Category Archives Photography

Welcome to my glorious and sheepishly anticipated “15th Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide.” It’s an annual tradition here in the mag, where I share gift ideas for photographers based on the stuff I spent too much money on throughout the year. Being stuck inside with the pandemic and all, sadly hasn’t curtailed the amount I spent this year (perhaps, just the opposite), but nevertheless, I’ve got some great gift ideas in three different categories:

Stocking Stuffers: These are the perfect gifts for people you don’t really care that much about, but it would be awkward if you didn’t get them anything.

Great Value Gear: These are gifts that fall into that sweet spot of looking like they cost a lot, but they’re actually pretty inexpensive, so you look like a champ, but in reality…well, you can fill in your own blanks here. Good stuff, cheap. Well, cheapish.

Cha-ching!: These are my picks for gifts you’d buy the photographer on your gift list who’s a personal injury attorney, anesthesiologist, or perhaps a cloud engineer (nobody actually knows what a cloud engineer does, but it has to pay a lot because it has “cloud” in the name and the future is all about the cloud). Before buying any of these items, the process will go faster if the bank has pre-approved you for a specific loan amount.

Just remember, giving one of these gifts by itself isn’t enough. The real magic of the holidays is when you can use social media to make others feel less adequate by taking smartphone pictures of all the stuff you bought, and all the stuff you got, and sharing it online. It’s what separates us from the animals. So, without further ado, I present to you my “15th Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide” and late night bag o’ chips snacking companion.


Uncommon Grit: A Photographic Journey through Navy SEAL Training by D. McBurnett

If the photographer on your gift list enjoys a good coffee table book, this one is pretty brilliant. It has fantastic images of Navy SEAL training operations taken by a retired former Navy SEAL and it’s really stunning (the imagery and the testament of what it takes to become a SEAL). Really nicely done, and they’ll love it (and you). 

Price: Incredible deal at $37.53 (link)

Carbon Copy Cloner 5 (software)

This has become my favorite software for backing up my computer, and since photographers are notoriously bad at backing up their computers (they must be, because people email me all the time with heartbreaking stories about how they’ve lost their photos forever when their computer died or was stolen), this will make it so easy. It literally reminds you to plug in your drive and back up on a schedule, and all you have to do is plug in that drive—Carbon Copy Cloner does the rest. This is a very pragmatic gift, so while it’s not flashy, and they won’t necessarily be gushing when you give it, they’ll thank you again and again all year long. At the very least, they’ll think of you in a semi-positive light. 

Price: Personal & Household license: $39.99 (link)

Hard Drive for Backing Up Photos 

This one is particularly nice, because it really seems like you spent a lot, but the prices for storage have come down so much that it’s shockingly low. You can get a WD 2-TB external hard drive for around $65, which is just insanely cheap. Get them at least a 2-TB drive, and if you’re romantically tied to this person, maybe even go for 4 TB for around $100. 

2 TB: $64.99 (link)
4 TB: $99.99 (link)

My New Book, The Digital Photography Book 

Okay, this is a plug for my own book, but it’s one I’m really proud of because I’ve heard from so many photographers who have told me that this is the book that turned them into a photographer. It’s the major new update to the #1-bestselling book in history on digital photography, and it’s been seven years in the making. I’m sharing all my latest techniques, tips, and tricks on how to make better photos, right away, today! It’s not a book on theory that challenges them to figure things out on their own; it’s the exact tools, settings, and techniques that will make a difference immediately in their photography. It’s available in print and eBook editions. 

Price: $28.50 (link)

Rogue Flash Gels: Universal Lighting Filter Kit

Most photographers hate cutting gels for their flash, and storing them for future use is even worse, which is why they’ll love these precut, super-easy-to-use, and clearly marked gels for hot-shoe flash. They’re very cleverly designed to make putting gels on their flash quick and easy, and the gels come in their own storage wallet with a tabbed organizer to make finding the right gel easy. Super-cool gift for the flash user on your list. 

Price: $29.95 (link)

ARKON 11″ Tripod Mount for iPhone

If they shoot with an iPhone, I think this is the best darn little tripod out there. It’s so light, yet so handy. Make sure you get the one that fits their model of phone. This is the perfect stocking stuffer for the iPhone photographer on your list.

