Hello internets! It’s that time of week again! #TravelTuesday here on ScottKelby.com is #HybridDaveTuesdays, where I’ll share some top tips on photography and Photoshop from my background in travel photography. Thanks for your feedback from last week—I love hearing from you, keep it up!
Now for this week, let’s have a look at a common theme on Instagram right now. Take a look around and it’s clear to see that a distinct winner among the top photos in the explore section is photos with crushed blacks. That’s to say that the black point isn’t quite black. You only have to check out the likes of @MrWhisper (well worth a follow, a fellow Londonite) to see that the popularity of this technique is standing head and shoulders above the rest.
When describing this look, it’s common to hear ‘retro,’ ‘vintage,’ ‘milky blacks,’ or ‘crushed blacks.’ In Adobe Photoshop, there’s no button labelled ‘vintage,’ but I’ll show you the basics behind this look, so you can apply it to your own images. It’s worth noting that there’s not one right way to do it, but there are a number of techniques which all achieve similar results, depending on the look of your initial image. To put it in it’s simplest terms, it’s basically the opposite of HDR. Instead of increasing the dynamic range of our image, we decrease it. It may seem a little counterintuitive, in fact, because we’ve been rewarded by our favourite camera companies with some fantastic technological advances, which have allowed us to capture a much broader dynamic range, and we’re post processing to reduce it! We have the ability to make the blacks true black in post, then we go and brighten the blacks! This low-contrast look is popular, but it doesn’t always fit, so it’s important to know the right time to use it.
Here’s a straightforward technique that I use in Photoshop’s Curves panel:
We’ll deliberately introduce some clipping to our image using the Curves panel. For the dark areas, bring the left point of the line slightly up, which raises the brightness of the darkest areas of the image, and slightly to the right, which will reduce the detail. To bring the highlights down, do the opposite on the top right of the line.
The Curves adjustment tool can seem pretty intimidating, but if you play around with it to understand what’s happening, it can be very useful and powerful! It represents a histogram of the image, depicting the dark areas of the image on the left and the light areas on the right. The diagonal line is used to manipulate the brightness of different areas of the image.
So there you have it! Tones made simple—a top tip they don’t tell you! Show me how you get on, as you always do.
Hello, everybody! It’s that time of the week again, right here on ScottKelby.com, where the blog moves across the pond to London, UK, where I will share with you another of my pearls of wisdom from the world of travel photography. Thank you all for your comments and feedback from my previous posts, I really appreciate it and love to hear from you on #HybridDaveTuesdays. Today, I’m actually in Germany’s Black Forest looking for castles to shoot—you can keep up with my progress through my social links down at the bottom of the page.
This week’s post draws from a nifty trick I like to use in landscapes, and it’s all because when I travel I often find myself with too many scenes I want to shoot and not enough golden hours to shoot them all! The suggestion of landscape photography casts fear into the minds of a whole host of photographers. The art of landscape photography requires skill, patience, dedication, and usually long and unsocial hours. Composing, selecting the scene, the time of day, the lighting conditions, it can all seem a little too much of an overload for some, but you can improve almost any scene with this little hack.
I like to portray my photos as my vision of what I see at the time in my mind’s eye. The phrase I match to this, which I think represents the idea quite well is “lend me your eyes and I’ll show you what I see.” Essentially, I want people to see my memory of the scene, and I want that memory to be epic! If I see highlights or spots of light in the scene, I want to portray that in the final image.
This quick tip will arm you with the skills to draw the viewer’s eye to exactly the parts of the image you want them to be drawn to, it will add a depth to your image, and it will add somewhat of a romantic element to the lighting in most cases, as well. It’s a technique I use a lot, and it can be applied in Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Lightroom alike.
When you process your photo, consider painting in some extra light with the Adjustment Brush. It’s as simple as selecting the Adjustment Brush, pumping the Exposure slider up from anywhere between 0.5 and 2 over, depending on what fits your shot, and drawing over selective areas of your image. When I use it, I quite often use the Clarity slider, as well, to add a little edge to the retouched areas, drawing the viewer’s eye in further. It’s a technique I use all the time, and if you don’t already, I strongly implore you to consider it and try it out!
Here’s a relatively plain shot, from somewhere in the middle of Arizona, to show the results of just a little tweak with this method in Adobe Camera Raw.
This is straight out of my camera.
This is after the first retouch with sliders.
This is after painting in some light on the cactus and dotting around in the foreground.
For this edit, I had my Adjustment Brush set to +0.95 Exposure and +44 Clarity.
I hope this tip is valuable to you—I posted about it because it’s such a valuable element of my process. Let me know how you get on!
Thanks for the warm welcome and all the feedback from my first post last week! The suggestion was to throw down the hashtag #HybridDaveTuesdays and I’m ok with that ;)
I’ve been shooting for a long time. Since I was 14, in fact. I dreamed of being able to take awesome photos and I was playing around with an old Olympus digital point and shoot 1.3 Megapixel monstrosity until my parents finally realised and got me a Nikon SLR. I played around for years and years before deciding I wanted to take it further, and then the realisation that it cost an absolute fortune as a hobby pushed me to figure out how to make it pay for itself. The transition from hobby to business was ambitious and challenging, but persistence paid off and I learned a lot of lessons along the way which I’d love to snip up and share today. I’ve gotten a lot of really good advice from some really smart and creative people, and we’re all in this together!
