Month: September 2015

Taking in New Views

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Ladybower Reservoir, The Peak District. Sony RX10
Ladybower Reservoir, The Peak District. Sony RX10. Click to enlarge and drink in the view.

I have mentioned in this blog previously that there are some areas of the UK which should be good for photography but when I go there they seldom reward my efforts. The Peak District is one such area; on paper it should be good but for me it’s always a bit of a let-down. This is very disappointing as it’s possibly the nearest landscape area to where I live with many locations being within easy reach.

But my view of the area might have begun to change. I can’t put my finger on specifically why but I’m seeing many more possibilities when I visit or research possible locations. This last weekend is one particular example. The idea was to take a short walk above Ladybower reservoir using a route I found in a walking book. The book promised a dramatic and impressive view half way round but I have learned over the years that many of these can be a bit of a disappointment for the photographer.

On this particular day though, I was actually taken aback by just how good the scene that greeted me was (the image above). I have tried to do it justice with the image but I don’t think that I can.

The image was shot with the Sony RX10 and exhibits the wonderful Greens and Blues that Sony seem to capture so well with their cameras. A 0.3 ND grad was used on the sky to help prevent the clouds from over exposing. The image is in fact 9 vertical images stitched together in Lightroom. At 300dpi it measures approximately 36” x 16” and has excellent detail. The only mistake I made was to have knocked my camera into Auto ISO mode causing the images to be exposed at ISO 125. There is therefore slightly more noise in the image than there should have been but this can easily be corrected with noise reduction software.

The key points from this rambling are:

  1. Don’t write off locations because of a few poor experiences
  2. Keep exploring new locations in an area but don’t just restrict yourself to the locations in the photography mags – use other sources of information
  3. Sony colours are great

Finally, did anyone notice that I changed my camera a few weeks back (and I don’t mean the Canon G7X). I’m officially a Sony user for my main camera (but I’m not giving up the Olympus).

Photoshop Layers Book Launched

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Photoshop Layers: Professional Strength Image Editing
Photoshop Layers: Professional Strength Image Editing

Ever since I published my book “Essential Photoshop” I have received regular requests for a follow up book. The original book was designed to give the Photoshop beginner all the essential skills required to be able to enhance their photography. It’s been a great success and many people have given good reviews on Amazon. What people have been asking for is a follow up book providing guidance on using more advanced techniques. I’m now very happy to be able to announce the new book is ready.

This latest book is “Photoshop Layers: Professional strength image editing” and is designed to advance Photoshop skills to the next level.

The book is structured into three sections:

  • Section 1 explains how to work with layers and how you can combine these into your Photoshop editing.
  • Section 2 looks at using masks to target specific areas of your images with adjustments. It covers how to create both simple and complex masks using fast, easy to apply techniques.
  • Section 3 examines blending modes for layers and how these can be used creatively in photography.

Accompanying the book is a collection of image files which support the many exercises and examples so that you can follow on your own computer.

The book is available on all Amazon sites and I believe this is the lowest priced, best value book of its kind.

View on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or search for “Photoshop Layers Robin Whalley” in your countries Amazon site.

Friday Image No.67

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Penmon LIghthouse, Anglesey, North Wales
Penmon LIghthouse, Anglesey, North Wales

I’m currently working my way through part of my image backlog and suspect this will be an ongoing challenge for at least the next few years. I have fallen badly behind in the processing of images and now need to catch up. I will continue to share some of these through the blog as my work progresses but you will find they have been shot with all manner of cameras depending on how far back I am working.

This particular image is a daytime long exposure captured with the Nikon D800 I owned for a couple of months last year. The camera didn’t work out for me and at the time I didn’t think the image quality was anything exceptional. It’s strange how a little distance from the time of shooting can change your perceptions. I now find these RAW files quite flexible and easy to work with. And when I apply a reasonable amount of sharpening the images really pop. In the end I don’t think I acted too quickly as I really didn’t enjoy shooting with the camera.

The shot here was tripod mounted and used a Lee 10 stop filter to create the long exposure. The location is Penmon on the Anglesey Coast (North Wales). The image was a little blue due to the colour cast of the filter but this was easily corrected in Nik Color Efex Pro using the colour correction slider in the Pro Contrast filter. This filter is incredibly useful and I tend to use it with many of my images to adjust contrast and colour balance.

