Friday image No.042

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New Brighton Lighthouse

I always promise myself that when I go out on a day’s shoot that I will wait for a while before I publish any images. I find that it’s this distance from the days shooting that allows you to appreciate which images are the best. That way you avoid being caught up in the emotion of the day and are not influenced by your expectations.

Then again I’m really impatient and some images just scream share me. Here’s one from last weekend. This was shot at New Brighton. It now quite a different place to that that Martin Parr captured.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Improving the D800

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14-12-01 RWhalley_D800_2014_11__RNW0431

As regular readers of this blog will know I purchased a Nikon D800 a few months back in order to do a real hand on comparison with the Olympus EM5. The first few months of usage have been somewhat mixed and I have found myself reaching for the EM5 on more than one occasion, not least recently when I have suffered a very painful prolapsed disk in my neck.

Anyway, I digress from the point that I wanted to make in this blog and that is one of the most irritating things I have found in using the D800 is the image quality. When I look at a RAW file from the EM5 its crisp and has a lovely level of contrast, especially in the mid tones. The D800 is not as good in this respect and lacks the bite that I see in the EM5 files. I have thought that it might be the lenses but then when I have tried out some pro lenses, I still have the same disappointed feeling. I can see the image is sharp but it just doesn’t seem to reveal the level of detail I had hoped for.

Then recently someone shared the details of a software program that I hadn’t come across that is designed to correct optical limitations in lenses. It’s called Piccure+ and you can get a free trial download from their website. Here is a comparison of a section of the foreground from the D800 image above, shown at 100% magnification (click the images to see the full enlargement). The image below is prior to processing Piccure+. It has been converted from RAW in Lightroom with full adjustment including sharpening.

Before Processing
Before Processing

The next image is following processing in Piccure+. This now feels much more like the quality of image I achieve in the EM5. This is a clear improvement.

After Piccure+
After Piccure+

Now to confuse matters I thought I would also run the image through Topaz Detail which I used to use a lot. Not sure why I stopped using it but I think it’s about the time I switched to Micro 43.

After Topaz Detail
After Topaz Detail

So, what I can deduce from this is that the detail is there in the image but it needs some good processing to bring out the best. Piccure does a great and very natual job. Topaz Detail seems to bring out more detail but it also lightens the shadows a little too much. Personally I prefer the Piccure+ restul better but then I have more control with Topaz (I just need to take more care).

If you haven’t tried either of these products before they are well worth it. You might just find that lens you were struggling with isn’t as poor as you think.

You Lucky People!

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Wales - see Friday Image 41. Nikon D800.
Wales – see Friday Image 41. Nikon D800.

Yesterday I loaded a number of Lightroom Presets I had been building, to the Lenscraft website. I then sent out an email broadcast to the membership list saying the presets were now available and free to download.

From the stats, I can see a lot of people have been able to access the site and download the presets. A few people however have complained about the site being slow and some are having problems signing in; the site is reporting they need to have cookies enabled when in fact they have.

Part of the problem is that Lenscraft is becoming a victim of its own success and the traffic volumes are increasing quite rapidly. To give you some idea, in November there has been 10,000 visitors and the site server up some 70,000 pages. This is around 20% up on the previous month which is about 20% up on the month before.

I realise this is not a lot in comparison to some of the commercial sites, but I run Lenscraft as a free resource for Photographers and need to keep costs down. Now the cracks in the hosting are starting to appear. I have therefore decided to invest in a major hosting upgrade (my wallet is still hurting) and we are now running on something that has about 5 times the processing capacity of the previous host. Checking a short time ago I can see a substantial improvement in the sites performance and I hope you will also.

If following this anyone has any problems with cookies do let me know as I may need to recreate your account.

As for the image today, this was taken at the same time as the image in the previous post. It was captured using a Nikon D800, tripod mounted, 18-35mm Nikkor lens, 0.9 ND grad filter. Shutter speed 1.3″ at f/14.0. It took an age to get the camera into a workable position.

Friday image No.041

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Rough Seas. Olympus EM5. See text for details of settings.

I did wonder whether to post this shot or not. If you look hard at the image you find it feels cluttered. It isn’t a great composition (because there wasn’t much to compose). It’s also a grab shot.

You see I shot this whilst spending ages fighting with the Nikon D800 on a tripod. I couldn’t get into position on very slippery seaweed covered rocks. In the end, in total frustration I fired off this shot with the Olympus EM5 which was over my shoulder.

You shouldn’t be able to handhold shots like this at sunset, but you can with the EM5. The base ISO is 200 (as used here). The lens is the superb Olympus 12-40 f/2.8 set at 12mm. The aperture was f/4.0 giving a shutter speed of 1/60″. And yes, it is sharp and has sufficient depth of field. Try that with a full frame camera.

I should also add that I used a 0.6 (2 stop) neutral density graduated filter on the sky. It was one of the Lee Seven 5 series which I am very impressed with.

Now as cluttered as the scene is, it also conveys the feeling of a stormy sea well. It also has some great light on the water. It’s this feeling of stormy light that comes across to me every time I look at the image. So whilst it may not be an accomplished photographic composition I think the image works well because it has emotion – at least for me.

Have a great weekend everyone.

How I Created the La Paz Image

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La Pas, Bolivia
La Pas, Bolivia

It seems that my previous post created a bit of a stir with a few requests for a tutorial added to the site and many more sent by email. I have therefore bowed to public pressure and added a tutorial to my Lenscraft site describing how the image was captured and then processed. There may be a few surprises in there for some of you. Here is the link

http://lenscraft.co.uk/resource-hub/tutorials/

And for those of you wanting to see the starting image, here it is.

La Paz Starting image
La Paz Starting image

 

Hope you enjoy.

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.