Sidetone – This post doesn’t include a sales pitch or affiliate link. I’m just sharing the love because I’m 100% in the “community over competition” squad. Go KelbyOne!
Here is my best advice for new photographers:
Shoot with other photographers
I cannot stress this enough. Make friends with strangers! Like I said, we’re all in this together. Sign up for photo walks, meet up with people you see online, take photos of your mates, take photos of strangers, take workshops. Honestly, take every opportunity. You will learn so much about how to shoot, how other people shoot, how to network and connect, just get out there and get involved in the photography community. Don’t be afraid!
Find your niche
This is important. Can you name a famous photographer who doesn’t have a specialty? No. Can you name a famous photographer who is very specialised? Of course! There’s a reason for that. There are a LOT of photographers out there in the big, wide world, and subsequently, you aren’t competing on the quality of your photos alone, nor on your price, nor your website, but the WHOLE LOT plus your personality. You may be good, but a LOT of people are good. Your personality is portrayed through your photos, and your niche is your special little area of interest. For me, it’s travel. Even still I’m thinking of changing my genre because that’s very broad. I love to shoot the world as I see it, including its nature and wildlife, its landscapes and people. So what do you want to shoot? Fashion, Architecture, School, Underwater, Equine, Wedding, Food, Aerial, Landscape, Concert, Medical, Baby, Fine Art, there are just so many categories with varied markets out there, so make sure you love what you do and that it fits, so that within that market you can sell YOURSELF and let your photo sales follow.
NB – Note how much stress was placed on that section!
Invest in yourself
Never stop practicing! As I just said, you are selling yourself for a large chunk of this business. I’ve sat and endured hours of tedious YouTube videos just to find out how to do something, but by far the better option is to spend a little bit on some online classes or live workshops and seminars. And it really is an investment. There’s no substitute for being in an audience watching an awesome, talented professional delivering their knowledge and demonstrating their skill in person. It’s a commitment of time, energy, cash, but it’s totally worth it! I wouldn’t hesitate at doing it all again. It helped me to grow into who I am.
Find your squad
Your network. Your tribe. Your connections. Your peers will help you grow and learn, and you’ll reciprocate and help them too. You’ll learn things, you’ll meet people, You’ll pick up clients, you’ll be inspired, and you’ll make friends! If I didn’t have the squad I wouldn’t be anywhere even close to where I am. It’s the advice, inspiration, and criticism that helps you learn from your mistakes and you perhaps wouldn’t have known you made them without the squad there!
Know when to invest in your business
When it’s time to do it, you’ll know. Camera gear can cost a bomb, and I’m absolutely not telling you to go and start wildly throwing cash around, but when it comes time to invest in gear, insurance, websites, registering a company, sample products, you’ll know and you’ll see the benefits of the fiscal investment when you’ve nailed all the other points in this post. If you want to be successful you’ll need to do it right, and similarly, when it’s time to be successful you’ll be in a position whereby these things become a necessity. We’ve all read posts on why photography is so expensive, we know the investment behind our images. Just time it right!
Be prepared to work until you cry
Photography isn’t a 9-5. To get the return I put in the hours, and it was a bit of a shock to my system when I was spending all my free time building a website, pushing my social platforms, learning and studying the art, spending out on new glass, and then having no return turn into a few quid (substitute: dollars) and plateau there for a while and trying to figure out why I wasn’t rich yet! If you follow me on social media you’ll know that I put in the time far outside of ‘normal’ working hours, no matter what time zone you’re looking at me from! It’s this dedication and commitment that pushes growth. If you’re seen to be busy, and I mean truly busy rather than just loud on social media, you’ll feel the growth. Personally, on a foreign trip I’ll be up before dawn to shoot the sun coming up, still shooting throughout the morning during the nice light, fuelling up on energy and moving locations, answering e-mails, checking and double checking the evening plans, then shooting again through the afternoon and evening all the way through until it’s dark again, and then some! I might not be at work at 8 am on a Monday, but I may well be working 16 hours a day for 5 days when I’m away on a trip. It takes self-discipline to stick to the schedule I set myself, it hurts, but the satisfaction levels on completion of the project (and when seeing the sales come in!) are through the roof. It’s a job, but I’d do it if I didn’t get paid, so that means it isn’t work.
Be good at what you do
I was never very confident, and when I started doing paid shoots I was so worried that I wasn’t worth the money I was charging. It’s taken some effort to change my mindset to believe in the amount on the bottom of the invoices I send out, and the key points are that your confidence is a cycle. If you don’t feel confident, you won’t be seen as confident. If you act confident, you will be seen as confident. This perceived confidence will boost your actual confidence, which will allow you skill to shine through. Bottom line, if you act confident then you will become confident. Don’t think of it as a dream, think of it as a plan. Make that plan come to life, love going to work, and charge what you’re worth!