Tag Archives dave williams

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am writing today from the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The weather is typically Scottish, which can be considered secret code for ‘it’s raining’. I’m waiting patiently for the sky to give me some decent light for a particular hike I want to do that goes half way up a mountain for a spectacular view, but so far all I’ve done is send the drone up there. This has made me think about the 5% of time that actually gets dedicated to photography.

As a professional photographer we are only around 5% photographer. Honestly, it’s so boring at times. Developing and driving a photography business is largely about everything else. It’s about social media, marketing, blogging, accounting… it’s about everything that keeps the photography going. The accounting element in itself can break down into general accounts, invoicing, purchasing, and a little more. The marketing includes maintaining a website, dealing with e-mails, finding clients, creating ways for clients to find us, and that list also goes on.

I’ve found that all this can be quite detrimental to creativity. In fact, scratch that. It can be very detrimental. It’s extremely important for us to stay on our creative toes when we’re neck deep in ‘admin’ work.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Personal projects. Having a personal project, either aligned to our regular photography or something totally different, will keep our creativity and our sanity. This is not something that’s unique to photography. Let’s take a look at plumbing, for instance. A plumber spends a lot of time buying parts, sending invoices, marketing their business, and everything else we do as photographers, but here’s the difference: –

A knock in our creativity as a photographer will have a huge impact on our business unless we keep it in check. We need to proactively deal with it. We need to nurture our creativity whilst we’re doing the 95%.

Message of the day, therefore, is this: – Engage in personal projects to keep on top of your creative ‘A’ game.

Much love

It’s #TravelTuesday and I, Dave Williams, am here on ScottKelby.com as always. Today, I write from a cold, rain-soaked Scotland.

Tomorrow on The Grid there’s going to be something epic happening. If you’ve been keeping an eye on the Platypod social media feeds, you’ll know there’s a new product dropping, but what could it be?

Platypod has a great history of Kickstarter projects, each time unleashing a ground-breaking new product on the market, and this time is bound to be no different.

I’ve been a big fan of Platypod from the first moment I had my hands on the Ultra. It’s a fantastic piece of kit, and a solution to a problem so many photographers have, but what are its capabilities?

Today, I want to explain why I don’t go anywhere without a Platypod. Let’s do it!

First up, the tripod police!

We come up against a lot of situations as photographers whereby the use of tripods is banned. Most of the time we are completely unable to see why, and it’s usually backed up by the words “health and safety,” and enforced by an over-zealous security guard. Well, the Platypod isn’t a tripod, and that’s a workaround that has always worked in my experience. With a Platypod, I’ve been able to shoot in The Palais Garnier, Paris, St Stephens Basilica, Vatican City, The Royal Portuguese Library, Rio Di Janeiro, and a huge list of other places where tripods are otherwise banned. When I use a Platypod I can get away with placing it down right under the nose of the same security guards that would have kicked me out with a tripod, and it gives me the stability to get shots of some stunning interiors with a lower ISO and higher shutter speed. Perfect.

Coming in second, space-saving

I often find myself in situations where savings in space and weight are important. Having a Platypod instead of a tripod in certain situations is the perfect way to save this space and weight, meaning I can trek with a less awkward camera bag and still get the stable shots I need a tripod for. I’ve found that the creative expression that comes from moving a tripod around to find a particular perspective can be achieved just as easily with a Platypod, so there’s no disadvantage to losing the height. There are usually places to put a Platypod that still allow us height in our shots, and when we’re exploring with another person it’s often the case that our photography comes in at “second place” and, therefore, we may not want to be carrying all our gear anyway. If we are exploring a new place on vacation and we’re out all day, carrying a huge camera bag with all our gear can be quite cumbersome. In these cases, I’ll pick the lens I want for the day and attach it to my camera, then stick a Platypod under the camera and use my Blackrapid Sport Breathe to carry the whole rig. This gives me the option to take longer exposures and more stable shots, but also means I’m carrying only the bare minimum.

The best low perspectives

Shooting low, particularly for interior architecture shots, is a great perspective and really shows off the walls and ceilings of locations that are ornately decorated, and opens the spaces up. The floor in such places is normally quite bland, so getting low and cutting that floor into a slither whilst concentrating upwards gives a fantastic viewpoint. Cutting out the floor completely and just shooting upwards, focusing on the ceiling details in places such as the Vatican City, where there are large crowds to consider and a lot of beautiful artwork above us, is another option the Platypod affords us. We can be in and out in a flash with shots like this, which allows us to either turn out more photos, or simply kick back and enjoy the place we’re visiting.

I can talk about the advantages of a Platypod all day, but I’ll stop there for now. Feel free to check out my more detailed posts over on the Platypod blog, but I’ll leave you with this: –

Tomorrow, Wednesday 6th April, the creator of this epic piece of kit will be alongside Scott on The Grid, and there’s something big coming! Be there in the live feed on Scott’s Facebook page to make sure you don’t miss anything, including the special offers for first backers of this brand new piece of magic!

