Digital Photography

Lenscraft is Back

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I just managed to get the Lenscraft site back on line. I will post more when I have time.

Thanks for your patience.

Robin

Yet More Website Issues

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I’m sorry to announce that the Lenscraft website is down again for the 3rd time in 6 months. I decided to sign up for the CloudFlare service (through my hosting company) and almost immediately Lenscraft went offline. Not only is the Lenscraft site down I also can’t get into the admin side to try to fix it. The support team tried to help but haven’t been succesfull and said they don’t know what else to do. I have tried deleting the site and recovering it from backups taken when it was known to work but they suffer the same problems. I am now searching for a new hosting company so the site may be down for a few days whilst I try to sort this out.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Robin

Friday Image No. 59

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Olympus EM5, ISO400, f/7.1, 4 seconds, Lee 10 stop filter.
Olympus EM5, ISO400, f/7.1, 4 seconds, Lee 10 stop filter.

The clean-up of my image library backlog continues and I suspect it will be ongoing for some time. I worked out recently that I have nearly 300,000 images in the backlog – that’s going to take some time to work through.

On a positive note I am certainly getting the desired distance (in time) from the original shoot and this is allowing me to pick out some new images that I initially overlooked. This particular image is one from a Trip I made to the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales last November. At the time I didn’t recall shooting much that I was happy with. I had become fixated with trying to use the Nikon D800 (purchased as an experiment and sold soon after in frustration) but was fighting with it. I was also fighting back the pain from a prolapsed disk in my Neck but at the time didn’t realise the severity of the problem. In all, it was a memorable trip for all the wrong reasons.

Now that I’m looking back at the images I realised that I shot many more with the Olympus EM5 than the Nikon D800 and that there are some real gems in there.

Hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Lightroom Panorama Tool Tip

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Six image stitch using a Canon G16 creates a 26" x 14" image at 300dpi.
Six image stitch using a Canon G16 creates a 26″ x 14″ image at 300dpi.

I am fast becoming a fan of the new Photo Merge to Panorama feature in Lightroom 6 (Creative Cloud). I can use the Stacking feature to easily group the photos in a panorama series so that I don’t mix them up with single images. I can then create the new merged panorama as a DNG file ready to be processed like any other RAW file. Once I have the merged DNG I can add it to the top of the image Stack and then collapse the stack. What I then see in Lightroom is the Panorama files and if I want to repeat the merge process I can expand the Stack to see the individual image files.

Here you can see the area the auto crop tool has selected
Here you can see the area the auto crop tool has selected

One aspect of the new feature that I am starting to change my mind about is the Auto Merge and Auto Crop checkbox. The Auto Merge feature automatically selects the blending mode but most often picks the mode that results in a long thin image. Often picking one of the other blending modes will give a file which has more height which tends to be useful.

Similarly the Auto Crop tool will take out the area where the image doesn’t cover the entire canvas. Whilst this can be helpful it can also restrict the size of the image. I have now begun to find that I am turning off the crop to check.

Here is the image in Photoshop with the crop removed.
Here is the image in Photoshop with the crop removed.

Where there isn’t much cropping required I now prefer to take the image into Photoshop once blended. In Photoshop I then duplicate the layer and use the “Edit | Transform | Warp” menu command to warp the duplicate layer. This allows the image to be stretched over the entire canvas without a reduction in size. The only real downside to this is that the edges of the scene can become a little distorted but with landscape images this is very difficult to detect.

If you also use the new merge feature give this technique a try and let me know what you think.

Sony RX10 Takes on Europe’s Strongest Man

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Eddie Hall World Record Deadlift 463Kg, 11th July 2015. Sony RX10, ISO80, f/4.5, 1/250", 200mm
Eddie Hall World Record Deadlift 463Kg, 11th July 2015. Sony RX10, ISO80, f/4.5, 1/250″, 200mm – clck the image to enlarge

There is a long held Christmas tradition in many UK homes and that is to watch the World’s Strongest Man competition. One of the heats leading up to this annual event is Europe’s Strongest Man, and that’s where I went at the weekend, my daughter having bought me tickets as a birthday present.

