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It’s #TravelTuesday with me, Dave Williams, and today I’m in the KelbyOne studios recording some classes for you beautiful people! If you’re waiting to learn a little more about how to make some money and about how to prepare for travel photography, you’ll love my two new classes! But before they land, I’d love all you KelbyOne members to join me in an exclusive webcast about where to shoot in Iceland, and if you aren’t a KelbyOne member you can sign up for a free.

Today, I want to touch on something else. Right now I’m planning on changing my camera, and it made me think a little about that age-old conundrum: whether or not gear makes the photographer. Well, my answer is no, and my argument is that if you give a pro photographer a $700 camera, and give a rookie a $5,000 camera, the pro will produce the better image. One main reason for this argument is that the pro will be concentrating on the creativity whereas the rookie is more likely to be focused on the gear. Here’s why: –

When a pro photographer and a rookie photographer each shoot 100 images, the pro is more likely to say that one is good, and the rookie is more likely to say that 90 are good. If they then look at each other’s images, the pro is likely to say that one of the rookie’s is good, and the rookie is likely to say that 90 of the pro’s are good. Self-criticism lands front and centre, and the pro is far more critical of themselves than others. But it goes beyond that: –

When the pro screws up, they are far more likely to blame themselves than to blame the gear. They are probably shooting Manual, may have added some extra gear, such as filters or lighting, and have planned the shot. If something goes wrong, they are far more likely to blame the application of their knowledge than they are to blame the gear. Here’s the point: they will use the same gear and try again until they get it right, working on correcting their technique rather than switching out the gear.

There’s a lesson to be taken from this. Being honest about your skills, having the understanding to apply them, and giving objective evaluation to your creative vision will help you to become a better photographer and not to rely on the gear, rather to rely on yourself. I’ve been through this process and continue to do so, as does every other pro photographer, and it’s extremely valuable to think this way.

I hope to catch you all in the comments tomorrow on The Grid!

Much love

Dave

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

Happy #TravelTuesday one and all, from freezing-cold Iceland! (Selfie attached as proof. ;) I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here, as always, to lay down a little light on something photographic! If you’d like to see what I’m up to in Iceland as well, take a look at the KelbyOne Instagram Story, while I take over this week.

 

 

Our photographs are sometimes like evidence of a place, or a time, or a situation. In fact, they’re more than that. Photos can speak to our heart and soul; that’s why we get that warm, fuzzy feeling when we see a photo we really love and can’t take our eyes away from it. There are so many photographers out there sharing their work for all the right reasons, and it’s often an overwhelmingly large arena, what with Instagram, 500PX, and Flickr, not to mention Facebook, Twitter, and blogs all hosting an enormous array of emotive, purposeful images that people want the world to see. It’s often true to say that we communicate through our images, and those images can be seen by a whole world of people not known to us.

It’s not only a way of sharing our passion, though. Another thing I’ve noticed a lot is how much it invokes creativity, and I often receive messages from people asking how to take similar photos—it’s because sharing creativity inspires further creativity, not only to others but also in ourselves. When we figure out how to take a certain type of photo, we feel a sense of achievement and pride and it makes us feel good. It makes us want to do it again. Our attention grabbed, our emotions prodded, these photos really can move us. Photography is a powerful language, and it shows the world how we see things.

Another thing that’s both important and powerful in photography is the memory and legacy involved. When I shot weddings, I always used to explain to clients that it is important to have a printed album because in years to come, when children and grandchildren are looking at the photos, there’s that moment when they’re taken from the attic, the dust is blown off, and the photos are felt. They’re tangible. It’s a physical memory, as well as a pictorial reference. It’s the old printed photos of our history and our family history that we look at now, and it’ll still be those printed photos that we look at for generations to come. Those frozen moments of our lives are significant and special and are another part of photography.

 

 

One final piece of this intricately simple explanation of why photography is so important is because—and this may blow your mind—they tell us what is important. The ones we value represent the things that are important to us, and are important in our lives. What we shoot means something to us; what we keep out of what we shoot means even more.

Much love

Dave

Hi all! Apologies for posting a little late today. I’m having some connection issues while I’m on the road, so I’m actually having to write this on my phone—should be interesting to see what autocorrect makes of it! I’m Dave Williams, and I’m a travel photographer and writer from the U.K., but you knew that already, right? I’ve been sharing my current mission over on the KelbyOne Instagram Story, so thanks to those who are keeping up. I’m currently sitting in a petrol station in Kongsvika, way up in the Lofoten area of Norway and about 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle. It’s situations like this that have inspired what I’m going to share with you today, which has, in fact, been in my head for a few days.

You know the sayings, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” and “You only live once”? Well, these are the best matches for what I want to share today.

This trip of mine has been in the plans for months. I wanted to get to the Lofoten Islands before the snow hit, but after summer. I wanted to catch autumnal scenes, awesome sunsets, and feel the start of the cold. Well, that was the idea. What actually happened has turned out to be starkly different. That hurricane that hit the Carolinas left a depression hanging over the mid-Atlantic which, in being left behind, got picked up by the jet stream. It carried all the way up through the top of France, through the U.K., and up the coastline of Norway. The problem with that is that when it hit the colder air up here, it dumped somewhere around a metric fudge-ton of water in the form of rain, sleet, and snow. Occasionally, all three, and sideways!

