Tag Archives travel

It’s that time of week again here at ScottKelby.com – it’s #HybridDaveTuesdays on #TravelTuesday – and this week, I’m going to answer a question I’ve been frequently asked, and then I’ll break it down a bit more!

Take a look at my posts on Instagram, and you’ll notice a theme: they’re all geotagged with the coordinates, along with a marker pin denoting the country right there at the top of the caption. It look’s a bit like this:-

 

 

The question I’m most often asked is not “How do you do it?” but “How do you remember?”

We live in a world where you can have GPS right there in your D-SLR, but mine doesn’t have that, so I have to have a system for remembering where I take photos, particularly those in the middle of nowhere or of something potentially nondescript in and of itself.

The first and primary thing I tend to do is, when using my D-SLR, I will also take the same photo with my iPhone with my geotagging turned on, thereby marking the shot on a map. It’s so simple, and it’s a really good reminder of what was where when I’ve been away on a trip taking hundreds of photos one after another. There are, of course, things which stand out in my memory, but those things which don’t can be easily tagged on a map right in my pocket.

Here’s an example, starting with the (festive, because it’s nearly Christmas) D-SLR shot:-

 

Of course, we know this is the Rockefeller Center tree, but suppose we didn’t. All we’d need to do is take a shot at the same place on the iPhone (or another brand, whichever, but preferably an iPhone!), and then go into the photo on the phone and swipe up:-

 

Right there, it’s sitting on the map, showing us the exact spot the photo was taken. It’s a GPS solution to tagging photos that we already have right there in our pockets.

My second option is simpler still: once you’ve taken a photo, have a look around and see if there’s a sign you can shoot – a street name, a tourist sign, a shop name, anything that will jog your memory later would be great for getting a praise location for your photo.

 

 

This is a Svalbard reindeer, the smallest reindeer sub-species. He’s looking down my lens from the edge of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen. The glacial water flowing off into the sea through Adventdalen is pretty familiar, so as a reminder, in this instance, here’s what I did:-

 

Easy, right? Too easy to be telling you about? Well, it’s one of those things – it’s simple when you know what to do, but if you don’t do it, you’ll end up racking your brain trying to remember the name of a place you took a photo, so you’ll thank me when you start doing this!

I hope this was useful. Remember to check in here every week to see what other wisdom I have to impart from the world of travel photography and retouching, and you can reach out if you have any questions or topics for me by searching for me, Hybrid Dave, across social media :)

 

Much love

Dave

Winter is coming people!

It’s that time again, I’m back to share my weekly dose of photographic wisdom under the lovingly crafted hashtag – #HybridDaveTuesdays

This week it’s something I feel I have a good standing to talk about due to my love of cold places. I’m going to tell you about shooting in the cold in the form of a list. If the internet has taught me only one thing it’s that everybody loves a list, right? By the way, I realise that winter is only approaching in the northern hemisphere and I’m kinda excluding half of the population of the entire world, but I’m finding peace from that with the knowledge that you southerners are about to have your Christmas BBQ’s fired up!

So here goes!

 

Here’s some snow…… it’s authentic Finnish

 

Tip #1 – Never delete anything in camera!

Snow is a funny old thing. It tricks our cameras as well as our eyes. There WILL be shots you look at of snowy scenes on the back of your camera that look terrible, but then when you get them up in Lightroom or Camera Raw they’ll look amazing following a tweak or two.

 

Tip #2 – Keep your gear cold

When you take your gear from cold to warm (like in and out of a hotel or rental car) it puts a strain on it. Once it’s cold, keep it cold. It can short out the electrics if condensation forms inside the camera. The worst thing you can do is to actively try and warm your gear up or try to make it warm near the heat vent or under your ski jacket. Furthermore, if you see that shot and pull out your camera but it instantly fogs you’ll have nothing to show your friends! I remember shooting in Finnish Lapland where I visited the Wild Spirit Animal park and just after meeting Romeo the wooly pig and before meeting Spike the Husky I was taken into a small, round cabin with a fire burning inside for a hot drink to warm me up. I left my camera outside on a pile of wood so it stayed cold and was ready to shoot again as soon as I was back out.

