All posts by rnwhalley

The Dreadful Weather Continues

Frosty morning view from Higger Tor in the Peak District. See post for settings.

I don’t know what the weather is where you are, but I hope it’s better than it is here. It’s been raining almost continuously for a couple of weeks now, and the forecast is for more next week. I haven’t been out with the camera since the start of the month and I’m not really in the photographic mood. I only hope I can shake the gloom off soon.

This week’s image is another I shot on my last outing to Higger Tor. It’s from a wider panoramic, but for some reason I can’t seem to get the stitching with the other photos quite right yet. Despite this the single image is quite a nice scene.

It was the distant mist that first caught my attention and so I went in search of an interesting foreground to match it. Although the sun was well above the horizon and the frost melting fast, I found these rocks were still in shadow and covered with frost. I also liked the carving someone had done in one of them.

I used the Fuji X-T3 to capture the image, which I had mounted on my tripod. The lens was the Fuji 16-80 f/4.0 which was set to 16mm. The ISO was set to ISO160 (base ISO) to give a shutter speed of 0.1” at f/14.0. I also used a Kase 3 stop Soft ND Grad on the sky.

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

New Book Launch

This week I have a sense of relief with the launch of my latest book “Landscape Photography: Shoot Like a Pro”. It’s currently available on Lenscraft, Amazon and Google with Apple and others following in a few days.

I’ve invested so much time in writing and then rewriting it, that to have it finished feels like a great victory. Originally, I wanted to launch before Christmas, which slipped to January and then February. Well, the eBook version is now available, and the print edition will follow in a couple of weeks.

The reason for my delaying the launch is that I wasn’t entirely happy I was conveying my ideas well. I suspect this is something of a problem for me as a photographer because I sometimes struggle to create the image I want to.

Sunrise on Higger Tor, The Peak District. See text below for settings.

The image I’m sharing this week is one that I liked initially. It’s shot on the same outing as last week’s image and initially I liked it. Now as I’ve become accustomed to it, I’m finding that I want to improve it. I don’t know how yet, but it needs to change. I usually find putting an image to one side for a few months helps in situations like this, but I still wanted to share it with you today.

For this image, I used the Fuji X-T3 with Fuji 10-24 lens at 11mm. Because the focal length I used was so wide, I closed all the sections of my tripod legs to get low. I then moved in close to the rocks so they would dominate the frame.

Shooting directly into a rising sun required I used a filter. For this shot I chose a 0.9 (3 stop) Kase Reverse ND Grad. The reverse grads have a stronger ND section on the horizon in the centre which I placed over the sun.

The camera was set to ISO160 which is base ISO for the Fuji X-T3. This helps keep the image relatively free from noise which is important when opening the deep shadows in post processing. It also helps maximise the dynamic range of the camera. I used an aperture of f/16.0. This wasn’t to extend the depth of field but rather create the starburst effect around the sun. These settings produced a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds.

I converted the RAW file using Capture One. I love the Highlight and Shadow recovery in the HDR sliders when processing the Fuji RAW files. I still find it hard to believe how much it’s possible to achieve with just these adjustments.

This Weeks YouTube Video

If you haven’t already seen it, my YouTube video this week covers using Lightroom’s Print module to prepare images for sending to a lab for printing. It’s in response to a problem one viewer was having when trying to generate files and upload them.

The video, “Printing Photos to a File with Lightroom Classic CC” is only short but I’ve packed quite a few Lightroom features into it. If you use Lightroom for printing, either to a printer of JPEG, you might find it useful.

Equally, if you have any photo editing problems that you’re struggling with, please let me know. If it’s something that could affect others, I may be able to produce a tutorial.

With that, I’ll stop writing, other than to say have a great weekend.

Cold Snap in The Peak District

Higger Tor Frosty Sunrise, The Peak District
Frosty conditions on Higger Tor, The Peak District. Fuji X-T3 with Fuji 10-24mm lens at 11mm. ISO160, 1.4″ at f/13.0 tripod mounted and 0.9 Soft ND Grad on the sky.

This winter the weather hasn’t been very wintery here. In fact, I think I can count on one hand the number of days that we’ve had a proper frost. Then the other day I saw freezing overnight temperatures forecast and decided to head over to the Peak District to meet a friend.

We met at Higger Tor around 7:15, well before the sun was due to rise. The temperature was down to -3C and as I drove up the frost was clearly visible on the rather slippery road. I’ve always wanted to shoot frosty conditions there, but something has always prevented me.

