Category Archives Photography

Dave Williams here for #TravelTuesday on ScottKelby.com, and this week I’ve been trying not to dwell on the fact that I’m not in Iceland when I should be, and when the northern lights have been kicking off large! (British term, hope you get it.)

It’s still a time of uncertainty for all of us, globally. Scott announced his annual Worldwide Photo Walk, but this year there’s a twist: it’s solo. I sincerely hope that as many of us as possible will take a walk with our cameras on October 3rd to continue the world’s largest social photography event and to support the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya, with 100% of the entrance amount being gifted straight to them. Walking solo rather than in a guided group, as usual, will be a little different, but there’s plenty of support coming from the team at KelbyOne.

Sticking with uncertainty, we often find ourselves uncertain about our photography. We also all strive for improvement constantly, at every level in this industry. Even Scott himself never stops learning and it’s very important to our individual success that we identify areas of improvement. Sometimes it’s not straightforward to do this, but all too often the things we need to improve are rooted in quite practical reasons why our photography may not be at the level we want it to be. To that end, this handy list of reasons serves to remind us where those roots are and what our focus should be when we’re trying to identify those areas of improvement. Let’s get stuck in.

Exposure

The exposure triad, the triangle, the weigh-off of shutter speed versus ISO versus aperture, whatever you want to label it, understanding and applying our knowledge of exposure has to be top of the list. Shooting in Auto doesn’t allow us control or understanding of the exposure triangle because we’re handing over complete control of it to the brains of the camera. So, doing some research into exposure and moving away from Auto onto a semi-automatic setting such as Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Program Mode should be our first step, followed by the absolutely-immersive and totally-overwhelming Manual mode. The thing is, once we get a grip on this understanding, we lose all sense of being overwhelmed and release a whole new level of creativity. We can also sway away from the rules and deliberately over or underexpose our images for that artistic edge, having understood the rules so we can effectively break them. Trust me, it makes sense! It also opens up the world of light painting, long exposures, and much more, which in turn gives us direction and education in itself.

Composition

Composition is a very, very close second place on the list. There are far too many photos taken that clearly give no aforethought to composition. Here’s the thing: Us humans are big subliminal fans of certain things. These things include even distribution, good placement, regularity, pathways, and other such things. All of these have a place within the realm of photography composition, such as the pathway found in an image containing leading lines or the placement of a subject when the rule of thirds is applied. There are a lot of resources available for what makes good composition—I’ve written several here on ScottKelby.com, and there are classes available on KelbyOne which help, among others. Composition should be considered—it can make or break an image. It’s even true to say that good composition can make an awesome image of a boring subject, whereas a really interesting subject composed badly will be an image nobody remembers. Remember that.

Perspective

This is also a very close position, only losing to composition by a hair. Perspective is another element that makes or breaks an image, and here’s why: –

We walk around all day, every day, seeing the world from our perspective— our eye level. When we take photos from our eye level they look normal. They look the way we see things as we walk through life. The photos that intrigue and captivate us, sometimes even leaving us wondering for a second or two about what we’re even seeing, are the ones that are taken from a different perspective to what we’re used to from our eye level. For example, a flower sits below our eye level and we look down on it—that’s normal. If we take a photo of a flower from the perspective of a caterpillar in amongst the foliage it creates an unusual perspective. Now we’re looking up at, or sideways onto, an object that we normally look down on, and that shift in perspective has made an everyday object look far more special. The same thing applies to Kaylee Greer‘s awesome dog photos, for example. We see dogs from above, but if we shift our perspective and get low, we see them from a new angle. And, in getting lower, so that we look up to them, we even step it up a gear and turn them into heroes, just in the way that iconic images of our superheroes are from an upwards perspective. Change your perspective!

Light

Learning to see light is an actual thing. It may not be something that many people understand, and it can even be the case that people think they can see light but the truth is, once you can see light, you know you can see light. Highlights, shadows, drop-off, gradation, tone, all these things suddenly come to light (pardon the pun), and it helps us really understand a scene and a photograph. I’m talking about blue hour and golden hour in this section, too. Knowing when the best light will arrive and recognising it when it does is the difference between a snapshot and a portfolio piece. There are lots of places to help us understand how to see light, and one of the best teachers for this is Glyn Dewis.

Projects

And by “projects” what I mean is that you haven’t done any! One of the best ways to improve, hands-down, in photography is to undertake a project. It takes us out of our comfort zone and helps us to understand a different genre of photography, educating us in the intricacies and nuances of another field and giving us skills that transfer into our own field. For example, if you’re a landscape photographer, shoot some portraits. If you’re a macro photographer, shoot some night skies. It could even be as simple as doing an alphabet project, finding everyday objects that resemble letters of the alphabet in order to improve composition and perspective.

