Category Archives Photography Tips & Tricks

I’m Dave Williams, and I’m back again, right here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider for my weekly #TravelTuesday post—straight from across the pond in (not so) sunny England. Today, I’m going to lay down some tips for shooting wide, which have come from my realisation that I’ve been carrying around a 14–24mm, 24–70mm, and 70–200mm lens almost everywhere I go, but haven’t actually used the 24–70mm for a very, very long time! Instead, I’ve opted for the 14–24mm to take in a much wider scene.

 

 

The most important points to note when shooting with such a wide lens are these:

It will make big things seem smaller! This can mean that our point of interest can be lost amongst the larger scene and we really do need to consider this when we’re composing the scene.

It needs a foreground element to work well. This is because there’s so much in the frame that if we didn’t have a foreground, we’d risk creating a confusing mess of a photo, with the viewer’s eye wandering around a large scene and getting lost without anything, in particular, drawing their attention around the edges. When setting up and composing our shot with a wide angle lens, just the smallest movement can make a huge difference to the foreground element. Whatever foreground element we choose, be it a road or some other leading line, or perhaps something like water to support the atmosphere of our composition, it must support and direct to the background to work just right. Because the foreground is so much more emphasised with a wide angle lens it really must be carefully considered and composed.

It will put more of the scene in focus. The depth of focus from a wide angle lens is so much greater than other, longer lenses and, therefore, it’s easier to catch a lot more of the image in focus. What we can potentially lose in distortion, which we can, of course, deal with in post, we are going to gain in overall sharpness throughout the scene.

 

 

Having a wide angle lens in the arsenal is a fantastic thing for many genres of photography, but in particular for landscapes. When it’s used carefully and properly it can help us create some truly powerful and dramatic images, so use it right and step your photography up a gear!

Much love

Dave

If you follow KelbyOne on Facebook or Twitter, you’re probably already family with “Photo Tip Friday” where every Friday our instructors share some of their favorite tips for photography, Photoshop, and Lightroom in short 60-second video clips.

I know it’s not Friday, but I want to make sure you’re getting to see these, so here are a few of recent tips to give you a feel for what they’re all about (you can get these every Friday by following us on Facebook or Twitter). Check ’em out:

That gives you an idea of what our PhotoTipFriday is all about. Lots more to come, don’t forget to follow us social and your Friday’s will get a bit more tipsy (well, you know what I mean).

Have a great week, everybody!

Best,

-Scott

 

 

 

 

We’re just over a week away for the Worldwide Photo Walk (It’s Saturday, October 6th). It’s all coming together, and thanks to our friends from Canon USA (official sponsor of the 11th annual Photo Walk) we have some quick video tips today from Canon Explorer of Light, Rick Sammon on how to get some great shots during the Photo Walk.

Note: If you haven’t signed on to a photo walk near you (they are in over 900 cities around the world), head over to the official Photo Walk site and sign up to walk with us a week from tomorrow (it’s free and open to everybody!).

Thanks, Rick!!! :) :) :)

Make sure you follow Rick on Twitter and Instagram – he has a really fun account (especially if you’re a photographer who loves music).

I’ll be back on Monday, and my plan is to share some of my photos from my Travel Photography workshop in Rome, which wrapped up on Tuesday this week.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Best,

-Scott

#TravelTuesday has come around again, and so soon! Right here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, that means I, Dave Williams, get to share something with you from the world of photography, Photoshop, travel, and life. Today, I’ve opted for photography and I’m going to lay down some tips to step up your shooting, right after I check in with the latest news!

Over at Layers Magazine, the new #MondayMotivation series of guest posts is going great! Yesterday, we saw a superb piece by Douglas Young, who goes by the monicker Doug Does Disney. It was so sparkly and inspirational—I loved it! If you haven’t seen it, go check it out!

Just one more thing I wanted to mention: my next foreign mission is to Norway, and when that happens, I’ll be taking over the KelbyOne Instagram Story, so be sure you follow that and follow me!

Right, let’s go!

Have a subject

This is something that puts landscape photography in the forefront of my mind. The specific thought is Moose Peterson, smiling and pointing at me, saying, “stop shooting sticks and stumps!” Well, it’s those sticks and stumps that are the subject. The foreground interest. Maybe Moose is right, maybe we should switch out the sticks and stumps for something more interesting! The important thing here is that when we’re shooting a large scene, what’s often happening in the thought process that made us bring the camera up to our eye and shoot is that being there, present in the scene at that time, it looked beautiful to you. The difference is that it doesn’t always translate that way into something beautiful to the viewer who wasn’t there—it’s simply a large expanse. We’ve taken that huge scene, flattened it, and made it into a little rectangle. Adding that foreground element into our large scene, whether it be right in front of the lens or simply close enough relative to the background, will create a feeling of depth and allow our eye and mind to really be entertained looking at that image.