Price: $19.95 (link)

B&H Gift Card

This is always the perfect gift because B&H Photo is the greatest camera store in the world, and whatever the photographer on your gift list wants, B&H has it, in stock, ready to ship. They’re the magical unicorn of camera stores. Get them a gift card from here, and they’ll follow you anywhere.

Price: Starting at $25 (link)

Dogtography: A Knock-Your-Socks-Off Guide to Capturing the Best Dog Photos on Earth

This brand-spanking new book from the undisputed queen of dog photography, Kaylee Greer, is an absolute gem and, if the photographer on your gift list has a doggo, they’ll get so much out of this wonderful book. Kaylee is magic when it comes to photographing pooches (she even had her own TV series on Nat Geo Wild called Pupparazzi), and she shares all her secrets to getting the best doggie photos you’ve ever taken. Well, the person on your gift list will be so happy to get this book, and if you buy a copy for yourself, you’ll be happy too. Totally worth it.

Price: $45 (link)

A Couple of Spare Camera Batteries

Even if they have a spare battery, every photographer would still love another one (or two). It’s one of those can’t-go-wrong stocking stuffers. Today you can get a pack of two spare batteries along with a charger for around $30. Note: If you buy a battery from the camera manufacturer (such as Canon or Nikon), the prices are so much higher (like $60–70 a battery) that it will probably move you out of the stocking-stuffer range. I haven’t noticed a difference in quality or battery life whatsoever with these off-brand batteries, so save the money and buy them two of these instead of one of the name brands. They’ll love this!

For Canons using LP-E6 style batteries: $29.99 (link)
For Nikon Mirrorless cameras using EN-EL15b style batteries: $19.95 (link)

2-Pack of Lexar Professional 633x UHS-I SDHC 32GB Memory Cards

Memory cards are like batteries: photographers can never have enough of them (especially if they shoot video, too), and these fast SD cards will be so welcome by the photographer on your gift list. This is one of those things that photographers put off buying, so when you buy it for them, it’s hero time. Plus, these are so inexpensive now (around $15 for two), you can’t go wrong (and they’ll think you spent a lot more)!

Price: $14.99 (link)


Topaz Sharpen AI

This is a freakin’ amazing sharpening plug-in from the wizards at Topaz Labs. Erik Kuna, our VP of Operations and instructor here at KelbyOne, and I have both fallen in love with this plug-in. It’s way cheaper than buying a new sharp lens, but it will make their images look like they plunked down $3,000. Since it uses AI and automatically does all the analyzing and applying, all they have to do is sit back and click a button to enter a whole new world of sharp, crisp images. Really good stuff (and it will help them prepare for when robots steal all our jobs).

Price: $79.99 (link)

Tip: The folks at Topaz Labs were recent guests on my weekly photography show The Grid, and they offered my viewers a 30% discount if the use the code TOPAZPLUS at checkout. (So a know, I’d go ahead and do that.)

Breakthrough Photography X4 Neutral Density Filters

Famous photographer (and my dear friend) Rick Sammon called me one day to tell me about these filters (’cause he knows I’m a filter freak). He was raving about the quality, and man was he right. He talked me into getting a set of the X4 Neutral Density (ND) filters, and they’re as good as it gets. They’re so well-crafted, and everything Rick said they were. Breakthrough Photography makes all sorts of different filters, all designed and built here in the U.S. This is a really nice gift. The 6-stop ND filter starts at $149 (based on the size of their lens in mm), and the 10-stop (my fav) starts at $159. Make sure you find out what mm size their lens is. (This is a tricky thing to ask without giving away the present—good luck with that!)

Price: Starting at $149 for the 6-stop ND (link)

MagMod Starter Flash Kit

There are a lot of great flash modifiers out there, but MagMod is their king for just how easy it is to use and switch between their different flash accessories. The secret? Magnets. You don’t attach them; they just magnetically snap into place, and they’re a joy to use. You’ll be a hero from the very first time the photographer on your list uses this system. The MagMod Starter Kit comes with the MagGrip, MagGrid, and the popular MagSphere. If they use flash, they will so love this system.

Price: $99.95 (link)

DxO Nik Collection 3 Plug-Ins

This is a long-beloved collection of special effects and production plug-ins, originally developed by Nik Software, who was acquired by Google, and then acquired by DxO (maker of PhotoLab). DxO has updated the software a bit, added a new plug-in called Perspective Efex, and just released a new set of presets. For many photographers out there, this plug-in is their secret weapon.

