Friday Image No. 44

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View from Acontango, Bolivia
View from Acontango, Bolivia

Yet another image from my trip to Bolivia. This time the view across the mountains as we climbed Acontango. The original image is very blue despite being early in the morning, due to the altitude. This wasn’t a problem as I knew I could make this work for me in the conversion to black and white. The conversion was done using Nik Silver Efex pro having first been sure to remove excess noise in Nik Dfine. The image was also corrected using Piccure+ before processing in Silver Efex in order to produce higher quality edges on the mountains.

Hope you like the picture and have a great weekend everyone.

Christmas Book Sale

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Nik Start to Finish-book

I’m reducing my Nik eBooks in price to either £0.99 each or $0.99 each (depending on which amazon site you use). Now unfortunately the offer is only available on or so if you don’t or can’t buy kindle books from either of these you won’t be able to take advantage – sorry, that’s amazon’s rules not mine.

The sale runs from 1am 19th December to 11pm 21st December. So if you are thinking of adding one of my titles to your library and you use either of these sites, this weekend is a good time to buy.

Alien Skin Exposure 7

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Heading for the Summit of Acantango (6,054m). 5,700m at this point. Olympus EM5 with 12-40mm lens. Processed with Exposure 7.
Heading for the Summit of Acantango (6,054m) in Bolivia. 5,700m at this point. Olympus EM5 with 12-40mm lens. Processed with Exposure 7.

I’m happy. I just received a free upgrade to my copy of Alien Skin Exposure. I purchased Exposure 6 back in July and Exposure 7 has just been launched. As I purchased my copy later than June I get a free upgrade – fantastic.

I’m not experimenting with all the features and new film presets. It feels a lot like Exposure 6 but that’s a good thing. If you like film and film simulation, this is an excellent package to try out. I tend to use it in combination with some of the Nik filters.

I’m off to play some more.

Working with Textures

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EM5 imaged combined with texture file

One thing that I really enjoy doing is working with texture files. I like the surprise of the new and enjoyment of creating something more akin to art than photography. I don’t often share this sort of work as many people don’t class it as photography and quite a lot don’t like it.

But if you do like it you might like to share in some of the high resolution texture files I have created. They are available for free download in the members area of the Lenscraft website. There are two styles on there at present; Grunge (dark) and Watercolour and I plan to add more in the future. Here’s a few samples.

Grunge03-thumb Grunge09-thumb Watercolour 07-thumb Watercolour 14-thumb

So if you like working with texture files and want some new textures head over to and log in to the members area.


Seasons Greetings – I think

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Descent from Scafell, The Lake District. Three image stich from a Panasonic GX1, 14-45mm lens at 14mm, ISO160, f/7.1
Descent from Scafell, The Lake District. Three image stich from a Panasonic GX1, 14-45mm lens at 14mm, ISO160, f/7.1

I need to get something off my chest I’m afraid. Yesterday I sent out a mailing to my Lenscraft subscriber list wishing people a Merry Christmas a Happy New Year. As there are people from all over the world subscribing and no doubt from all faiths I did think long and hard about this as I never want to offend anyone.

In the end I reasoned that sending out my best wishes with the best of intentions wouldn’t be offensive. Putting myself in someone else’s shoes, if I were to receive a message of good wishes based on different faith I would actually be very happy.

It appears my good intentions have been well received by the majority. Someone even thanked me for not using the politically correct “Happy Holidays”. However there have been a few people who have taken offense and become angry. Well I’m sorry if I have offended anyone but isn’t it better to receive a well intentioned greeting than none at all?

Friday Image No. 43

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Olympus EM5 12-40mm lens at 16mm, ISO200 1/1250" at f/7.1
Olympus EM5 12-40mm lens at 16mm, ISO200 1/1250″ (that’s not a typo) at f/7.1

Sometimes the power of nature just stops you in your tracks. This is another image from my recent trip to Bolivia. We were crossing a huge dried up salt lake surrounded by mountains when we noticed a storm cell forming. As we drove on the sky became more and more ominous but the storm was localised over one of the mountains. This was such an amazing site that we had to pull over and admire it. Even our guides were captivated by the scale and power of scene.

Hope you like the picture and have a great weekend everyone.

Piccure+ Update

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Olympus OMD EM5 + Olympus 12-40mm lens. f/7.1, ISO200, 1/400" shutter speed
Olympus OMD EM5 + Olympus 12-40mm lens. f/7.1, ISO200, 1/400″ shutter speed


After my previous post about Piccure+ and Topaz Detail I had a few question by email asking how well Piccure+ worked with my EM5 and Olympus 12-40mm lens. I hope the following answers this question.

Firstly the camera should be irrelevant as the software is intended to correct lens aberration and optical defects. Secondly the Olympus 12-40 is a pro spec lens and is already very sharp and performs exceptionally well. On this basis I wouldn’t expect the software to make much difference. Here is a section of the starting image viewed at 100% magnification without any sharpening (converted from RAW in Lightroom).

14-12-10 Image 1

The the starting image has been processed for noise reduction in Nik dfine and has been sharpened using Nik Sharpener Pro – RAW Presharpener.

14-12-10 Image 2

The resulting image is clean and sharp. Now let’s take a look at a section of the image when run through Piccure+ using a sharpness setting of 14 (the software goes to 100).

14-12-10 Image 3

I actually now find this too sharp and almost unnatural. I suspect I would have been better using a lower sharpness setting. My quick and dirty alternative is to reduce the opacity of the Piccure+ layer I created in Photoshop which produces the following.

14-12-10 Image 4

This I am very impressed with. What I compare the starting image with this, the starting image looks almost as if it has a haze on it that Piccure+ removed. Very impressive.

And if you have a passion to play around with sliders rather than adopt the simple workflow of piccure+, here is the result I managed with Topaz Detail.

14-12-10 Image 5

The only point with Topaz is that it seemed to accentuate noise where piccure+ didn’t seem to do anything to residual noise.