective that’s lower than the subject and makes us look up at them, breaking the horizon by a long way, we make the subject look like a hero. Think about it—Superman standing with his cape flapping in the wind, with his gaze fixed on the distant scene of impending doom that he’s no doubt about to resolve…it’s seen from below.

Here’s the difference: –

Okay, maybe there’s a bit of exaggeration there, but hopefully, you get the point. Changing our perspective and making the subject a hero can make a massive change to our images.

Much love

Dave

It’s #TraveTuesday and today I, Dave Williams, am back! It feels like the world is slowly opening up again and it feels like it’s time to refresh my top travel photography tips. Let’s do it!

Get up early

Sunrise is an amazing time and often has amazing light to boot, but unlike sunset photography, it tends to be far more peaceful. Light is extremely important to us as photographers and in the early morning, the soft, warm light helps us to create some spectacular images. This tip is at the top of the list for a reason – it’s very, very important and sunrise totally beats sunset.

Stay out late

Now, although sunrise is better than sunset, in my opinion, that doesn’t mean we should disregard sunset. Some shots require the angle of light we get at sunset rather than sunrise, and some people just aren’t that good at getting up at the crack of dawn. At sunset in a city, we get better results for blue hour shots than we tend to at sunrise because the city lights are illuminated in the evening, but often they aren’t in the morning.

Plan

Planning is massively important. We need to know where we want to be and when we want to be there, so doing the research beforehand on maps, social media, and any other resource we like to use, will help us to no end. If we go with a plan, we’re far more likely to achieve success than if we don’t.

Scout

When our planning is done prior to arriving at our destination it helps to continue the planning by scouting where we can. This can be beneficial in working out terrain, light, the number of people at a location, the weather conditions, and all manner of other things. Combing our initial planning with our scouting can fully arm us and give us the potential to produce some amazing travel photos.

Learn

The best photographers in the industry never stop learning. It’s not the filters or presets that make the best images, it’s our knowledge as photographers. If we practice as often as possible, so we really get to grips with how our camera works and what it can do, as well as learning techniques and spreading our wings by challenging ourselves with personal projects, we offer ourselves the best chance of success. We can become more skilled and resourceful if we take the time to learn new techniques and skills, particularly if we broaden our horizons and have a go at other genres of photography.

Gear

As travel photographers, it’s important that we give consideration to the gear we’re carrying. Most of the time, we are literally carrying our gear on our backs and everything we add to the bag adds to the weight and size we’re carrying. Packing well and making sure every item in our kit bag adds value to our shoot will make us far happier and therefore more likely to turn out some great photos.

Composition

Composition is king. Having knowledge of compositional techniques and knowing when and how to apply them will give our images the edge over all the others out in the market, so make sure to think about this when shooting and when planning. It’s often a good idea to shoot the same subject with a variety of different compositional methods to show things in their best light. We’re often likely to choose the second or third technique on our final image, so never be satisfied with just one idea.

I hope these tips are useful to you. Be sure to apply them and take your time when shooting travel photography. Make sure the viewer of your images wants to be there in the scene, and take the time to get it right rather than rushing from one location to the next and risking having a bunch of photos that aren’t useable rather than a handful of great shots. If the clouds or the light aren’t quite right, maybe it’s worth waiting to see what changes. Be patient. Take the time to create better travel images.

Much love

Dave

Dave Williams here again, just like every #TravelTuesday on ScottKelby.com, and this week I want to touch on some iPhone photography tips that might be useful. Today, the iPhone Photography Conference kicks off, with the pre-con having been held yesterday with Scott and Larry Becker. iPhone photography is huge—we all have a camera in our pocket and learning to use it properly will bring out a whole range of new skills and creative ideas. So, in preparation for these big moves, let’s take a look at some top iPhone photography tips:

The absolute top-of-the-list iPhone photography tip is something we often overlook, or perhaps we wait until it presents a problem rather than preventing the problem in the first place. It’s something we do with our main camera all the time, yet we forget to do it with our iPhone camera.

1.       Clean Your Lens

Our iPhone camera’s lens gets dirty from being in our hands, our pockets, our purses, and cleaning the lens with a lens wipe, microfiber cloth, or even just using our clothing will make our photos much sharper.

2.       Use the Grid

We can activate the gridlines overlay on our image preview from within our camera settings. Use these lines to their full advantage to help create better iPhone photos, particularly for better composition and a level horizon.

3.       Level Your Flat Lays

When we take shots straight down, such as flat lay shots, two plus signs appear on our screen: one white and one yellow. We can use these two plus signs to ensure our image is taken straight down by aligning them for a level image.