Subject

That is to say, lack of subject. One big mistake people make, particularly at the beginning of their photographic journey, is to take photos that lack a clearly defined subject. Our brain works well at rationalising things. We try to understand what things are all about. When that applies to photography we’re looking for a reason, a rationale, and a subject. We look at a photo similar to the way we look at a piece of art in a gallery, and how many times have you looked at a piece of art and wondered, “What is this even about?” If we have a clear subject in our photos, we don’t leave people wondering what the photo is about and we free our viewers into exploring other elements rather than walking away scratching their head.

Practice

Practice, practice, practice. Understand photography, understand your photography, understand your camera, learn why things work and why they don’t. A great way to do this is to study and copy other photographers’ work, and critique your own work whilst constantly practicing and striving for improvement. We’ve all heard the famous, “Your first 10,000 photos are your worst” quote, and it’s because it’s all practice, and it’s ongoing.

Keep taking photos. Keep thinking about why they do and don’t work. Keep striving for success. If you aren’t happy with an image, just take a step back and think about why. There are lots of things we can do to improve, and no photo is perfect. There’s plenty of time between now and October 3rd to register for the Worldwide Photo Walk and knock out some amazing photos and win some amazing prizes on a solo photo walk in the world’s biggest photography event!

Much love
Dave

There’s a tremendous amount of content created every day for photographers, and since I follow so many sites, and photographers on social, I see an awful lot of it (and create some of it), and a lot of it is people covering the same subjects and topics over and over again. If I read one more “It’s not about the gear” article I’m going to jump out the window. ;-)

This one is different. It’s called “This is the best camera you will ever own” and (a) it’s not what you think it’s about (b) the examples are fantastic, and (c) it’s one of the best articles I’ve read on photography in quite a while — it’s not the same old thing — it’s a way of thinking that is really well thought out and perfectly illustrated.

It’s from fstoppers.com (really great site), and the article itself is by Iain Stanley, and it’s one that today I think every photographer should take a moment and read. It’s that good.

Here’s a direct link to the article. My hats off to Iain, and fstoppers — this is really great stuff.

Hope that helps get your week off to a great start! Stay happy and healthy, and check back tomorrow for “Travel Tuesdays with Dave.”

Cheers,

-Scott

First, before we get to today’s post, I wanted to thank everybody who joined us for ‘The Landscape Conference” this week. What a wonderful, gracious, fun crowd to present to (over 1,400+ photographers attended live), and it was such a blast. My humble thanks to spending a few days with us — we’re very grateful and hope you all learned a lot!

Above: A stock photo used here simply as an example of the type of photo the photographer was talking about.

This question — what makes a particular photo a landscape photo versus a travel photo? — came up during my pre-conference session called “What Makes a Great Landscape Photo.” The question came from a participant who mentioned that he shoots islands in the Caribbean and Hawaii, and shooting those at dawn or dusk (like you normally would for landscape photos), doesn’t look good because without the direct sun, you don’t have that beautiful turquoise water. I mentioned during my session that I thought in this case that breaking the dawn/dusk shooting rule was totally fine because this sounds like more of a travel type photo. Later, in our closing Q&A session, he asked me to elaborate on why I felt it was a travel photo, rather than a landscape photo.

There is no official ruling body on this, so all I can give is my opinion on it, and here it is:

“When I look at an image like the island with palm trees surrounded by clear turquoise water, my first thought is, ‘I want to be there on vacation; on the beach, under an umbrella, with a piña colada, and a good book looking out at that scene.’ I’m thinking vacation, so I’m thinking travel photo. When I see a lake with a still water reflection with snow-capped mountains in the background, or a shot from Monument Valley or Yosemite, I’m thinking landscape. In short: I think the emotion or feeling a person has when viewing the image helps to determine to the viewer if it’s a landscape or a travel photo. I think of Norway as a landscape country, but at the same time, you can make wonderful travel photos there, but I leave it up to the viewer to decide which one a particular photo is.”

In the end, though — does it even matter? It’s not a negative thing if someone feels your landscape photo is a travel photo (or vice versa). What’s important is that they enjoy viewing the photo, and you enjoyed shooting it; not which category it falls into.

Hope that helps.

Thanks again to everybody who make the conference such a special event. I’m very grateful for the wonderful turnout, and for the honor of being in the company of such great instructors. It was a blast!

Have safe, happy, healthy weekend. #GoBucks, #GoTitans, and soon #rolltide!

-Scott

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Landscape Photography Conference starts tomorrow (it kicks off today, a day early, with a pre-conference orientation and then I’m doing a workshop at 11:00 am called “What makes a great landscape photo” for folks who are new to landscape photography. It’s not too late — you can still sign up and be with us from the start tomorrow. Details and tickets at KelbyOneLive.com – it’s a record-breaking crowd for us; hope you can make it!

