Month: July 2014

New Book and Free Book

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m usually really excited to be announcing a new book launch but recent events have somewhat dulled my enthusiasm. I received the final edit over the weekend and as always my editor has done a great job. I thought about delaying this but then decided I wanted to try to regain some normality. I also had the opportunity to dedicate the book to the memory of my mother.

Despite my subdued mood I am very pleased with the content. I think the book is pretty unique in its approach to developing peoples photography. Having said that I will probably find several hundred people now write to me to say it reminds them of another book.

If you want to take a look here are the links to amazon.co.uk and amazon.com. You can also search for “The Photographers Coach” on amazon.

Dfine Cover

Additionally, if you would like to get a free copy of my book “How to Avoid and Remove Image Noise with Nik Dfine 2″, this will be available for free download on the 2nd August and 3rd August from the amazon Kindle store.

The links are as follows for amazon.co.uk and amazon.com. If your on my Lenscraft mailing list I will be sending out a reminder nearer the time.

Please feel free to spread the word and I hope you enjoy.

Thank You

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Coastal sunset
Coastal sunset

I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone for the kind messages of support you have given me, both through the blog and by email. I really appreciate it.

Normal service will resume very shortly.

A Sad Time

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For someone very special
For someone very special

This is the most difficult blog post I have ever made and I have agonised over whether to publish this or not.

Yesterday my mother lost her battle with long term illness and I lost a wonder mother. As I write this I can barely see the keyboard so I hope you will forgive me for keeping this brief. I wasn’t there at the very end for her although I dearly wish I could have been. Despite being ill for some time and spending the last few months in hospital, the end came without warning.

She was a wonderful, kind lady who loved to help others. She also loved donkeys and had been donating money to the donkey sanctuary for the past 30 years. I had been looking for a picture to print to hang in her room and only now that it’s too late have I found the one she would have loved.

Although this is so hard to write it’s somehow helping me. There are so many things that I now wish I had said but my chance has gone. I love you mum and will always keep your memory with me.

I hope everyone will forgive me if I now take a few days off and reply to any emails/questions when I return.

Another Drought

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Low water in the reservoir. Sony RX10. See text for details.
Low water in the reservoir. Sony RX10. See text for details.

I had intended to get out yesterday for a long walk (about 20 miles) as I find it helps to clear my mind. In the end the 24 hours of torrential rain and quite severe thunder storms put an end to my hopes.

Today was much better though and despite not having the time for a 20 mile hike I did manage a drive over to the Peak district and a clocked up 12 miles over the hills.

The first thing that struck me when I arrived was how low the water level was in the reservoirs. Above is one of the images I shot with the Sony RX10 and it makes me wonder if we are heading for another drought with all the nice weather we have been having.

As a side note for those of you wondering about my use of the RX10, I have tended not to use it much as I don’t find the images anywhere near as crisp and sharp as my Micro 43 cameras. Despite that the camera has a lovely feel and is a joy to use.

For this particular image I didn’t use the usual Nik sharpening tools but opted for Focal Blade. This is an excellent although quite complex sharpening filter which I have been using on and off for a number of years. I don’t know why but it appears to achieve better results than Nik Sharpener Pro with the Sony images.

The other thing I did was apply Contrast Master which is a contrast adjustment tool from the same people who produce Focal Blade (PhotoWiz). I was reasoning that the images from the Sony seem to lack contrast and pop which is easily corrected in Contrast master. Having just printed this image at A3+, the detail is excellent. It also has a very nice quality to it, very much like film.

I just thought I should try adding some grain and making another print. I’m off to experiment…

Friday image No.027

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Olympus OMD. All processing in Lightroom
Olympus OMD + 25mm prime lens. All processing in Lightroom

This week has just run away with me again. I think the problem (besides too much work and my mum still being ill) is that I love to experiment. I have just spent the last hour developing some Lightroom film-like presets. So I decided to save some time and share a recent image processed with one of the presets – no other adjustments, just a Lightroom preset.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Free Lightroom Profile – Faded Summer Colour

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Example of the Faded Summer Colour preset for Lightroom. Available as a free download from my Lenscraft website.
Example of the Faded Summer Colour preset for Lightroom. Available as a free download from my Lenscraft website.

I promised I would do it if anyone asked, and you have. You can now download my Faded Summer Colour Lightroom preset for free. The preset was used to create the image above and the one in my previous post.

You can download it from a new Presets and Textures page on my Lenscraft website. You will need to log in as a member to download the file (but membership is free). When you download the zip file it contains the preset, installation instructions and a thumbnail sample image.

I hope you enjoy.

Yet More Emotional Impact

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Faded Summer Colour - Not the title of this image but of the Preset I created to produce it.
Faded Summer Colour – Not the title of this image but of the Preset I created to produce it.

