Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here today (and every Tuesday) with some photography wisdom for you. This week, I’m in Croatia! I arrived a couple of days ago and, so far, I’ve also hopped some borders and checked out Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro. If you were wondering—they’re beautiful!
I caught sunrise in Mostar, Bosnia, and framed up a lovely series of shots down the Neretva River of the town’s famous bridge. Now, I arrived before sunrise and caught the sun coming up over the bridge, then I drove half an hour down the road to Blagaj Tekija, a monastery on a beautiful pool next to a cliff edge, built by Dervish monks in the 16th Century. The reason I’m telling you this is to point out something that photographers don’t necessarily always consider when shooting sunrise and sunset situations, and that thing is this: –
The sunrise and sunset times will vary if you’re in mountains! Yes, simple, right? My pro tip for you if you don’t know the actual sunset time is to hold your clenched fist out, thumb up, to the horizon. Because of the beautiful piece of nature that is the golden equation, the God number, the divine proportion, whatever else you want to call it, the sun will sink approximately the distance your fist occupies every hour. Therefore if the sun is one fist’s height above the mountain next to you, you have about an hour until sunset!
(That’s a top-secret pro tip, don’t tell anyone!)
So, although it may seem simple, it may not actually be considered. Mountains and other such high terrain affect the sunrise and sunset, which is something I took full advantage of in Bosnia and Herzegovina by having two sunrises!
If you were wondering, sunrise totally beats sunset! That time of day is calm, relaxed, the rest of the world hasn’t woken up yet, there’s no traffic to get where you’re going, when you get there you can always find a place to park, and the light is amazing. It’s just all-around better!
Seriously, photography is good for you! But first of all, let me introduce myself—I’m Dave Williams and every Tuesday here at ScottKelby.com is #TravelTuesday with me instead of Scott (let’s be honest, he deserves a break on Tuesdays), and today, I want to tell you why I feel photography is so good for you!
First of all, photography is documenting life. Whether it’s your child growing up, your first dates, or simply selfies, photography is the ultimate tool when it comes to documenting things that may otherwise fade into history, preserving these precious moments and locking them in time. This is just one benefit; there are plenty more!
Photography relieves stress. When we turn our attention to photography we can make problems disappear. Focussing our thoughts on whatever’s happening through the viewfinder literally tunnels our mind and vision, removing (even momentarily) all the other distractions and focussing us on the light, the composition, and the moment. The moment could be a mountain, a waterfall, flowers, your pet dog—whatever’s happening down that narrow viewfinder can magically block everything else out.
Through focussing our attention, photography makes it possible to see things we may otherwise have missed. Furthermore, it makes beautiful sights last longer. I love to shoot sunrises, but they undoubtedly feel as if they’re over just when they’ve begun. Photography immortalises every single sunrise we capture, showing off the interaction of the cool and warm tones of the days beginning, and they allow us to look at the specific elements of a scene after we’ve taken in the overall view.
In terms of our growth and development, photography skills develop over time and this improvement boosts our self-esteem. Our skills getting better, our photos receiving feedback online from friends and family, it gives us pride and that’s good for us. The creativity involved receives this positive and constructive feedback, and this gives us new ideas in other walks of life.
Photography is good for us, as well as our profession, so it’s only going to be a good thing to explore other areas of photography and to use photography as a tool to alleviate stress and explore our creativity. Trust me.
It’s #TravelTuesday with me, Dave Williams, and today I’m in the KelbyOne studios recording some classes for you beautiful people! If you’re waiting to learn a little more about how to make some money and about how to prepare for travel photography, you’ll love my two new classes! But before they land, I’d love all you KelbyOne members to join me in an exclusive webcast about where to shoot in Iceland, and if you aren’t a KelbyOne member you can sign up for a free.
Today, I want to touch on something else. Right now I’m planning on changing my camera, and it made me think a little about that age-old conundrum: whether or not gear makes the photographer. Well, my answer is no, and my argument is that if you give a pro photographer a $700 camera, and give a rookie a $5,000 camera, the pro will produce the better image. One main reason for this argument is that the pro will be concentrating on the creativity whereas the rookie is more likely to be focused on the gear. Here’s why: –
When a pro photographer and a rookie photographer each shoot 100 images, the pro is more likely to say that one is good, and the rookie is more likely to say that 90 are good. If they then look at each other’s images, the pro is likely to say that one of the rookie’s is good, and the rookie is likely to say that 90 of the pro’s are good. Self-criticism lands front and centre, and the pro is far more critical of themselves than others. But it goes beyond that: –
When the pro screws up, they are far more likely to blame themselves than to blame the gear. They are probably shooting Manual, may have added some extra gear, such as filters or lighting, and have planned the shot. If something goes wrong, they are far more likely to blame the application of their knowledge than they are to blame the gear. Here’s the point: they will use the same gear and try again until they get it right, working on correcting their technique rather than switching out the gear.