 

Cold enough for an Arctic Fox

 

Tip #3 – Except your batteries. Keep them warm!

There’s some science here. I mean, I don’t know what it is, but it’s here! So basically, if your batteries are exposed to the cold they’ll lose power quicker. I’ve experienced this first hand, it definitely happens. I was shooting the northern lights in the Icelandic Westfjords up on top of a mountain. I couldn’t feel my face, it was that cold. Whatever was happening to my batteries due to the cold happened pretty quick. The power was just going. What I discovered is that if I kept my batteries in my inside pockets my body heat kept them going for longer.

 

Tip #4 – Then warm your gear back up slowly!

I learned this the hard way! Kirkjufellsfoss, shown below, is an iconic Icelandic waterfall with it’s namesake mountain right behind it. Take a look here though – I have a nice wide lens mounted on my Nikon D810 but the middle of the shot is all hazy and soft. This is a direct result of having moisture build up inside the lens. It’s virtually impossible to remove in post because it ruins a whole portion of the image. Bottom line is to consider ways to warm your gear up slowly. Put it in the boot of the rental car where it’s that little bit colder and far from the heating, and put it inside your bag (closed) when you take it indoors so that it gradually adjust to the new, warmer climate. If your camera does get moist for any reason, keep it somewhere dry and of a consistent temperature, and leave ALL of the ports wide open to give the moisture an easy escape.

 

Kirkjufellsfoss, with Kirkjufell in the background – Iceland

 

Tip #5 – Overexpose for white snow

What our eyes see as pure, white snow filling the landscape, our camera sees as overexposed and so brings your camera down a notch or two. To combat this, it’s a wise idea to shoot a little over. It’s the number one tip you’ll always see on advice for shooting snow but it’s easily overcome so just be mindful of it and shoot over – you can always bring things back down in Photoshop if you’re way too bright. On a sidetone, your Auto White Balance will often change things a little towards to blue end – another thing to bear in mind. If you’re the type to use a grey card or a light meter then fine, but I’m not and I consider it all in post.

 

Some snowy bushes in Iceland

 

Tip #6 – Don’t concentrate only on snow

There’s so much more going on and snowy scenes are in themselves very romantic, I find. This shot below is of a couple stood alone outside the beautiful House of the Roundheads in Riga and although they’re only a tiny feature of the images, they add to it just enough. As with everything you shoot, snow has a tendency to get very ‘samey’ and breaking it up with details, much like you would when shooting a wedding, you’re giving it a new perspective and engaging your audience and lifting interest.

 

House of the Roundheads – Riga, Latvia

 

Tip #7 – Shoot the fauna

Even if it’s hard to find some! There are two animals which epitomise Iceland – horses and puffins – and here’s 50% of that combo! Shooting animals helps give a sense of their hardiness to the testing climates they find themselves in and if you get it right, showing their character, it can give the viewer an intense connection!

 

An Icelandic Horse

 

Tip #8 – And the flora

Good luck finding some! Much like the animals, showing the hardiness of the plant life can create a connection between the viewer and the image. It mixes up and breaks up the images of snow scene after snow scene too!

 

Lapland

 

Tip #9 – Capture the festivities

There’s a 50% chance (hemispherically) that winter means it’s Christmas! Alongside this, there’s so much going on and it all tends to give contrast to the cold. Warm fires, hot chocolates and fairground rides – it’s all beautiful, especially when you capture it right. Going to a Christmas market with a camera can yield some awesome results.

