Category Archives Travel Photography

Hi all! Dave Williams here, coming at you this week from a very cold Chicago where I’m spending a few days shooting in the city. Perfect timing, it seems, to share some top tips for shooting a cityscape.

When we shoot a cityscape, we can often relate it to landscape photography, applying similar camera settings to achieve similar results. What differs in the main is the objective of the photo. We are quite often seeing a faraway land and putting our spin on its appearance by making notable points within the scene stand out, by bringing something in focus (whether that be one element or the entire skyline), and sometimes reflecting the local culture within the shot.

Yesterday, I was shooting Chicago with KelbyOne member Kevin Scott, who I know reads this blog daily.

Tip 1: Golden hour and blue hour are the best times for shooting a cityscape. As the sun rises, the city is quiet, as it begins to wake up. The changing colour of the light can bathe the city and warm it up, ready for the day ahead. In a similar way the sunset changes the light of the city, but the difference here is that the lights that are probably switched off at sunrise are being switched on for sunset. The tones in the sky are usually quite beautiful and there’s a harmonious balance between nature and the influence of people.

Tip 2: Change your perspective! The city is usually shot from a handful of good locations, over and over again. If you get the opportunity to shift perspective and shoot from somewhere else, you should absolutely make the most of that.

Tip 3: Bad weather = good! So, yesterday, I was moaning quite a lot about the cold—I won’t lie about that. That cold weather did something for the city, though, and the ice was an extra element. This translates to a rainy day, too, where the rain gives nice, shiny, reflective surfaces to shoot within a scene. The reflection not only adds a mirroring effect or a deeper element to the photo, but it also adds a level of saturation and an often overlooked location can look really great!

Tip 4: Consider the foreground. Speaking of bad weather, the ice was my foreground yesterday and it’s a foreground that isn’t permanent, so it gives my photos an edge over the rest of the market. I won’t go too much into the subject of foregrounds, save to say that they’re a good thing!

Tip 5: Lead in with leading lines. Leading lines are a powerful compositional tool because they force depth and they cause the viewer’s eye to move exactly how and where we want it to. What can potentially be a messy scene can suddenly become coherent with this simple addition.

Tip 6: Stabilise. To get the length of exposure we need, in order to keep the entire range in focus for such a deep scene, we often need to use a tripod, or where tripods aren’t allowed or are too heavy to carry around, a Platypod.

Tip 7: Use your imagination! Look for patterns, look for light, think about movement, such as water and vehicles, and capture the essence of the city as best as you can! When planning your city shoot, use the tools available to you to get the best shots in the best locations: – Instagram, 500px, Pinterest, Flickr. Take a look at what everybody else is doing, so you can decide on your location. And, most importantly, have a great time!

Do you notice from the photos I’ve shared that there’s no real right or wrong? It’s more a case of considering what’s there and how to make the most of it, whilst keeping the photographic principles we know in mind!

Much love

Dave

Hey hey! Happy #TravelTuesday, once again. I’m Dave Williams, coming at you from the UK to share something about Photoshop, photography, and life. This week: photography! Pick up what I put down, and let’s go!

Time and time again this question lands in my inbox: – “How many megapixels?” Well, in truth, the only time you really need a lot of megapixels is when you’re shooting something for a billboard. Here’s why:

Photography is both an art and a science. It’s an art in terms of its creativity, but a science in terms of the application of all the elements that lend themselves to the creative result. The science is made up of gigabytes, megapixels, photons, and a whole load of other cool sounding words. The problem can often derive from people’s scientific or technical way of thinking being transposed into the art of photography, and particularly, in terms of the requisite number of megapixels, it’s often misunderstood.

Here’s the marketing myth that goes with the theory: – the more megapixels you have, the better the camera.

Nope!

So, a megapixel is basically a million dots. These dots make up the image. It would seem that more megapixels mean a sharper photo, but this is not necessarily the case—you could just have more dots on a bad photo. The lens you use, the sensor in the camera, and the photographer’s grasp of light and composition are far more important factors about what makes a good photo than the megapixels cameras are arranged by in the electronic store. It’s often said, in various different ways, that the most important thing about a camera are the six inches behind it.

The big things to consider when buying more megapixels, along with the aforementioned potential creative differences, are that more megapixels mean bigger file sizes, which in turn, means you need more hard drive space. And, that more megapixels cost more, owing to the marketing value associated to megapixels when retailers rank cameras.

Look at all those megapixels!

Let’s go back to the billboard thing. You know when you watch TV and you have the option to go between the regular channel and the HD version of the channel you’re watching? On the whole is there actually a difference? Perhaps there’s a difference on a huge screen, but on the average TV screen, it’s not noticeable. This is exactly akin to comparing what most people will use a photo for versus the one in 100 photographers who is shooting that billboard ad. Make sense?

Taking that a stage further, a very common use for images is social media. Often we find that we’re downscaling the images before we post them, and then the posting algorithms of Instagram and the like will resize our image and its resolution, once again, when we upload it. Those megapixels you invested in are, in this case, wasted.

