Friday image No.040

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La Pas, Bolivia
La Pas, Bolivia

This is a very quick one. It’s a view over the city of La Pas in Bolivia. Click the image to zoom in and it’s truly an amazing sight.

Have a great weekend everyone.

A Surreal Experience in Bolivia

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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, Olympus EM5, 12-40 lens at 12mm, ISO200, f/7.1, shutter speed 1/200″

I must admit that I have seen some beautiful and unusual landscapes around the world in my time but this one in Bolivia has to take the prize for the most unusual. The salt flats of Uyuni in Bolivia are spectacular. They are flat and white but in some locations there are small islands of cactus. This particular one is called Salar de Uyuni.

The trip over to the island was rather unusual also. We were travelling in two Toyota Land Cursers, side by side speeding across the flats at around 70mph playing Guns & Roses (welcome to the Jungle) followed by the Sex Pistols (Anarchy in the UK).

It’s moments like this that tend to stick in the mind. Hope you like the image.

New Book Launch

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Offshore Wind Farm
Offshore Wind Farm

Some time back I posted the above image as a “Friday Image”. It drew quite a favourable response so I decided to include it in my latest book as one of the examples. The new book is now live on Amazon and is titled “Nik Efex from Start to Finish: Workflows and examples using the Nik Collection”.

I have now written detailed books for most of the Nik products and they continue to gain favourable reviews. But I have received quite a lot of mail from readers who want to understand more about how to integrate Nik filters into their workflow. What is the best approach, Lightroom or Photoshop? Should I use more than one filter? How do I decide which filter I should use? I have also had people ask where they can find more worked examples because these are so helpful.

I wrote this latest book because a lot of people need this help. There is no denying the Nik filters are incredibly powerful and can produce fabulous results, but they can be confusing. I hope this book will cut through a lot of the confusion for readers. The book also includes 5 detailed examples which are supported by a download file available from the members are of Lenscraft.

The new book is available from all Amazon stores and is priced at $2.99 or similar in your local currency. And if you are a member of my Lenscraft website you will shortly receive an email confirming details of my Christmas Sale which will include this title.

Friday image No.039

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Rock at Aberdaron, Wales

This week’s Friday image was shot on my trip to Wales last week. It was 10:00 in the morning on Saturday and the rain was coming down hard from the dark sky. My friend checked the weather forecast and announced the weather would clear at 11:00 and that we should leave now to be ready for the storm breaking. I didn’t believe the forecast but agreed.

At 11:00 there was a break in the clouds and within 30 minutes the sun was breaking through the storm as predicted (Ed, if your reading this well done. All that new computer kit at the Met Office is paying off). As usual when a rain front breaks you get dramatic lighting and this was no exception. We raced over to the small coastal town of Aberdaron where we thought the light on the beach would be interesting; we weren’t wrong.

At the time I had the camera set to shoot in black and white as there wasn’t much colour from the contrasty lighting. To make the image more interesting a 6 stop Lee ND filter was used which gave a shutter speed of around 1 second. The image above represents pretty much my vision for the finished image (which by the way hasn’t had a lot of processing). It wasn’t until I saw the colour version that I realised there was a better option. Printing the two images at A4 the black and white looks good until you compare it side by side with the colour version. At A3 and larger the colour image is particularly impressive.

Let me know if you agree the colour version is better and have a great weekend.

Rock at Aberdaron, Wales

D800 Live View Pain

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Nikon D800, ISO100, f/14.0 for 1.6". 0.5ND graduated filter

As I mentioned on the blog last week I have been over the Wales at the weekend doing some photography in the Landscape. Whilst the weather was quite mixed it was a great opportunity to work with the D800 again and try to compare it to my Olympus EM5.

To best appreciate my position on this post you need to understand that I like to pick my point of focus when taking pictures. In fact I place great store by this capability and see it as essential to being able to achieve the best mix of depth of field and image sharpness. With the EM5 I have a grid of focus points that very nearly covers the entire frame and which I can easily select.

The D800 also has a lot of focus points but the coverage is nowhere near as good as the EM5 and I am often left in a position where I can’t select the point of focus I want using autofocus. I used to have a similar problem with the Canon 5D MKII and on that camera I resorted to using Live View. This was an easy and effective way of working. I would mount the camera on a tripod, operate live view, select my point of focus, zoom in to 100% magnification, focus manually then take the shot.

