Category Archives Travel Photography

There are stories of people doing various photographic experiments in heavily photographed locations worldwide, including Oliver Curtis who famously shot landmarks in the opposite direction. This week, I’d like to discuss methods of shooting places that are already heavily photographed, which is a common issue for me as a travel photographer.

So, I’m Dave Williams and happy #TravelTuesday to you all! Let’s get on!

This is Hamnøy, in the Lofoten Islands of northern Norway. This scene is “internet famous” now as a result of more accessible tourism to the area and the trending nature of big Instagrammers’ shots going worldwide. As is common with such images, there’s one shot, one view, one composition, shot in a variety of styles because there’s literally one vantage point. To shoot this scene depicting the small fishing town flanked by water and snuggled among imposing mountains, you have one option and one option only—walk up the road bridge, which connects Hamnøy with Sakrisøy.

To get a different view here means to get up and change position entirely. Seeing the same view time and again, as cool as it may be, is only gong to take you so far. It’s a cool souvenir shot and there are options to shoot it slightly differently, but rather explore and get a new view altogether, like this: –

Getting up close and personal with one of the buildings, using it here as a frame, I was still able to shoot the quaint wooden houses and their stilts, along with those mountains and the water, giving the same location a different look completely.

This shift to a different subject in the same location or to a different angle of the same location means your image is less “common.” The one thing that relates here the most is something I’ve said many times before and it’s this: –

When you stop, bring your camera up to eye level, and fire a shot, it’s a snapshot. It’s a souvenir shot serving as a reminder that you were there. The week-thought-out, well-composed, and deliberate shots, using a different angle, a different perspective, and a different exposure are the shots that stand out of common places.

The Eiffel Tower—the go-to example—has been shot so many times it’s unreal. Taking shots from a different place, at a different angle, with a different focus are the stand-out shots.

You can also focus in on detail to capture somewhat of a forced perspective to show the subject but not in its entirety, like something of an enigmatic composition, which can be made part of a larger story. Again, Instagram has kind of forced this position on us as photographers, but it’s not all as bad as it seems. For example, when shooting such well-known locations try cropping in tight on an element which makes it—such as the girders of the Eiffel Tower, the tiles on St. Peter’s Basilica, or the lava rocks at Jökulsárlón. Create a new way of seeing things that have been seen time and time again, and show people the way you see.

Much love
Dave

Hey hey, happy #TravelTuesday to you all! I’m Dave Williams and, this week, I’m in Norway where it’s currently –9°C in Skibotndalen. I’m writing this on the side of the road right on the Finnish border waiting for a recovery truck. Yes, a recovery truck! I’ve just seen the most amazing aurora, got a little too excited in my rental car, and now I’m stuck in the snow.

Anyway! This week, I want to tell you about the camera settings I use for the northern lights. It’s not dissimilar to shooting waterfalls actually in its concept—if you want the aurora to be sharp with its detail and motion preserved, you need to shoot fast at around 5 seconds max.


Focusing manually is important. If you forget to switch over to manual focus two things happen: – First, your camera will try to focus in darkness and will automatically land on some random focus point, which will probably not have the aurora in focus. And, second, you may miss the focus by rolling out to infinity. When you set your lens to infinity it’s often actually a bit too far. The aurora is around 100 miles up, but even so, the way our lenses are made means we’re pushing the glass a touch too far at optical infinity. Hitting infinity and then making a tiny adjustment back the other way is, in my opinion, the best spot to focus for the northern lights. 

If you do choose to have the camera focus for you, find a bright star or something else with brightness and contrast to help your autofocus work its magic.

So, what about different strengths of aurora? Well, if the aurora is weak, I shoot for up to 30s and ISO between 2500–4000. If it’s strong, I’ll shoot between 2s and 15s and ISO 500–3200. In both cases, the aperture will be large at f/2.8 to allow the maximum amount of light to hit my sensor.

I hope this has been helpful and entertaining! Now I’m going to wait for the recovery truck to come and get me out of here, so I can head to Senja and find my hotel.

Much love

Dave

It’s all part of knowing who you are as a photographer and it defines you to the world around you. Some say it’s a crucial element to photographic success. So, why should you have a signature look?

I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here every week on Scott Kelby’s blog for #TravelTuesday.

I always used to say that my style was to not have a style. What I’ve since realised is that actually, I was still busy finding it! Regularly taking the time to assess where you’ve come in your photography journey helps to highlight key turning points and to appreciate the journey you’ve been on, as well as helps to make sure you’re moving in the right direction. On a side note, doing this can also help, at times, when you’re perhaps feeling lost or disillusioned in photography.

The key part of your signature look is this: – When people buy photography they are often actually buying the face behind the photos. You’re being booked for your look and for the style of image you’re creating. When you get booked it’s because it’s you—it’s the personality in you that’s transposed into your photography which people are buying. It’s your signature look.

Landing on your look—your style or your image—is a journey. It comes from looking at a lot of photos by other photographers and learning what concepts you like, what concepts you want to imitate, and what you want to ditch. Take all the points that you do like and try to figure out why. It’s a journey of self-examination.

Taking the time to analyse your work, so as to properly work out if and how you have employed the concepts you’ve landed on as being things you want to imitate and replicate in your own way, is key to moving forward. It’s not necessarily about what is right in terms of technically correct photos, it’s much more about the art of photography. Finding your style is about the look, not at all about the histogram.

While you can try to imitate the looks you like, be careful to not compare yourself to that work or try too hard to exactly emulate it, but simply use it to push yourself in the right direction.

Thinking of the right pro words to define your photography can aid in reaching your signature look, too. The creative words which come to mind when you look at your work, which describe your work, and which resonate through your work are those which you can confidently take forward with you in creating your next images.

Another important thing to keep in mind when finding your style is to assign yourself personal projects. Having personal projects gives you a chance to try to apply a look to a series of images, perfecting and honing that style, and then further refining the style, which ultimately results in—your style.

Having a style is important for success in photography. Find yours!

Much love

Dave

I’ve got a couple of awesome hands-on travel photography workshops coming up this year, and I would love it if you could join me (there are just a few spots left in both workshops), here’s the info:

The “Essence of Paris” Travel Photography Workshop

Instructors: Scott Kelby and Mimo Meidany
When: June 7-10, 2019
Where: Our boutique hotel is just steps from Notre Dame (accommodations and breakfast each day are included)
Tickets: More details and tickets here (limited to 12 participants total)

CHECK OUT THE PARIS WORKSHOP VIDEO BELOW:

China’s Mystical Guilin Region Photography Workshop

Yup, this is right where we’re shooting one morning on our workshop.

Instructors: Scott Kelby and Rick Sammon
When: Sunday, September 15, 2019 – Monday, September 23, 2019
Where: Accommodations, transfers and all meals included.
Tickets: More details and tickets here (limited to 12 participants total)

I only do two workshops a year…
I hope you can join me at one of them. We have an incredible time, we learn a lot, we laugh a lot, we eat some incredible food in some magnificent places, and it’s just an amazing experience all the way around.

Take a look at some shots and behind-the-scenes images from my Venice Workshop and my Rome Workshop from last year. They give you a good idea of what it’s like.

Don’t miss “Travel Tuesdays” with Dave tomorrow

Dave is awesome, it’s worth checking him out every Tuesday right here.

Have a great Monday (stop snickering) everybody! :)

-Scott

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

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