Price: $149 (link)

An “Epic Print” from Bay Photo Lab

This is a very special gift: a gift certificate so the photographer on your list can get a 16×24″ Epic Print (which is their name for this particular printing process). Here’s how they describe it: “Epic Prints are made from prints on Fujiflex silver halide photographic paper with up to 610-dpi resolution, for high-precision clarity that’s as close to ‘perfect’ as print gets. Mounted to aluminum for a sleek, thin profile, and a flawless presentation.” Seriously, who wouldn’t lose their mind to have one of their images printed and presented like that? They just upload their file, and Bay Photo does the rest.

Price: $165.95 (link)


This is a hardware input device (nerdspeak) for super-fast editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. It replaces clicking all over the place with your mouse with an intuitive set of dials, knobs, and buttons that are just so slick and thoughtfully laid out. If you know someone who wants to speed up their Lightroom or Photoshop work, and wants to look really cool doing it, this is for them.

Price: $249 (link)

A Signature Photo Album of Their Own Images

If you want to give them a gift they’ll literally treasure for years, get them a gift certificate from to have their images printed in a high-quality photo book. It’s like a coffee table book, but of their own images, and the quality (and customer service) is off the charts. They’re not cheap, but that’s only because they’re super-high quality. This is a gift they’ll love on a level you can’t imagine.

$159.99 for the 8×8 book with 20 pages;
$184.99 for the 10×10 with 20 pages (Note: Go for the 10×10!) (link)

Luminar AI Automated Photo-Editing Program

If they’re not a postprocessing shark, this plug-in (which uses AI to analyze and edit your image automatically for you, or with some input from you), will help take their images to the next level, without the learning curve. It’s pretty amazing what Skylum is doing with this standalone app. It’s set to be available on December 15, 2020, so it’s right around the corner.

Price: $99 (normally $149) (link)

SlickPic Portfolio

Every photographer needs an online portfolio, but the process of getting and creating one has been either really limited, complicated, or both. SlickPic is a site designed exclusively for creating photography portfolios, and if you buy the photographer on your gift list a “Portfolio” level account, SlickPic assigns a professional designer to help them get their site up and running fast and looking great. I switched my portfolio over to SlickPic earlier this year and I’m loving it (though I didn’t need to use their designer as their templates are really easy and intuitive).

Pro: $14.95/month billed annually;
Portfolio (includes Design Services): $29.95/month billed annually (link)

BLACKRAPID RS-4 Classic Retro Camera Sling

I’ve tried a lot of camera straps over the years, and this is my favorite. I learned about this strap on one of my first photo walks (about 12 years ago) and I’ve been using one ever since. The strap wraps across their body (great for safety since a thief can’t just grab it off your shoulder and take off), and their camera is right at their side ready to shoot at any time. Really can’t say enough about ’em.

Price: $59.95 (link)

A 3-Book Bundle of My Greatest Hits!

Okay, I wanted to sound like a rockstar with that greatest hits title, but in reality, it’s three of my bestselling books: (1) The Landscape Photography Book (2) The Natural Light Portrait Book, and (3) The Flash Book, all bundled together at one incredible price as if it were designed from scratch from the book publishing gods to create the ultimate photography learning gift pack. If your photographer is a reader, they’ll super-dig my book bundle (thank you Rocky Nook for putting it together).

All three print books together: $45 (insanely low—that’s 50% off the cover price);
All three eBooks together: $35 (I should find a new publisher—that’s too low!) (link)

Tether Tools Rock Solid Tripod Roller

Nobody else will have this hidden gem on their gift guide, which is partially why it makes such an awesome gift (and one that will make their friends jealous). It’s a super portable and collapsible base onto which you put your tripod, and it becomes—wait for it, wait for it—a rolling tripod. You can’t imagine how great this is until you use one (I’ve been using one for years). It looks and acts like it costs a lot more, and they’ll be the envy of every studio photographer everywhere.

Price: $79.95 (link)

One of My Fine Art Prints

The gallery YellowKorner sells three of my fine art prints of classic interiors at various sizes (you can get some really nice large sizes) and styles; and I, for one, would be honored if you saw fit to give one as a gift. Imagine how tickled I’d be if you gave three or four? Or even three or four hundred? The mind reels, doesn’t it? Anyway, it would make a great addition to your photography collection (said the artist; so his opinion is marginally biased). If you purchase one, please post a pic on social and tag me in it, so I can share it, as well.

