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Top Tips for Better Travel Photography – Here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider for #TravelTuesday it’s me, Dave Williams, and on the eve of Photoshop World East (which I hope to see you at) I have an offering of top tips for travel photography.

I’m going off-piste here though with no bullet points and no numbers, I’m bucking the online click-bait trend and I’m going to simply hurl the tips at you, paragraph style – let’s go!

Everyone with a phone in their pockets has had a go at travel photography – it’s a genre that’s so broad it may as well not actually be a genre because in fact it incorporates a range of other genres in itself. Everything from National Geographic’s magazine covers down to the holiday snap that goes no further than your phone’s camera roll is a travel photo, be it a landscape, portrait, macro, wildlife, nature, almost anything really. Travel photography is invaluable in many senses, being the million dollar business that sells people vacations and gives the world an insight into life and experience. The best way to achieve the kind of shots worthy of that Nat Geo cover is to do the following: –

They say that the best part of the camera is the few inches behind the lens – that’s the photographer. Getting great travel shots includes getting great shots of people, and great shots fuelled by people. Chatting to locals and building a rapport, perhaps throwing down some of the local language, can help no end in either getting shots of the locals themselves or in getting extremely valuable information about the best places and things to shoot in a location you’re unfamiliar with. If you’re shooting street photography it can be slightly different in that generally you’ll be shooting people in stealth mode, however for travel it’s normally a different story in that you’d usually want to build a rapport and get them on side before shooting a posed portrait (and maybe even having them sign a model release too!)

Further to preparing yourself with people, it’s important to prepare yourself with gear. The best way to achieve preparedness with gear is to have a versatile gear. I just got back from Paris where I was travelling with minimal gear. This made me mobile and saved my back from weight because of the miles of walking. The thing about the gear I took is it was versatile – I was able to achieve a lot using just a little. I took my Nikon D810 with a Three Legged Thing L-bracket, BlackRapid strap, and a Platypod Ultra – together giving me a tripod and effective means of carriage – and I took a Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 and Nikkor 28-300 f/3.5-6.3. With that bare minimum I was armed to shoot a huge range which is the ideal position for a travel photographer because of the unpredictability of the subjects being photographed and to avoid missing moments when switching lenses.

Shooting at golden hour and blue hour is key. These times offer the best light, and in the morning the water is still, the air is quiet, and nobody is awake yet so you can get shots that are empty of tourists with beautiful light. Setting an early alarm may be a struggle, but it absolutely pays off. When you are up bright and early, try experimenting with new composition. There’s time to play with different angles and positions, and to try and use your photos to tell a story.

Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs, and travel photography encapsulates a range of styles into one. The things we are ultimately aiming to achieve are to convey a timeless feel, and to make the viewer want to be there.

Much love

Dave

It’s a funny old thing, photography. There’s a bunch of photographers who are keen to share, but there’s a larger group who aren’t. But why?

It seems to me that a lot of photographers really don’t want to share their ‘secrets’ with others, as if they’ll lose out because of it. Is there actually any real chance of loss through sharing ideas and creative processes with others? Let’s tackle that first: I certainly don’t think there is, and here’s why.

When you share an idea in, say, the field of real estate photography, what would have to happen for you to lose? Basically your idea would have to be put into practice by your nearest competitor. That is to say the competitor in your town or area, attracting your clients, hunting your target market, and shooting the same style as you would have to be the person causing you a loss owing to you sharing your ‘secrets.’ The offs of that very specific set of circumstances becoming a reality is extremely slim, as I’m sure you’d agree. In sharing your idea you’re helping other photographers in your field but (noteably) out of the scope of your target market to grow and to develop their skills, knowledge, understanding, and creative abilities. I don’t see any loss there at all! So as they say, sharing is caring. 

Photography is challenging enough already as an industry with the pressures and nuances coming from the outside, with a completely unnecessary spanner sitting in the inner works that we need to lose. We need to grow as individuals in this industry, and also as a community. We all started somewhere, and we all grow from that place. In order to achieve that growth we need to take some chances, show some vulnerabilities, and from that foundation we need to move onward and upward. The vulnerable side of us in that growth is the side of us which is taking chances on releasing what is becoming a progressively better portfolio, where each image is better than the last. Retrospectively this makes the last photo worse than the current and so it shows those “bad shots” in broad daylight. This cycle never really stops – we’re always showing this vulnerability because we’re always releasing better shots and thus, through time, revealing those same shots as getting progressively worse as the next good shots come to the surface. So here’s the next thing: –

That cycle links in to the need for critique. Not heavy, harsh criticism, but creative, objective critique. It helps us to grow and it helps our community to grow. It leads us to achieve better things, better shots, and reveals new talent. We all started somewhere, as I said, and we’ve all needed guidance whether we sought it or it came unsolicited to us. It’s done from groups, communities, and from more experienced photographers. We’ve all been helped and as such we should all pay it forward. 

