Shooting differently at Llanberis with Dave Williams

Words by Dave Williams

In the early morning light of a Spring day in north Wales I made my way down to the shore of a lake to shoot a famous lonely tree. This is such a ‘bucket list shot’ for so many photographers of all levels that I knew I’d have a challenge on my hands. The tranquility and serenity portrayed in shots of this tree are in stark contrast to the reality of the situation. I was one of perhaps twenty photographers who had gathered that day to shoot what turned out to be a fairly non-eventful sunrise.

Trying to shoot differently can sometimes be a challenge, but if we want to stand out amongst a crowd we really do need to come up with something. Shooting the same as everyone else is fine if the photo is for our own memories or for practice, but to sell a photo or to have it jump out in the crowd on social media it must hook people, showing something familiar in an unfamiliar way. I began by shooting on a tripod to get an elevated perspective, but that’s exactly what everyone else was doing. The still water was just like a mirror that morning. I had to mix things up and get a shot that everyone else didn’t already have. That was the moment I elected to employ tactic number one on my list. Everyone was shooting long exposure and using filters, so I looked around and asked, ‘is anyone shooting right now? I need to move in the shot for a moment.’ One guy responded saying, ‘just a moment… Ok I’m done.’ That’s when I took the opportunity to switch to a faster shutter speed and throw a rock into the water. Nobody else was set for it except me so I bagged my first unique shot right there.

The next weapon in my arsenal came next. As I mentioned already, everyone was shooting from the same perspective on their tripods. Not only did this mean that they all had the same perspective, but also that they all had a very similar composition. Something that really goes a long way in landscape photography is depth. I decided I was going to deal with both of these things in one go. I went to my camera bag and pulled out my Platypod eXtreme with the Platyball Elite mounted to it. It’s amazing that my moving around caused so much commotion in the otherwise calm environment that morning. The moment I had the eXtreme in my hands, heads turned. One of the many people there was tutoring and he took half a step towards me and said, ‘what’s that?’ I said, ‘it’s a tripod’ quite hesitantly because the Kickstarter hadn’t launched yet and technically, this thing didn’t exist. I casually made my way over to the side where there was a cool mossy ledge formed on tree roots. I placed my eXtreme down and framed my shot, incorporating the moss and the trees as the foreground, with the lonely tree as the main subject in the middle ground, and the mountains and colorful sky as the background.

My Platypod eXtreme and a little thought made this shot possible, and it bagged me a shot that stood out from the crowd. I literally watched everyone else take the same shot that morning whilst I created something unique with very little effort, and a helping hand from my Platypod.

To learn more about Dave Williams visit his website and also be sure to tune into the Epic Photography Podcast to hear more from him and other professionals to get their take on how to capture a unique shot. Also be sure to visit our website to pre-order and save on your Platypod eXtreme and to purchase your Platyball Elite or Ergo.