Price: Starting from $145 (link)


Hand-Painted Backdrop for Portraits from GravityBackDrops

This is the second time these have landed in my Gear Guide, but I’ve been using them a lot lately, and felt they needed to be included again. These beautifully hand-painted backdrops are turning the industry on its ear, because they’re priced so far below their competitors, yet their quality is spot-on. These are giving photographers access to a level of quality, hand-painted backdrops that were out of reach for so many people; you can now own these backdrops for less than we used to rent them for the weekend. They’ll even custom-make whatever you want. Can’t recommend these enough (and you’ll be a hero to the photographer on your gift list).

Price: Based on size, but figure around $350 or so (link)

Canon EOS R6 Mirrorless Camera

I don’t have this camera yet, but it’s the one I’m about to buy for myself for Christmas. It has the sensor of the camera I wish I could buy, the Canon EOS-1D Mark III (I have the old 1D Mark I), so the low-noise performance is insane, but it’s got all the features of Canon’s latest mirrorless line, and a price that’s actually mind-blowing for what you get. Perfect for the Canon shooter on your holiday gift list. They’ll lose their minds when you give them this!

Price: $2,499 (body only) (link)

Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Lens for Shooting the Night Sky/Milky Way

This lens is highly recommended by the real man, can of ham, eats lots of bran, friend of Jean-Claude Van Damme, big fan of Wham, and the real rocketman, Erik Kuna, who notes that this is an absolute favorite among the astrophotography crowd (which I believe are people that take photos of George Jetson’s dog) and, well, the price is so good, it’s hard to pass up. If the photographer on your gift list likes shooting the night sky, or heavenly bodies (stop snickering), or Milky Way bars, this will totally float their boat!

Nikon: $299 (link)
Canon: $399 (link)
Sony: $499 (don’t shoot the messenger Sony users) (link)

Westcott FJ400 Wireless Flash System

Westcott has a huge hit on their hands with this portable studio strobe. They can’t build ’em fast enough to keep up with demand, because the design is awesome, the wireless trigger is really fantastic, and the price is ridiculously cheap for what it does. You need both the strobe and the wireless transmitter, but they’re totally worth it, and the photographer on your gift list will follow you around like a puppy with unending adoration if you pick up this gift for them.

FJ400 Strobe 400Ws with AC/DC Battery: $569.90 (link)
FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Flash Trigger: $99.90 (link)

Nikon Z 6II Mirrorless Camera with FTZ Adapter Kit

A number of my Nikon-shooting friends have this camera and every one of them absolutely swears by it. If the Nikon shooting photographer on your gift list has been itching to go mirrorless, they’ll pass out and wind up in the fetal position on the floor when they open your wrapped gift, and they find this inside. They’ll have to go through a concussion protocol shortly after opening the box. True story. Get the one with the adapter so they can use their existing Nikon lenses with this new mirrorless. It really shows you care.

Price: $2,046.90 (link)

Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Camera

If the photographer on your gift list is a Sony shooter (or just wants to be), here’s a gift that will have them exploding into candy like a piñata. It’s the top-selling, most-wished-for, most-longed-for, sexiest (sexiest?) mirrorless camera with incredible specs and a legion of fans around the world. If you want to curry favor with your giftee, be the gifter that breaks the bank and gets them that once-in-a-lifetime gift. (I say that because you’ll never be able to afford things such as food, rent, and air again. You’ll be broke, but you’ll be a broke hero and that’s saying something.)

Price: $2,998 (body only) (link)


Treat Them to a Ticket to Our Online Travel Photography Conference

It’s coming up in January, so the timing is right on the money, and if they’re into taking photos when they travel, they’ll so love this two-day, two track, all-online conference with a who’s who of brilliant travel photography instructors and postprocessing wizards. Plus, they’ll have access to the archive of all the conference classes for an entire year after the fact. These are super popular, and they’ll have a great experience, laugh a lot, learn a lot, and they’ll thank you again and again. ;-)

Price: $149 for a full-access pass (early-bird) (link)

A One-Year KelbyOne Membership

If they love online training, we have a special membership level that just focuses on the online classes, giving them access to more than 300 courses, and it goes for just $9.99 a month or $96 annually. Give ’em a 12-month membership and they’ll love you all year. If you really want to bowl them over, get them a KelbyOne Pro membership; it’s got more classes (800+), more features, and an incredible worldwide community of photographers helping each other get better. It’s for accelerated learning, and they’ll have full access to everything. They’ll love you (and so will I).