Initially, we headed up to the far edge of the Tor where we normally shoot. But then we decided the frost didn’t look as good. Further back towards the road the frost was much heavier, covering the rocks and heather and turning them white.

I made my first few shots facing towards where the sun would rise, and I could already see the sky turning orange there. The sky was quite bright in comparison to the foreground rocks, so I used a 0.9 Reverse ND Grad. I thought this would help control the sun as it neared the horizon, without needlessly darkening the rest of the otherwise clear sky.

As I stood and waited for the sun to rise, I turned around to see the image above. The light was beautiful, and the landscape looked soft with thin mist in the valley. I quickly switched my reverse grad filter for a 3 stop soft grad and managed to capture this image.

I hope you like it.

Photoshop Masking Problem

Recently I’ve noticed an increase in the number of photographers on my Masking Courses who are experiencing problems. Typically, they will try to create a mask, or a series of Luminosity Masks and the results are wrong. They follow my advice exactly, but it doesn’t work correctly. What makes this problem even more frustrating is that it appears inconsistent and can start to happen without you making a change.

Following a lot of head scratching and working with a few people, I’ve been able to identify the cause and importantly a solution. If you edit photos in Photoshop and use masks, you need to look out for this happening to you.

To see the problem together with the fix, watch my video “Photoshop Masking – How to Fix this Common Problem”. This really is bizarre and was very difficult to track down.

If you use Photoshop or know someone who does, I hope this helps.

Have a great weekend.

The Benefits of RAW Format Photography

Whitby Pier at sunrise, Sony RX100, ISO80, f/5.0, 1/30".
Whitby Pier at sunrise, Sony RX100, ISO80, f/5.0, 1/30″.

I know that most if not every photographer reading this post will be aware of the benefits of shooting in RAW format. Despite this, I still wanted to emphasise one point by sharing this image. The image is from April 2013 which is a long time in “digital years”. I used a first-generation Sony RX100; the latest generation is MKVII, so it shows how things have moved on (I think).

At the time I was shooting RAW format, but the image disappointed me. The colours didn’t look good, the detail in the foreground wasn’t well defined and the sky was noisy. For those of you who love the technical details, I shot it handheld at ISO80 using an f/5.0 aperture and shutter speed of 1/30”. I can’t remember for sure, but I don’t think I used any filters.

Now some 7 years later I can process the image well using DxO PhotoLab 3. I should point out that I’m a fan of using DxO PhotoLab for Sony RAW files. I’ve found the results much better than I could achieve with Lightroom. The latest version of the software (PhotoLab 3) has made a superb job of processing the image. It’s crisp into the corners, the detail’s well defined and the colours are true to what I remember at the time.

If I didn’t have the RAW file, I wouldn’t have been able to progress the image to this level. Having a RAW file allows me to take advantage of the latest developments in image processing. Better software really is like upgrading your camera. Now I have an image that I like, and which will produce a 22” print at 240dpi. It also has enough quality to print at 30” without any problem. Now I don’t think that’s too bad for a pocket camera.

The only disappointment that I’m left with is that I sold the camera after a couple of years because I thought that it wasn’t very good. What I didn’t realise at the time is the processing software was at fault, not the camera.

Latest Colour Adjustment Video

If you haven’t already seen it, my latest video looks at adjusting image colours in Lightroom using the HSL Tool. This is something I use a lot, but the key is to keep the adjustment subtle. It’s not a long video and could well be worth a few minutes of your time https://youtu.be/tI0WQybPeAY

Lenscraft in Focus February Newsletter

Tomorrow is the first Saturday of a new month which means my latest Lenscraft in Focus newsletter goes out. If you’re not on the subscriber list, you can read the newsletter on Lenscraft from Saturday 1st February.

Have a great weekend.

Where to Find Great Light

Formby Beach at Sunset. Fuji X-T3 with Fuji 16-80 lens.

If there’s one location that seems to always deliver great light, it’s the coast. There’s something almost magical about the quality of light there. If the weather is good and the time of day right, you’re likely to get great light. This image I shot at Formby is no exception.

Formby can be a very challenging location to photograph. For a start, the beach is completely flat and largely featureless. For interest, you need to focus your attention on the streams, gullies and sand patterns of the beach. It’s true that it has great sand dunes, but these are equally as challenging in other ways.