There’s a lesson to be taken from this. Being honest about your skills, having the understanding to apply them, and giving objective evaluation to your creative vision will help you to become a better photographer and not to rely on the gear, rather to rely on yourself. I’ve been through this process and continue to do so, as does every other pro photographer, and it’s extremely valuable to think this way.
I hope to catch you all in the comments tomorrow on The Grid!
Hi all! It’s #TravelTuesday here on Scott Kelby’s blog and that means I’m here to lay down something from the world of Photoshop, photography, travel, and life. Today is no exception! I’m Dave Williams—let me tell you a sad story.
There’s a shot I want to get so bad. It’s here in the UK and it’s dangerous! I want to get out on the water of the English Channel to shoot the Beachy Head Lighthouse from the sea. The problem, however, is that where there’s a lighthouse, there tends to be a reason! The lighthouse is accessible from land about 1.5 miles west or 2 miles east because of the high cliffs behind it. The only way is to launch from one of these two points and going via the water.
The shot will look amazing. I want to get a wide shot with the stereotypical red and white lighthouse centre-frame and have the enormous white cliffs taper off in either direction, and I want it at sunrise. I’ve tried to get this shot three times and failed. Here’s what happened: –
The first time I had an inflatable kayak. I drove through the night (it’s a 170-miles round trip) to arrive in time for sunrise. I was there on time and the twilight gave me the blue hour, so I hauled my gear—the kayak, life vest, paddle, waterproof bag with camera and drone—down a dead-steep hill to the cliffs and then down the cracks and ledges in the limestone, and was at the water’s edge about 15 minutes before dawn. The water was rough and I walked along the tide line trying to find a safe spot. The water was just too rough, though, for an inflatable kayak and there was no safe place to launch, so I had to turn myself back around and carry everything back up that insanely steep hill, back to the car, and try again another day. My legs were burning from lactic acid with all that weight on such a steep hill, and it was all for nothing.
The next time I quit halfway there, the weather report changed and it wasn’t even worth going. That’s two goes, and a couple of days ago was attempt number three. I left home before 1:00 a.m. to make it down to the coast. First light was forecast at 4:00 a.m. and sunrise at 4:46, so I had to get there with plenty of time to get in position. The first challenge I had was, with this attempt being at the other location, I needed to carry the rigid kayak I’d got down the stairs to the stone beach I’d launch from. It wasn’t light!
The next challenge was the launch. All the planning I’d put in by checking weather, wind, tides etc., was telling me there’d be a high neap tide with low wind, which tends to suggest the waves will be minimal. What I actually faced was something altogether different: –
The waves were enormous, but I pushed on. First, I put the kayak at the water’s edge and climbed in with my waterproof bag between my legs. But, before I could get the spray deck attached, the water swept over me and flooded me out. Unperturbed by this setback (as is my nature), I pulled the kayak back, turned it over to empty it out, and tried again. The second launch wasn’t all that much better though, turning me sideways and showing me the sheer power of the water. I was done in again by the sea and gathered everything back together to try again. Third time’s a charm, right? Unfortunately not. This time I’d managed to get settled and get the spray deck attached in time for the first big wave to come in and hit me, but the power of the sea was still just too much and I was fully inverted. I had to give up.
When I said this shot was dangerous, I meant life-threateningly so. I was cold and drenched through every layer—the sea had beaten me and I still don’t have the shot! Shame too because the sunrise was pretty cool that day.
But here’s the thing: if you have a target in your sights, don’t give up on it. I’ll be back to get that shot! (By the way, if anybody reading this has a boat in Eastbourne, please feel free to get in touch!) I’m not giving up on this shot—I’ll get it one way or another. It’s not worth giving up on something good just because it’s a bit difficult.
Don’t give up just because things are hard. I have a tattoo on my left arm which says “aut viam inveniam aut faciam” which is Latin and means either find a way or make one. If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it, because some things that are worth having don’t come easy. You are so much stronger than you think. Someday you’ll look back on all the progress you made and be glad you didn’t quit. If you fall three times, stand up four, because winners aren’t people who don’t fail—they’re people who don’t quit.
Happy #TravelTuesday everybody! It’s me, Dave Williams, taking over for the day as I do every Tuesday here on Scott Kelby’s blog. Let’s be honest, Scott deserves a break with Photoshop World East coming up soon, and I’m pretty excited to get over there and hope to see some of you!
Let’s start by addressing a little myth that’s circulating social media right now, and that’s the myth that Adobe has scrapped their £/$/9.99 Photography Plan. The answer is: – they haven’t! Go take a look at Adobe’s subscription plans if you don’t believe me, and if you’re quick, you’ll catch a flash sale they have, too.
Okay, onto the main event! Today, I want to address something rather important in photography. Can a photographer be “good” because they have good gear? Well, my immediate answer to that question on absolute face value is “no.” I think it’s much more important to work on your eye first, and here’s why: –
The most important thing a photographer can do is understand why. Whatever gear you’re using, if you’re just starting out or an old hand to the game, the most important thing really is to understand why. Why does a certain lens perform in a certain way? Why does a certain camera’s sensor give a particular look to the colour? Why does composition lend itself to conveying a particular message? Why does f/16 generally work in bright sunlight? Why does the exposure triangle make sense? Why does light soften as the source and subject get closer?
