colour

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

In Memory of Velvia

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Wastwater in the Lake District. Captured on a Sony R1. Processed with Alien Skin Exposure 6.
Wastwater in the Lake District. Captured on a Sony R1. Processed with Alien Skin Exposure 6.

Do you remember Velvia slide film? I used to shoot this stuff all the time. It was horribly contrasty and a pig to scan. It was however the best colour slide film for Landscapes (possibly) and pre digital, all the pro’s in the UK would rave about it.

So why am I telling you all this given digital’s “better”? I just happened to be playing around with this old image shot an a Sony R1, trying different settings in Alien Skin Exposure 6. I was actually looking at the Infrared film simulations but then thought I would check some of the colour slide settings. As soon as I hit the Velvia preset I was transported back in time.

I have to be honest though. The version you see here was toned down a little as I don’t think all you digital users are ready for full on exposure (pun intended) to Velvia. If you haven’t looked at Alien Skin Exposure it’s worth trying the free download.

http://www.alienskin.com/exposure/

It’s a great piece of software and no I’m not making any money out of sharing this.

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.

Olympus OMD EM5 Colour Profile

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Captured on an Olympus EM5, converted in Lightroom using new color profile and tweaked in Nik Viveza
Captured on an Olympus EM5, converted in Lightroom using new color profile and tweaked in Nik Viveza

I admit that it’s been a while coming but I have finally managed to shoot the XRite ColorPassport in suitable lighting conditions to generate a profile for the Olympus EM5. To be honest, I didn’t expect the new profile to achieve much as the EM5 produces good colours already and in any event, Lightroom includes a few alternate profiles. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I generated this profile and tried it out in Lightroom. The images are noticeably stronger and more natural than using the Adobe Standard profile. I also like the new profile more than the other options that now come with Lightroom for this camera.

If anyone uses Lightroom and an Olympus EM5 (shooting in RAW format) then you can download the colour profile for free from my Lenscraft web site.

Sony RX10 Colour Profile for Lightroom

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Image captured on the Sony RX10 and converted in Lightroom using the new Colour Profile I created.
Image captured on the Sony RX10 and converted in Lightroom using the new Colour Profile I created.

I have finally managed to find a little time to produce and upload a new Colour Profile for the Sony RX10. The profile can be used with Lightroom and gives a nice improvement over the standard Adobe profiles that come with Lightroom. The improvement isn’t quite as marked as some of the other cameras I have profiled but it’s still better. Blues have more punch and the reds are more natural.

You can find the free download on my Lenscraft website.

I hope you like it.

Just Thinking of Summer

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Dreamy summer effects with Nik Color Efex Pro.
Dreamy summer effects with Nik Color Efex Pro.

I was thinking of summer whilst looking through my archive and came across a rather drab looking picture of flowers in a field. Looks a lot better after I had a play around in Nik Color Efex.

Playing Around

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Olympus EM5, 9-18mm lens, 8 stop ND filter and post processing in Nik Analog Efex. Click the image to see a larger version.
Olympus EM5, 9-18mm lens, 8 stop ND filter and post processing in Nik Analog Efex. Click the image to see a larger version.

I have just been playing around with some of my images from the trip to Filey at the weekend. Here is another of the images shot from Filey Brigg. The Brigg is a huge lump of rock extending out into the sea. It’s quite dark, moody and dare I say it, difficult to photograph.

This particular image was shot with an 8 stop graduated filter which gave a 4 second exposure at f/7.1.

I quite like the resulting image but I decided to play around some more with Nik Analog Efex Pro which is where the corroded effect/moody texture comes from. I can’t make up my mind if I like it or not now but thought I would share it.

Sometimes photography is about experimenting.

If you don’t experiment you don’t learn.

If you don’t learn you don’t grow.

If you don’t grow you will never be great.

New Book Launch – Essential Colour Management

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Essential Colour Management
Essential Colour Management

I am pleased to announce that my new book “Essential Colour Management: What every photographer needs to know” has launched and is available on Amazon (Link to amazon.com and amazon.co.uk) for $3.99 and £2.49. Other countries are similarly priced in their relevant Amazon stores.