When we start out in photography, we learn from a whole range of sources. Everybody’s different, so whether you’re the type to watch videos, read books, or get hands-on with courses, you’ll still end up in the same place with the same kind of knowledge. The knowledge comes from education, but also from practice and experience. I’ve had a lot of messages over on my Instagram lately, asking about how to get good photos, so today I’ll take it to grassroots and flip that around, giving my best advice for stepping up your shooting. The aim here is to gift new photographers with some knowledge and simultaneously remind the more seasoned of us what we should be considering when we have the camera in our hands.

 

 

This shot from Massachusetts, USA, is cool. It has colour, it has reflection, but more importantly it has a subject. Without that cute little family of birds swimming in for bedtime, it would just be a sunset. With the birds, there’s something about it to focus on and to make it more interesting. (By the way, when I took this shot, Kaylee Greer was standing next to me making the strangest noises over how cute this little family was. I think she wanted to take them home!)

Get Closer

I remember Scott saying to me once, “That could be closer.” I was a little miffed—I’d taken what I thought was an absolute cracker of a shot. He was right. If you think your photos aren’t good enough, get closer! The art of the crop is something I’ve written about before, and there’s good reason for it. Closing in on the subject and filling the frame right up is a technique to force the viewer’s attention on the detail. It conveys emotion whilst, at the same time, removing the sense of place and other things we think about when we scan an image. This leaves only one thing to think about: the subject.

 

 

Take this shot of a peacock I took in Maidenhead, UK. It is cropped in tight, giving absolutely no reference of the location, but forcing us to look at nothing but the detail. If I’d shot the whole bird and its surroundings, it would’ve been pretty, but this steps it right up and removes all those distractions, creating a totally different image. Do the same thing to someone’s face in a portrait and their emotion is conveyed so much clearer to the viewer, too.

Shoot tack sharp

That phrase “tack sharp,” has been lifted straight from Scott’s books. It makes perfect sense and it’s a nice, catchy reminder to check focus constantly. Having intentional blur in an image can look great when it’s done right, but when focus is missed, it can have disastrous consequences. There are so many tutorials out there on how to achieve perfect focus by concentrating on ISO and aperture, and their relationship to shutter speed. Further to that, there are a whole bunch of tutorials teaching us what exactly to lay our focus spot on when we take a shot. The important thing to remember is that focusing correctly can make or break an image.

 

 

I shot this pair of Icelandic horses one cold day in January 2016, and getting focus in such difficult conditions with numb fingers and trying to lock on to the eyes of a pair of frolicking horses was tricky. Had I not spent the time getting it right, however, I would’ve ended up never being able to show this image and I would’ve been cold for nothing!

Compose

Watch your horizon, scan your scene for its various elements, and line everything up nicely to match a compositional technique that works. Get this done when you’re there taking the shot and you’ll be well on your way to a winning image. You may have to move, and it may take a little consideration to get everything right, but it’ll pay off. One thing that shows the difference between a photographer and a “camera owner” is composition, so give it all due consideration.

 

 

Take a look at this image I made on the roof of a monastery in Piazza de San Francisco, Havana, Cuba. We’ve got a lot of compositional elements working together here. First, the subject, the couple, are showing you where to look, but so are the lines on the building to the right. The horizon is straight and it’s sitting at about the top third. There’s a wall to the left boarding the image, which is subliminally bouncing your eye away from that edge and keeping it in the frame. All too often we’ll see something cool, stop dead, and pick up the camera and fire off a shot, then turn and walk away. Taking the time to put all the pieces together in a nice, considered way will show that you know exactly what you’re doing.

I hope this has been useful!

Much love

Dave

It’s #TravelTuesday right here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, which means that I, Dave Williams, get to drop in again and share a little something with you all! Aren’t you lucky!

Well, here in London, it has stopped raining for a few minutes, so what better time to drop a top tip for shooting in the sunshine. In the upper half of the world, the days are getting longer, the sun is getting brighter, and the cocktails are tasting better. When we don’t perhaps have the time to shoot during the golden hour times the sun can be something of a hinderance, but that’s only if we let it be. With these tips, you can overcome the hurdles it presents and make the most of shooting at the time when we’re all told as photographers not to! Here goes!