 

One of many Christmas markets in Berlin, Germany

So there’s 9 tips for shooting in the cold, I hope you can use them! Right now I’m in Tromsø, Norway, way up in the Arctic Circle (oh the power of the internet!) and you can check my progress on my Instagram story or on Facebook to see the snow I’m seeing :)

 

Until next time!

Much love

Dave

 

It has been the subject of blogs, media articles, conversations, magazine columns, and it’s this:

Should we Photoshop people?

Well, let’s relate it all to my genre: travel. Should we Photoshop travel pictures? To what extent and why? Is it an “okay” thing to do?

First, I’ll just get this out of the way: many people will argue that Photoshop is not a verb. It is. It just is. It has become a commonplace term in our society, and if you hear somebody say that something’s been “Photoshopped,” you may want to throw a can of cheese at them, but you know what they mean. This post isn’t about that. So, moving on….

My stance, as someone who writes tutorials centred on Adobe Photoshop, is that Photoshopping fits in travel photography just as much as it does in glamour photography. It has a role to play, and it is useful, but it should (in terms of its use for marketing at least) result in an image being inspiring, enticing, and offering somewhat of a realistic depiction. A representation of reality.

But when does it stop being real? How far do you have to go before your image of some far-flung location no longer looks the way it really looks? What are the limits? Well, to me, when I Photoshop something, I want the final result to look like something that could actually happen. When we apply the fashion stance, the model on the cover of the magazine isn’t real. It’s what we imagine could be real; it’s the image we have in our head, but it absolutely isn’t real. Reverting back to travel, if the image I produce has created something inspiring, but false, then I’ve let myself go too far.


Hohenzollern Castle, Germany

This image is an example. I have Photoshopped it, but it’s a thing that actually happened. If I created something that hadn’t or at least couldn’t happen, I’m no longer operating in the realm of travel photography, but have moved into fantasy. This is Hohenzollern Castle in Germany, sitting high atop a hill, overlooking the countryside for miles around. The moon rose, and I positioned myself on the opposite side of the hill to capture it silhouetting the castle. It’s a thing that happened, but in order to portray it with its massive difference in exposure, I had to retouch.

I suppose something to consider, based on what I’ve mentioned, is what we define as travel photography. When it comes to travel, we occasionally make our decisions based on personal recommendations and the influence of our peers, but in today’s society, we’re making more and more decisions based on social media. We’re looking at the images of travel photographers. Travel photographers like me. What people are looking at in my photography is the scene before me at the time I saw it, the way I saw it, and indeed the way I felt it.

 


Odda, Norway

When I was stood here, I wasn’t just seeing this scene, I was feeling it, smelling it, hearing it. I took all the information available to me from all of my senses for the amount of time I stood photographing that scene (and I’ll add, in various different directions), and I retouched the image to portray, in a tiny, little box, what I was seeing. I wasn’t just seeing an island with a tree on it, I was seeing a bunch of mist, feeling isolated, smelling the fresh, early morning dew, wrapped up from the cold, and I had to show that as best as I could in one image.

It’s for this reason that I say time and time again, “lend me your eyes and I’ll show you what I see.” What I see in my mind’s eye and what’s physically in front of me vary somewhat in most instances, however, with Photoshop I can take everything that was forming that image of what I saw and show you that same thing.


Here I am in real life ;)

One travel subject, which is a prime example of how travel photography has bent the truth, is the famed and elusive Aurora. The northern lights. The lights are phenomenal, don’t get me wrong, but just as one point, they’re generally very dynamic. The countless amazing photos of them on Instagram are what you perceive them to be, not what they actually are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to crush any dreams here for those of you hoping to tick the northern lights off your bucket list, they’re incredible, but they aren’t like you see them in photos.

Westfjords, Iceland

So, it is okay to adjust things, right? In the world of travel photography, it must be. It’s what we’re used to seeing. But, when we know the truth of the image versus our representation of the scene, it can change. I’ll work to remove the things that I didn’t necessarily notice at the time. The things that were there, but that my mind blocked out of my vision—the power lines, poles, aerials, all of that stuff which is there, but doesn’t form the vision in front of me, but which immediately stand out in the photograph. The other senses have had their input, too, and everything that flooded those senses has had its say, and those power lines aren’t part of it.

