All posts by rnwhalley

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.

When Small Changes Make Big Improvements

Snow-covered Silver Brich at Surprise View, Peak District.

Let me start by saying Happy New Year and welcome back and I hope 2020 proves to be a super successful year for your photography.

I had intended to make this first post of the new year all about photography resolutions, but two things got in the way. First, I’ve been out all day shooting landscapes (which I’ve really enjoyed) and have only just arrived home. Second, I haven’t made any resolutions. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I would much rather just look at my work and try to figure out what I would like to improve and how I can do it.

I think Photography should be a continuous and gradual process of improving. I don’t think you can expect to make large and sudden leaps forward; at least now when you’ve been shooting for a long time. Where I do think you can make large gains is in post-processing. Often, it’s the smallest and most insignificant things that can make a big difference.

For example, I recently watched a video where someone was using a Selective Color adjustment layer in Photoshop to “clean” colours in their image. What they were doing was changing the relationship between the different colours. This works differently to the usual Temp and Tint sliders in the RAW converters and whilst watching this, something just clicked. I thought I never really use that technique, so I tried it out on a few images and loved the results.

Since then I’ve been experimenting with more images using Selective Color and HSL. Today’s image is just one example of where I’ve finally achieved a more natural result that I’m happy with (at least for the time being). Previously the image had too much Cyan, Yellow and Magenta and I couldn’t correct it.

I shot the image back in January 2019 in the Peak District. It’s a couple of hundred meters from the Surprise View Car Park and easy to reach, providing the roads open when it snows. This is a single frame shot on a Fuji X-T2 using a Fuji 16-55 lens. The ISO was 200 (base ISO for the X-T2) giving a shutter speed of ¼” at f/11.0. I had the camera mounted on a tripod and didn’t use any filters. I hope you like the result.

And I almost forgot the first Lenscraft in Focus newsletter of 2020 is out tomorrow.

Have a great weekend.

The Colour of Atmosphere

Padley Gorge, the Peak District. Fuji X-T3, 16-80mm lens at 32mm. ISO160, 1.6″ at f/13.0

In last weeks blog post I shared an image together with my thoughts about the direction of landscape photography. I liked the image I shared because it was very natural and could mark a new direction in my work. The post appears to have resonated with a few people who commented positively.

This week I want to share another image that’s a departure from my usual style. As before the colour are strong but not through saturation or strong contrast. In fact, this image doesn’t have a lot of contrast at all because of the mist.

What really struck me when taking this shot is that I was able to clearly imagine the finished image. The conditions were quite dull and there was a lot of blue light from the mist in the trees. But the strongest colour seemed to be the green from all the moss; it was literally glowing. I think it was this combination of blue and green that created the atmosphere which helped fuel my imagination. It feels to have created the perfect atmosphere for these strange and twisted trees.

When I came to process the image, it made me think about how much the colour in an image can affect our perception of the mood. I realise I’m stating the obvious, particularly if you have an artistic background but I think we photographers don’t think about this enough. I for one will be considering the colour palette of my images more in the future. I’ll also be looking for ways to control this during capture and post-processing. It could well be something that I want to develop much more.

The image is a single frame captured two days ago with my Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 16-80 lens. Shot with the camera tripod-mounted at ISO160 with a shutter speed of 1.6” at f/13.0. It was around an hour after sunrise.

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

Changing my Photo Editing Approach

Curbar Edge winter sunrise, Peak District, UK
Winter sunrise on Curbar Edge, Peak District. Fuji X-T3 with 10-24mm lens. Further details in the blog post.

Over recent years I’ve become increasingly unhappy with my photography. Well it’s really my photo editing that I’m unhappy with. I feel that I’ve somehow become victim to the trend of colourful and overly saturated landscapes. But the more saturation and colour I use, the less I notice it which leads me to increase it further. It’s left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied which is where this week’s photo comes in.

I captured this image on Curbar Edge recently at sunrise. The temperature was cold at -4C (cold for the UK at least) and the sky filled with high, light cloud. On this morning the landscape had a lovely pink/blue tint to it. Initially the sky was strong and intensely colourful, and I shot quite a few images. My natural inclination was to favour those images but after working on them for a while I quickly tired. That’s when  I found I preferred this more subtle image.

