PROGRAMMING ALERT: I’m the guest this week on Steve Brazill’s highly acclaimed “Behind The Shot” podcast, and we’re talking about composition, timeless photos, and all sorts of fun photo photography stuff. If you’ve got a sec, I’d love it if you checked it out. Here’s the link but I also embedded it below (and a big thanks to Steve for having me on again. Truly an honor.
OK, onto this “Photoshop Tip Friday!
This is a super-handy selection tip for selecting something that seems like it should be really simple…and it is, once you learn this tip. Check it out:
Pretty handy, right?
If you’re new to Photoshop, this online course can really help
We just released one of my new classes, and this is one expressly for Photoshop beginners. Check out the official trailer below (it’s short).
Here’s a link to the course — you can watch it right now (if you’re not a member, you can unlock this course for just $29).
Thanks for stopping by. Have a rockin’ weekend, everybody!!! :)
P.S. The Outdoor Photography Conference is almost here — coming May 18 & 19, 2021. It’s two full-days, two simultaneous training tracks, all online, and super affordable and features one of the greatest teams of instructors we’ve ever assembled. It’s going to an incredible event — Here’s the link for tickets and info.
I’m Dave Williams, and #TravelTuesday has come round again. Let’s get straight into it!
The most Instagrammable bird has been announced. It’s big news, I can assure you. There are some keen bird photographers among the KelbyOne community, so this may be no shock to some, but let’s flip things on their head and begin with the least Instagrammable bird.
Vultures have scored high on the list of least Instagrammable birds. Maybe it’s their bald heads from the neck up, often covered in entrails, or maybe it’s the dreariness associated with their scavenger lifestyle, but the vulture doesn’t tend to feature alongside other beautiful wildlife.
Topping the list is the Frogmouth owl. This bird was once designated the world’s most unfortunate-looking bird, but it’s the bird you may recognise from social media posts showing it seamlessly blending into its forest surroundings. What may make it even more special in terms of an ornithology model is the fact that it’s quite rare, so each sighting and each awesome image attracts attention and likes, along with its huge, inviting eyes and unusual facial features adding to the attraction.
In general, it’s a tight crop, exposing the details, such as an attractive plumage or a detailed activity like fishing or building a nest. A long lens is a fairly important piece of gear to get close in on the small subjects. Composition, which we rely on so much in most fields of photography, takes a bit of a back seat in bird photography owing to their less-than predictable movements, so long as the surroundings have been considered. Above all, those wishing to get into bird photography should get out there and into position to get as much experience and practice as possible.
Hi all! #TravelTuesday is here again, and the return of travel is looking more and more promising with each passing day. I can’t wait to hit the road again and dedicate more time to travel photography, entailing more travel for myself, but for now, it’s all about planning and preparation (which is a very important aspect of travel photography). I’m Dave Williams, and this week for ScottKelby.com, I want to share some pro tips to up-and-coming photographers in all fields. Let’s do this!
Number one on the list – megapixels
The whole thing about megapixels is actually a bit of a non-issue. It’s something that has continued from the inception of digital photography where there was a megapixel race involving far fewer digits than we’re used to now. That megapixel race led the consumer to choose a camera based on the number of megapixels it shot as one of the primary criteria. We’re now seeing cameras on the market that feature a megapixel capability far in excess of what we need as consumers and only actually useful if we’re producing billboard-sized masterpieces, so please don’t base your decisions on megapixels when choosing a camera.
It’s actually about the glass
Now that megapixels are out of the way, let’s talk about what you should be investing in: – glass! Our hardware is something we tend to collect as photographers. We’re all fairly hooked on our kit list, our gear, whatever else you want to label it – we’re hooked on “stuff.” When we choose our primary setup, it’s far more important to consider glass than it is the camera itself. So long as we have a reasonable, functioning camera, we can turn out a decent photo with a careful investment in a good, fast lens. Our lens makes so much more of a difference than our camera does in terms of creativity, from the size and shape of the bokeh produced, through to the capacity to let more light in and knock a background out of focus to focus attention on the subject of our images. To this end, and to reiterate, it’s more about the glass than it is the camera.