If it’s true to say that we do it in real life with our own eyes, and it’s true to say that around 90% of the images we see in everyday media have been retouched, then what’s the limit? When does travel photography become fantasy? When the movement in the scene, the sounds, the smells have all gone, it’s fair to represent those things differently on our image that becomes flat and motionless.

We have a job to do in photography, and it’s not to make things fake. The job of a photographer and retoucher is to make things look real, but the real way you saw it at the time. With the distracting elements gone, the scene looks like real life. If people go and stand in the same spot, they can expect to see what you see too, but looking at its best. That’s our job. That’s what travel photography is. That’s what sets it apart from fantasy.

Lend me your eyes and I’ll show you what I see. Bear that in mind when you consider your limits. Show people what you see. Something achievable, realistic, and at its absolute best.

I’ve been there hundreds of times. We all have, I’m sure. We’re prowling the streets in an unfamiliar land and there they are, right there in front of us. A local character, personality oozing and dressed just how you’d ask a model to if you were epitomising the destination. You want to take a photo, right? But what’s the etiquette?! Do we pay? Do we ask? If we ask we break the element of surprise which affords us that reportage, candid shot. But what if we want to use the photo? We need a release in many circumstances so we need to go say hi and get a little signature. Well here’s how I do it!

If, for example, we’re out and about in Havana (which I hear you Americans are allowed to do now) there will be a local puffing on a Habinero and you will want a photo. But guess what… they have a price. It’s in situations like these where the person has basically put themselves there specifically for that purpose and it’s their living, so these people need paying. So here’s the first rule: if it’s someone making their living from donations, donate. Monks, street entertainers, buskers, beggars, they need paying just because. If you can get a model release signed, happy days. That leads me on to the next point.

If you’re paying and if you want to use your resulting photos to their full extent, the model release is something you should strongly consider. In my bag I have a small wedge of them for ‘just in case’ situations like these. Getting it signed, however, isn’t your consideration but theirs. If they point blank refuse and you’ve worked your way through your powers of persuasion and landed slap on the floor there’s not a great deal you can do, but then there won’t be a great deal you can do with your photos either. If the person isn’t recognisable you don’t need to deal with this at all, it then all comes down to you. So there’s the second rule: model release!

Next up it’s the fiscal aspect. How much do you pay? Well it all depends on how bad you want the shot and what plans you dream up for it’s subsequent use. If it’s someone who’s expecting to have their photo taken, they won’t ask for much. A £/$/ or two will suffice in most cases. When the stakes are raised be prepared to get value for money and get your bargaining gear engaged! Although I won’t recommend it as an option, here’s a tactic I’ve used in Cuba. Plaza de San Francisco. There was a church I wanted to go up on top of. I saw a balcony, I knew it existed, but I just couldn’t get to the right part of the building to access this balcony. That is until I found the right person, and had the foresight to arm myself with the right currency. Sure, my CUCs (Cuban Convertible Pesos) were good, but I had something more valuable – sweets! With the right amount of sweets, which are a rare and valuable commodity there, I was able to negotiate my way behind the special doors to the balcony for the shot I wanted!

So lastly, if you’re travelling and you think you’re going to come across some models you’ll shoot, always have coins and small notes with you separate from the rest of your money. This way you aren’t revealing to any unwelcome eyes where you keep your cash, and you aren’t showing that you’re (relatively) rich. As if your camera isn’t a beacon for that already! You could consider making it cheaper for yourself by offering a copy of the photo, which I did to get this couple to walk past me in New Jersey. A much cheaper version, and a souvenir for them.

Let me know if you have your own experiences shooting models on the go, I love to hear from you.

Much love
Dave

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