Beware of the Mac

Ladybower Reservoir, The Peak District. Fuji X-T3, Fuji 16-80 lens. ISO160, 7.5 seconds at f/11.0.

First, an apology that I didn’t post a Friday image last week. I ended up at my daughters in France. I thought I would be able to post the image from there, but technical problems got in the way of what should have been a simple task. I won’t go into the details because I want to share a different technical issue that a lot of photographers will face.

I shared the above image on my Instagram feed just before I left for France. In all honesty, the processing was a little rushed so I thought I would reprocess it again (hopefully better) for this post. That’s when I discovered my latest technical issue; my graphics tablet won’t work with my Mac, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

A couple of days back I received a message that my Mac needed to apply updates. I didn’t think anything more about it and applied them. This turned out to a major update to the operating system of my main Mac.

The new OS is Catalina and was a huge 8Gb update. It made lots of changes including how my hard drive was partitioned. It’s also a pure 64bit OS which means any software with a 32bit element won’t work. This was frustrating enough but then I found I couldn’t run some software that was 64bit. Instead I now get a message saying that the software supplier needs to work with Apple to make software compliant and you can’t run it. I don’t know what “compliant” means but I’ve lost the ability to use some important software as well as hardware, including my graphics tablet. I find this completely unacceptable.

So, if you have a Mac and you see the message to upgrade, be careful. As I understand it from reading the many complaints on the internet, there isn’t an easy way to reverse the upgrade. If you’re running anything but the latest software and hardware drivers, you will probably find things are immediately obsolete.

On a lighter note…

Friday Image No.233

I captured this week’s image on my way to shoot the sunrise on Higger Tor in the Peak District. As I passed Ladybower and the trout fishery, I couldn’t resist pulling over. It was still around 20 minutes before sunrise and there was a lovely blue, pink colour to the light. I could also see the very tops of the cloud starting to catch some light and turn pink.

Because the scene is so light with the mist and water reflecting the sky the dynamic range was low, and I didn’t need to use any filters. I did, however, use a tripod and cable release as the shutter speed was 7.5” at ISO160 using f11.0. The lens I used was the new Fuji 16-80mm. Whilst I haven’t used this very much at present, I don’t think I’m that impressed, especially given the price point. Once I’ve used it a little more and made some comparison shots, I will share my thoughts.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Sunrise at Higger Tor

Rocks on Higger Tor at sunrise, The Peak District. Fuji X-T3. See text for technical details/settings.

Yesterday morning I managed to drag myself out of bed at 05:00am and drove over to the Peak District. I had been watching the weather for weeks waiting for the right conditions. It had been warm during the day but then the temperature was forecast to drop overnight, with only thin cloud cover and no wind for the next morning. The conditions were perfect for Landscape Photography and all being well there would  be mist/fog in the Peak District.

As I drove past Ladybower on my way to Higger Tor I ran into a few fog banks. I could also see the mist rising off the surface of the reservoir. As I passed the fishery, the high cloud was turning pink and reflecting on the calm surface of the water. I decided to stop and shoot a couple of frames, but I’ll save that for another time once I’ve processed them properly.

When I arrived at Higger Tor, the sunrise was in full swing and unfortunately, I think I missed the best of it having stopped at Ladybower. This shot was my second frame, the first being a reference shot to check the camera setup. As the sun was now just above the horizon and starting to catch the ground, I found this position where I could capture the light on the rocks and still retain a good sky.

Capturing a good shot was relatively easy as the sun wasn’t in the frame, but I still needed to use a ND Grad filter on the sky. Without it the ground and rocks just became too dark. I also took the opportunity to shoot the image with exposure bracketing. This would give me 5 frames from which I could select the best exposure to work with and if necessary, do some exposure blending.

In the end, the best image was a single exposure without any exposure compensation. This had a nice sky, but the rocks were a little too dark. I was able to correct this during my RAW conversion in Capture One. I’m now a huge fan of Capture One for processing the Fuji RAW files and swear by it.

Following RAW conversion, I applied additional adjustment using the Nik Collection and a little Dodging and Burning in Photoshop.

I shot the image using a Fuji X-T3 and the newly released Fuji 16-80 lens. This gives a focal range of 24-120 in full frame terms which is very useful. I like the lens and have a few observations to make in a future article. I had the camera set to ISO160 which is the base ISO. The aperture was f/11.0 which gave a shutter speed of 0.7”. I had the camera mounted on a tripod for this and used a Kase 0.6 (2 stop) hard ND grad on the sky.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Instagram and Friday Image No.231

Redwood trees in Whakarewarewa Forest near to Rotorua, New Zealand. Fuji X-T2, 18-135 lens, ISO1600, 1/8″ @ f/7.1.

I’ve had an Instagram account since early 2012 but never really bothered with it. In fact, the only reason I signed up was that I liked some of the filter effects. Recently though I’ve started sharing some of my photos on Instagram and I’m enjoying it more than I thought; you’ll find me on there as lenscraftphotos.

I’ve started to post something most weekdays (unless I’m snowed under with work), which is a lot better than I ever managed on Flickr. But what I really like is that it’s prompting me to look through my older photos to find and reprocess shots I like. This image of sun peeping through the trunks of redwood trees in Whakarewarewa Forest is a good example.

I shot this handheld with a Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 18-135 lens, which you can read about in my Lenscraft review. It was quite dark in the forest which forced me to shoot at ISO1600 to achieve a 1/8” shutter speed. That’s about the limit of what I could handhold. I also needed the aperture set to f/7.1 and underexposed by 1/3 stop. These settings allowed me to achieve a steady shot with the necessary depth of field.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Friday Image No.230

Ladybower Reservoir, Peak District. Fuji X-T3, Fuji 55-200mm lens, ISO160, 1/20″ at f/13.0. Kase 0.9 ND Grad (soft) filter on the sky. Tripod mounted.

