Landscape Photography in the Highlands of Scotland

Sunrise in Assynt, Scotland. Fuji X-T3, Samyang 12mm lens, 1/15″ at f/11.0 and ISO160. Kase 0.9 ND Soft Grad filter. Tripod mounted.

If you were expecting a Friday image last week I apologise. I was in the highlands of Scotland for a week, trying to cram in as much landscape photography as possible. I had intended to make a post from there, but it turned out the broadband wasn’t working in the accommodation we rented. There also wasn’t any phone signal to speak of, although we found one location that had a full 4G signal. Unfortunately, that was on a hill in the middle of nowhere about an hour’s drive from the accommodation.  It’s also where I shot the photo above.

That’s right, the only time I had a phone signal that supported internet browsing was whilst taking this shot.

The location is not far from the town of Lochinver and is three frames from a Fuji X-T3 stitched in Lightroom. The lens was a Samyang 12mm and I used a 0.9 Kase Soft ND Graduated filter. The important part that’s often overlooked is that we had to get up at 4am in the morning to drive and walk to this location in time for sunrise.

Photoshop Content Aware Scale

If you would like to see another of my landscape photos from the trip, watch at my latest Youtube video.

The image I show is again a three-frame stitch from a Fuji X-T3 using the excellent Samyang 12mm lens (I love this lens). In the image the sun isn’t in the centre of the frame and the needs the left side extending to give it balance. The video shows how to do this firstly using the Photoshop Content Aware Scale command. It then compares the result with the regular Transform tool. I won’t say which was best here, but it was a surprise.

Know-How Transfer Easter Sale

I usually don’t mention software sales in the blog but I’m making an exception with Know-How Transfer. I have most of their products and find they save me time and are very good. They have a 20% sale on until midnight on the 25th April, just enter the code easter19 at the checkout.

And to be clear, I don’t have any connection with the company. I just like what they do.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Editing Sunset Photos in Nik

View from the Roaches, Leek, Stafordshire. Fuji X-T3, Fuji 16-55mm lens, ISO200, 1/7″ at f/10, Kase 0.9 Soft ND Grad filter, Tripod.

In this week’s YouTube video, I shared my favourite Nik Collection filters for editing sunset photos. The image used in the video is the one above, which initially didn’t have obvious clouds and colour. The video demonstrates how you can improve most sunset photos using one of three filters in the Nik Collection.

The adjustments in the video are a little strong to ensure you can see them, but the techniques and tips are solid. I also used all three filters on the image which I wouldn’t recommend. One or two of the Nik Collection filters are all you really need.

Luminar 3 Competition

If you haven’t seen yesterday’s post, do take a moment to read it. I’m giving away a Luminar 3 license which I bought by mistake. Yes, I can be that scatter-brained. The competition’s open until the 30th April 2019 when my wife will draw the winner at random.

Friday Image No. 217

Although I’ve used the Friday Image in my YouTube video, I did want to share it. I shot it last weekend whilst meeting up with a couple of friends that I used to work with. The weather on the day wasn’t quite as forecast. The initial fog quickly burned off (unfortunately) with a clear blue sky replacing it (not a cloudy one). Then, quite quickly, a strong blue haze developed with a few wispy high clouds. The high contrast conditions were terrible for landscape photography, but we persevered.

Towards the end of the day, we grew quite hopeful that we would have a nice sunset. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be and most of the compositions we had available didn’t work well with the conditions. The only composition that looked slightly interesting was the one you see above. I reasoned that I would be able to improve the sunset and enhance the light on the lake, by editing the photo in Nik. It isn’t a wonderful shot, but it serves a good purpose.

Have a great weekend.

I’m Giving Away Luminar 3

I’m giving away a copy of the innovative software Luminar 3, from Skylum. I purchased a second license key in error when Luminar 3 launched but didn’t use it. I’ve been in contact with Skylum who confirm I can give the license key away, so that’s what I’m doing.

Free Prize Draw

This is a free prize draw with my wife drawing the winner at random, after the competition closes at the end of April 2019. To enter, all you need to do is provide me with a short review for any of my books that you’ve read, using the entry form I created on Google. Here’s the link if you want to enter.

https://goo.gl/forms/Efv7H2eeouo3YwWE2

The odds of winning are currently very high; only four people have entered since the launch on Saturday 30th March.

Good luck.

Have you Seen Lightroom Enhance Details?

Snow Covered mountains on Rannoch Moore. Fuji X-T2, Fuji 10-24 lens at 11mm, ISO200, 1/340″ at f/11.0. Handheld.

Have you seen the recent Adobe Lightroom Enhance Details feature? The release in February almost passed me by but then I tested it. It isn’t perfect; some people say it’s too slow and it does produce large file sizes. BUT I suspect Adobe will develop it further in the future.

Enhance Details is a new feature that’s supposed to extract additional detail from your RAW files. I’ve tested it on a few RAW files, and I can’t see much improvement. Unless that is, you’re shooting with a Fuji. When you process the Fuji RAF files using Enhance Details you don’t get the dreaded wiggly worm effect and the image quality is very good. If you want to see my evaluation you can find it on YouTube or watch the video below.