If you want to be a better photographer, you must understand why. The belief that a new camera makes you better, for example, is not true unless you understand why. Understanding why you want that new camera is crucial because if you don’t, you don’t know if it’s the right one. There’s the old adage, if you’re new to photography, that a pro photographer can do better with any camera than a rookie can do with a top of the range prosumer camera, and it’s true. You know why? It’s because the pro knows why. Having spent the time to understand not only what happens when they press the shutter, adjust the light, set the aperture, etc., the pro knows why these things happen. We all want to improve ourselves and our photography—it’s our human nature—but often the problem is that we can be mistaken that better gear makes us better photographers. It’s certainly true that the bokeh on a shiny new f/1.4 lens can be phenomenal, but without a good understanding of light and composition that can all be wasted. Perhaps, if you’re looking to spend money to improve your photography, consider spending it on training or on gaining experience and you’re on the fast track to understanding the answer to that all-important question: why?
When I started out in photography I thought I needed shiny new toys, loads of different lenses, and tons of megapixels. I quickly learned that what I, in fact, needed was answers and no amount of money spent on gear would substitute training and experience. The most important thing a photographer can do is understand why. Know why a camera or a piece of kit does what it does, and you’ll know which one best suits your purpose.
I hope that means something and makes a difference to your progression, no matter what stage you’re at. There is one exception, however: – buy a Platypod. ;)
I’m off to Paris today, so I wish you all a great #TravelTuesday and you can follow along with me at @capturewithdave if you like. I’d love to meet you in the comments!
Photoshop World is coming up soon, and with two events this year it’s set to be amazing! I’ve said of Photoshop World before: –
You should never underestimate the power of networking provided by Photoshop World, as well as the learning, inspiration, motivation, and everything else on offer! You never know who you might be talking to and everyone there is your friend.
Dave, last year
It’s because of the people at KelbyOne and Photoshop World that I have gotten where I am today. I started my journey as a travel photographer a few years ago and developed my skills as a writer and instructor as well, partly due to what I’ve learned and experienced at Photoshop world. I’m proud to be a KelbyOne instructor, a writer for Photoshop User magazine, the editor of Layers Magazine, and the dude who writes for you every Tuesday for #TravelTuesday on ScottKelby.com.
Photoshop World is the best place in the industry to make and maintain connections, bar none. It’s funny because when you learn to write for editorial there are a whole bunch of rules, one of which is that when you want to emphasise something you put it in italics—you don’t make it bold and underline it, but I just can’t make this point strongly enough!
Photoshop World is much, much more than a conference! Aside from the fact that you can attend a ton of classes on a range of tracks led by the cream of the crop from the creative industry. Here’s the real deal, let’s go!
First off, you know all those names you see on the KelbyOne Facebook Page? The members’ images shared on the KelbyOne Instagram feed? The names you hear mentioned when the comments are read out during The Grid? The names you see commenting on your Instagram posts because you’re both members of the KelbyOne community? You get to put faces to those names!
So, what else?! I mean, surely life-long friendships alone are a pretty good reason to look forward to the other side of Photoshop World, but what else?
The Partner Pavilion’s pretty sweet. You know that there’s a huge gathering of awesome creatives showing their wares there too, right? So, the likes of B&H Photo and Platypod Tripods are joined by so many other awesome companies that we all love right in one place, waiting to meet you too! That’s a pretty “mainstream” thing about Photoshop World though, and that’s not the point of this post. It’s meant to be the other things!
And then there are all the extra-curricular activities! There is a whole load of things going on in the evenings. When you hear about a party being announced or “tickets being released tomorrow morning” or anything like that, jump on it!
So, there’s all that, there’s the t-shirt toss, there’s the shipment of the biggest pile of Krispy Kreme donuts you’ve ever seen at Midnight Madness, and I feel like I’m laying down a sales pitch now, but there’s good reason for that—Photoshop World is the creative event of all creative events!
Live events, in general, provide unique learning and career building opportunities that aren’t matched anywhere else. Taking a break from your day job, particularly when in our creative and ever-evolving industry, to sharpen your skills and pick up new tips and techniques will always make us more effective and efficient. Not only is it an opportunity to meet your business idols, making connections can lead to finding your next mentor and your chances of learning are greatly improved among an actively engaged and like-minded crowd. Hands-on demos and workshops afford an opportunity to ask the questions you want to ask. Breaking out of your comfort zone, albeit in comfortable surrounds, engages different parts of our minds and that’s exactly what we sometimes need to break out of old ways of thinking and step into new ones. There are just so many reasons to attend Photoshop World, which I have personally experienced and benefited from, that I could make this list last forever, but ultimately, if you want to improve yourself, invest in yourself at Photoshop World!