Photographing North Wales

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Anglesey, North Wales
Anglesey, North Wales

I recently posted an article about a new book I had purchased which described photographic locations in The Peak District. Spurred on by my success in finding such a great book I decided to see what other photo location books were available for the UK, and which might cover locations I regularly visit. That’s when I came across “Photographing North Wales” on Amazon.

Photographing North Wales
Photographing North Wales

The book has now arrived and on first skim it appears to be of a similar quality to the Peak District book (the authors and publisher are different). It’s quite expensive until you consider the information it contains. Again I expect this will save me plenty of research although I know and have photographed a few of the locations. Despite this there are many, many more locations that are completely new to me. The locations appear to be well illustrated which gives a good idea of what to expect and this is supplemented with a detailed, factual description. I can’t wait to try out some of these.

I have now purchased a third book that I expect to arrive in the next week. This one covers the Yorkshire Dales, another area that I visit quite regularly but don’t always have a great deal of success. I will report back when that book arrives.

Friday Image No.66

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Barmouth, North Wales. Sony A7R, Canon 24-70mm lens, ISO100, f/14.0, 1/50"
Barmouth, North Wales. Sony A7R, Canon 24-70mm lens, ISO100, f/14.0, 1/50″

For this week’s Friday image I wanted to share a shot from last Saturday’s outing to Barmouth in North Wales. This is Estuary which is a huge expanse of sand or water (depending on the tides) and which is immensely impressive. If you look closely on the sands to the left side you will see a man walking across them which should provide you some idea of the scale of this area.

What I really like about this image though is the colours. They are strong but natural which is the look I have been striving to achieve for some time. Perhaps I’m starting to get it right.

Have a great weekend everyone.

The G7X is Working Well

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Barmouth, North Wales, Canon G7X, ISO125, f/5.0, 1/800".
Barmouth, North Wales, Canon G7X, ISO125, f/5.0, 1/800″.

I thought that I would share this image with you. It was shot on the Canon G7X during Saturday’s trip to Barmouth in Wales. We had just walked up through the woods to this outlook and decided the light was perfect. As my main camera was in a pack on my back I decided to shoot this image with the G7X which I had in my hand.

I set my bag down to get my camera out and by the time I had a large cloud had sent the valley into shade. The cloud never shifted and I never managed another decent shot. Fortunately the little G7X with its 20Mpixel sensor seems to do one hell of a good job of rendering detail. Here is a small section of the trees in the distance.

Section of the main image magnified at 100%. Some display sharpening has been applied.
Section of the main image magnified at 100%. Some display sharpening has been applied.

Sharpened properly, this will make an excellent large print (depending of course on your definition of a large print). In any case, I’m really warming to this camera.

Canon G7X – They May Have it Right

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Canon G7X, ISO125, f/2.8, 1/160
Canon G7X, ISO125, f/2.8, 1/160

I was out with a friend yesterday at Barmouth in Wales. The weather didn’t really play its part but the cameras still performed wonderfully. The G7X was particularly nice to use (despite the criticisms I might have levelled against it in past blog posts). It was nice to have a pocket camera that I could easily slip in and out of my pocket and I’m growing to realise that Canon got it right in terms of size and usability.

The other feature that I found really useful was the Macro mode. It allowed me to get in close although my back tried to prevent me from doing so. The image you see above was actually shot one handed whilst leaning over a bush. I was able to pick the focus point with my thumb and shoot the image. My other had was hanging on to a tree in case you’re wondering. This also shows me that the image stabilisation is working well as I doubt I could have taken a steady shot otherwise, even with the fast shutter speed.

I also ran the image through my Lenscraft Vintage Colour Collection of presets so I could show a few variations below. I’m running an introductory 50% off offer until the end of September on all my presets. The discount code is 50MEMBER and is open to all Lenscraft subscribers as well as readers of this blog post.

Blue Sea Breeze Lightroom Preset
Blue Sea Breeze Lightroom Preset

 

Yellow/Blue Tone Preset
Yellow/Blue Tone Preset

 

Processed with the Mixer Preset
Processed with the Mixer Preset