This is the book I’ve been waiting for, but it’s not just me – so many people have been waiting for this one. It is from the awesomeness that is Kaylee Greer, the world’s most incredible dog photographer (and the result of what would happen if a magical unicorn and the leprechaun at the end of the rainbow had a baby), for the first time ever shares her proven techniques in a book all about getting the best dog photos ever!

I can’t believe it’s nearly here. Pre-order it right now, either direct from the book’s publisher, or from Barnes & Noble, or from Amazon, and be prepared to create images of dogs that a huge step above the rest. You will thank me!

Next Wednesday I’m Doing a ‘Book Chat’ for my New Book

I’m super psyched that this all new print version of my original classic (it’s literally the #1 bestselling book on digital photography of all time), arrived last week in Rocky Nook’s warehouse, and it’s on it’s way to book stores everywhere now. Next Wednesday at 7:00 PM ET (mark your calendar now) you’re invited to join me for a thrilling (probably not) book chat that is in the same vein as my other wonderful (stupid) book chats. I’ll share some tips from the book, I’ll answer questions about the book, about me, about life, and other time-wasting grifts that will enthrall, entrail, and enlighten (I’m not certain it will do any of those).

Plus, there will be deals. Oh yes, there will be deal.

During my awesome (lame) book chat, my publisher will be offering an insane deal on my book (and maybe a book bundle as well), and the price will probably be so low, that it will cause a horrible rift between me and my publisher, one that will probably land us in court, so take advantage of the deal that night, because the book will probably be placed under some injunction by the judge who is probably on the take to my publisher anyway. Don’t let that effect you, though — get it while it’s hot (meaning stolen, of course, but that’s for a crooked judge to decide).

If you can’t wait until next Wednesday (and I know you can’t because you’re so impetuous), you can pick it up from my publisher or Amazon or Barnes & Noble right now.

That’s it for today folks. Hope you have an absolutely fantastic week, and high five to for writing the best book on dog photography ever!

-Scott

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

I write this from the departure lounge of London Gatwick Airport – quite apt for #TravelTuesday with me, Dave Williams, on ScottKelby.com today and every Tuesday. I am a little apprehensive, though, because there’s a chance I may not be allowed entry to the country I’m flying to today. Keep an eye on my Instagram story or Facebook page to see where it is and whether I made it in!

(Clue: – the Aurora can shine bright!)

Today I want to talk to you all about luck. Luck is something a lot of us need during times like these. To keep our photography business or hobby going with strength during a global pandemic is just one of many problems we’re faced with right now. For me, it’s the cancellation after cancellation of trips, trade shows, and missions, causing a distinct lack of opportunity and content to shoot and write about. The thing is, it’s all too easy to take a back seat and go with the flow when we get beaten down as we’ve been. Perhaps models and clients are less available to you, or maybe locations to shoot are closed or limited. Whatever the problem is, it’s down to us to get lucky and find a solution.

The thing about luck is that it goes hand in hand with opportunity. When we’re presented an opportunity, we’re said to be lucky, and we should take it. So, is luck the opportunity? Do we wait to have an opportunity and, in turn, wait to be lucky?

No. The answer is no.

Luck can be described perfectly: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. We are in control of our own luck. To a great extent, we control our destiny, our fate. If now is a time when you feel like you need a little luck, be prepared to take whatever opportunity you find or whatever opportunity you can create.

Two weeks ago, I lost the opportunity to go to Greece (and the money invested in that trip). Similarly, last week I lost the opportunity to go to Hungary. Iceland has also been lost, and Canada. For a travel photographer and writer, this is a huge blow, but it’s down to me and me alone to prepare, to create another opportunity, and to make myself lucky. It’s down to the luck that I created that I’m sitting and writing this post today from the wiped-clean, dishevelled, disgusting green seat of Gatwick airport’s departure lounge, waiting anxiously for my gate number to appear on the screen amongst only a handful of flights.

For me, I need to travel. It’s a necessity of the job that I d, although there are “workarounds” I can take to travel closer to home. More than that, it’s in my spirit. I am simply not me without travel. I need to be me, and this is how I need to do it. I’ve created my own luck exactly as I described – I prepared and made an opportunity. I’m being entirely complicit with all immigration requirements, hence the number of cancellations I’ve faced. But against the odds and in spite of the circumstances – I’m lucky.

Whatever it is you do, and whether it’s related to photography or just to your everyday life, remember that you are in control of your luck.

Put in the hard work, take some leaps of faith, be positive, and improve your odds. I promise, it will all work out in the end.

If you need help or advice from myself, any of the other KelbyOne instructors, or like-minded friends, there’s plenty of us out there willing to push you in the right direction. A great community accessible to all is the Friends Of The Grid Facebook Group, or the KelbyOne Member Community to start with.

Now go get lucky!

Much love

Dave

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