Topaz Adjust 40% Discount

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Bolivia Volcano sunset. Processed with Topaz Adjust.
Bolivia Volcano sunset. Processed with Topaz Adjust.

I have just received word that Topaz are running a 40% discount on their popular Adjust software starting 16th July and running through to the end of the month. The discount code for anyone who is interested is JULYADJUST.

This brings the price down to $29.99 which is an absolute bargain if you don’t already have the software. It provides a great set of all round adjustments for the photographer and I have been a long time user. I really like the Topaz policy of upgrades for life and think this is the right way to treat the customer.

I thought I would share the above image which was processed using Adjust. The original image of the volcano, although shot near to sunset was lacking the contrast and colours that I remembered. You can see this below although do keep in mind that the image is exposed to the right.

Bolivia Volcano before adjustment
Bolivia Volcano before adjustment

Happy image editing.

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.

Friday Image No.57

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The doorway to the chapter house, Wells Cathedral. Olympus EM5, ISO800, f/5.6, 1/25"
The doorway to the chapter house, Wells Cathedral. Olympus EM5, ISO800, f/5.6, 1/25″

Do you ever have the experience of seeing one of your photographs and thinking “I really like this but I don’t know why”? You continue to look at the image and convince yourself that it’s poor or boring and move on. A few minutes later it catches your eye again and you think yes I do like that only to then change your mind.

As I was searching for this week’s Friday Image I had this exact experience with the image above. I will probably come to regret publishing it but then again there is something that I really like.

Whatever your view of the image have a great weekend and I hope you find time for some photography.

Do You Want a Fisheye Lens

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Salt Flats, Bolivia. Olympus EM5 with Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye.
Salt Flats, Bolivia. Olympus EM5 with Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye.

I noticed the other day that Olympus has a new 8mm fisheye lens about to launch. Ordinarily I am a huge fan of Olympus equipment and especially there lenses. But this one, I’m not even interested in. The reason is the price. I’m sorry but £799 for a fisheye lens is way overpriced. It’s not as though this will be a main lens. It will have very limited application and could end up sat in your camera bag without ever being used.

If you use micro 43 cameras and are interested in buying a fisheye, take a look at the Samyang 7.5mm. This is a really well built lens for around a quarter of the price. It feels solid and is a joy to use. It’s almost the same focal length and gives 180 degree view just like the Olympus. The key difference (other than price) is that this is a manual focus lens but don’t let that stop you. At f/2.8 you will get depth of field from 30cm to infinity. Basically just stop down to f/5.0, focus on infinity and shoot away without focusing.

The other aspect of the Samyang that some might find unusual is that you don’t set the aperture using the camera. The camera will report the aperture as 0.0 as if there isn’t a lens attached. Instead you set the aperture on an aperture ring around the outside of the lens. Personally I really like this although I admit it might not be to everyone’s taste.

In short, this is a great lens and an excellent price. If you want a fisheye then I would recommend taking a look at the Samyang.

New Lenscraft Tutorials

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Wells Cathedral, Olympus EM5, ISO800, f/5.6, 1/20". Processed in Photoshop with Nik Silver Efex Pro. The window light is totally false.
Wells Cathedral, Olympus EM5, ISO800, f/5.6, 1/20″. Processed in Photoshop with Nik Silver Efex Pro. The window light is totally false.

I have been hard at work over the past month developing further tutorials for my Lenscraft website. All are free in the hope they will help photographers everywhere (as well as promote the Lenscraft website). If you find these helpful please pass on the link to others:

Simulate Film Grain Using Photoshop Layers

Simulate Film Grain Using Photoshop Camera Raw

Understanding HDR Photography

Photo Sharpening Tips You Need to Know

What is Depth of Field

Sharpening with the Photoshop Unsharp Mask

What is Creative Camera Control

Correcting Converging Verticals in Lightroom

Organizing Lightroom Presets

The Best ISO Setting

What is an F-Stop?

How to Install Lightroom Presets

Dodge and Burn in Photoshop

How to use Photoshop Actions

Add an Image Border in Lightroom

Preparing an Image for Flickr

You can find all these tutorials and more in the Resource Hub section of Lenscraft (www.lenscraft.co.uk).

I’m also really keen to provide tutorials about subjects that people want to read about so if you have any ideas or thoughts please email me at robin@lenscraft.co.uk.