Landscape Photography

Beautiful Evening Light in Whitby

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Whitby Pier at sunset. Canon 5D MKII, 24-105mm Lens.
Whitby Pier at sunset. Canon 5D MKII, 24-105mm Lens.

I don’t know about you but my photo storage is a bit of a mess. I do like to keep each shoot in a separate dated folder and then import these to Lightroom. But sometimes something goes wrong. A few months back I suffered a Lightroom Catalogue crash and I lost a lot of work. I thought I had recovered everything but it turns out that I hadn’t.

Today I found some folders that I hadn’t re-imported so I had a quick look through the images. Here’s one that I like and thought I would share. It’s a sunset shot taken at Whitby, North Yorkshire in April last year. There wasn’t very much cloud in the sky but the atmosphere picked up the colours from the sun quite well. The low sun has also coloured the pier quite nicely with the low light levels allowed me to use a slow shutter speed (with the help of a Neutral Density filter).

I love looking through old images that I had forgotten about.

Another Example of False Infrared Colour

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GX1 Infrared image converted with a red blue channel swap to create a false colour
GX1 Infrared image converted with a red blue channel swap to create a false colour

In my last post I shared an example of the false infrared colour technique and explained how it was achieved. I also confessed that in general I don’t like the effect, although in some cases it does work well. I thought it would be good to share another example that I think works reasonably well (although not as well as the previous post)  although I will admit that I still prefer the traditional black and white conversion.

This example is a little more stylised than the previous image and was created by first converting the image to colour before applying a Fuji Provia Slide Film simulation in Exposure 6. This was then further edited with a boost to the Vibrancy slider and a negative Clarity to give the soft effect. My reasoning for these adjustments was to prepare the image for conversion to black and white but I found I quite liked the colour image.

When converting the images with the Channel Mixer it can seem a bit hit and miss. It appears to help if you have both sky and foliage in the image. With a Red/Blue channel swap such as shown here the sky will turn blue and the foliage will go red. Most other areas (in landscapes) tend not to be affected.

You can improve the results by picking a white balance point during RAW conversion which causes the foliage to take on a blue tint. Typically this will leave the sky with some red tint and when the channel swap is made with the channel mixer the red tint in the sky turns blue and the blue tint of the foliage turns red.

Also try to avoid images which have been shot in the shade (such as tree lined country lanes) as you won’t get such a good effect. You really need direct and strong sun to make this work well.

Hope this helps anyone who is also struggling with Infrared false colour.

Infrared conversion from my GX1 Infrared camera
Infrared conversion from my GX1 Infrared camera

False Colour Conversion in Infrared Photography

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False colour infrared using Infrared converted Panasonic GX1
False colour infrared using Infrared converted Panasonic GX1

Before I get into the details of this post I need to point out that I’m not a fan of the false colour effect in infrared. That said I do quite like the look of the image above. I realise this is a personal choice and you may or may not like the effect. Despite not liking this effect (other than the odd image) I continue to use the technique as I find it often helps in the conversions to black and white. The increased colour seems to make it easier to separate objects in black and white .

The starting point for the conversion is an infrared image that has been correctly white balanced. You can see the starting point below.

Correct white balance
Correct white balance

As I have mentioned previously in this blog, getting the white balance correct in Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW can be problematic. Here is an example of the image as seen in Lightroom despite using the correct custom white balance.

How Lightroom sees the custom white balance
How Lightroom sees the custom white balance

I have now found out how to correct this and will post something separately on the subject.

Once you have your image white balanced, take it into Photoshop. Here we will do something called a channel swap between the red and blue channels using the Channel Mixer. You can see a screenshot of the channel mixer below.

Channel Mixer in Photoshop
Channel Mixer in Photoshop

In case you are wondering there isn’t a cannel mixer in Lightroom or Elements.

First select the Red channel in the channel mixer. You will notice the red slider is at 100% and the other two sliders are at 0%. Change these sliders so that the blue channel is at 100% and the others are at 0%.

Now repeat this process selecting the blue channel. This time set the blue slider to 0% and the red slider to 100%. The channel swap is now complete and you will see an effect similar to that above.

You can also swap any two channels and are not restricted to the red and blue. The red and blue channels tend to produce the best results though.

Now as I mentioned at the start of this post, I use this technique to support conversion to black and white. With that in mind, here is the final image back and white image. Let me know which image you prefer.

Final infrared conversion
Final infrared conversion

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.

Another Drought

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Low water in the reservoir. Sony RX10. See text for details.
Low water in the reservoir. Sony RX10. See text for details.

I had intended to get out yesterday for a long walk (about 20 miles) as I find it helps to clear my mind. In the end the 24 hours of torrential rain and quite severe thunder storms put an end to my hopes.

Today was much better though and despite not having the time for a 20 mile hike I did manage a drive over to the Peak district and a clocked up 12 miles over the hills.

The first thing that struck me when I arrived was how low the water level was in the reservoirs. Above is one of the images I shot with the Sony RX10 and it makes me wonder if we are heading for another drought with all the nice weather we have been having.

As a side note for those of you wondering about my use of the RX10, I have tended not to use it much as I don’t find the images anywhere near as crisp and sharp as my Micro 43 cameras. Despite that the camera has a lovely feel and is a joy to use.