The competition was held in Leeds at the Rugby ground and will probably be screened around Christmas in the UK. As it’s recorded I wasn’t sure they would allow cameras into the ground so I took the RX10 along rather than my Olympus EM5. I have known some events to class interchangeable lens cameras as Pro cameras and be banned whilst fixed lenses such as the RX10 are allowed.

As it turned out the organisers were happy for photo’s to be taken in a non-professional capacity. Initially I was kicking myself because the RX10 only has a 200mm lens which as it turns out was a little shortof range. Something like the 40-150mm lens on the EM5 would have taken me much closer to the action.

Then I stopped and asked myself why this was a problem. If the images are only ever to be shared on the Internet why did I need to get closer? The 20Mpixel sensor of the RX10 would allow me to crop in close and will still need to be down sampled. And so it is with the image here. It’s about 3 times the dimensions it needs to be for Internet viewing so has been down sampled to just 1,000 pixels wide. I didn’t need a longer lens or a bigger image. The RX10 was perfect.

In case you are wondering, the picture shows a new world record deadlift at 463Kg (around 1,020 lbs). Congratulations Eddie Hall.

HDR Problems in Lightroom

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/40"
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/40″

If you are a Lightroom user you are probably aware that the recent release of version 6 included Photo merge for panorama and HDR photography. In fact, that seems to be pretty much all that was in the new release. In the past I have written about the merge to panorama but not about HDR.

Over the weekend I made an exploratory trip to Wales with a friend and found myself on the banks of a river looking at quite a nice scene. At the time I was shooting Infrared but as the sky clouded up I decided to switch to conventional colour photography using the Sony RX10. Unfortunately the dynamic range of the scene appeared to exceed the capabilities of the Sony (even with a 2 stop ND grad filter for the sky) so I decided to shoot some HDR sequences.

Shooting HDR images in the Sony is a snap. The auto bracketing function allows you to set multiple exposures at quite wide exposure gaps. For this particular shot I chose a 1 stop interval for 3 images. This would give me a correctly exposed image, one that is under exposed by 1 stops and one that’s over exposed by 1 stops. (You can also use 2 stop intervals and a few other combinations if you like). The plan was then to combine these in Lightroom into a new DNG file that could be processed.

When I processed the images I decided to set the Ghosting option as the images were captured handheld which could have introduced movement. I also expected the trees and plants in the scene to be showing some movement between shots as there was a slight breeze. When I processed the image files and zoomed in the foreground looked quite good.

Foreground close up of Lightroom HDR at 100% magnification
Foreground close up of Lightroom HDR at 100% magnification

But when I looked at the upper part of the image I found a significant amount of blending artefacts in the leaves of the trees.

Lightroom HDR at 100% magnification showing ghosting
Lightroom HDR at 100% magnification showing ghosting

Following this disappointment I thought that I would try the blending in Nik HDR Efex to check the results.

Nik HDR Efex at 100% also showing ghosting
Nik HDR Efex at 100% also showing ghosting

It was a little better but still not perfect. What I did like about the Lightroom version though was that it looked totally natural whilst the Nik version appeared “fake”.

Then I tried reprocessing the RAW file with careful editing. The result is the one you see at the top of this page and came out much better than I had expected. The moral of this story is that you have much more power in your RAW files than you might at first think.

Thanks for the Ideas

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Boats at St Ives. Sony RX10, ISO80, f/4.0, 1/320"
Boats at St Ives. Sony RX10, ISO80, f/4.0, 1/320″

This is just a quick note to say thanks to everyone who has contacted me with ideas for future tutorials on Lenscraft. I will be working on these over the coming months as I seek to build out the materials available. There are some where my expertise doesn’t extend or where I don’t feel qualified to speak but overall there are some great ideas I will be able to deliver.

I would also like to apologise for not being in a position to respond individually to everyone who has made suggestions. I am now receiving a couple anywhere between 50 and 200 emails on a typical day which can take hours to answer. That’s even before I get to write the blog posts and tutorials. I sometimes need to put doing some photography ahead of writing about it.

I hope you understand.