Good day! It’s #TravelTuesday and because it’s Tuesday, it’s not Scott but me, Dave Williams, fresh from a red-eye flight from Calgary to London, coming at you loud with some kind of photographic wisdom!
Today, I want to touch on reverse engineering a photo, and this is something you can learn a lot more about from Glyn Dewis’ book Photograph Like a Thief if you want to dig deeper. Let’s do it!
So, in Banff National Park, there’s an iconic photo and I wanted it. I’ve preached time and again about being original, but I just wanted this shot bad! There’s a train line running through the park as part of the Canadian Pacific Railway network, and one curve, in particular, facing up to the mountains’ home to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. It’s Morant’s Curve, named after the Canadian Pacific photographer who took the first photo of the new rail line here.
As you can see here, it’s so popular because of the original shot that there’s a viewing area with railings.
When it comes to reverse engineering a photo, it’s a lot about light. When it comes to photos of people, we can usually work out the lighting quite easily by looking at the edges of the person and the reflection in their eyes to see how they were lit. But, when it comes to landscapes, it’s more about working out the location and the timings, which we can do quite easily with maps and PhotoPills.
What we’re looking for with the light is the time of day, dictating the direction, and other clues that will help us with the scene, like the temperature and tone and the softness.
We also need to reverse engineer the shutter speed and focal length used, so we can apply it to our image, or add a creative flair if we want to put our own spin on it.
The whole process of reverse engineering a photo is a combination of science and art, and we can use it to apply the exact look from the original photo or put it “into our own words” if we want. That’s what I wanted to do, and here’s my shot: –
What I’ve done here is pick a spot slightly back from the gap, giving the train a piece of the image but not the entire focus. The front end creeps through the gap in the trees looking somewhat like a face, and then the rest of the train twists and turns as a leading line toward those epic mountains behind. The whole scene is, of course, iconic, but it has my own little spin on it, too.
Reverse engineering a shot like this is a good skill to apply, and a great way to learn. Have a go at it. I promise you’ll enjoy it, and it will help you in critiquing yourself, as well as deconstructing and analysing a photo.
Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! Yes, that’s right, it’s so much of thing that it’s entirely appropriate to wish people a good day on #TravelTuesday! And with that I, Dave Williams, am here on ScottKelby.com, coming at you with wisdom and news and whatever musings have crossed my mind this week!
Firstly, just to recap on what I’ve been up to: I arrived back from the Faroe Islands on Friday and I loved it! If you ever have the opportunity to explore this off-the-beaten-track cluster of 18 awesome islands, do it! As for the next mission, well I’m currently in the air over the Atlantic bound for Calgary where I’ll be picking up a rental and heading to the Rockies—keep up on that over on my Instagram and Facebook if you so wish, and feel free to drop me a line with any suggestions while I’m there!
So, this week I want to show you some photos from Team Epic and tell you why they rock! The idea behind this post is to offer you a range of motivation, and show you some critique (albeit unwarranted; the team will only find out when they read this post that I actually did it!) Let’s do it, starting with Peter Treadway!
This photo rocks because not only does it demonstrate the lengths Peter went to in order to get the shot, it also demonstrates his understanding of colour and tone. He has balanced the light beautifully to give a good dynamic range across the scene, using his skill with controlling what our eyes are drawn to with a combination of light and depth. The image is nicely framed, with the boat entirely in the frame and considerately close enough to the edges to not waste space, but not so close that it looks off. Finally, keeping it brief, the actual moment itself with the clear love in the expression on this couple’s faces just tips it over the edge for a win. That’s why this photo rocks. Next up, Mimo Meidany.
Okay, this image clearly rocks, but here’s the reason why: – The framing is so well-considered, using the final distance of the lens in tandem with the actual distance from the doorway and the Louvre pyramid to get each positioned and sized just right. That also reflects in the framing here where Mimo has used a bold framing, which despite being quite large contains elements that break it up like the highlighted gates and the tire markings on the ground. Further to this, as well as Mimo’s signature hyper-long exposed clouds with their awesome streaks, this image technically shows a serious contrast between true black and white but has been adjusted in post to offer a range in between those two values, which somehow doesn’t appear to show a great deal of contrast. This image rocks! And next up, Mr. Fernando Santos!