For this particular image I didn’t use the usual Nik sharpening tools but opted for Focal Blade. This is an excellent although quite complex sharpening filter which I have been using on and off for a number of years. I don’t know why but it appears to achieve better results than Nik Sharpener Pro with the Sony images.

The other thing I did was apply Contrast Master which is a contrast adjustment tool from the same people who produce Focal Blade (PhotoWiz). I was reasoning that the images from the Sony seem to lack contrast and pop which is easily corrected in Contrast master. Having just printed this image at A3+, the detail is excellent. It also has a very nice quality to it, very much like film.

I just thought I should try adding some grain and making another print. I’m off to experiment…

Friday image No.026

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St Ives sunset. Olympus EM5 with post processing in Nik Color Efex and Viveza.
St Ives sunset. Olympus EM5 with post processing in Nik Color Efex and Viveza.

The day has just run away with me again. It’s now 10:15pm UK time and I realise that I haven’t posted my Friday image. I have been hard at it since 07:00am and I’m tired. I have therefore turned to a traditional coastal landscape image from my recent holiday (which now seems a very distant memory) to cheer myself up. I hope you enjoy.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday image No.025

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Sea, clouds and a few small wind turbines in the Irish Sea. Captured with the Olympus OMD EM5 with post processing in Nik Analog Efex
Sea, clouds and a few small wind turbines in the Irish Sea. Captured with the Olympus OMD EM5 with post processing in Nik Analog Efex

Another image with a sea theme. This was from my trip a few weeks back to the Lake District. On the way I had a stroll up Black Combe from which you can see the largest offshore wind farm in the world (at least that’s what it said on the BBC news). If you look carefully in the light area you can just about make out a few of the wind turbines.

Post processing was in the new Nik Analog Efex which is fast becoming one of my favourite creative filters for artistic and old camera effects.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday image No.024

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Blue Haze - Captured on an Olympus Em5 with Panasonic 45-150 lens.
Blue Haze – Captured on an Olympus Em5 with Panasonic 45-150 lens.

This week’s Friday image is another from my recent holiday. I call this one Blue Haze but not for obvious reasons. I just happened to be stood looking out to sea, admiring the view and thinking the house I was outside had a priceless view (this one). The name of the house? You guessed it, Blue Haze.

Have a great weekend everyone.

How did it look at the start?

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An interesting conversion using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2
An interesting conversion using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2

After I posted this black and white image taken from near the summit of Great Gable in the English Lake District a number of you wanted to know what the starting image looked like. Well here is it.

 

Starting image prior to processing in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2
Starting image prior to processing in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2

Looks great eh and you can immediately see how I turned it into the finished version above (only joking). If you can’t and want to know how I achieved the conversion, take yourself over to my Lenscraft website and register as a member – don’t worry it’s free. This entire conversion will be detailed in Summer 14 newsletter which I will be publishing shortly. Members receive an email notification when the newsletters published. You can also be sure that I won’t spam you as I HATE spam email.

Emotional Challenge 2

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Processing in Nik Analog Efex 2
Processing in Lightroom,  Photoshop and Nik Analog Efex 2

Recently I posted a blog entitled Emotional Challenge where I spoke about my recent interest in the emotional aspect of photography and how we could create images that had more emotional impact. As an initial example I posted the image of a seagull flying over the sea. Now some of your reading this will be relating the image of the seagull to seaside holidays, perhaps recalling childhood memories. Others though may have an entirely different perspective of the image.

If you are not from a climate where the seagull is a common sight on the coast you may not have any emotional memory to attach to the image. Instead you may see a huge open stretch of water with a bird gliding graceful over it and flying off into the distance. For you the emotional message in the image is one of freedom.

Today I have posted a few variants of the image that are also intended to add further layers of emotion, using various tricks or rather emotional triggers.

The first variant below has cropped the image to a square format. Whilst this possibly doesn’t give as dynamic a composition as the standard rectangular image, it is none the less a trigger. Some people will associate the square format with older cameras. The other change in this example was the vintage effect. Here lighting and colouring have been used to create the impression of older photography. All these changes were achieved quite quickly in Lightroom using the crop tool and a few gradients.

Processing in Lightroom
Processing in Lightroom only

The next example is a little more complex. This takes the Lightroom conversion and applies effects using Nik Analog Efex 2 (which is a recent release). The effects here are light and colour adjustments, blur, vignette, dust and an edge effect similar to the old Polaroid film.

Old film effects in Nik Analog Efex 2 only
Old film effects in Nik Analog Efex 2 only

In the next two examples the results of the Nik Analog Efex filter have been added as a layer in Photoshop to the Original Lightroom image. The blending mode has then been changed on the Nik layer. In the first of the two the blending mode is set to Soft Light.

Lightroom and Nik versions blended in Photoshop using Soft Light mode
Lightroom and Nik versions blended in Photoshop using Soft Light mode

In this second image the blending mode is set to Overlay.

Processing in Nik Analog Efex 2
Lightroom and Nik versions blended in Photoshop using Overlay mode

All these images are likely to mean different things to different people but all are likely to have an effect. If we can isolate the emotional triggers from great images and then learn how to recreate these in our own work, our photography will improve. But this carries two significant dangers. Firstly people are likely to either love or hate your work. Secondly your work can become a cliché and the effects boring.

I never said it was easy.