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

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, and our offices are closed as we honor and remember those who gave their lives in service to our country.

This post is dedicated each year to the memory of David Leimbach, (shown above; the brother of our dear friend and colleague Jeff Leimbach), who died 11 years ago in combat in Afghanistan.

Just a humble word of thanks to the dedicated men and women of our armed services and to all those who came before them who laid down their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy each day.

Here’s wishing you all a safe, happy and healthy Memorial Day.

All my best,

-Scott

I’m happy to announce that we are now accepting entries to have your own solo gallery showing at The Gallery at KelbyOne, in Tampa, Florida.

Our past winners have included an engineer on the long island Railroad, an Anesthesiologist, one worked for the police department. Our next winner could be you. If you’re thinking there’s no way you could win, that’s exactly what the previous winners said. The only way you don’t have a chance is if you don’t enter.

Here’s a quick one-minute video with some details:

Here’s how to enter: 

  1. Here’s where you submit a link to your portfolio, or Facebook album, or Flickr page, or online gallery – (we’re looking for a body of work – around 20 images) Note: this competition is only open to KelbyOne Pro members.
  2. From the submissions, we will choose a single winner. It could be you. If it is, we’ll fly you and a guest (from anywhere in the world) to the gallery in Tampa, Florida for a solo gallery showcasing your work, where we’ll feature approximately 18 of your images, beautifully printed and displayed by Bay Photo Lab using their amazing Xpozer system.
  3. The evening of the opening, you will welcome the crowd to a wine and cheese reception held in your honor that evening in the gallery where they can see your work, and get a chance to chat with you in person.
  4. Following the reception, we’ll move to our theater for an interview with you about your work, your life, your inspirations, and well…you. It will be streamed live around the world (along with behind-the-scenes images of the opening, and photos of your work).
  5. When it’s all over, you will receive all the prints from the exhibition (courtesy of Bay Photo Lab), and one of your images will be added our permanent collection, so future visitors can get see one of your winning gallery images.
  6. The deadline for submissions is: May 29, 2019, at 11:59 PM EDT.

Have questions?
Here’s the link to an earlier post with a detailed Q&A on how this all works.

One more thing…
We’ll wrap up with some photos from earlier gallery contest winner’s gallery openings:

Hope we’ll be welcoming you to your own gallery show very soon. Good luck everybody!

Have a great weekend!

-Scott

P.S. Next Thursday the East Coast Photoshop World conference kicks off in Orlando. Want to go? It’s not too late. photoshopworld.com

Lightpainting: Macro, Models, & Outdoor Location Portraits with Dave Black

Break out your flashlight and join Dave Black for some lightpainting fun with flowers, models, and more. You may know Dave Black as a sports photographer, but he has taken the art of lightpainting to new levels from years of practice, experimenting, and getting creative.

Dave begins the class with a daytime walk scouting for small world subjects to photograph, and then takes you step-by-step through his process for lightpainting small world scenes in daylight. From there, Dave heads into the studio for a stunning series of lightpainting portraits with a talented ballerina. Dave wraps up the class with a large scale lightpainting scene during twilight with a model on a very cool outdoor set. From daytime to night, indoors and out, Dave teaches you new ways to see the world and photograph it using creative lightpainting techniques.



In Case You Missed It – Under the Milky Way with Dave Black: Lightpainting and Photographing Stars

Join Dave Black as he lightpaints under the stars in Mono Lake and Bodie Ghost Town. Dave starts off with a walk through of all the gear needed for lightpainting before taking us through the importance of a site survey. Over the course of six different shoots in a variety of locations Dave shares all of the steps and settings needed to create stunning lightpainted starscapes. Each lesson is packed with tips, tricks, and lessons learned from Dave’s decades of experience. Dave is a master teacher, and his love for creating these photographs is truly infectious.

Have you always wondered how images like the one below are lit?

Have you ever tried to get those beautiful distinct lines from venetian blinds?


Hi guys, and welcome to my guest blog.

Over the years I’ve taught many workshops, and one of the things that always strikes me is that a lot of people are very focused on lighting setups. Even when you look at books and videos, it’s almost always about lighting setups.

Don’t get me wrong, those are pretty awesome. But the problem with this train of thought is that although you can now copy something, you don’t really understand why it gives that look, or the theory behind it so to say. So for this blog post I thought it would be fun to just take one small part of the basis of lighting and give you guys a lot of options to build something for yourself.

Today we are going to look at shadow control, more so shadow transfers. So take out your popcorn, sit down…. Here we go.

The Bare Basics Are Cool

We all want to start with the cool stuff, I get it, we want shortcuts. The idea behind this goes for everything in life. But in essence, when you look at, let’s say, one year of progress, you will find out very quickly that shortcuts are not working. Let me explain.

When I was young (not that long ago… well okay), I loved playing guitar. In fact, I didn’t do anything else. My whole life was built around playing guitar.

To pay for my hobby, I started teaching local kids. At that point I think I was 18-19 years old. At that time there was a movement emerging called shredding (playing really fast), and although I did like it, I didn’t really play like that. As a huge Queen fan, I was more into the melodic stuff.

But during that period, bands like Dream Theater, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, etc. all became hugely successful, and especially Satriani and Vai caught my attention. Listen to Steve Vai’s album Passion And Warfare and you’ll know why it changed my (and many others’) lives when it came to playing the instrument. Both Vai and Satriani used very melodic solos, but in keys I didn’t recognize. There was a certain “feel” about them, almost singing and summer, or very dark and exotic, what the…?

Soon it became clear these guys were not playing the standard stuff, but were using so called modes. So, my students wanted to learn those modes. A lot of teachers started teaching them scales, intervals etc.

Long story short, there are seven modes that are used most commonly. Imagine having to learn all seven modes over the whole neck of the guitar and remembering them all in any key possible… Feeling dizzy? Yeah, well so did I. But this is what you HAD to learn. Until I started to study what was going on (remember in that time we did not have internet, you really had to figure everything out yourself)…

Seven modes… Seven keys in a scale….mmmm

Very soon it dawned on me that is was actually very simple. Learn the C major scale and just start on different notes to get the modes. Start on D for Dorian, start on E for Phrygian, etc. Now that mess of seven modes all over the neck became actually incredibly simple. Just learn ONE scale and remember on which note to start. I was literally in heaven and very quickly could play any mode almost blindly on the guitar. My progress was like a rocket.

However, my students were very very reluctant to learn the C major scale. They would rather spend 4-5 hours learning one small Dream Theater solo than understanding what he was playing and why. In 4-5 hours you can learn the C major scale over the entire neck and play something similar to your favorite solo and make it your own, but also “play” with it and create totally new stuff.

Ok so what has this to do with photography you might wonder, well everything.

Shadows

When we talk to photographers and teachers, it’s almost always about the light. Not very often do you hear photographers talk about shadows, well, unless it’s something negative like, “How can I get rid of that shadow?” But, in essence, shadows tell you everything about the lighting.

(more…)

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!

Much love

Dave

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