I don’t know of any photographer who has not suffered from colour management problems and I am fre3quently contacted by some of those suffering. This is a disjointed and complex area of photography that many people struggle to understand and gain control over. I know what this feels like as it took me more than a few years of testing and research to understand everything I needed to know.

This new book condenses this subject into the essentials you need as a photographer. It provides the key information in an understandable format. If you are a registered member of my Lenscraft Website (membership is free) you will shortly be receiving notification of the $0.99/£0.99 sale dates.

Further Variations

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My last post has drawn some interesting feedback on which image people like best and why. The thing I find fascinating about this exercise is not only do we tend to favour one image over the other (most of the time), but we tend to do this for different reasons. I have just read a great comment from Paul making the point that the different tones in the surrounding grass, some dead and some alive is distracting as well as the direction of the grass. Whilst I also see this (more now Paul points it out), it doesn’t cause me any issues with the colour image. In fact it makes it feel more natural to me.

Another comment from David talks about liking the subtle graduations in tone from the colour image. This is also my perspective and what I find so attractive about the colour image. I do however also like the sharpness and clarity of the black and white image BUT wouldn’t want to see that reproduced in the colour image. I feel it would lose it’s subtly if that happened.

This suggests to me (perhaps this is obvious to others) that when we assess an image we each favour different qualities over others. Some of us look for strong shape and form in an image and judge this to be the priority. Others look for subtle graduations in colour and tone ahead of other factors. Maybe other favour texture over everything. Perhaps if we develop an awareness of how others see photography we might develop a more rounded view ourselves, which could lead to our performance as photographers improving.

So enough of the psycho analysis. I wanted to share a few more versions of yesterdays image, adopting some (not all) of the suggestions made.

Any favourites?

Variation 1
Variation 1. Click to enlarge.
Variation 2. Click to enlarge
Variation 2. Click to enlarge.
Variation 3. Click to enlarge.
Variation 3. Click to enlarge.
Variation 4. Click to enlarge.
Variation 4. Click to enlarge.

The last two images are my preference, but the colour one sneaks it, for me at least.

Keeping it Real

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Real colours or not?
Real colours or not?

Over recent years I have noticed an increasing trend towards what I would call Unbelievable Realism in photography. To my mind, this is most noticeable (and objectionable) in the area of Nature and Landscape Photography.

If you are wondering what I am talking about, it’s the amazing colours and saturations that seem to dominate, increasingly dramatic images. I have a friend who calls this fast food photography and I have to agree. I look at a series of these photographs and find myself skipping through, quicker and quicker, trying to get to the next one to see if it is even more dramatic. At the end, I feel exhausted but strangely never fulfilled. There is seldom more to these images than the immediate hit of colour.

It’s easy to see why this is happening. In the days before digital, you had to work the magic in camera. It was a skill you developed along with your eye for a good image. Now, you still work the magic in camera but it’s only part of the story. For example, if you shoot RAW you can’t stop with the in camera image or it looks dreadful (especially if you use techniques like exposing to the right). At the same time, software for manipulating the images has become increasingly advanced, capable and in some cases easy to use. Magazines and website are also flooded with such images so those new to photography see this as what they need to aspire to rather than developing their own vision.

As a user and enthusiastic advocate of plug-ins, I have to admit that these may be causing part of the problem. These tools make it very easy for people with little experience (who also may not have developed their personal vision/eye yet) to produce dramatic effects. I too have found myself guilty of creating images that have too much impact at times and stray into the area of unbelievable realism. It’s very easy to push those sliders just a little too far and not realize you are doing it until it’s too late.

What I would like to propose is an alternative approach to Landscape and Nature photography where we try to keep it real. In the picture above you can see an image that I have tried to process a number of times.  The difficulty I have experienced is that the image, no matter how I process it, has never appeared real to me. Often the grass comes out too green, the sky too blue or the sunset too orange and saturated. The subtlety of colour and the balance between the colours just isn’t right. What unfortunately I am missing is a good reference point to work from. So far the above example is the best I have been able to produce but I think it’s a work in progress.

To end, I would like to pose two questions to anyone reading this:

  1. Which approach do you prefer when looking at other peoples work, the drama of “Unbelievable Realism” or the subtlety of “keeping it real”?
  2. Which approach do you try to adopt for your own work?