For me, the best time to visit this beach is for sunset as it’s facing west. Although I’m not a fan of shooting into the sun at sunset, I like the colour it produces once the sun dips below the horizon. If there’s high cloud in the sky it can produce a magical sunset and if the sky is clear you can still get great colours.

But what’s really made a difference in this shot is that the tide has turned and is on its way out. When this happens, it leaves the sand ripples filled with water. It also leaves the surface of the beach free from footprints and more importantly, wet. Wet sand acts as a huge mirror, reflecting and intensifying the light from the sky. When you can bring together a sunset/sunrise and receding tide, that’s the best time to shoot a beach.

I used a Fuji X-T3 to capture the image with Fuji 16-80 at 25mm. The camera was set to ISO160 and aperture f/14.0 giving a 1” shutter speed. Although there’s a lot of reflected light on the beach I still used a 0.9 Soft ND Grad on the sky. When I removed the grad, the beach appeared too dark, and I like to get the image looking good in camera.

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

Better Panorama Stitching

Higgor Tor Panorama at sunrise, Peak District
Higger Tor sunrise in the Peak District National Park. Fuji XT3 with 16-80 lens. See below for full details.

It’s Friday again and I want to share another image from a recent trip.

Last week I shared a shot from Burbage Edge in the Peak District, looking back to Higger Tor. I shot the image at the end of the day, but this image was from earlier that morning on Higger Tor.

Ordinarily, I like to get to the edge of the Tor, in amongst the rocks. This time I decided to walk around a little more which is when I noticed the sun coming up behind this rock formation. I realised that if I timed it right, I could create a starburst effect with the sun.

This was much easier said than done. The lens I used was the Fuji 16-80 with a 3 stop soft ND Grad filter. I attached this to a Fuji XT3 body mounted on a tripod before stopping the aperture down to f/18.0 (you need a small aperture to create the starburst). Now I just needed to line up the camera on the tripod and that was the hard part.

I just couldn’t seem to line everything up to create the starburst with a good exposure. I kept trying and each time I thought I had it, the effect vanished. The sun then started to fade as the fast-moving clouds came in and I started to panic. I thought I wasn’t going to get the shot.

Finally, everything came together, and I managed two frames. It was only when I came to process the images that I realised in my excitement, I hadn’t set the camera to manual exposure. I left it on Aperture Priority and the second image was a stop brighter than the first. One image was a 0.6-second exposure whilst the other was 0.3-seconds (both at ISO160). Fortunately, I was able to manually adjust the image in the RAW converter before stitching.

You can see the two starting images as well as how I stitched them, in my latest YouTube videos. One demonstrates the processing in Adobe Photoshop and the other in Affinity Photo. Both videos include the RAW processing in Capture One 20 before the stitching.

Panorama Stitching in Photoshop

Panorama Stitching in Affinity Photo

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

Landscape Photography Advice from 4 Images

When I posted last week’s photo, I mentioned that I had been out all day and only just arrived home. This week I want to share an image from last week’s trip.

Higger Tor and Carl Wark from Burbage Edge in the Peak District.
Higger Tor and Carl Wark from Burbage Edge in the Peak District.

I often shoot from Higger Tor in the Peak District. It’s a great location, partly because of the interesting rocks but also because you have an unobscured view of the sun all day. Unfortunately, when I shoot from Higger Tor you can’t appreciate what it looks like because you don’t see it from a distance. That’s why I like today’s photo.

I shot this image from Burbage Edge and Higger Tor is the right-hand hill of the two in the mid-distance. The other hill to the left is Carl Wark, which is another great location to shoot Higger Tor (in the right conditions).

The other reason that I wanted to share this photo is that it’s one of four images in my latest YouTube video. In the video I share four of my images, including this one, to make important points about landscape photography. I also include a few other tips which could help anyone wanting to shoot better landscapes. Here’s the link to watch the video (https://youtu.be/QmFFPLpC3mU). It’s a little different to my usual photo editing demonstration but I hope you still like it.

As for the photo in this post, I shot it with my Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 16-80 lens. A few people have asked about my thoughts on this lens, so I’ve written a real-life lens review after 4 months of using it. The ISO for the shot was set to ISO160 which is the base ISO for this camera. At f/13.0 this produced a shutter speed of 1/9”. I mounted the camera on a tripod and used a 2 stop Kase Hard ND Grad on the sky. If you’re wondering why the light is so nice, you’ll need to watch the video.

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