The dynamic range in this shot at the Vatican is immense, but still, with seven bracketed shots and the right post-processing, we have all the detail across the entire spectrum

Shooting bracketed shots, three is usually enough, and merging them into an HDR image goes a long way in reducing the glaring highlights and dangerously deep shadows caused by bright, direct sunlight on a summer scene. I’m not talking over-processed, high-vibrance, unrealistic HDR here, I’m talking about using the benefits of a High Dynamic Range to bring balance back to a photo which would otherwise have a lot of contrast and, therefore, not show off your scene. Using the Merge to HDR function in Adobe Camera Raw is the most straightforward way to do this—just select the images you wish to merge, then Right-click and choose Merge to HDR.

This blend of 2 bracketed shots was just enough to expose for the highlights and the shadows touching down in Utah

High Dynamic Range shooting and processing is absolutely ideal for bright, sunny conditions where you lose details and where your image loses quality. You can have a potentially amazing composition of an amazing subject, but if your image is clipped or your shadows are hiding awesome details, then you’re letting your image down straight from the get-go. That’s what I’m trying to tell you, though—it doesn’t have got be that way! There are people out there who are still put off by HDR’s history of being a bit too “in-your-face-surreal,” but it’s just not like that anymore. Well, not unless you want it to be!

Any excuse to show goats in a tree! The three bracketed shots here are blended to keep the look as realistic as possible, with no high saturation and no surrealist look

When you shoot with your iPhone, turn on HDR or use Auto-HDR on a sunny day to capture well-balanced images, and when it comes to your DSLR or other camera make sure you know how to shoot bracketed images. Over on KelbyOne.com, you can learn all about the specifics of how to merge your images using different techniques that give different results, and I urge you to start doing it now that the sun’s back out!

Much love

Dave

Happy Tuesday! For my post this week on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider for #TravelTuesday I’ll share with you a little trick to create a rainbow in Adobe Photoshop.

A real rainbow in a photo is a pretty cool thing to catch. Here’s a little selfie example: –

This was taken in a little valley at the neck leading into the Icelandic Westfjords in 2016. Now, if you look carefully and cast your eye aside from the beautiful English gent you’ll notice that there is actually a rainbow in that shot ;)

We’ll take this as a brief rainbow study and see what we need to try and simulate with our fake Photoshop rainbow. Note that the rainbow is pretty thin, extremely transparent, and not as saturated as we’d perhaps expect. We need to keep these observations in mind with our editing, let’s do it.

First off, crack open that shot. I’m using a moody skied drone shot from Old Harry Rocks, Dorset, England.

Let’s get straight into it and get that rainbow in there. Firstly, let’s create a new Layer with CMD + SHIFT + N (Windows: CTRL + SHFT + N)

Working in this new Layer, hit G to select the Gradient Tool. From the Toolbar up top open the Gradient Picker, click on the Gear icon, and select Special Effects and hit OK.

From the Gradient options, select the rainbow on the right named ‘Russell’s Rainbow.’

Now, change the Gradient Type to a Radial Gradient.

With this Tool, create a rainbow with a realistic arc. I find that a nice wide circle works best. When we do this we’ll see the entire circle, so concentrate on the portion which is in the sky and we’ll deal with the rest shortly.

In the Layers Menu, change the Blend Mode to Screen. Now select the Rainbow Layer with CMD + A (Windows: CTRL + A) and then hit T to use the Transform Tool to resize and reposition the rainbow. Here we need to think about what we figured out earlier – rainbows are thin!

And now bearing in mind the rest of what we learned, we need to desaturate the rainbow and make it more transparent. We can usually achieve this in one go by using the Layer Opacity Slider. I’ve taken mine right down to 25%.

And that leaves us just with the piece of rainbow that’s currently sitting in the sea! Rather than Photoshop in a pot of gold, let’s fade it out. Normally a rainbow won’t go right down to the ground, there’ll be a bit of a gap. Let’s do it that way in our image. Hit G to select the Gradient Tool again, and go back to the gear icon and select Reset Gradients and hit OK. Now check the black and white gradient named Foreground to Background. We will work on a Layer Mask so go ahead and create one from the Rainbow Layer. Now, making sure the Linear Gradient is selected in the Toolbar, make a line from the bottom to the top of the rainbow and note what happens. The most effective line in this case is from just below the horizon to just above it, which causes this to happen: –

As always with our post process it’s hard to decide when we’re finished, but at this point we are in fact done!

You can take this method and apply it to any image it fits, and I would love to see what you do with ti! As always, tag me on Instagram where I’m @capturewithdave so I can see your rainbows!

Take care,

Much love!

Dave

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