Yes, I know that I keep going on about using emotional triggers in photography but it’s a fascinating subject. It’s also a great way to make ordinary images more interesting. And if you want to consider yourself as more of a visual artist than a photographer, I would say it’s pretty much essential.

Today’s example shows the creative impact colour and tone shifts can have. For your reference, the original image is shown below.

And the starting image captured with an Olympus EM5 and 60mm Macro lens.
And the starting image captured with an Olympus EM5 and 60mm Macro lens.

The global changes I have made are to the colour, exposure and the contrast. I have also increased the clarity in some areas of the flower using the Lightroom Brush tool. If you look carefully on the lower stem above the bud, you will find a greenfly hanging upside down. I thought twice about removing it but decided to leave it in.

If I were to produce this as a finished arty image I would probably blend the image with a textured background to add even more appeal. But as this example is about colour and tone, I have restricted the adjustments to exposure, contrast and colour. If you are wondering which tools I used to make all these changes, everything was done in Lightroom.

If you are a Lightroom user who likes the image and are interested in recreating the look with some of your own work, please let me know. If it’s a popular adjustment I will make it available on my Lenscraft site as a Lightroom Preset that can be downloaded.

Friday image No.026

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St Ives sunset. Olympus EM5 with post processing in Nik Color Efex and Viveza.
St Ives sunset. Olympus EM5 with post processing in Nik Color Efex and Viveza.

The day has just run away with me again. It’s now 10:15pm UK time and I realise that I haven’t posted my Friday image. I have been hard at it since 07:00am and I’m tired. I have therefore turned to a traditional coastal landscape image from my recent holiday (which now seems a very distant memory) to cheer myself up. I hope you enjoy.

Have a great weekend everyone.

More Emotional Impact in Photography

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Does this image trigger any emotional memories for you or does it leave you blank ad wondering what it's about?
Does this image trigger any emotional memories for you or does it leave you blank ad wondering what it’s about?

I have posted a few blogs now talking about creating emotional impact in photographs. The subject is something I find absolutely fascinating but it’s also a double edged sword. You see each person’s background and experiences will dictate to a large extent what triggers an emotion. There are of course some things we are all hard wired to respond to such as a kind smile, but in general it’s our past experience that we link to with emotional triggers. The double edged sword I mention is that whilst these emotional triggers can create very powerful photography they can equally fail to have any impact, leaving the viewer wondering what the image is about.

So what sort of things can trigger an emotion?

There is the subject matter – examples might be a cute image of a baby or it may be an image of a subject that triggers nostalgic feelings. If you are from the UK you might instantly start to date the image above in your mind, possibly linking it with hardship or good times. But if you are from another country you might not understand the image at all; it could be meaningless to you.

Colours can trigger feeling such as blue making us feel cold and reds are warm. But it goes beyond this as certain combinations of colour used when toning an image can trigger feelings. Some pastel shades are particularly helpful in this respect and if you look carefully you will find this used in lots of advertising materials. Ever wondered why cupcake packaging all follows a similar theme.

Some special effects such as a simulated light leak or film scratches or film grain can all trigger emotional memory (even if you never shot film). This is possibly why some of the software packages that simulate film have become so popular in recent years.

Light can trigger emotional feelings as in the following image. This small out of focus image of light reflecting on water triggers a very strong emotion in some people that reminds them of lazy summer days spent relaxing, possibly in their childhood. Personally I love it even though it’s of nothing in particular; it may not do anything for you.

Light reflecting on the sea, but deliberately out of focus
Light reflecting on the sea, but deliberately out of focus

Why do I keep talking about this? Because I think it’s a route to creating more compelling, powerful images. If we can identify different ways of triggering peoples emotional memory we can create more striking, enjoyable and enduring images.

Free GM1 Camera Profile for Lightroom

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Panasonic GM1 shot processed using custom camera profile - the colours are more realistic and vivid
Panasonic GM1 shot processed using custom camera profile – the colours are more realistic and vivid

I have some good news for all you Lightroom users who own a Panasonic GM1. You can now download for free my custom camera profile at my Lenscraft website. This profile works with Lightroom and can be used instead of the “Adobe Standard” profile.

Once installed you can select the profile in the Develop Module under the Calibration section.

Lightroom Camera Profile found under the Calibration section of the Develop Module
Lightroom Camera Profile found under the Calibration section of the Develop Module

 

In order to access the profile you will need to be working on a RAW file shot with a Panasonic GM1. If you are editing a TIFF or JPEG file you will see “Embedded Profile” in the Calibration section. If you are editing a RAW file and can’t see the profile you have either:

  1. Installed it to the incorrect location
  2. You need to restart Lightroom (following the installation)
  3. You are working on a RAW file that isn’t from a GM1

Have fun.