A good, solid tripod is worth an investment, too. Think about it: We balance all our expensive gear on top of a tripod. That tripod needs to be rated to carry that weight, robust enough to keep it there, and rated enough that nothing will go wrong. A good tripod or a Platypod is well worth the investment for the sake of keeping our camera and lens safe when we’re taking rock-steady shots.
Straps are exactly the same, but different. Rather than balancing our gear on top, like a tripod, it hangs down from our strap, and as such, the strap needs to be up to the task. Using a low-quality strap is a risk that’s just not worth taking. When our gear is on that strap it needs to stay there, safe from falling off.
Essentially, when it comes to gear, it’s worth some research and some wise investment. It isn’t the gear that takes the photo, it’s the photographer. The gear is what makes it easier at times and, therefore, is worth that extra bit of consideration.
PROGRAMMING UPDATE: That TV show called “The Great Create” where I compete against another photographer, is now live. You can catch it right here.
On Friday, I gave you my initial field report on the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens, which I bought specifically for shooting airshows. After shooting more with it this weekend (as one of the official photographers for the Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo airshow), I like it even more. Super sharp, responsive, feels great, not too heavy — I’m loving it.
However, the same issue cropped up with the AutoFocus button turning off on the lens again, but outside of that minor nuisance, the lens is just an incredible bargain for the money (here’s the link to my post on it from Friday).
Today I’m sharing my field test on my new camera body, the Canon EOS R6, and I’m going to cut right to what it does for aviation photography (and this would also work for wildlife photography); that just absolutely blew me away. Check this out:
Your point your lens in the general direction of where you see the jet in the sky (as seen here, where the jet is still WAY far away).
2. It recognizes the moving object, snaps focus, and locks right on to it (as seen here where five focus points all hit right on it), and it now tracks along with the jet as it moves. Come on — that is crazy!!! It locks on pretty darn fast, too!
NOTE: That shot above is not a keeper — the jet is too tiny in the frame, and I don’t want to have to crop in that far to get the jet larger. It’s not going to have the sharpness we’re all looking for if you crop in that much). This is just an example of how far away the jets are when I first start trying to lock focus onto one. Once the focus is locked on and tracking with the jet, then I pan along with the jet as it gets closer and closer. When the jet gets nice and big in the viewfinder, I’m already locked on, and all I have to do is hit the shutter button to start taking shots.
Above: This is an un-cropped shot and where I’m trying to get to as far as filling the frame with the jet. Now, this shot actually does need cropping but not to make it bigger. The front of the jet is too close to the edge of the frame, so trimming the back in some would help it look more balanced). But to get to here and have the jet in razor sharp focus, I start focusing and locking on while the jet is still far away and small in the frame like you saw previously. When it starts getting closer and much larger in the frame — that’s when I start shooting.
Also, to give you those two viewfinder examples above, I had to create those viewfinders myself and put my shots inside them (thank you, Photoshop), so you could get a good idea of what it looks like while you’re actually shooting with it. Otherwise, I’d have to shoot with my iPhone’s camera stuck up to the R6’s viewfinder, and well, that all sounds like a lot more work than I’m willing to do. LOL!
The biggest thing for me was…
…I got the most number of in-focus shots I’ve ever gotten at any airshow, period! It almost felt like cheating. Not enough for me to turn these auto tracking features off, mind you, but still. I showed some other guys from the team how well the tracking worked, and they were as amazed as I was (I probably sold two or three units while I was there. Canon should give me a commission).
This miracle of focus is a simple combination of just four settings on the camera:
(1) High speed continuous shooting mode (burst mode)
(2) Switching from Single Shot focus (for non-moving objects) to Servo AF mode (which is the Continuous Auto Focus Mode)
(3) Using the Large Zone AF Horizontal Auto Focus mode (great for tracking objects that move horizontally across the frame).
(4) Using the “Case 2” Focus mode, which is for tracking moving objects while ignoring obstacles that might get in the way (like another jet passing by).