This one’s from soon after sunrise when the light from the sun was just catching the foreground rocks and the edge in the distance. There’s something more real about this image that I like, and I think the colours are lovely and subtle. I don’t yet know how this will play out in my photography, but it could mark a change in direction for me.

I shot the image using a Fuji X-T3 with Fuji 10-24 lens set to 10mm. The camera was set to ISO160 using f/14.0 giving a shutter speed of 1.2 seconds. It was tripod mounted and I used a 2 stop Kase ND Grad filter on the sky to balance the exposure with the ground.

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

Photographic Principle – Less is More

New Zealand Mountain, Fuji X-T2, 135mm ISO200, 1/320″ at f/11.0

This week, I didn’t just want to share an image. Instead, I wanted to talk briefly about one of my favourite photography principles; less is more.

You can apply this principle in all sorts of ways. For example, you can apply it to composition by deciding what to leave out of the frame. In this image, I could have included the entire mountain rather than the very tip. That would have given the image a different feel. I could even have included the entire range of mountains but that was incredibly boring.

No, it was the very tip of this mountain that caught my attention. It was the sun breaking through the cloud that I liked so that’s what I’ve focussed on. Less is more.

But another way you can use the less is more principle is with colour. An example from this image is the very limited colour palette. Other than the blue/cyan of the clouds there are very few colours in the colour palette. This tends to create a different feel to an image where there’s a wide range of colours from the entire colour palette. I personally find images with a limited colour palette more soothing than one with colours from across the palette. So, when I came to edit the image, I deliberately limited the palette.

A final application of the less is more principle is the colour saturation. Even where colour does exist in the image the saturation is very low. Strangely though, this makes the colour appear somehow stronger.

So please remember and practice the principle “less is more”.

Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 55-200 at 135mm. ISO200, 1/320” at f/11.0. Handheld, no filters.

Have a great weekend.

Return of the Friday Image

Staircase inside St Paul's Cathedral in black and white
Inside St Paul’s Cathedral. Fuji X-T3 with 18-135 lens. Processed using Nik Silver Efex 2.

I’ll start with an apology. I haven’t posted a Friday image for the past two weeks. The first week I was away in the Lake District in an area with no phone or internet access. It was wonderful but scary at the same time. It was my intention to share an image from the trip today but then something shiny distracted me. An upgrade to the Nik Collection (to version 2.3) and Silver Efex Pro to be precise. That’s when I decided to share this image.

If you haven’t seen version 2.3 yet, it’s all about black and white. Nik Silver Efex Pro has a whole bunch of new film simulations. You can find these in the “Film Types” section which is the area I call the “best-kept secret”. That’s because people don’t use it for some reason. You’ll find the new simulations in the dropdown list at the top of the section. As you scroll through the list you see your preview reflect each film. Just click the one you like best.

After that, if you like to play with things (as I do) you can tweak the colour response, grain and tone curve. There’s a lot of control here and whilst you could probably arrive at some of the effects yourself, it’s great that DxO has added these films. It makes life easy. You can find out more on their website.

I’ve done a few images with the new films and they appear a good match to what I would expect. It also reminds me of how much I miss black and white film photography. I still have hundreds of rolls of ADOX CMS20, Rollie IR, Rollie Retro 100 and Kodak TMax in my freezer as well as a few others. I think I need to dig out my XPan to shoot some.

Friday Image No. 236

I captured this week’s image back in August on a trip to London. Having worked in central London for some 8 years I find I miss it, but now when I visit, I like to do the tourist thing. This time I visited St Paul’s Cathedral which is where I took this shot. Yes, they now allow photography in the cathedral so visit soon before they change their mind.

This scene is from one of the staircases which the guide said featured in one of the Harry Potter films (I wouldn’t know). The shot was handheld using a Fuji X-T3 and 18-135 lens at 18mm. Shutter speed 1/20” at f/6.4 and ISO1600. I converted the RAW file in Capture One before taking it into Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. It’s still my favourite black and white converter by far.

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