Help people. Show strengths rather than pointing out weakness. Encourage growth, offer solutions, and add value to work that needs improvement rather than devaluing and discouraging through focusing on negatives. We’ve been in positions in our own growth, be it in photography or otherwise, where we’ve felt like throwing in the towel, and a little skill sharing and positive contribution to steer us back on course always helps – let’s make sure it’s strong in the photographic community and remember where we started, and as I said, that we lose this fear of giving away too much. There’s actually nothing to lose. 

Much love

Dave

I took a week off for the kids’ spring break, and when I got back to the office last week, on my desk, I found a thank you card from a teacher at the University of Wisconsin who attended last year’s Photoshop World conference. She included this photo (above) taken at the conference. :)

There was something in her card that really struck me, so I reached out to her and asked if I could share her note and she was kind enough to allow me. Her card read:

Dear Scott, Thank you for a spectacular Photoshop World in Orlando. I cannot tell you how much of a positive impact it had on me — not only as a photographer, but also as a human being.

It was an absolute honor to meet you and attend your classes. Thank you for telling us to print our photographs. I’ve taken that to heart, and I’ve started to print my photos because you made such excellent points — they make an impact and they are our photo backup.

I’m including a photo of us from PSW. Thank you for everything. I appreciate it more than you know!

Best,

Alyssa Nepper

The thing that stuck out to me was the effect it had on her as a person. I just wrote about this very topic to our members recently — there are things beyond the classes, the instructors, and the learning that makes being at Photoshop World very special. Something that being there does to you, and an effect it has on you that’s beyond all that.

When we come together at Photoshop World we get totally engrossed in our passion, in being creative and being surrounded by other creative people, something wonderful happens. I wrote to our members: “This shared passion, the amazing community experience at the conference, and spending a few days getting inspired, motivated, and making new friends — I’m not sure if it’s ever been more important than it today,” and I truly believe.

I’m grateful to Alyssa for sharing her experience, and for allowing me to share it with you. In responding to my request to share her story, she forwarded me the image you see below — one she put together about her Photoshop World story, and I just love it.

While the conference is still called “Photoshop World,” Photoshop is only a part of it. There are entire tracks on photography, on lighting, on Lightroom, on design, and you’ll find everyone at Photoshop World now. Designers, retouchers, landscape photographers, teachers, students, creatives, portrait pros, Photoshop wizards, and Photoshop beginners. Tattoo artists, video experts, and people who are there to learn Lightroom, or the business side of things, or folks who want to be inspired, recharge their batteries and awesome people like Alyssa.

This is our 20th year of producing the Photoshop World Conference, and we’re celebrating by holding two full conferences: an East Coast Photoshop World in Orlando (May 31 – June 2nd), and a West Coast in Las Vegas, at our new home — The Mirage Resort and Casino (which I predict will be our best venue for Photoshop World ever!). Come and experience it for yourself. Tickets, details, and travel info are at photoshopworld.com – I hope I’ll get to hang out with you at one or the other.

I wish you the best this week. :)

-Scott

P.S. If you’re thinking about coming to Orlando, don’t miss out on the Early Bird special, $100 off before April 29th.

It’s #TravelTuesday again right here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider. Usually I, Dave Williams, take the opportunity to use this platform to share some pearls of wisdom with you all about photography, Photoshop, travel, or life. Well today I’m using this platform to do something altogether different and share some wisdom from somebody else.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce 20 year old Abdulazez Dukhan. I won’t introduce him further than that, I’ll simply share the transcript of our conversation with you here, alongside some of his photos.

 

 

