Month: March 2015

Perfect Prints Every Time – New Book

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Perfect Prints Every Time
Perfect Prints Every Time

I receive a lot of mail from photographers struggling to print their photographs on inkjet printers. It’s usually things such as there’s a colour cast or the print doesn’t look like the image on screen. Sometimes it’s a little more serious with complaints such as the colours and blacks are completely off.

Many people who contact me seem to be ready to throw in the towel and send their images to someone else to be printed. Sometimes they have even done this and the results have been disappointing.

I have written and posted articles on my Lenscraft website from time to time in an effort to help but people still experience problems. It’s for this reason that I decided to put pen to paper (so to speak) and develop a new book. It’s called Perfect Prints Every Time and it helps you do pretty much what the title suggests.

You can find out more on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. It’s also available on all other Amazon websites but there are too many for me to list. For £2.00 or $2.99 it’s less than the price of a magazine and should save you much more in wasted time, ink and paper.

Friday Image No. 050

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This is North Wales. Nikon D800. Processing in Lightroom and Topaz Detail.
This is North Wales. Nikon D800. Processing in Lightroom and Topaz Detail.

Regular readers of this blog may well remember my experiment with the Nikon D800 which I eventually sold. At the time I had a number of outings where I struggled to get the best out of the camera. Isn’t it interesting how time and distance from an event help change your perception.

Don’t worry, I am not about to reverse my decision but some of the images that I shot now appeal to me. I did post an image very similar to this one when I was trying to compare the D800 to the EM5. At the time I didn’t spend a great deal of time looking through the images but now I have almost 6 months distance to the shoot, I managed to see this one. The D800 RAW file is pretty dull and lifeless but when you start processing it the image comes to life.

I really like this shot now and think it has a rather painterly feel to it.

Hmm! Did I act too quickly?

A Little Crazy

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Wells Cathedral, XPan with 45mm lens and Kodak TMAX400
Wells Cathedral, XPan with 45mm lens and Kodak TMAX400

I have done something a little crazy. Since talking to my friend about scanning and having done a few scans myself recently, I have had the bug to shoot some film again. In particular I want to shoot Infrared but I might even start shooting some slide film again. Whilst I have around 50 rolls of Fuji Velvia in the Freezer and a similar amount of B&W negative film, I only had 3 rolls of Infrared.

You probably won’t have noticed but Infrared film is in fairly short supply these days. I did finally find and purchase 12 rolls but in doing so I also spotted a 30mm XPan lens for sale second hand. This is a lens that I have longed for ever since I bought my XPan and it has reached almost mythical levels amongst XPan users. I don’t know what came over me but I bought it.

So that’s the proceeds of the D800 sale spent.

Hybrid Workflow

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This is the XPan Neg that I was using for the test scans.
This is the XPan Neg that I was using for the test scans.

On a recent photo outing with a friend we got talking about film photography. He had recent returned to film photography (but also uses a digital camera) and was now using a hybrid workflow with his film. This involved shooting film which he then scanned using an Epson V700 flatbed scanner. The resulting scans were then processed using Lightroom and Photoshop before printing.

Having looked at a number of his prints at sizes up to A2, I had to admit they were fantastic. The images whilst not as sharp as digital looked somehow more lifelike. They seemed to pop off the paper and have a depth to them. Most of all the colours were amazing.

The result of this is that I ended up digging out some old XPan B&W negatives and scanning them using my V700. I had always been a little underwhelmed by the results with the scans looking too soft. This time I changed my workflow to produce a RAW file which I then processed using Adobe Camera RAW. The image sharpened up well but not quite as well as I wanted so I decided to throw in a little grain. When I did this it’s as though the image just snapped into focus.

If you want to know more about the workflow and tools I used you can find a tutorial on my Lenscraft website (https://www.lenscraft.co.uk/members-area/member-tutorials/).

Spring Has Arrived

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Sony RX10, ISO80, 1/100" at f/5.6
Sony RX10, ISO80, 1/100″ at f/5.6

I didn’t have to walk far for this shot. These crocus were in the pot outside my back door. Lovely colours from the RX10 again.

Friday Image No.049

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/200". Lee 0.6 ND Grad
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/200″. Lee 0.6 ND Grad. Processing in Photoshop and Exposure 7.

This week’s Friday Image is yet another picture from my Sony RX10. I must apologise to anyone who feels this is becoming a Sony RX10. It isn’t, it’s just that I am finding myself reaching for the RX10 increasingly often, especially when a walk is involved. I don’t need to remember to take additional lenses and accessories. The battery life is excellent. In fact I just pick up the camera an ND Grad/holder and off I go.

There is an interesting story with this image though. The walk in question was up a hill named Black Hill, which you reach on the Woodhead Pass in the Peak District. It’s around 40 minutes drive from my house in order to arrive at the parking. It was only as I got to the top of the first ridge that I realised I was familiar with the area. In fact I have walked up Black Hill in the past from my home, without having to drive anywhere. You can actually reach Black Hill by walking across Saddleworth Moore which is the opposite direction to the one I had taken.

Despite this, the walk did provide a new outlook that I hadn’t seen before and allowed me to capture some wide scale landscapes.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Could my RX10 be “Wired Wrong”

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Sony RX10, f5.0, 8 seconds exposure. Lee 6 stop ND filter.
Sony RX10, f5.0, 8 seconds exposure. Lee 6 stop ND filter.

I know that it seems far fetched but this is the question I find myself asking given some of my recent experiences. It started with the image you see above. This was a long exposure shot on a tripod using a Lee 6 Stop ND filter.

To arrive at this image I had to make a few exposures. The first few were all soft or exhibited camera shake. I reasoned that the wind at the time was part of the problem and so I shielded the camera and pushed down on the tripod. The results improved but there was still a softness to the shot that shouldn’t have been present. My next step to improve the image quality was to switch off the Image Stabilization. When I did this the images suddenly became that much sharper and seemed to snap into focus.

Some of you might now be saying well that’s obvious but it isn’t. You see the RX10 firmware is supposed to detect that it’s mounted on a tripod and not try to stabilize the camera. More importantly though is that I left the stabilization turned off. As the day progressed I found that most of my images were sharp and crisp, even at slower shutter speeds and longer focal lengths.

This weekend I repeated the exercise and made some hand held exposures with the stabilization on and off. When it was turned off I found I could shoot at quite slow speeds to produce crisp images (speeds I could never achieve with the RX10 previously). When the stabilization was turned on I found a lot of my slower shutter speed images became soft and even blurred.

Interesting stuff but at least I am gaining a lot more faith in the capabilities of the RX10.