Plus Membership: $9.99/month; $96/annually;
Pro Membership: $19.99/month; $199/annually

Well, there ya have it, folks. Remember, it’s not how many gifts you get. It’s about how many gifts you get me! ;-)

Happy Shopping, Everybody!


Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! I’ve expressed it that way this week because I’m busy typing away from the Starbucks in Oslo Gardermoen Airport where I’m currently between flights, and I’ve just spent a couple of days in Arctic Norway shooting a class for KelbyOne. The problem is it was delayed because of the ‘rona so, unfortunately, I had very little daylight available. But, hopefully, the content I packed in actually makes enough educational sense to be worth putting out there. We’ll see!

Today, I want to tell you a story about that time when one of my photos was stolen by a travel company to market their product/service. The memory is still very vivid in my mind, mostly because it was last week!

It all started when I noticed I’d been credited in a photo. There are harder ways to find your images online I guess, but there are also services we can use to find our images, such as a reverse image search in Google, or Pixsy, which is a company that constantly searches the images you upload and notifies you when they’re found somewhere. This particular image was being used on Instagram, which makes the subject a little tricky to work out ethically, but it’s my copyright nonetheless.

That’s the post right there. As you can see, it’s clearly advertising the fact that this company can take you to Jasper National Park in Canada as one of their destinations, and whilst there, you can go to Medicine Lake. As part of the “bigger picture,” this image forms part of their “grid” on Instagram, headed by their name and a link to their website. Interestingly, when you arrive at their website you can pick up a package to Jasper National Park for £2,069 ($2,760/2,310) per person for eight days. That figure is just worth keeping in mind. The point I’m making here is that this is not a feature page sharing my photo for nothing more than the sake of art; this is a company using my photo as part of their marketing.

As the owner or marketing executive of a travel company, one needs a salary in order to get through life. Similarly, as a travel photographer, I need an income in order to afford such luxuries as rent, food, my phone, etc. My income comes from my photos and I keep a close eye on selling them in order to generate that income. When I saw this post on Instagram I decided to check my stock sales to see if this image had been bought (whilst secretly knowing I hadn’t actually uploaded it to any stock site, but better safe than sorry.) When I was sure that it hadn’t been purchased by this company I took the first step to right their wrong in the form of this comment: –

You see, I had to be slightly firm and get my point across, but I felt it appropriate to leave the door open for them to correct the situation rather than slander them (which is what I felt like doing), so I offered my e-mail address. Some time passed with no response and I learned that they’d hit the “restrict” button on my comment, meaning I could see it but nobody else could. This got my back up, so I hit them with a couple more: –

Let me explain: If this company had taken a moment to send me a short message along the lines of, “Hey, we like your photo of Medicine Lake. Do you mind if we share it?” I would have probably just said yes. This isn’t the biggest company, but I’ll refer back to income. When Lonely Planet, Time, National Geographic, Passion Passport, and countless others have used images of mine, they’ve paid me. When travel companies offering vacations use my images in their marketing material, they pay me. So, why should this company, using my image as part of their marketing, be allowed to do so for free?

A little while later (the next day) a message landed in my Instagram inbox: –

How would you have taken this? Would you have accepted the “sincere” apology and moved on with your life? My reaction was far from an acceptance. This message simply riled me up, and I’ll explain why: Firstly, I asked them twice to e-mail me, but instead, after some pressure, they sent an anonymous message on social media. The next point is that they seem to be implying that they know full well that they misused my image, and I expect their entire social media marketing plan is hinged around misusing people’s images. I have a feeling they simply post other people’s images in the hope that far more often than not they are happy that their photo was recognised and shared by such a company, which links to another thing I’m not happy about with this response: the credit. They pointed out that they credited me with the photo, like I’m sure they do as part of the plan I suspect, that I just described, but let me tell you this for free: credit doesn’t bring home the bacon! I’ve never got in touch with my electricity company and offered to pay my bill with “credit” or “exposure,” and I wouldn’t expect them to let me. There’s no real difference here.