It’s been a good year for shooting in the Peak District. If I look back a few years, I almost never ventured into the Peaks. Instead, I preferred to make a 2 hour drive up the motorway to the Lake District. These days I would much rather drive 45 minutes to locations like this. Ladybower reservoir.

My original intention in visiting this spot was to shoot the heather in the evening sun. But as the sun became lower the light on the distant water and hillside caught my attention. I couldn’t resist popping the 55-200 lens on the Fuji X-T3 and taking a shot.

Peak District Processing Miniseries

If you haven’t already watched these, I’ve now produced two sets of videos demonstrating my photo editing workflow. Both use images shot in the Peak District and I’ve now posted these to my website in short articles.

Series 1 – Bamford Edge Heather (Capture One, Photoshop and the Nik Collection)

Series 2 – Peak District Millstones (Affinity Photo and Nik Silver Efex Pro)

I hope you like the video and image.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Image No. 229

Curbar Edge after sunset, Peak District. Fuji X-T3, Samyang 12mm lens, ISO160, 2.1″ at f/8.0. 0.9 Soft ND Grad filter and tripod.

It’s Friday again and I’ve spent the entire week trying to layout the print version of my latest book. The desktop publishing software I’m using launched only recently and I’m hitting quite a few bugs. Given how frustrating this is I decided to stop to share an image instead.

I shot this last weekend at Curbar Edge in the Peak District and there are a few points I want to highlight:

  1. This is around 15 minutes after sunset, which is fast becoming my favourite time. The bright white dot in the sky is the moon. There’s something very nice about the light after sunset.
  2. The sun set immediately behind me which dramatically reduced the dynamic range of the scene. Even then I used a 0.9 (3 stop) Soft ND Grad filter on the sky.
  3. The heather in the scene looks great but it’s dead. The reason it appears pink is because of the magenta colour of the light. That’s what happens shortly after sunset when you place the sun behind you.

The key takeaway for me from this image is that it pays to understand how light changes depending on the time of day and angle. It would have been all too easy to have stopped shooting after sunset, or even have faced the wrong direction.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

New Photo Editing Mini-Series

Finished example image from my latest YouTube Photo Editing Mini-Series. Peak District Millstones. Click the image to enlarge.

Due to the popularity of my first photo editing mini-series on YouTube, I’m doing a second. This time I’m processing the image you see above.

I’ve already published the first two videos:

  1. Image Assessment https://youtu.be/NCvT71cgxO8
  2. RAW Conversion (using Affinity Photo) https://youtu.be/MkSl1Rz3ENM

The other two videos in the series will follow next week.

If you missed the first mini-series, I’ve grouped and published them as a tutorial on my Lenscraft website (https://lenscraft.co.uk/photo-editing-tutorials/post-processing-landscape-photography-workflow/).

I hope you enjoy these.

Friday Image No.228

I did think about using the image above as the Friday image but decided not to. I cover the above image in the video and wanted to include a different image here.

Peak District hillside. Fuji X-T3 and 55-200 lens. Click the image to enlarge.

This is from a recent trip to the Peak District. I captured it around 40 minutes before sunset when the sun was low and the light warm. What I like, besides the lovely warm light is the contrast between the “colder” background hill and the “warmer” foreground. It’s also nice the way the solitary barn in the field acts as a focal point.

In terms of technicalities, I was using the Fuji X-T3 with the Fuji 55-200 lens set to 86mm. The camera was set to ISO160 which gave a shutter speed 1/17” at f/13. I could probably have used a wider aperture than f/13 but I wasn’t really thinking about it at the time. I was more interested in capturing the light before I lost it. I could see the sun heading for a bank of hazy cloud on the horizon which damage the crisp direct light you see here.

I mounted the camera on a tripod because the shutter speed was slow, and I didn’t use any filters. I was shooting at around 90 degrees from the sun and the shaded hillside wasn’t dark enough to require I use a filter.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

New Book Launch: Essential Adobe Photoshop CC

The Hope Valley cement works. The Peak District.
The Hope Valley, Peak District. Fuji X-T3, Fuji 55-200, ISO160, 1/180″ at f/11.0. Tripod mounted.

Today I’m happy. My latest book “Essential Adobe Photoshop CC” is available on Amazon. It’s the longest book I’ve created by some way and I’ve been writing it for the past 6 months. That’s quite a project.

It’s written for people who are either new to or struggle with Photoshop. It’s priced at £6.49, $7.49 or similar in other currencies. You can use the link http://viewbook.at/amazon-photoshop-cc to view the book on the Amazon website for your country and download a sample.

Now I’m working on the print version and furiously trying to learn my new publishing software. I’ve decided the popularity of my print books requires an improved layout and design. That means new and unfortunately much more complex software. It will be worth it though.

Friday Image No.227

I love a good atmospheric black and white image, but I often think of bad weather producing the best results. But in this example, the weather was glorious and sunny rather than cloudy and raining. I think this conversion to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro has worked well.

For anyone familiar with the Peak District, you’ll probably recognise the scene. This is the cement works in the Hope Valley. I shot the image earlier in the evening on the same day as last week’s heather photo. At that time the sun was still quite high in a clear blue sky. Fortunately, a lot of atmospheric haze has saved the shot.

I captured the image with a Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 55-200 lens at full reach. At f/11 and ISO160 I had a shutter speed of 1/180”. Although this is fast, I still mounted the camera on a tripod and used a cable release. I wanted to be sure I would avoid the risk of camera shake.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Making Mirrorless Work

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