I am from Homs, Syria, and now I live in Belgium. After three years of war in my home we left for Turkey. It was there that my story with art began. I started to watch videos online to learn about Adobe Photoshop. In the beginning it was hard but I wanted to learn it and develop my new skill so that I could express myself in images rather than through lots of words. I have watched many different courses and put in a lot of hours of practice to try and get better in cutting images, understand colour, and all the other knowledge that goes into retouching. Since I started  to use Photoshop I became more interested in photography, but it was so hard to buy a camera as I never had enough money. In January 2016 we left Turkey and moved through to Greece. I found myself in a refugee camp along with thousands of other people, living without any knowing of what the next day had in store for us. There I decided to start with the photography that had been on my mind. In the beginning I took photos on my phone to document what was happening around me. I decided to start volunteering to improve my English. I met many volunteers in the refugee camps. One of them was an Italian named Annalisa. When she went back to Italy she insisted that she want to send me a gift to thank me for helping. I declined initially but eventually after she insisted I said, “a small trip camera would be really helpful as I can document the situation,” and so my story started with photography – I had my first small camera. I trusted myself that I can be a photographer and I started taking photos. I made a small album, put it online, and started to take more and more photos. A Spanish volunteer, Carles, saw my work online and wanted to support it. He very generously sent me a Nikon D3300 as a birthday gift. I had an upgrade and my photos started to get better as my understanding of light, composition, and the technical elements of creativity grew. This time my new camera had manual mode and it allowed me to start practicing more, and in a better way. I spent many hours every day practicing and trying to understand the difference between ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. After almost a year in Greece I asked a German photographer friend named Geo about a lens I was interested in and I was surprised when he said “I want to buy a new camera and I want to send you mine.” I was amazed and through such generosity I now have my own professional camera. A Canon 60D. Where I lived and what I have seen has always inspired me, those who didn’t know me but believed what I believed, that I can be photographer, gave me a feeling of strength through adversity. Living in hard conditions taught me that there is no such word as ‘impossible.’ I’ve thought hard about it and I’ve decided on the name ‘AzYeux,’ which is a combination of my name and the French word for ‘eyes.’ Creating a website and brand today makes me very glad. I always wanted to have all of my work on one website. I would love to take my photography and art to a more professional level, and do commercial work, commissions, travel, and work on big projects. I would love to meet other photographers and artists who I can learn from.

 

I asked Abdulazez to briefly explain some photos of his that stood out to me. Here they are, along with his explanations: –

 


Sometimes falling down isn’t like our world. Sometimes falling down is going up, or falling up. It reminds me a lot of pain. At some points on my journey I really felt I was making the wrong choice, but then I was surprised that it was better than the others.

I have always heard about Superman but everyone knows he is just a superhero character from movies, so I wanted to show that it is not in a movie. There are many real supermen, not in the superpower or the clothes maybe, but the goals.

I wanted to make it very clear for many people why refugees leave their countries. I used art to cut the original photo and edit it.

I took this photo in Karamanlis refugee camp in Greece. The text wasn’t exactly that, it was “save me and my children it is very cold” but as it was with the kid it didn’t work so I asked permission and changed the text to message I wanted to reach to people.

Sometimes there are just scenes you see in your mind before you make a photo. While swiping photos of Syria, I saw it as something different in my mind so I took what I learned about compositing and I made it into what I was seeing.

Through photos I tried to focus on the situation, to try to reach to media and reach out to people. People have been stuck in camps for a long time and this was an idea just to try and say, “we are still here.” #IDeserveLife

Photos in the ‘I wish I could be’ series that I have taken and edited show that these kids deserve to live and have dreams just like any other kids in the world

Thank you so much for taking the time to read a little into Abdulazez’s story and taking a look at the photos he’s made through self-taught creative skills which were realised because of the opportunities he was given from the kindness of strangers. You can find him on Instagram or on his website if you’d like to see more. I’d like to thank Abdulazez for letting me share this portion of his story and his journey, and a massive thanks to KelbyOne for giving him access to their courses to further develop his skill, and to Platypod and BlackRapid for giving him an Ultra and a Sport Breathe strap to add to his collection of gear.
Much Love
Dave

#TravelTuesday has come around again, and right here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider that means one thing… Dave’s here! Aren’t you lucky, lucky people! I’m Dave Williams and I’m a travel photographer, writer and educator from the UK, and I’ve got a little idea for you to try out.

First off, better late than never, Peter Treadway and I led a photowalk in London this past Sunday. We used to run them quite frequently, and this is our very late attempt at tagging on to the Worldwide Photowalk. With thanks to KelbyOnePlatypodBlackRapid, and Lonely Planet, we gave away some awesome prizes on the day, and we had an amazing yoga model come along too, who I couldn’t help but go head to her with (literally) for a crow-off!

 

 

Thanks to everyone who came along! Peter and I had a great time, and if you’re on our side of the pond keep an eye on our social media for the next one!