What that did to me is have the disastrous consequence of a potentially wasted trip. Fine for a holiday, to be fair, because it’s all still here and pretty looking, but absolutely no use for photography. For these past few days, I’ve been working hard and fast in the gaps between the weather. Here’s one shot I got during a bit of drizzle on Sakrisøy:

 

 

It’s such a beautiful place, but with only a handful of shots from the entire trip, I had to consider my options. So, that’s when I decided—I’m going to Finland!

At around an 8-hour drive, it wasn’t beyond possible, and I’d checked the weather forecasts, the radars, the aurora forecast, the lot! It could work, and there was only one way to find out. So, I immediately changed my plans, being drowned out by a storm, and punched Kittilä, Finland into the GPS.

The drive took me through Sweden, and it was covered in beautiful autumn tones and a pleasure to experience. I was heading through Lapland and determined to see clear skies and, hopefully, some northern lights. Well, guess what! It didn’t happen! This is the best I got, and I’m sharing it purely as proof that it happened:

 

 

I was so full of disappointment, and to be honest, I still am. My whole trip has been a washout, owing to this terrible weather, but that’s just how things go sometimes. You’ve just got to roll with it. Me, however, I tend to tuck my knees into my chest and lean forward. That’s just how I roll. Above all, keep smiling.

 

 

Heres the thing: if you don’t try, you’ll never know. I spent 31 hours in the car, slept in it, and drove across three countries in order to see what I could get. It was a failure, but if I hadn’t done it, I’d never know. You can only fail if you try, and trying is the best you can do. The newly coined phrase “fear of missing out,” or FOMO, is basically made just for this. Although I failed, I know that I tried my best and I took the opportunity to find out what could have been. All in the quest for creating awesome images!

Right, it’s time to get out of this petrol station and head for Tromsø! (Big thanks to Kim for helping me get this post online with the lack of connection I have here!)

Much love

Dave

Hey all! It’s #TravelTuesday right here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider and today I, Dave Williams, want to share with you a little bit about how photo intentions affect travel. Today, I want to provoke your thoughts.

On that note, Scott has a new class out now on KelbyOne called The Photographer’s Guide to Traveling Light. Go check that out!

 

 

Take a look around and note how much influence media has on our everyday lives. I’m talking about the entire range from personal Instagram accounts, right through to National Geographic and other such epic documentaries. You’ll even find influence coming from KelbyOne in respect of what I’m talking about today. The travel industry, in particular, is absolutely dominated by social media and influencers, so it’s absolutely no surprise that travel and photography are intrinsically linked. More and more often we are finding that our travel plans are weighed up against how “Instagrammable” (definitely a real word) the destination is. It’s actually my job to do that very thing.

Here’s something very interesting, which has popped up recently; something that’s worth giving a little thought: Studies have recently shown that us humans are now very likely to recall our experiences and our photos from a third person perspective. What we’re doing, as I’m sure you will have noticed, is showing the world our images with the intention of gaining likes, comments, shares, and engagement. We’re no longer looking to have experiences, but rather we’re looking to share. It seems that our number one priority is not to reflect on the moments within ourselves, but to consider how the perception of our experience would be evaluated by our followers.

 

 

This information is worth keeping in the front of our minds because travel (and indeed travel photography) is about experience. Our travel experience is tragically becoming hindered by sharing. We give undue consideration to our photo sharing over our internal forbearance and reflection on the circumstances we face to give us the experiences we see and feel in travel, and this is a necessary evil in some regards and some situations, particularly for myself as a professional travel photographer and writer. The fact that social media has a massive impact on our experiences is now a part of everyday life, and we are still getting used to it. It has hit us all in the face, and in some cases has become a genuine obsession. We can, if we aren’t careful, become obsessed with getting something “grammable,” something worthy of a Facebook post, and the subsequent likes and follows. It can take over us and take us beyond the reason we shoot and travel. The focus. The present moment.

It takes discipline to deal with social media effectively and productively, but similarly, it takes discipline to not let social media steal your time. With respect to how this is becoming “the norm,” just remember this:  if you’re always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you can be. In a world where everything is disclosed, perhaps it’s sometimes a good thing to remain a mystery. Make experiences, remember to actually experience them yourself, and don’t use your social media to try to impress people. Use it to make an impact. Give it value.

Much love

Dave

Well, hello there!

It’s #TravelTuesday here at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider and I’ve just completed a mission and a half! Let me tell you about it!

I’m currently running a challenge and I want you to get involved. It’s a sunrise challenge!

Until July 15th, I want to see your sunrise photos. Just upload them to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, use the hashtag #SunriseWithDave, and you can win a KelbyOne membership and a Platypod Ultra!!! That’s definitely worthy of all three of those exclamation marks!

So, here’s how I started it: –

Last night, I shot the sunset at Land’s End, the western-most point in England.

 

 

I quickly retouched the shot, uploaded it, and then I got on my motorcycle and headed east. This morning—450 miles later and with 5 minutes to spare—I arrived at Ness Point, the eastern-most point in England. The race against the sun was to kick off the sunrise challenge, but unfortunately, Mother Nature gave me a typical British sunrise: –

 

 

But, never mind, the point of the challenge and the contest is to encourage as many people as possible to shoot sunrise. I can’t wait to see the images you make this week!

Check out all of the details here.

 

 

For me, I’m finishing my coffee and headed home to think up the next stupid idea!

Much love

Dave

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