Anyway, another couple of hours passed and I received an e-mail:

As I said before, I suspect this company relies on sharing images and hoping the photographer is happy with the “exposure” as a major part of their cost-effective marketing strategy. The response from the Senior Content and Affiliates Executive suggests this is the case and they know full well what the market value of a royalty-free image would be at this scale and for this usage type because look:

This is one of my images on Getty Images, a reputable stock library. Their price is a fair indication of the market value of such images. I decided to accept the offer of £50—it was a fair offer had it been made upfront rather than retrospectively, and I was no longer in the mood to argue with anybody. My response will be next, but I want to take this opportunity to remind you all that as photographers, the images you create are your intellectual property. There are different methods worldwide for attaining copyright on an image, but first and foremost, unless under contract that says otherwise, that copyright belongs to you. You are a professional and, as such, you deserve to stand shoulder to shoulder with other professionals in equal stead. Just as a plumber sends invoices for their work, a photographer sends invoices for theirs. If their intellectual property is being used without permission, it is something that should be dealt with according to law. Realise your value and never let anybody steal your hard work.

For the record, I’m still waiting for the payment to be made, but here is my response:

It’s your copyright. It’s your property. If it’s stolen, don’t let anyone off the hook. We need to take a stand against image theft, and we’re all in it together.

Much love

Dave here for another #TravelTuesday post, and I’m glad to see this week’s news of progress with vaccines because I’m so over this now!

Let’s begin with an update from my world: –

This is far from the first cancellation I’ve had this year as those who follow me are aware, but this is the fourth attempt at one particular trip and it’s a rather time-sensitive one. I’m off to record a new class in northern Norway and if I can’t get it done really soon, the arctic will plunge into Polar Night and I simply won’t be able to do it. I watched a movie last night, which had a song in it with the following lyrics: –

Where the northern lights burst out in colors
And the magic nights surpass all others
Það eina sem ég þrái er, að vera
[All I want is to be]

The movie was Eurovision, and it just made me want to be back on the road again. For now, I can’t do anything about it aside from hope my fourth rescheduled flight to Norway is not cancelled and I can get there to shoot in isolation. Fingers crossed!

As for today’s insight into what I find important in photography, however, I want to talk about eyes. The heading suggests something about shooting RAW, and what I want to do is touch on comparisons between these two things.

I’m lost for sources right now, but I specifically recall hearing that our eyes see 13 stops of light, which is an incredible range. When we talk about light in photography we often talk about “dynamic range.” The range-of-light levels perceptible in our image is what we’re interested in. The “dynamic” element to this is how the level moves up and down a scale of light levels. Having the ability to absorb light from a broader range of this spectrum allows us far more creative control in post-process, as well as having richer tones in our image. Our eye is the ultimate tool for this, but camera sensors have developed in their abilities from being able to only see one stop of light, through to artificially seeing perhaps two or three, all the way to the incredible tech that is now packed into our sensors affording us a far greater range.

I was blown away recently with my Nikon sensor being able to capture the moonless night sky and unlit background, the faint, dancing aurora, and the insanely stark contrast of the light of civilisation all in one frame with no clipping (that being the loss of detail in highlights or shadows), and it serves as a reminder that we should always shoot in RAW.

Each camera brand gives the RAW file format a different name. In Nikon, it’s NEF, in Canon it’s CRW, in Sony it’s ARW, with plenty of other names to boot. But here’s the point: –

If we shoot in RAW, we are able to manipulate that information far better than if we shoot in JPEG. Where a JPEG compresses our file to save space it also lacks the detail we need in order to make comprehensive adjustments. A RAW file doesn’t compress our image and, as such, each individual pixel is a true representation of the colour and tone of the photon that passed through our lens and hit our sensor the moment we pressed the shutter button. With that information available, we are given far greater control when it comes to making adjustments because Adobe can look at the pixel and know exactly what to do with it, rather than looking at a comparable JPEG file and making a guess. It’s a no brainer. For those who post on Facebook groups asking about shooting RAW and those who simply aren’t able to make their mind up, I can tell you this with confidence. Of the world’s professional photographers, it’s fair to say that 99.9% of those who shoot outside of sports and journalism, that being those who don’t retouch their images and simply upload them and wire them to a news agency, are shooting RAW.