4.       Zoom with Your Feet

Just like we would with a prime lens, zooming with our feet when shooting on iPhone helps preserve image quality. When we are shooting at the native focal length we use the entire capacity of the sensor, however, when we zoom we’re actually performing a digital zoom and just cropping on pixels, thus degrading the image quality.

5.       Use Portrait Mode for Depth

Portrait Mode is a great feature of the iPhone camera and it takes the view of two lenses to create a quasi-bokeh effect. By utilising bokeh, like we would normally in our photography, we afford more focus to the subject of our photos.

6.       Live Mode

Live Mode gives us a lot more creative flexibility with our iPhone shots, including the ability to create a long exposure or a Boomerang. It also helps us to save a moment if it’s missed, but still happened just either side of us pressing the shutter button, because we can select the best frame from a series of images. To make sure Live Mode is enabled, open the camera app and tap the circles in the top right-hand corner, ensuring they are yellow.

7.       Shoot Wide

The 0.5 lens is an amazing wide-angle lens built right into the iPhone. Having an adapter mounted to shoot wide-angle is a thing of the past and we can now pack a lot more into the frame with no extra hardware to buy.

8.       Vertical Panoramas Are a Thing

Sometimes it can be in our interest to shoot a vertical pano in order to squeeze a lot more into the shot. Simply activate Pano Mode as normal, then turn your iPhone sideways, tilting up or down rather than from side to side.

These eight iPhone photography tips will immediately set you on your path to taking better iPhone photos, but there’s a whole load more to learn if you want to.

Until next week, I bid you adieu.

Much love,

Dave

It’s #TravelTuesday and here on ScottKelby.com, that means one thing: Dave’s here! “Travel Tuesday with Dave” is still a thing, despite the distinct lack of travel going on right now.

I’m Dave Williams, and I’m coming at you today with the down-low of going behind the scenes (BTS) in your photography. It’s actually a really important element to our marketing plan and here’s why:

We live in an age of instant gratification. Like it or not, it’s true. We have access to more information, more quickly than ever. It’s literally available on-demand, 24/7. We have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and whatever else you can think of in terms of social media, supplying us with a constant insight into exactly what everyone else is up to. We can cash in on this as working photographers and take our audience BTS on our shoots.

This is a BTS shot of me last week in the Lofoten Islands where I was shooting the northern lights. What’s the point of this photo? Well, firstly, it’s a nice memory and souvenir for me, but beyond that, it serves the purpose of showing people that I am able to find and photograph the northern lights. That’s a key attribute to my skill set, considering I currently have a book out about exactly that—finding and photographing the northern lights. This photo, therefore, proves the value of that book by demonstrating that I can put my money where my mouth is.

Save for having a specific purpose for BTS shots, they simply show us being busy. Our audience appreciates seeing what we’re up to, even if it’s something as silly as snapping a selfie. It shows us in our environment, and it shows what we’re up to and, quite importantly, in our field, what we’re using to achieve our goals. This silly selfie in Iceland shows me, my clothing, my camera, lens, strap, tripod, and bag. It’s the complete ensemble—a true “photographer in the wild.” And, it’s marketing.

We all enjoy seeing what our peers are up to, but taking it a step further, we are all being watched by potential clients and partners. If they see our work and it catches their eye, the chance of working together begins to form, but it goes a step further when they see BTS, and somewhat of a personal connection is formed through their seeing us working (or playing) on the other side of our lens.

Take people behind the scenes on your website, your blog, and your social media channels. You won’t regret it.

Much love

Dave

I’m very excited to be the guest tomorrow on Terry White’s “Photography Master Class” live stream, and I’m doing a presentation called “Photo Recipes” where I share a final image, and then show how to make a similar shot, with behind-the-scenes photos and camera setting and such.

It’s free and open to everybody – we’re live from 10:55 AM to 11:55 AM ET, and you can watch it right here on the blog below (and if you miss the live stream, and can watch the archive here as well). :)

Hope you can make it (or rewatch it above if you missed the live stream).

We already have over 1,000 attendees for next week’s Landscape Photography Conference

It’s not too late to join us — it starts with a pre-conference session I’m teaching on “What makes a great landscape photo” and we also have a first-timer orientation class from Larry Becker to help you make the most of the virtual conference. Here’s the link to get your ticket — don’t miss out.

Have a great weekend everybody, and thanks to Terry for having me on his awesome show (which airs each week at this same time. Always great info).

Stay safe and sane, and we’ll catch you back here next week (well, at least that’s what I’m hoping). :)

-Scott

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