In short, if you’re going to make a tight crop on an image or shoot for that billboard, megapixels matter. In almost all other cases, they simply don’t.

Megapixels matter in some cases, but not many! If you’re shopping for a new camera, look at other things first—read reviews on sensor quality, ISO performance—and make sure you invest properly in your lens, as well as the camera.

Much love

Dave

I’m Dave Williams and it’s #TravelTuesday here on Scott’s blog. This week, I’m going to tip most articles on their head.

When we start out in photography, we seek inspiration and education from all manner of sources—YouTube, KelbyOne, magazines, blogs, workshops— but I think the most important way to learn is to make mistakes.

The thing these methods all have in common is that they tell you what to do. Obviously! They tell us the mistakes to avoid, so that we can be better photographers. But, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my journey and I strongly recommend you do too! (Stick with me here!)

I’m not saying make all the mistakes I’ve made—for example, don’t drop your camera from a rock on the coast of Iceland straight into a rock pool (it survived), or don’t continuously trek to a remote location to shoot only to realise when you arrive that you have one bar left on your battery. I’m talking about other mistakes.

We learn in life from mistakes, and often it’s the best way to learn. A combination of both regret and education, mistakes are something from which we learn how to do something and how not to do something, as the lesson from the experience is etched into our memory.

Shooting at too high an ISO and having an overly noisy image is one of the mistakes that’s important to make in order to understand how your camera’s sensor interacts with the available light, and how your manipulation of the camera’s settings affect the final image. The extra effort that would have gone into using a tripod and shooting a longer exposure at a lower ISO would be the fix and the lesson to learn in such circumstances.

Speaking of ISO, when I used to shoot weddings, I lost track of the number of times I’d be shooting inside a beautiful church at a high ISO to balance the tonal range of the images, but then stepped outside continuing to shoot at that high ISO and ruining the first handful of images. It was essentially a learning curve—it happened a few times, but once I eventually got it in my mind, it never happened again!

On the same sort of level, one thing that used to often happen when I was shooting in the high north during winter, is that I would go out to shoot the Northern Lights (or at least look for them!) and have my camera set on a long exposure to capture the motion, with a high ISO to be sensitive to the level of light coming at me (which I obviously wouldn’t overlook), but I’d also have the autofocus switched off! The following morning I’d grab the camera, having seen a cool-looking mountain or something, and shoot it, having adjusted the ISO and shutter speed to suit, but forgotten about the autofocus! Again, once I’d made the mistake a few times, it was set in my mind and it hasn’t happened since.

And again, on the same sort of level, the cold, in this case. Have you ever had a wet tripod and not dried it off properly? The result is terrible—trust me! It’s a lesson not forgotten when everything seizes up!

Over-processing is a mistake often made in the early days, and it’s worth noting here that if you want to make your images look unrealistic and have a halo around every object, make sure you crank the Clarity and Saturation sliders right up. ;)

See the big shadow, here, in the sky over Turkey? A reminder to clean the sensor or lens is learned from the mistake of not doing just that!

Making mistakes is very important. I’d like to say we only make them once, and although that is often the case, it’s not always the case. Nevertheless, when we make mistakes, we (sooner or later) won’t repeat them and will get our time to shine and get it right every time. It’s in our nature to make mistakes, and it’s also in our nature to learn from them. I just wish I didn’t make the same mistake twice!

Just be yourself; it’ll all fall into place.

Much love

Dave

Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! I’m Dave Williams, coming at you from Tallinn, Estonia where I’m exploring this old city in search of coffee, burgers, and awesome views! This week, I have a secret tip for your drone photography.

 

 

Everyone wants to know what they’re doing wrong, right? Well, here’s what you’re doing wrong! The top rookie drone pilot mistake, aside from flying in the wrong places (I won’t go there, though), is…

When people get a drone they go through actions not dissimilar to when they get a window seat on a plane. What us humans tend to do is take a photo of that place down below us, familiar to us, from a new perspective. We get on the plane and, as it takes off over our local city, we see things we recognise out of the window and shoot them for the sake of shooting them. It’s not a bad thing; I’m not saying that at all. If anything, it’s pretty cool to get that new perspective of such a familiar place and to see how things look relative to one another from up there. It’s tantamount to what we all did when we first discovered Google Street View—we suddenly had the technological ability to literally go anywhere we wanted in the entire world and despite that, we all did the exact same thing. We opened up the map, we took hold of that little man, and we all dragged him and dropped him into the exact same position: our front door! We like to see things from a new perspective; it’s clearly in our nature. This little trait we all seem to have rubs off in our drone photography and we need simply to be aware of it in order to avoid it.

 

 

When flying a drone, as I’ve explained in my KelbyOne class, we need to fly like a movie director. This means not simply lifting off and turning the camera to view the place we took off from. It means applying all that we know about photography, such as light, composition, and subject matter, and applying it to the new camera up in the air. It’s simply another camera, which is now removed from us—the same rules and principles apply.