Note:Tip of the hat to my wonderful techie/nerdy friends Larry Grace (President of the ISAP – International Society of Aviation Photography, and one of the top aviation shootesr out there) and my Grid co-host and serious techie wonderland Erik Kuna, as they helped me with some of my settings on this new set-up, and for aviation photography in general, so a big shoutout to them both.
I will say, when you first start shooting aviation with an Electronic Viewfinder, it’s a little weird because as you crank off a rapid series of shots, each one appears for a moment on screen inside your viewfinder. This is both a blessing and a curse (more on the blessing part in a moment), but it does take a little getting used to, as it feels almost like it’s stuttering, while you’re tracking the jets, but when you stop and review your shots, you’ll see it’s clearly not. Definitely a different experience from shooting with a DSLR, but you get used it quickly.
Something Else I Loved
Another great feature of the R6 (and the blessing I mentioned above) is that you don’t need to pull the camera away from your eye and bring up the images on the screen on the back of your camera. Your images, as you take them, appear right on your viewfinder, and you go back and review your images (basically, you can “chimp”) through your viewfinder, and the images look large and bright and crisp even if it’s incredibly bright and sunny out. You try this a little bit, and you’ll find yourself looking at the back of your camera less and less. It’s really a huge advantage for anybody shooting outdoors in daylight.
I did run into a problem
So I’m up on this 1-story platform out near the taxiway they had set up for the official airshow photographers, and I’m warming up doing some slow shutter speed panning because we’re shooting prop planes, and I’m excited because I haven’t really had a chance to shoot my favorite WW-II prop driven fighter/bomber, the P-51 Mustang, and it’s coming up next. Then this happens:
This is not what you want to see during your shoot, but I quickly followed the instructions because now the P-51 is taking off, and I don’t want to miss it. I missed it. Turning it on/off didn’t do the trick. I reinstalled the battery numerous times — that didn’t do it. There go two or three more passes of the P-51, and I’m still futzing around trying to get the camera to come on. All I get is this screen or a completely black screen (as if the camera is off). While I’m doing this, Erik pulls out his photo and looks up what an Error 70 is, and it says it’s a “data error,” so I pop out each of the memory cards, one by one, using the process of elimination. Finally, it fires up, and I think it’s fixed. I’m wrong. It goes right back out again. I switched cards again. No luck. Finally, I popped in a completely different new fresh battery, and that did the trick. Of course, I completely missed the entire P-51 routine and photo pass and everything, but at least my camera was working again.
It happened the next day again. It happened again on Sunday during the Warbirds demo. It happened just now as I’m writing this article (I had to double-check something in the viewfinder). I popped a different battery in, and now for whatever reason, it’s working again.
So, at this point, I feel like either:
a) Something is wrong with a number of my Canon-brand batteries (these weren’t knock-offs, except for one Erik gave me Friday afternoon but that one worked fine), or
b) There’s something wrong with my R6.
Either way, the last thing you want is your camera going down in the middle of the shoot, and just putting “Error 70” on the back of the camera, and not at least saying what the issue might be, is just this side of useless. It wouldn’t haven’t cost Canon anything extra to put “Error 70: Data Error,” or “Battery error” so at least I could also check my memory cards or battery issue, which they could have said on screen as well. That’s just straight-up lousy User Interface design.
Anyway, I’ll be spending some time this week trying to figure this Error 70 problem out. I’ll search for Firmware updates and the such, but that was pretty aggravating, to say the least, and obviously, I’m still dealing with this issue. After searching online, I see a few other people have had this same error, but not a ton of folks, so the quick answer isn’t easily found out there.
Back to Good Stuff
I used both super-fast UHS-II SD Lexar memory cards in the R6 and some of my older slower Lexar cards as well (not crazy slow, but not nearly as fast as those newer UHS-II cards), and I never “filled the buffer” or got any stuttering, which was great. I felt I could fire as long as I wanted without hiccuping, and I was shooting in Raw the whole time. Maybe I just didn’t hold the shutter button down long enough (LOL!), but I never had a single buffer issue the entire two days I was there.