Check this beauty out! Somewhere in deepest, darkest Austria lies a twisty-turns Alpine road with a quaint church nestled in the foothills, featuring towering peaks in the background. Utilising this scene to its full advantage, Chicky Nando has created a scene of warmth, depth, and of beautiful sectioned leading lines all pointing to one spot. Whether it’s the road, the grass, the hill, the tree line, or the Alpine peaks, each of the lines crossing through the three dimensions of this image points straight back to one spot: – the church! Very, very nicely done, and that’s why this photo rocks! And, I guess that leads us to Mr. Roberto Pisconti.
With Pisco, let’s mix it up with one of his epic portrait shots. Take a look here, firstly, at how technically perfect this image is with those eyes tack sharp and a great creative use of the light where the attention is drawn to the features of the face, falling off where it meets the shoulders and neck just enough that they remain an unobtrusive element of the image, but not so much so that they pull our attention. The top of the head is cropped just right where it’s enough that it’s deliberate, but not so much that it negatively impacts the look. In post, the toning has been expertly done, with quite a complicated set of colours, combined with a skin tone to add a massive punch of pizazz to the shot! Mr. Pisco, this photo rocks! And, on to Mr. Kuna.
A portrait of an entirely different kind, Mr. Rocket Man has composited a series of images here, blending them seamlessly to create a picture-perfect frame of a young astronaut with one of Mr. Musk’s finest rockets soaring into orbit overhead. When compositing images it’s important to create something that could pass as real in terms of blending the images, and this means matching the tones and where necessary, lining up the pixels. Erik has nailed it with this amazing image; it rocks! And now, Cathy Baitson.
Take a look at how captivating this image is. The scene we see is a metal worker in a forge, with a roaring fire off in the background and the sense of someone who has stopped for just a moment amidst a busy day at work. The feeling he gives of connecting with the viewer is no doubt a result of the expert direction of Cathy, and the consideration she’s given to the composition here is what helps to draw us in, but balances nicely that all that’s going on is a compliment to the scene rather than a distraction. Nice one Cathy; this rocks! Next up, the boss!
Founding member of Team Epic, Scott Kelby, has smashed it in this rocking Parisien scene. There’s depth, composition, framing, atmosphere, and most importantly, there’s this: – The Eiffel Tower, an absolute icon worldwide, has not been used as the subject of the image, but as a feature within it. This helps us to depict such iconic places in a new light and means we are likely to draw in an audience to an unfamiliar view of a familiar object.
And with that, I invite you to follow Team Epic on Instagram via their images above and to consider this unwarranted critique when it comes to creating your own images. Thanks for reading, and as always, you’re welcome to reach out to me if anything in this article needs a little more explanation!
#TravelTuesday has landed here again on ScottKelby.com and I, Dave Williams, have a nugget to share with you!
Making progress in photography means many things to many people, but to me, it’s important to keep photography social if we stand a chance at making progress. Having a social angle allows us not only to network and to make and maintain relationships, but also to share experiences and ideas, and to challenge ourselves and our skills. On Sunday in London, I hosted a small meetup of photographers and it compounded my belief in creating and maintaining relationships in photography rather than doing what so many photographers do and seeing everyone else carrying a camera as a competitor. On that note, they’re not your competition! Trust me, they’re really not. A competitor is someone working in the same field as you, in the same location as you, reaching out to the same market as you. Even if you find yourself competing, if you’re staying on top of your game by networking and practicing, then you really have nothing to worry about anyway!
So, with the Worldwide Photowalk fresh in our minds as one obvious idea, what else can we do to be social in photography?
#1 – Engage on Social Media
If we see something awesome, we should say so! When an amazing image catches our eye for its aesthetics, its composition, its light, its tone, its worth, saying something. Every time you see something awesome, leave a positive comment and tell the photographer why you like it. Think of it the other way around—if you posted an awesome shot, you’d want people to say something nice, so leaving positive comments can kick-start that cycle. Another way to engage on social media is through Facebook groups. I have one here, where I look to people for advice and feedback, and there are some other great groups, such as the Photoshop and Lightroom Group, the Friends of the Grid, and PhotoReview, which all encourage sharing and learning through feedback. If you aren’t involved in groups on Facebook, I strongly recommend taking a look around and finding some groups that fit your interest and getting involved with them.
#2 – Enter Contests
This is a cool way to interact with other photographers and it can be very, very rewarding. I was fortunate enough to be in the final round of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and the excitement and feeling of pride that came with it was insane—and I didn’t even win! There are contests in photography all the time, largely published on social media. I’ve run the Sunrise Challenge for the past two years and the community that forms around it is great, with everyone getting involved in the contest hashtag and checking out each other’s work. Another thing a contest can do is give you the opportunity to put your images in front of the biggest names in photography who often make up the judging panels, and they give you a goal to work towards as well.