Shot raw

If you aren’t shooting RAW, I offer you the following piece of life-changing advice: – Shoot RAW!

Much love

#TravelTuesday today was supposed to involve some actual travel, but because of the decisions of two national governments, I’m stranded in the UK rather than making some epic new content in Norway. Fingers crossed it all gets resolved soon because I’ve just about had enough now! I’m Dave Williams, here for you as always on Today, I want to lay down a quick Adobe Photoshop tip to save you some time with hot pixels. Let’s do it!

Hot pixels can have a number of causes, including sensor faults. If you notice the same dead pixel from one image to the next, it’s a sensor problem that you need to have repaired. Now that bit’s out of the way, what about hot pixels in general? What are they?

Hot pixels are often the result of a sensor that hasn’t received enough light in exposing an image, so they’re likely to appear in areas of shadow. For one of a number of reasons, an individual pixel or a small group of pixels will appear red or white, as if hot, which often stands out as a negative attribute to our image because of its distracting contrast. It’s common for us to get hot pixels on our images of the night sky, particularly when we shoot with no moon in near darkness.

While it’s true that we can find and remove each of these hot pixels ourselves using the Spot Healing Brush tool, there is a simpler way. Take a look at this hot pixel on the left of this image. It’s halfway up and close to the left border.

This one has fallen within a dark mountain range on one of my aurora images. There’s nothing there causing any light; it’s just a glitch of the pixel. Spread across this image are a few hot pixels, and to get rid of them all at once there’s a simple method we can use, with just one filter.

If we select the Dust & Scratches filter from the Noise menu (Filter > Noise > Dust & Scratches), we simply need to select a relatively low option for the pixel Radius—usually no more than 5—and those hot pixels are automatically removed.

Because this hot pixel was just a single pixel rather than a small group, having the Radius set to 1 has removed it. This simple method has saved time in zooming in and scanning over the entire image, and it leaves us able to quickly deal with technical issues in order to focus more of our time and attention on artistic retouching.

Have a great week!

Much love

It’s #TravelTuesday and here on, 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


It’s #TravelTuesday again—doesn’t it come round quickly nowadays? I’m Dave Williams and I’m here to impart some of my bountiful wisdom, gleaned from years of travel photography. You can find me on my website or Instagram if you want to see a little more, or go behind the scenes on my top-secret Instagram account, too.

Today, I want to explore the topic of noise. Now, I’m not talking about my terrible singing, I’m talking about sensor noise. We all hear about noise in images and it’s often regarded as a terrible attribute that we should avoid at all costs. Although there is some truth to that, it is not as important as it’s made out to be. Here’s the deal: –

Us photographers are a very particular breed of human. We tend to be very tuned in to detail, sometimes so much so that we become perfectionists and notice all the little details—not only in our images but also in life. One of these details is, of course, noise. Image noise is a topic that constantly pops up. We constantly strive to get rid of it and employ many techniques—longer exposures, lower ISO, stacking, and even post-process filters. Well, I just got back from a trip to Norway shooting all manner of coldness and one of my images from the trip is this one of the Aurora.

The noise in the image is all over. It’s so dark, despite the glow of the northern lights dancing overhead, that this image (shot at 6400 ISO with a 15-second exposure time) is packed full of noise. But, is it the noise that a “regular” person sees at first glance, or is it just the composition, colour, and subject? The answer is the latter.

Camera sensors are becoming better and better, almost by the day. The ability to shoot at higher ISO with less light and achieve less noise is remarkable. That being said, consider the fact that there’s a grain slider in Adobe Photoshop whereby we can add grain or noise to our images. It’s true to say there’s such a thing as too much noise, but it’s also true to say that noise can add to an image, in particular when we want to convey a romantic, old-world feel. Grain comes as a feature of film, which has carried over into digital photography, and replicating a film look is something highly desirable by many.

Having a clean and crisp image is all well and good in terms of technicality, but consider that photography is an art and it’s the imperfections that add to an image. It’s far, far more important to achieve a good composition of an engaging subject and end up with a photo containing noise than it is to get a technically perfect photo with no artistic features. To that end, I implore you to move the matter of image noise from your list of priorities and keep it as a secondary thought.

Much love