Friday Image No.216

This week’s image is another from a recent trip to Scotland. I shot this whilst on a walk on Rannoch Moore that turned out to be a bit of a failure. We were stopped in our tracks by a river in full flow which had rather too much melt water. I managed to cross but my wife couldn’t make it (short legs). Rather than carry on alone I crossed back, and we returned to the car. Who said there’s no gentlemen left?

The image at the tp of this post is a single shot in RAW format using the Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 10-24 lens at 11mm. I didn’t use any filters as the snow on the ground did a nice job of balancing the exposure with the sky. Although there is a bright patch in the sky on the left where the sun was breaking through the cloud there isn’t any clipping. I also decided to leave it like this for a more natural look.

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

Upgrade Your Camera by Changing RAW Converters

Snow covered mountain on Rannoch Moor. Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24mm lens. ISO200, F/11, 1/420".
Snow covered mountain on Rannoch Moor. Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24mm lens. ISO200, F/11, 1/420″.

This week I feel the urge to highlight something to the readers of this blog. If the image quality from your camera and/or lens is disappointing you, don’t rush to change it. Instead, try a different RAW converter.

I’m seeing more and more that there’s a large variation in image quality produced by different RAW converters. You’re probably thinking there’s nothing surprising there, except it’s not necessarily one converter that comes out better than the others.

The Best RAW Converter Depends on Your Camera

As I investigate this further, what I’m finding is that a RAW converter that excels with one camera can perform poorly with another. And it’s not just the camera that seems to be a factor. Some RAW converters appear to handle some lenses better than others.

This is important. The image quality of some RAW converters with certain camera/lens combinations can fool you into thinking the lens or camera is at fault. Don’t fall into this trap.

A couple of weeks back I demonstrated this using RAW files from a Sony RX10 and RX100. This week I published this video on YouTube. It shows the results from four RAW converters, processing two Fuji X-T2 RAW files.

There are two interesting points to come out of this:

  1. The difference between the best and worst of the four RAW converters tested is significant.
  2. The best RAW converter changed with the RAW file. Although I didn’t highlight it in the video, this difference is down to the lens I used.

So, before you rush out to change that camera or lens that doesn’t quite perform, try using a few different RAW converters. It could save you a lot of money.

Friday Image No.215

I captured this week’s Friday Image in Scotland last week on the famous and Rannoch Moor. I was fortunate enough for my trip to coincide with a light snowfall. Had it been a heavy snowfall I doubt I would have thought I was lucky.

I used the Fuji X-T2 with a Fuji 10-24mm lens handheld. The pool of water you see in the foreground was really very small. It looks a lot larger than it is because I had the lens set to 11mm. To make the foreground loom large, I crouched down low and in close to the pool. I was also careful to avoid distorting the mountain with the super wide lens by keeping the back of the camera vertical. Had I tilted it the image the mountain wouldn’t have looked quite so impressive.

I didn’t use any filters for the capture as the camera could just about cope with the dynamic range of the scene. I processed the converted RAW file using a combination of Nik Color Efex, Nik Viveza and Luminosity Masks created with Lumenzia in Photoshop.

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

Friday Image No.214

Graveyard of the Trains, Bolivia. Five image stitch from an Olympus EM5.

Most of the photos I shoot are of landscapes; it’s the subject I feel most in touch with. But then from time to time I come across something and feel I must photograph it. That was the case with this image. The location was the “Train Graveyard” in Bolivia. It’s filled with old rusting steam trains from the past and is simply amazing – even if you don’t like trains.

What I also find quite amazing is how photo editing software has developed over recent years. When I shot this image four years back, I don’t think the panoramic stitching feature was available in Lightroom. That’s probably why the five images that make up this shot have sat on my hard drive for so long.

I captured the five images that make up this shot with an Olympus EM5 and Olympus 12-40mm lens. The camera was in the vertical position and the image taken handheld. Lightroom was able to stitch them very quickly and has made a good job. Except that is for removing the perspective distortion. To remove that I used DxO Viewpoint 3.0. I’m really starting to love this software and will be experimenting further with it in the future.

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

Friday Image No.213

Bolivian volcano. Olympus EM5, Panasonic 45-150 lens, ISO200, f/7.1, 1/320″.

It was 2014 when I shot this volcano image and it’s languished on my hard drive ever since. The volcano’s in Bolivia and this shot was from our base camp about halfway to the summit. Yes, I had the “pleasure” of climbing this. The lower rim (the coloured part) is 4,900m and the top part is 5,300m; I wish I could remember the name though.

Those days seemed much simpler to me in terms of camera equipment. I was using the Olympus EM5 with three lenses; 9-18mm, 12-40mm and 45-150mm. The entire kit would fit in a small shoulder bag which I could wear under my backpack. The Fuji now feels a lot larger somehow but doesn’t look when the two are side by side. I’ve even found myself considering another micro 43 camera; I suppose I should make more use of the EM5’s which I still have.

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

Making Mirrorless Work

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