Month: December 2016

Friday Image No.119

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Higger Tor, The Peak District, UK. Fuji XT2, 10-24mm Lens, 0.6 ND Graduate. Three images at 2 stop intervals blended to HDR in Lightroom.
Higger Tor, The Peak District, UK. Fuji XT2, 10-24mm Lens, 0.6 ND Graduate. Three images at 2 stop intervals blended to HDR in Lightroom.

Christmas is almost here and I’m going to take a break. I will be back in the New Year with lots more information and videos. I would like to leave you with the image above which I captured the other morning in the Peak District.

Here’s to a great 2017’s photography for everyone.

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Lenscraft Free Christmas Gift 2016

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Old Man of Storr on Skye, Scotland
Old Man of Storr on Skye, Scotland

Every year I like to provide a free Christmas Gift for Photographers. This is my way of saying thank you to all those who have supported and continue to support my work. This year is no exception.

This year the gift is a video course titled “Tools of the Darkroom Masters”. The course is 35 minutes in length and the tools are split into several short sections so that you don’t need to watch the entire course in one sitting. I have provided the course as a video you can view whilst on my Lenscraft website. Alternatively, there is a link to download the video so you can watch it at any time.

So far, the course has gained a lot of positive feedback from members who have watched it. I have even received a request to allow the video to be shown at a camera club (which of course I agreed to). All I ask is that people don’t post the video on the internet as this is a gift for Lenscraft Members. If you would like someone else to benefit, share the link not the video.

If you would like to view or download the video, this is the link.

https://lenscraft.co.uk/members-area/photography-guide/

To access this page, you will need to be logged in as a member of my Lenscraft site but membership is free. If you want to register as a member, here is the link to the members’ area.

https://lenscraft.co.uk/members-area/

I hope you enjoy.

Robin

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Friday Image No. 118

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Holme Fell, The Lake Distirct, England
Trees on Holme Fell, The Lake Distirct, England. See the blog text for image details.

Yet another week over and we are rapidly approaching Christmas. Then it’s soon going to be New Year and I will be beating myself up that I haven’t achieved half of the things that I wanted to with this blog and my website (Lenscraft). When I select the image above to share I thought that I had shot it recently. Now that I look back I realise it was from the 5th November. It seems like yesterday but it’s a month and a half ago.

The image was captured using a Fuji XT2 and the excellent Fuji 16-55 lens. The camera was tripod mounted as the lens, despite being excellent lacks any stabilisation. Despite shooting at ISO 200 I used f/10 to ensure full depth of field. I probably didn’t need to use such a small aperture but I’m really feeling my way with the APSC sized sensor at present. Had I been shooting with the Olympus EM5 I would have been using f/7.1 and been confident of front to back sharpness. The EM5’s smaller Micro 43 sensor makes the increased depth of field at wider apertures possible.

In addition to the above equipment I was also using a Lee 0.3 (one stop) ND Graduated filter to hold the exposure in the clouds. The other filter used was a 105mm polarising filter which screws to the front of the Lee 100mm filter system.

When it comes to post processing, I have recorded the entire thing and posted it as a video on YouTube. Here is the link in case your reading this as an email.

Link to Video

If you’re on the lightweightphotographer website, you will see the video embedded below. I hope you enjoy this and have a great weekend.

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Sharpening the Fuji X-T2 RAW

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Sunrise in the Peak District
Sunrise in the Peak District. Fuji XT2 + 16-55 lens + 0.3 ND Grad filter.

I have now been shooting with the Fuji X-T2 for a couple of months. Whilst I have only had a few outings, I’m very pleased with the results. I like the handling of the camera and also the lens quality despite a couple of problems. In fact, the 10-24 and 16-55 lenses are nothing short of exceptional.

There is though one problem that has niggled me for a while and this is the “Wiggly Worm” pattern. You tend to find this in areas of fine detail when converting RAW files using Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW. This is a real shame, especially as I use Lightroom for much of my cataloguing and image management.

To illustrate the problem, a look at the image below which has been magnified at 2:1 in Lightroom; you may need to double click the image to open it at full resolution (I was also running my Mac at 2048 x 1152 when I took the screen shots so this will magnify the image further).

Section showing Wiggly Worm pattern. Click to topen the image at full resolution.
Section showing Wiggly Worm pattern. Click to topen the image at full resolution.

I can easily avoid the problem by switching to Iridient Developer or RAW Therapee but I like working in Lightroom. I have therefore been looking at how to reduce the “Wiggly Worm” effect and I think I have hit on something.

I had originally put the effect down to the demosaic routine that converts the RAW file. But I have changed my mind and now think it’s the sharpening routine that creating much of the problem. The example I showed above was created using the default Lightroom Radius setting of 1, an Amount setting of 45, a Detail setting of 75 and Threshold of 10. The culprits that seem to exaggerate the problem are the Amount and Masking sliders.

Masking causes the sharpening effect to be concentrated onto the edges in the image. Only when the Masking is set to 0 is the entire image sharpened. The “Wiggly Worm” effect seems to be created when the edges in areas of fine detail become exaggerated. Effectively the edges are becoming over sharpened, which is why the Amount slider has such an impact on the result. You only need to increase it slightly and the effect is emphasised. The Detail slider has less of an effect because it sharpens only very high frequency details.

So, what does this mean and how can you use it?

Limit the sharpening applied in Lightroom. Here is the same example but sharpened using much less aggressive settings.

Section with alternate sharpening settings.
Section with alternate sharpening settings.

This used the settings or Radius = 0.8, Amount = 30, Detail = 30 and Masking = 0. The image is a little softer but much more natural.