Don’t be the passenger in the window seat. Make your drone photography stand out among the crowd.

Much love

Dave

 

Hello, and welcome! It’s #TravelTuesday here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, which of course means that I, Dave Williams, am here, in your face, loud and proud with some industry nuggets of gold to share with you!

First off, news time:

Workshop – If you’re up for a workshop in Iceland, I’ll be running one this summer alongside my brother from another mother, Peter Treadway. Keep your eyes peeled over on my social media (@capturewithdave) for more info!

Webinar – On January 5th, on the amazing Photoshop and Photography Facebook Group, I’ll be hosting a webinar all about drones and drone photography. It’ll go live at 9 p.m. UK time, 4 p.m. EST, and 1 p.m. PST.

Photowalks – Following the awesome time we all had in London on our recent photowalk, it is my intention to run more! The good folks at BlackRapid thought this was a brilliant idea, and they’ve thrown a whole bunch of straps my way to give away at future photowalks. So, if you’re in London (or willing to get there), watch my social for more walks!

Seminar – Sorry to those of you in the USA and the rest of the world, but here’s another UK one: – In the new year, I’ll be hosting a seminar at the Sim Imaging gallery in Hatfield, Herts, and it’d be great to have you there! Again, details will go live over on my social.

So, the blog!

There are Christmas markets dotted throughout the world right now and they bring an amazing atmosphere, beautiful decorations, and sparkly lights.

The best time to take Christmas photos is during the hours of darkness when the decorations and displays are enticing and almost magical. I highly recommend that you get out and find a Christmas market or two, and get some awesome shots yourself!

Now, you and I know that rules are meant to be broken, so I’ll start with a rule-breaking example from Riga, Latvia. Christmas photos may be best at night, but that doesn’t mean they must be taken at night. Take a look: –

 

 

 

But, when we are shooting the Christmas markets and decorations at night, we need to consider the light and the action, as well as the detail.

 

 

Capturing those actions is a great opportunity to play with long exposures. With this giant Ferris wheel, I’ve taken an exposure of a few seconds to capture the movement in a very slight trail of light. It’s only possible to do this with a solid base, such as a tripod or Platypod, but carrying that extra piece of kit with you is totally worth it when you see the results.

 

 

This shot is inside the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin, Germany. When shooting a location at Christmas it’s worth incorporating the location to give the viewer a sense of place. In this image, I’ve got that hint of Christmas from the tree in view, just slightly tucked away, adding a little festivity to an otherwise ordinary scene.

 

 

At the other extreme, you can go full-on Christmas mode! In this shot, I’ve filled the entire frame with two trees, one foreground and one background element, giving the viewer an overwhelming yet beautiful feel for the season.

 

 

Going back to the sense of place, this time the situation is reversed in that the place becomes part of the Christmas scene, rather than the other way around. Christmas has clearly taken over here and overcome its surroundings, but highlighting those surroundings in amongst the action makes for a winning shot.

So, now that the Christmas holiday season has landed, spreading joy, peace on earth, and goodwill to all men, etc., etc., get out there with your camera and capture it!

Much love

Dave

I’m Dave Williams, and I’m back again, right here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider for my weekly #TravelTuesday post—straight from across the pond in (not so) sunny England. Today, I’m going to lay down some tips for shooting wide, which have come from my realisation that I’ve been carrying around a 14–24mm, 24–70mm, and 70–200mm lens almost everywhere I go, but haven’t actually used the 24–70mm for a very, very long time! Instead, I’ve opted for the 14–24mm to take in a much wider scene.

 

 

The most important points to note when shooting with such a wide lens are these:

It will make big things seem smaller! This can mean that our point of interest can be lost amongst the larger scene and we really do need to consider this when we’re composing the scene.

It needs a foreground element to work well. This is because there’s so much in the frame that if we didn’t have a foreground, we’d risk creating a confusing mess of a photo, with the viewer’s eye wandering around a large scene and getting lost without anything, in particular, drawing their attention around the edges. When setting up and composing our shot with a wide angle lens, just the smallest movement can make a huge difference to the foreground element. Whatever foreground element we choose, be it a road or some other leading line, or perhaps something like water to support the atmosphere of our composition, it must support and direct to the background to work just right. Because the foreground is so much more emphasised with a wide angle lens it really must be carefully considered and composed.

It will put more of the scene in focus. The depth of focus from a wide angle lens is so much greater than other, longer lenses and, therefore, it’s easier to catch a lot more of the image in focus. What we can potentially lose in distortion, which we can, of course, deal with in post, we are going to gain in overall sharpness throughout the scene.

 

 

Having a wide angle lens in the arsenal is a fantastic thing for many genres of photography, but in particular for landscapes. When it’s used carefully and properly it can help us create some truly powerful and dramatic images, so use it right and step your photography up a gear!

Much love

Dave

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