There are lots of other great features about the Canon R6 (dual card slots, built-in focus stacking, super incredible high ISO performance, in-body stabilization, etc.), but for what I was doing (shooting jets and prop planes streaking across the sky), I only used a minimal amount of what the R6 can do. I never even swiveled out the LCD screen, for goodness sake (my single favorite feature for shooting landscape and travel and automotive). So, this wasn’t’t a full review of the camera and all its features — by now you’ve probably read and memorized all the specs — but I wanted to give you a real-world look at what it’s like shooting aviation with it out in the field.
More to come on this new rig as I get a chance to shoot with it a bit more with different genres and shooting situations. Still, I can tell you, at this point, I am absolutely in love with the combination of that Tamron 150-600mm paired with the Canon EOS R6 for aviation photography. For the killer prices of the two, their smaller sizes and weights, it’s a tough combo to beat. I’ve just got to get that Error 70 issue addressed (and I will, one way or another).
The Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo Rocks!
The Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo is one of America’s largest airshows, and it’s so well run from top to bottom and just so much fun for everybody. If you haven’t been, it’s worth the trip down (and there’s LOTS of on-site camping right in the middle of it all).
A special thanks to the awesome folks at Sun n’ Fun for having me on their official photography team this year, with a special thanks to the wonderful Joe Caccioppo and the great crew he put together. Such a great guy and team leader. So organized and helpful (he really knows this stuff inside and out). Also, the folks at Sun n’ Fun fly-in set up the photographers for success, providing a fantastic home base and lots of ways to make great shots, and I can tell you, all the show photographers sure appreciated it big time. It was a treat!
Anyway, I hope you found that field report, helpful. If you have any questions, you can hit me up here on the comments, or bop over to my Facebook page where I’ll be answering questions over there as well. Here’s to a great week — hope yours is a safe and happy one!
Yesterday was warm-up day for the great Sun-n-Fun Fly-in in Lakeland, Florida (it’s one of the premier airshows in the country), and Erik Kuna and I are among the crew of official airshow photographers, and this was a perfect opportunity to try out the very lens I bought for aviation photography — the Tamron 150-600mm Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens (shown below). I’m sharing some shots here from yesterday’s shoot.
I had sold my Canon 200-400mm f/4 a few months ago (the one I used for shooting NFL day games), and I was looking for something lighter and more importantly for aviation, longer. Earlier this year Erik and I shot the Alliance Airshow over in Sanford, Florida (the Thunderbirds were there), and I shot with a 100-400mm it was just not long enough. You need at least a 500mm (like a 100-500mm), which I was going to get until a friend turned me on to the 150-600mm, which is a great range for shooting at airshows where so much of the action happens quite a ways from you.
Another thing I wanted was something less expensive (the Canon is around $12,000, but the Tamron is only around $1,200 — so the Canon costs literally 10x more). Although I loved every Tamron lens I’ve owned, I was concerned how well it would do, tracking along with the incredibly fast jets, but this particular lens was suggested to me by other aviation photographers, so I figured they would be bragging on it if it wasn’t worth using at airshows.
It looks like a fairly long lens when you’re out shooting it, but a lot of that is (thankfully) the lens hood. The lens weighs less than 4.5 lbs, and using it all day at the airshow was never an issue for me. I had the Canon 200-400mm with me back in 2019 at the Houston airshow and I was careful only to lift it right before I was going to shoot it, because it was a beast. Not a problem when you’re shooting football with it on a monopod, but honestly it’s too heavy to use handheld, although you’ll occasionally see somebody doing it (like me back in 2019).
This afternoon I’m back out shooting with it again on the first big day of the airshow, and unless something unexpected happens with the lens (like happened with my new Canon R6 — more on that on Monday), this lens is a champ!!! It hit the five things I was looking for in an aviation lens:
It had length and flexibility with that 150-600mm range. On the money, and I was all over that range during the day. When they’re flying in formation, it’s great to be able to back out to 150mm, but then you can start tracking the jets so far out, and fill the frame when otherwise the jets would look tiny.