Following this approach, I have found I can minimise the “Wiggle Worm” effect whilst producing images with greater detail. Although the images coming from Lightroom are slightly softer, they respond so much better to additional capture sharpening using Nik RAW Sharpener or Photoshop Smart Sharpen. You can see a further example here viewed at 100% magnification.

Section of image following application of Smart Sharpen, viewed at 100% magnification.
Section of image following application of Smart Sharpen, viewed at 100% magnification.

You may now be wondering why bother with Lightroom capture sharpening at all and simply apply Capture Sharpening in another tool. Well, I tried this and to my eyes at least, a small amount of Capture Sharpening in Lightroom seems to produce better results when sharpened a second time outside Lightroom.

But does all this pixel peeping matter? My answer to this question is yes and no.

If you are going to be displaying your image on the internet, then you will most likely be down sampling them. The act of down sampling will remove some of the “Wiggly Worm” effect and can even remove it completely depending on how much you reduce the image size. If you are going to be printing the image, the softening effect of printing will also remove the pattern. For these reasons, I say that it doesn’t matter.

Where this effect does cause a problem, is if you are submitting your images to others for inspection. A typical example might be when you submit images to a stock library for sale. Here they probably will pick up on the pattern and might well reject the images.

 

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Friday Image No. 117

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View across Derwent water from Maiden Moor. The Lake District, Cumbria. Olympus EM5 + 45-150 Panasonic lens. ISO200, f/6.3, 1/500".
View across Derwent water from Maiden Moor. The Lake District, Cumbria. Olympus EM5 + 45-150 Panasonic lens. ISO200, f/6.3, 1/500″. The mountain in the distance is Blencathra or Saddleback.

In my previous Friday Image post I shared an image from the Lake District which I had taken from the summit of Catbells. Shortly after I was on my way up Maiden Moor (next peak in the Newlands Horseshoe) when I spotted a balloon coming over the Helvellyn range. I watched for a while thinking these people must be having the flight of a lifetime.

As I watched it started to descend, levelling out just above the treetops on the bank of Derwent water. Then it slid silently across the surface before rising again over Catbells. This is one of the images I shot where you can see the balloon in the left-hand corner of the frame.

Hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Infrared Simulation Using Nik

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Realistic Infrared simulation using the Nik Collection. Watch the video to find out how.
Realistic Infrared simulation using the Nik Collection. Watch the video to find out how.

I have seen many articles and videos over the years suggesting ways to create infrared simulations using regular colour photographs. Most of these fall short, possibly because the authors don’t appreciate the true characteristics of infrared. One example I read simply suggested using the channel mixer in Photoshop and using it to turn a blue sky black.

The best tool I have seen for simulating the effects of Infrared film a standard colour image is Alien Skin Exposure. This is also one of the tools I turn to when converting my digital infrared images as it allows me to simulate the halation effect often seen with Kodak HIE film. Unfortunately, as great a tool as Exposure is, it’s costly.

So how can we create a simulation using Nik plug-ins? Well, there is an Infrared film simulation in Nik Color Efex Pro but it’s not very convincing and doesn’t produce the halation effect. Nik Silver Efex Pro did once have an optional preset you could download from the Nik website but this has been removed. In any case, the preset wasn’t very believable.

This video features my simple solution based on combining a couple of filters in Nik Color Efex with a monochrome conversion in Silver Efex Pro. It’s quick to do and is quite effective.

[If your reading this as an email you won’t see the video. Please visit the YouTube channel link below to view.]

If you like the video why not subscribe to my You Tube channel and be sure not to miss future videos. Use the link below to access the channel then click the subscribe button in the top right.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYMWL3WXU9QMeOUhD3lOpEw

Yet More Fuji Lens Issues

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Fuji XT2 + 16-55 lens. Trpiod mounted. 0.3ND grad + Polarising filters.
Fuji XT2 + 16-55 lens. Trpiod mounted. 0.3ND grad + Polarising filters.

Some of you may recall the problems I experienced when I bought my Fuji XT1 together with a couple of lenses. Th Fuji 10-24 was excellent but the 18-135 was quite poor. In the end, I returned the 18-135 exchanging it for a 16-55 new and a 55-200 used lens. The 16-55 is amazing but the 55-200 was a little odd.

At first the lens seemed sharp enough but I never really had the chance to try it out properly. Once I did try it out, I didn’t pay too much attention to the images but I did notice my hit rate was poor, many seeming to display camera shake. Ultimately, I contacted Wex where I had purchased the lens and arranged with them for the lens to go back for repair by Fuji (I was a good month out of the 28-day refund period).

The performance of the lens looks to have deteriorated over time even though I have hardly used it. It doesn’t matter if it’s hand held or tripod mounted and the shutter speed doesn’t have much effect on the results. It appears to overexpose a lot, lack contrast and it has soft spots, the location of which change. As you zoom to the longer focal lengths the focus issues seem to get worse but the severity varies.

To give you an example of one of the more severe cases, look at the following.

Example Image with the 55-200 Lens on a Fuji XT2.
Example Image with the 55-200 Lens on a Fuji XT2.

This is image was captured at f/8 with a shutter speed of 1/10”. The camera was tripod mounted and a shutter release used. It was part of a panoramic sequence and the entire sequence has the same strange focus issue where only the top left of the frame is in focus. In some later images, the entire frame is in focus except to the top left.

Image section magnified. Click to view at 100%. Only the top left of the frame is in focus.
Image section magnified. Click to view at 100%. Only the top left of the frame is in focus.

My friend Steve has a theory about lenses such as these. He thinks that most people keep the good ones and trade the poor ones. I think he could be right. Whatever the reason, I hope Fuji can repair this.

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