Month: February 2016

A Personal Project

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Moorland near to Blackstone Edge.
Moorland near to Blackstone Edge.

Sometimes it can be hard as a photographer to keep your motivation up and I think this is especially true with Landscape Photography where the weather is often uncooperative. This is where the personal project comes in.

Having a personal project helps you find the motivation to get out and shoot. But even then it can be difficult if your project isn’t something accessible and near to where you live. I personally have been searching for something near to home for some time but without success. Then it dawned on, I have the moorland of Saddleworth all around.

Now if you have ever tried shooting moorland, you will know that it can be some of the bleakest, depressing and most challenging of subjects. I have tried many times to shoot the area but failed miserably (unless it’s been snowing). But that’s before I was trying to shoot a project.

Once I resigned myself to multiple visits, I suddenly found a degree of patience that I hadn’t experienced before. No longer was I looking for that single amazing shot. Instead I was looking for scenes that would allow me to explore and represent the moors.

I now have a project “Views from T’ Moors”.

Friday Image No. 82

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Winter trees in the Lake District. Olympus EM5 with 12-40mm lens. ISO200, f/7.1, 1/80". 0.6 ND Grad.
Winter trees in the Lake District. Olympus EM5 with 12-40mm lens. ISO200, f/7.1, 1/80″. 0.6 ND Grad.

I shot this image in the Lake District back in early November. It was actually the first snowfall of the winter and light was spectacular for most of the day. Unfortunately, it then deteriorated for the rest of the year.

This is the first time I have processed this image and I really like the results. It may be a little dark for some people but I really quite like it due to the contrast it creates with the trees where the sunlight was falling. How I love the low warm rays of the winter sun.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Cutting out the Noise

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I have just received word that Topaz are launching a new version of their DeNoise software tomorrow. As an existing user I receive a free upgrade and wish more software companies would follow this model. If you don’t own the software its priced at $79.99 but if you use the discount coupon code “NOISEFREE” when checking out the price is reduced to $49.99 until the 20/03.

You can use this link to reach the product page of the Topaz Web Site.

I have been playing around a little with a Beta version and I’m quite impressed. Take a look at the following comparison – be sure to click the image to see the enlargement. This is a section of an image viewed at 100% magnification and was shot with a Sony RX10 at ISO640. The top image is unfiltered whilst the lower one has been processed using DeNoise.

ISO640 image showing noise
ISO640 image showing noise
ISO640 after DeNoise has been applied. Yes it's also sharper as there is a deblur option.
ISO640 after DeNoise has been applied. Yes it’s also sharper as there is a deblur option. Notice how the colours appear more neutral also.

I’m going to investigate this further once the full version is out tomorrow.

Just a Reminder

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Sunset view across Manchester. Canon G7X pocket camera.
Sunset view across Manchester. Canon G7X pocket camera.

I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded but it’s a good idea to carry a camera at all times. I have to admit though that I haven’t been doing this for quite a long time. Fortunately, I took the G7X along with me to a site where I was working and managed to capture this spectacular sunset through the window.

Friday Image No.81

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View from above Ullswater in February. Sony RX10 with 0.6 ND Graduated filter.
View from above Ullswater in February. Sony RX10 with 0.6 ND Graduated filter.

Last Friday I shared an image shot in the Lake District last February. This time it’s an image taken around the same time, on the same walk, but having turned 90 degrees to the right. Can’t believe I waited until now to process these. All I recall at the time was dreadful weather but amazing light.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Paper Bargain

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Woodland detail, tree trunk and moss.
Woodland detail, tree trunk and moss.

Today I took delivery of some new inkjet paper that I wanted to try out. It’s a traditional Baryta paper from First Call Photographic and I have to tell you that it’s excellent. And not only is it excellent, its exceptional value as well.

In terms of papers you might know, it’s quite similar to the well regarded Ilford Gold Fibre Silk and it responds similarly to colour. The level of detail you can reproduce is superb as is the dynamic range and colour handling. Having now printed a few images using both papers, there is virtually no difference when viewing this side by side with the gold fibre (except that I feel much happier about the price). The prints have a lovely rich colour and a three dimensional feel that makes you think you could reach into them.

The only downside to the paper at the moment is that there are no profiles available. If you are using an Epson 3880 printer, you can download a profile I created from my Lenscraft website. You should also set the paper handling in your print driver to a Lustre or Silk surface with a paper thickness of 0.4mm – it’s quite a thick, heavy paper.

If you are using printer other than the Epson 3880 and don’t have the ability to create your own profile, I suggest setting your printer to manage the print. The paper appears to respond very closely to what you see on screen so it’s quite possible the printer colour management will be fine. Of course if you do prefer to use a printer colour profile, you could always invest the money you saved by buying this paper into a bespoke profile from a profiling service.

This paper is definitely worth trying if you like to make your own prints. Unfortunately, if you are outside the UK the postal costs may make it uneconomical.

Favourite Filters

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Wet tree bark. Captured witht he Olympus EM5 + Olympus 12-40 lens. Post processing with OnOne Effects.
Wet tree bark. Captured witht he Olympus EM5 + Olympus 12-40 lens. Post processing with OnOne Effects.

I have written here many times about my love of software used in the image creation process and in particular filters. But this wasn’t always the way. At one time I was a hard core Photoshop users and believed there was very little any filter could do that I could do using Photoshop.

But times have changed and filters have developed substantially. I no longer view filters as a way of taking money from less experienced users but as a way of making advanced image editing accessible to everyone. Most importantly, filters now allow you to make complex, advanced edits to your images very quickly and with little learning. This is the essence of Lightweight Image Editing.

Despite my early dislike for filters, there were some that I owned and use. These were tools such as Neat Image for noise reduction, Genuine Fractals for image enlargements, Topaz Detail and Enhance, Contrast Master from PhotoWiz and a very good masking tool that I can’t recall the name of. Over time I began to favour some of these tools over others, ultimately standardizing much of my work on the Nik Efex range of plug-ins.

But I’m now reconsidering my standardizing on Nik and have started to use OnOne software Photo suite once more. Whilst Nik tools are excellent and very flexible, I have found the need to be careful when editing image files from Micro 43 cameras. These files seem to have a “noise pattern” that would become emphasised when the image was edited using some Nik filters (and it’s not just Nik tools). The difference I found with OnOne Photo Suite 10 is that I can make quite extensive and strong edits without negatively affecting the image quality.

At the moment I am only really using the Effects module but the results are very impressive. Best of all, if you’re not familiar with the software, there is a free version you can download from the OnOne site

https://www.on1.com/apps/effects10free/

Whilst this doesn’t provide all the filters of the full version, it does include some excellent and very useful ones. If like me you like to use software as part of the creative photographic process, this is well worth looking at.