But, moving on, this week I want to plant a little idea in your mind for a winter challenge. A couple of years ago I was experimenting with reversing rings and I made some photos of snowflakes. It’s so simple to do it, but so difficult getting your head around all the intricate complexities of what’s happening to your glass with this technique. Here’s on example of what you can achieve, before I tell you how to achieve it: –

 

 

This was done with a reversing ring, and the lenses involved were a 50mm prime mounted backwards in front of a 28-300mm lens. A reversing ring is an inexpensive ring which has two threads, allowing you to mount the front ends of two lenses together and basically making a magnifying glass. I won’t go into too much detail on it, but I want to share some quick tips with you if you’re willing to take on the challenge and give this a go!

Firstly, the focal plane becomes insanely narrow so finding focus is hard work. You need to be absolutely rock-steady to keep everything in focus as best as possible, perhaps by mounting your gear onto a Platypod.

Secondly, there’s a lot of glass between the sensor and the subject, with a lot of lost light! You need to shoot with a higher than normal ISO, and the reversed front lens needs to have its aperture ring fixed open to maximise on the light. An extra source of light will help you, too!

Thirdly, because everything is reversed it’ll take a minute to find your feet and figure out what action is having what affect on your image. Some things work regularly, and some things work totally counter-intuitively, so give yourself plenty of time to familiarise yourself with cause and affect of all of your movements – they’re not always going to be what you expect! I’ll leave you to figure that out ;)

And finally, if you’re shooting snowflakes like I did in this example, act fast! Those little shards of natures beauty will melt faster than you’d believe. Literally, blink and you miss it. If you’re holding the front of your lens for stabilisation the heat from your hand will potentially melt your subject. Just keep that in mind!

 

 

So, challenge accepted? I’d love to see what your imagination creates with a reversing ring, and I’d love to see how you can handle the mind-frazzling flux of everything you thought you knew about focus and light that drastically changes when you mount a lens backwards! Show me what you come up with! I’m @capturewithdave on all platforms and I can ‘t wait to see what you make.

Until next week

 

Much love

Dave

But there’s more to it than just that!

So, it’s #TravelTuesday, and round these parts that means one thing. I’m back! I’m Dave Williams, and today I’m writing for you from France where I’ve just visited Mont St Michel. Look, proof: –

 

 

So, the rationale behind this post is that I tried to shoot this place a few weeks ago and failed. I hate to fail! What happened was that I wanted to go shoot sunrise at the only part of France that wasn’t occupied by the Germans during WWII (there you go, random factoid) but it was so cold riding through the night that I had to keep stopping to warm up and I didn’t make it. It sucked, and this place is somewhere I visited years ago when I didn’t really know what I was doing, and at in circumstances whereby I was only able to visit during the harsh light of day. Basically, I was staying in St Malo and go the bus, which wasn’t going to get me there before sunrise or bring me back after sunset. Importantly, at the time, I had ticked it off my enormous wish list of places to visit, but it became important for me to shoot it properly in the right light, hence the reason for the 9 hour ride having woken up at home and risen from my warm, toasty bed at 04:30 to get here for sunset today (Monday). Here’s one of the shots I got: –

 

 

What happened here is perseverance. Perseverance isn ‘t going to make you succeed, but without it you’re far less likely! It’s something that can be taken across into other walks of life, as well as applying to photography. For me in this example, it’s just photography.

When we set out to achieve anything, we must persevere. We will face setbacks and we will find things that will suck the motivation out of us. It’s just a fact of life. Perhaps we might get stuck on a path that isn’t really taking us anywhere and need to get off it in order to step things up a gear. Whatever it may be, if we persevere in our aspirations we will reach that higher goal, and in doing so those setbacks and motivation sappers will become easier to deal with and as such our goals will become bigger, breeding a new cycle of goals bigger than the last which we will persevere even harder to achieve. Thing is, you kind of need both because without a goal you won’t persevere, and without perseverance you won’t reach your goal.

Having the right mindset and having clear, conscious thought is key. It’s often described as ‘thinking right’ and it’s absolutely true that having the correct way of thinking, perhaps the positive mental attitude, will help realise those goals and make the challenges faced along the way much easier to deal with. I like quotes, which you will know if you follow my Instagram, and whenever I see a good one I screenshot it. There’s one which sits just right here that I saw a few days ago, and it’s this: –

Currently not letting anyone f&$k with my flow

Am I right? Or am I right? Getting perspective, having achievable goals, and having that mindset, all go together to give the strength required for perseverance, and perseverance is what will help you to realise your dreams and achieve your goals. I persevere a lot in getting the shots I want for my portfolio, and I’m talking about my professional and personal portfolios. Having the right mindset will help you to do the right things, and surrounding yourself with positivity will bring out the positive within you. Please, persevere to achieve your goals, but remember all the other ingredients that work alongside it to make it happen.

Much love

Dave

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