It’s nice and sharp. I was pleasantly surprised with the sharpness. It hard to judge the sharpness on the edges, but all I have on the edges of my images are sky or clouds, but the jets were very sharp, so that’s big.
The focusing performance was very good all the way, and I was able to grab the jets and lock on quickly without feeling any real lag, which is important.
It’s not lightweight, but yet it’s not too heavy, and I can fit it in my smallest think thank photo rolling bag (it’s kind of a half-height bag) because the lens tucks back in to the body, and extends out when you zoom in.
The price post is just crazy for the value.
By the way — I’m using this lens on my Canon EOS R6 mirrorless, using the Canon lens adapter. No issues there whatsoever. Works like a champ.
This might sound kind of weird, and maybe it’s just me, but a number of times during the day, the switches on the side of the lens got changed. I’d lift the camera and try to shoot, and everything is out of focus. Why? The auto focus button was somehow switched off to Manual focus. This happened a number of times. Also, the Focus Limiter button would be switched to different settings. Again, this happened a few different times during the day — I have no idea why. The fix is, of course, to switch them back, which isn’t a big deal the first time or two. Anyway, that’s about it thus far.
The Bottom line
Overall, I felt the performance was really solid; the lens felt snappy all day, and I can’t wait to shoot again with it today at the show. Overall, I’m pretty thrilled with it so far. Again, if anything changes I’ll let you know.
Hope you get some great shots this weekend (if you see me at the airshow, be sure to say hi), and I hope to catch you back here on Monday. :)
P.S. After the Blue Angels were done with their afternoon session, and they were taxiing down the runaway in a single file row, we got a surprise flyover by the US Air Force Thunderbirds flying in formation on their way to an airshow on Cocoa Beach, Florida. It’s rare to see both the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds in the same place at the same time. What a treat!
Dave Williams here for #TravelTuesday, as always, on ScottKelby.com. This week, I want to touch on the best camera out there – the one in your pocket.
Almost every one of us has a phone in our pocket. These phones are now capable of helping us to create awesome images, alongside the mobile editing apps available to us, such as Adobe Photoshop. The performance of mobile phone cameras has grown massively in recent years, affording us the ability to shoot in a way similar to when we’re shooting on our “proper camera”. Noise performance in low light, dynamic range, shutter speed, and other features have been added to camera phones, which give us so much more freedom to be truly creative with them.
When we’re out and about, not necessarily with our camera in tow, it’s more true now than ever that the best camera we have is the one in our pocket. This is so true, in fact, that Scott has released a book detailing all the reasons why and how to make the most of these amazing pieces of kit.
I’ve often found myself “caught short,” so to say, and have resorted to using my iPhone to take a photo. That said, I’ve also used my iPhone in place of my camera, or in addition to using my camera. Sometimes when working on a tripod, or when taking a long exposure and having the camera unavailable at any given moment, our phone takes its place and allows us to carry on shooting, particularly in moments where the opportunity may pass.
This is a selfie taken right after I delivered the last line to camera for my latest KelbyOne class. It’s an iPhone shot, edited in my phone using Adobe Photoshop and LD (Lens Distortions).
Here’s my 3LeggedThing in Reine, Norway. As is obvious, my camera is in the photo – I took this with my iPhone as a long exposure and edited it in the phone with Snapseed.
This iPhone shot, from the Italian Dolomites, demonstrates the dynamic range on offer to us, right in our pockets.
This iPhone shot from Iceland shows the artificial broken we can have on our images by utilising a phone camera with more than one lens, combining images right in the phone to separate a subject (me, of course) from the background.
And this is me, with walking legend, Mark Heaps, at Byron Burger in London…because that’s also what our phones are for!
I’ll reiterate something I’ve already said, but only because it makes so much sense: The camera on our phone is more powerful than ever, and the best camera we have is the one we have in our pocket.
Use your phone camera as often as you can. Get to grips with all it can do, so you can take advantage of it to create some great photos. You won’t regret it.