Much love

Being here on a Wednesday is a change of scenery for me. I’m Dave Williams, and I usually write the #TravelTuesday column here on ScottKelby.com, but today I’m joining you all on a Wednesday for a guest blog post, and I’m pretty excited about it.

I’ve updated my Northern Lights book for the season, which begins now. It’s available right now, but I wanted to give some insight into my relationship with lady Aurora, so here goes.

It begins during a strange part of my life. It was a kind of ‘in-between’ time when I wasn’t sure what my path was. I knew I was progressing with my photography, but I was mindful of it becoming an income generator because it was a passion – it was my ‘happy place’ and I didn’t want that to become labour. What I’ve managed to do is find a ‘happy place’ within my ‘happy place’ – that being the northern lights.

It all started more or less the same time I began to travel. I was in a strange place in my life, and with my photography passion, I had always been interested in unfamiliar landscapes. I began to try and explore them and started with Iceland, with which I immediately felt great affection.

I was in Iceland some years ago, in January, and I woke up early in the morning to drive a few hours from Reykjavik to Solheimasandur. On a pristine, wild black sand beach, there’s a wreckage of a Douglas DC-3 Dakota belonging to the United States Navy. I travelled in darkness to reach it both by car and on foot, trekking several kilometres through slushy black sand, and arrived just in time for sunrise – my first light in Iceland. I was pleased with my achievement and had an excellent time shooting that plane, which set me up for a great day ahead.

The thing is, it was an Icelandic winters day, so it was a concise one. I had just a few hours of daylight to explore and spent much of it exploring as much of the south coast as I was able to before I ran out of time. By the evening, I had reached Thingvellir. I was on the Thingvallavegur, the main road through the park, and began to turn my search skywards for the elusive northern lights.

I was standing in a flowing, pristinely snow-covered landscape with my head turned toward the stars, straining my eyes and wondering whether I was seeing things or whether it was my imagination as I listened to the howling gale or the polar wind. Snowflakes drifted just above the ground at break-neck speeds, and the light of a new moon played tricks on my eyes, showing me reasons why Icelanders may believe in elvenfolk, or elves.

Above me, in the star flooded sky, I was watching what I thought were clouds forming. The dull greyness moved slowly, pulsating in the air, though I struggled to see it through focused, squinted eyes. The clouds seemed to move in a way I’d never noticed clouds move before. They almost swirled and danced slowly, pulsing and changing in opacity as I looked up confused.

I was beside my idling rental car which was toasty-warm, and the stereo happened to be playing Pray by Take That (my musical taste is impeccable) which contains the line, “I’m so cold and all alone.” The feeling, the atmosphere, and the lyrics connected perfectly to me at that moment in time and that moment in my life.


I’m Dave Williams, here for #TravelTuesday at ScottKelby.com as always, and let me start by saying that right now I have zero trips booked! Zero! This is unusual for me, but I’ve got a lot going on with a new writing gig over at DIYPhotography, and I’m moving house this month. This is not good for me—I’m feeling very apprehensive and need to get a trip booked soon, so if anyone has any ideas of where I should go next, drop it in the comments!

This week, I want to address a subject which is very important in making our images stand out, and one which unfortunately seems to take a back seat. Depth! Giving our images the third dimension is very beneficial in keeping the viewer’s eyes on our image just a little longer. Considering a foreground, middle ground, and background is the simplest way to bring the third dimension to life, but there are some techniques that can help us do this. Lucky for you, I’ve slimmed it down into five steps! Let’s go!

Use Perspective

If we have different elements of a scene that provide perspective, we create a sense of depth. Converging lines do this very well. Converging lines draw our eyes through a subject, perhaps to another subject, and eventually end at the horizon.

The lines of the roofs and floors of the cabins in the foreground, on either side, extend to the background and converge. They converge on the centre cabin, but could just as easily converge on the horizon and do the same job.

Use Leading Lines

Similarly to using converging lines, we can use leading lines to convey depth in a scene with fantastic results. A simple way to do this is to use a wide-angle lens, but any lens will work fine if we’re considerate about what we’re doing. The lines don’t even need to be obvious—they can be subliminal or subconscious and work great.

Everything in this shot leads the eye to the jagged stack in the sea—all the lines, the clouds, and even my gaze. Yes, it’s a selfie.

Go Aerial

Aerial shots add depth through both perspective and atmosphere. Incorporating atmospheric conditions into our shot helps convey a sense of depth and dimension.

If we reinforce our aerial perspective through the use of another one or more techniques from this list, we are onto a winner.

Shoot Through Something

By literally adding another layer to our image we add a sense of depth. We can do this by using a part of the environment as a frame, or by selecting something like a plant to shoot through, focussing on either element to create the depth.