#3 – Join a Club
This is perhaps one of the best things in the photography community. Through a club, you’ll have the door opened up to attend talks and events with big names in the industry, have critique on your images, and meet like-minded people who meet regularly with the same passion. Lots of things can happen in the in-between times as well, and it’s also possible to work toward a professional affiliation or recognition through a photography club with the right mentoring to get you there. If you don’t have a photography club near you, make one! Failing that, there are other ways to recreate the photography club experience, such as becoming a KelbyOne member and interacting in the forums with other members and learning through online courses (and there’s a sale on right now, too!)
#4 – Photo Walks!
This is the simplest, most engaging way to be social in photography. Scott organises the world’s largest photo walk each year, but there’s nothing to stop you from running one throughout the rest of the year. They can be fantastic ways to meet people and to forge and maintain friendships. I’m lucky to say that a lot of the people I have had attend my photo walks have become friends, and the reason is this: –
The photo walk, being the part with the camera, is the small part of a bigger picture. Meeting up and taking photos is cool because we can learn from each other whilst our lenses are pointed in the same direction, but it’s the bits in-between and afterward, that really matter the most. The walking between locations gives us an opportunity to really dig deep and share our experiences, both in photography and in life, and taking the time afterward to have some food or coffee (or beer) to further share and build those relationships. We’re one big team of photographers, we aren’t really competing, and we need to behave that way and help each other. You could be missing one small yet vital nugget of wisdom and all it could take to realise it is meeting with other photographers to help unlock that one thing to push you miles down the road in your photographic journey!
Jump into social photography, meet people, introduce yourself in those Facebook groups (say Dave sent you!), and see what a difference it makes.
#TravelTuesday with Dave is here again! Mostly because it’s Tuesday….
I have recently switched things up a little (after what I’m going to label as occasional passive-aggressive pressure from Mr Kelby) and I just thought I’d offer an explanation. I was using the handle @capturewithdave but made the switch to @idavewilliams. Let me tell you why.
Every week I interrupt proceedings on ScottKelby.com to give you something inspirational from the world of Photography, Photoshop, Travel or Life, and this week is no exception.
Firstly, I’ll point out that I’m losing some link-backs here and there because of this in that there are lots of blogs and what-not out there with my name shown as @capturewithdave so it was hard for me to actually make this move (and if anyone operating any of these blogs wants to retroactively switch my handle, I’m ok with that!) because of losing those links, but I reckon the pros outweigh the cons. Here’s why: –
It’s important that we have a uniform approach wherever possible on social media, which means having the same handle with the same identifiable profile photo (more on that shortly) because we need to be sure that people recognise us when switching from one place to another. When they see us in the Twitter ecosystem for example, they should be able to easily recognise and find us in the Facebook ecosystem. I hope you appreciate my use of the term ‘ecosystem’ there, and of course it applies across all platforms and to our blog/website. Bottom line – it should have our name in it! Along with this we must also be clear about what it is that we do. If we’re a wedding photographer, we must make it clear in the profile that we’re a wedding photographer. Ultimately, we’re looking to get attention so we can sell ourselves as photographers, and often this is right where it all starts and the traction can build.
So, the profile photo. Again, Scott put a little pressure. Apparently I looked a little moody in my last one so last time I was over at the KelbyOne studios I was cornered and told I was getting a new shot done. I complied, offering little resistance in the Florida heat after a day recording on set, and was looking straight down the barrel of Scotts lens. It took a while – I’m not used to having my photo taken – I’m a role model, not a fashion icon, after all. We went through the usual – you know, shabang and all that – and following a little bit of me fooling around we ended up with a shot that made me kinda look like I know what I’m talking about and that, at the end of the day, is what we need for a profile photo. We need to convey the message to our prospective clients that we are the one they need to hire and a profile photo for a photographer is actually kind-of a big deal. Think about it, is a photographer with a poor profile shot likely to get hired? No, because how can a good photographer possibly have a bad headshot?!
So, take a minute and assess your tag and your headshot. Please.
Images Copyright Scott Kelby 2k19 ;)
By the way… I wrote a book all about the Northern Lights. It’s called ‘The Complete Aurora Guide for Travellers and Photographers’ and it’s out now. If you’re heading to the cold, dark north, this is the book that will help you find and shoot the Aurora, complete with Eskimo stories and everything :)
#TravelTuesday has come round again, and I’m here on ScottKelby.com. I’m Dave Williams and this week, I want to start by saying, “well done” to all the walk leaders of events around the globe as part of Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk®! Great work, team! To everyone who attended a walk, I hope you had a fantastic time and made some great, new friends! Don’t forget to enter the contests as there are some top-notch prizes on offer across all the categories!