This resulted in some great shots with excellent focus and sharpness. I decided therefore that I would do the same with the D800. All worked well until the light levels started to drop, at which point the live view started to become noisy. This happened quite quickly and it wasn’t long before the noise prevented me from being able to focus. When I tried to do some long exposure work with a 6 stop filter, live view would just black; I couldn’t see anything.

Lets contrast the above experience with the Canon 5D that I previously used. I was able to place a 10 stop filter over the lens and still see sufficient to compose the image (although focussing was a struggle). Using the Olympus EM5 with a 6 stop filter is no problem and I can compose and focus through this quite easily.

Overall you might think I am being picky but this experience only serves to make the camera difficult to work with. Whilst I did persevere, I found the D800 difficult to work with and it was nice when I switched back to the EM5. Given the D800 is such a recent flagship camera for Nikon, I can’t believe they couldn’t have done more with the Live View. How you are able to work with a camera is more important that features. When you are able to work easily with the camera your results improve. Unfortunately my hit rate dropped off significantly.

The Joy of Heat

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Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia. Four images on the Olympus EM5, stitched in Photoshop.
Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia. Four images on the Olympus EM5, stitched in Photoshop. Click the image to enlarge.

Just prior to leaving for Bolivia my central heating packed up. NO problem I thought, called the plumber and arranged for a new boiler to be installed. The timing couldn’t be better as I would be away when the boiler is fitted and I would return to a lovely warm house. Then I received a text whilst on holiday “your key doesn’t work”.

Actually the key did work but the lock had jammed. The result has been one very cold house and plumber fitting a new boiler (not an easy job in a house as old as mine). We have now been without heating or hot water for 3 days; it’s just like being back in Bolivia. To cap it all off the UK has just dipped into very cold weather.

Tonight though I returned to find the house warming up. My boiler is in and the joy of warmth is unimaginable. So to celebrate I thought I would share a newly completed image from the Bolivia trip. This is of the salt flats at Uyuni.

There won’t be a Friday image tomorrow as I’m off to Wales for some photography so I will wish everyone a great weekend today.

Yes, another door but…

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Potasi, Bolivia

Yes, I know it’s another door pic but I’m publishing this one because I have added a tutorial to Lenscraft describing the processing. If you are interested in either the processing or the starting image you can find out more in the Tutorials section with this link.

Working on Doors Again

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Doorway in Potasi, Bolivia. Olympus EM5, ISO400, f/5.6

I finally seem to be getting the new website under control after a lot of effort. All email enquiries have been answered. Best of all, people are logging in and like the site. Success!

It’s been nice today to find some time to start processing some of the 5,000+ images I shot in Bolivia. Above you can see another of the door images. If you like doors there is an almost endless supply of great material in Bolivia.

My idea at the time was to shoot a collection of images which would make an interesting series or project. The first 21 images are now on the Lenscraft website in a dedicated gallery called not surprisingly “Interesting Doors“. I hope you take a look and enjoy the photography.

Friday image No.038

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Bolivia at night. Olympus EM5, Samyang fisheye lens, f/3.5, ISO800, 73 second exposure.

This week’s image was just for a bit of fun and experimentation. Whilst I was in Bolivia I was camped half way up a volcano at around 4,300m. The sky was as clear as anything and the star show amazing. I decided to pop the camera on a tripod, whack on the old fisheye lens and see what I could capture. This is the result.

Sure the stars are moving and therefore a little blurred due to the long exposure. Despite this I am rather impressed by what the EM5 and a Samyang fisheye lens can actually achieve. I now wish I had locked open the shutter and captured some star trails. Mind you it was damned cold and I couldn’t wait to get under canvas.

Have a great weekend everyone.

What a great group of people you are

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Doorway in Potasi, Bolivia
Doorway in Potasi, Bolivia

I just wanted to post a quick note to say thank you for all your messages of support. After my problems with the Lenscraft site migration yesterday and my follow up email today, I have been inundated with replies. It appears I am forgiven (thank you) and that the consensus opinion is that you like the new website.

I’m now feeling much better about events so thank you. I also thought I would share this door image from my Bolivia trip (I managed to shoot hundreds of these).