Consideration should be given to which element deserves focus. As you can see here, when I shot this grass on top of a Norwegian fjord, I decided it deserved the attention whilst the enormous depth of the background adds an enigmatic quality.

Isolate the Subject

By using depth of field to isolate our subject, we inherently create depth through bokeh. The blurred background helps to separate the subject from the background.

This Hairy Highland Cow was shot at f/2.8, which is a decent, wide aperture and lends itself to this kind of bokehed background.

How’s that for quick-fire education on a Tuesday!? I hope something in there was useful for you. But, seriously, I don’t have any trips booked! If you think of something, shout at me on my Insta. I’m feeling very tripophobic right now.

Define: Tripophobia [ trip-uhfoh-bee-uh ]

  1. (n) The fear of not having any trips booked.

Much Love

#TravelTuesday is happening, people! Right here at ScottKelby.com it’s me, Dave Williams, and this week I want to dispel a myth about the pros!

I’ve just returned from a trip to Norway and Finnish Lapland, and the weather was disgusting! That’s what prompted this post. I didn’t get nearly as many photos as I usually do because there was a lot of thick, sideways snow and I didn’t fancy the risk-to-life to get some of the shots I wanted. One of my plans was to climb a mountain overlooking a small cove in the Lofoten Islands, but that never came to fruition owing to the severe weather and deep snow, for example. This led to me not returning with nearly as many photos as usual, which in turn led me to think this: –

When I was starting out I spent a lot of time thinking I had a lot of shots that were no good, and that there was no way the likes Scott Kelby or David Yarrow would have such a collection of out-of-focus, over and underexposed shots that I had. I figured that these guys are the pros and they must have a whole collection of keepers and nothing else.

To take this up a step, when I go somewhere there’s usually that “one shot” I’m going for, and if I get it I’m happy. For this last trip, it was a very simple shot, and one not often seen of the Reine region of the Lofoten Islands. It’s not a tricky shot (aside from the 40MPH gusts that were seriously pushing the limits of my tripod), but it’s a shot I wanted. It’s this one: –

So, one shot. One. There are a handful of other shots from the mission that will end up on blogs and stock, but it is just a handful. When I was starting out, I wish I’d known that the photographers who make a living from this and travel the world and are known for their advice and tutorials are also knocking out far less keepers than I thought, and that it wasn’t just me! I mean, it’s a good thing to have that little burning thought as motivation to work harder, but it’s just as important to know that having a whole reel of keepers isn’t realistic. Bottom line is this: – they aren’t all keepers!

Don’t judge yourself by your bad shots, we all have them! Sometimes I can come back from a trip and have no special shots. Sometimes there’s a bunch of “standard” shots, not particularly creative, not particularly special, not good enough for the portfolio, just good enough for stock.

That’s the purpose of this post summed up. Sometime’s there’s a pile of rejects, and often there’s just that one shot. It’s not just you, it’s all of us.

Much love


Happy #TravelTuesday one and all! I’m Dave Williams and I’m here on ScottKelby.com with some top tips for you.

What I’m sharing today is something I’ve seen time and again on Facebook groups – people asking how to focus in the dark for night time landscapes and astrophotography. It just so happens that this features in my new book about the Northern Lights, so in my experience shooting the Aurora I’m quite well versed in how to focus when you can’t see anything and I have three methods to share with you.

Method 1 – Focus on the brightest thing

This is the best way, hence sticking it up at number 1 on the list. It’s far better using Mirrorless cameras, but can still be done on DSLR’s. First up, get Live View up and running. Using the + key on your camera, zoom in on the brightest object in the distance (perhaps by moving the camera to face another direction.) When you’re zoomed in, manually focus until the object is tack sharp, then lock off the focus by keeping it on Manual Focus mode. The bright object could be the moon, a bright star, or a lit farm or building in the distance.

Method 2 – Focus while it’s light

This method requires planning and preparation – but it works if you can do it. Before you lose the light, focus on something in the distance which is compatible with the focus you’ll want when you’re shooting in the dark, then lock off that focus by switching to Manual focus. You can take it up a step and, to ensure that focus doesn’t accidentally get knocked off-point, taping the focussing ring to the barrel of the lens with some gaffer-tape.

Method 3 – Focus on infinity

This doesn’t mean twisting the focussing ring as far as it goes – it means hitting that sweet spot. Take a look at the markings and there’ll be a particular point at which the lens is focussed on infinity – usually either the centre of the infinity symbol, or a line demarcated next to the infinity symbol. This tip requires light, which obviously kind of defeats the object of being able to focus in the dark, so remember that when you create your own light to use this method, be courteous to other photographers around and don’t flash bright lights all over the place and, where possible, use a red light to maintain your own night-visibility that your eyes will have adjusted to.

I hope these three methods are useful to you, and if you haven’t had a go at photography in the dark you really should give it a go!

If you’re in or around London, UK, this Sunday it’d be cool to see you. I’m holding a photographer meet-up and you’re invited.

Much love