The thing I want to address in today’s post is about photography on social media. Specifically, how to deal with a problem I recently encountered. You know those interactive panoramas on Facebook? Well, there’s a piece of code that figures out whether your image is suitable by checking whether or not it’s a panorama when you upload. It checks the height vs width ratio of your image as one factor, but this isn’t the deciding factor as to whether your image is posted as an interactive panorama or a 360° photo. I learned this to my frustration recently with this post.
When I was in Iceland last week I saw the most spectacular show Mother Nature has to offer—the Northern Lights were filling the entire sky, all night long, owing to a geomagnetic storm. I set up my tripod on the road at the top of a mountain pass in north-east Iceland, far away from civilisation, and shot 16 exposures over-lapped, covering an entire circle around my position. I used Adobe Photoshop to stitch the exposures together as a panorama when I got home, using Merge to Panorama.
I shot the images using my Nikon Z6 (remember this for a second). When I went to upload the panorama to Facebook, it was looking just like this: –
I wanted the image to be an interactive panorama, but the code in Facebook wasn’t picking up that it was a panorama for some reason, and I couldn’t work out why. I tried uploading from my computer and from my phone, but it just wasn’t making a difference.
I was reading about how Facebook decides whether a photo is a panorama, and whether it’s solely the aspect ratio. As I said already, it turned out this wasn’t the only deciding factor. The camera used to take a panorama is also a factor, so I had to manipulate Facebook and trick it into making my panorama one of those cool, interactive ones, just like I wanted. Here’s how: –
Facebook recognises images of a certain aspect ratio taken on a phone as being an interactive panorama, or a 360° photo, however, we know my image was shot on the Nikon Z6, not on a phone. I had to make Facebook think it was a phone shot, but how? Well, it’s quite simple: If you use an EXIF editor, you can change all manner of details about an image. One such thing is the make and model of camera used to take the shot. By simply uploading the image at theXifer.net and changing the EXIF data to show that the image was taken on an Apple iPhone, rather than a Nikon Z6, this was sufficient for Facebook to accept the uploaded file as a 360° photo, and allowed my social media followers to get a sense of what I was seeing at 2 a.m. on the top of a mountain pass in Iceland. Simple!
I’ll be sharing a lot more detailed info on the Northern Lights really soon, so stay tuned if you want to know more.
With the recent launch of the iPhone 11 and an abundance of other great camera phones on the market, combined with the age-old saying that there’s no better camera than the one you have in your pocket, this week I’m going to lay down some phone photography tips.
I’m Dave Williams, and every week I’m here on ScottKelby.com for #TravelTuesday—let’s do this!
Firstly, our phone is often the closest camera to hand when a moment arises out of nowhere that we want to put into pixels, and to this end, it can be a great benefit to be able to launch the camera app as quickly as possible. Get yourself familiar with the quickest way to launch your camera app with any shortcuts your phone offers, and if you enjoy using the camera built into Lightroom Mobile there’s an easy way access it through the iOS notification centre.
Next up, remember that everything we know about photography still applies when we use our phones. Rules of composition, selective focussing, burst shooting, and bracketing for HDR exposures can all be applied, and in fact, should be applied to give us the best results and the best mobile photos possible. Just like quickly launching our camera app, it’s important to become acquainted with the methods to apply these techniques to our photography. There are compositional overlays, we can adjust for focus and exposure, we can apply HDR, and we can shoot burst mode. Everything we know still applies, so we should make the most of what our smartphones offer us for the absolute best photos.
After we’ve captured the scene, we have a whole wealth of post-processing apps available to us. If you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud member, there’s Lightroom Mobile, and other apps are available which also deliver top-quality results, such as Snapseed, VSCO, LensDistortion, and of course, the editing features native to our phones operating systems. For example, as well as making final adjustments to our images, if we’re iPhone users, we can select a photo from our camera roll, swipe up, and then if we shot a Live Photo we can process our photo sequence into a long exposure—perfect for when we’d shoot waterfalls!
Take the time to learn your way around your camera phone and you’ll be surprised at what you can do with it!
I’ll be posting shots from my phone to my Instagram Story starting on Friday when I arrive in Iceland, so make sure you follow along right here.