All posts by rnwhalley

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.

I Almost Didn’t Shoot This

Derwentwater near to sunset. Keswick, the Lake District. Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 16-80 lens.

At the time I didn’t think this image would work. I was certain the conditions were too bright, and the dynamic range of the scene was too high. These were just a couple of the challenges that almost made me not bother taking the image. In the end, I decided to just take the shot and see what I could make of it in post-processing. Boy am I pleased that I did.

If you want to read more about what I learned and see the starting image, you can read about it in my November newsletter. The newsletter goes out overnight tonight. If you don’t already receive this, you can subscribe here

https://lenscraft.co.uk/lenscraft-photography-blog/photography-newsletter/

You’ll also be able to read my November newsletter after the 2nd of November on this page.

The image is of Derwentwater in the Lake District, taken near to the landing stage for the boats at Keswick. I used my Fuji X-T3 with the new Fuji 16-60 lens. I shot this handheld and without filters at ISO160 (the base ISO for the Fuji X-T3). This gave a shutter speed of 1/280” at f/11.0.

Post capture processing was in Capture One for the RAW conversion which allowed me to do a lot of the shadow and highlight recovery. I then used Nik Viveza to improve the light after which I softened the image with a faint blur to the highlights.

Have a great weekend.

PhotoLab 3 Launch and Review

This week’s been very busy. I’ve been out on location twice and have another shoot planned for tomorrow if the torrential rain stops. I also completed a review of the new PhotoLab 3 RAW converter from DxO ready for when it launched on Wednesday. Producing a video review to a deadline is always demanding, especially when you also have a packed diary. Fortunately, I already use PhotoLab 2 which made the task quite a bit easier.

Here’s the link to the review on YouTube (https://youtu.be/OKqTG7BmFJc).

Friday Image No.234

Wyming Brook, Peak District.

I must admit to being pleased with this weeks Friday image. Woodland scenes are my nemesis and I’m never truly happy with the results. This image which I captured on Wednesday is different and I rather like it. It’s turned out just as I had imagined it when I took the shot which is always a good thing.

I shot the image using my Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 10-24 lens at 10mm. The image is tripod mounted as the shutter speed was 7” using an aperture of f/14.0 at ISO160. I used a Kase Polarising filter to remove a lot of surface glare from the water, allowing you see the flow more clearly. This also greatly intensified the colours in the moss and leaves which looked a little washed out without the filter. In addition to the polariser I also used a Kase 0.9 (3 stop) Soft ND graduated filter. This prevented the waterfall and highlight from blowing out in the top part of the frame.

I performed the RAW conversion using Capture One. I then enhanced the image using the Nik Collection from DxO.

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


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Beware of the Mac

Ladybower Reservoir, The Peak District. Fuji X-T3, Fuji 16-80 lens. ISO160, 7.5 seconds at f/11.0.

First, an apology that I didn’t post a Friday image last week. I ended up at my daughters in France. I thought I would be able to post the image from there, but technical problems got in the way of what should have been a simple task. I won’t go into the details because I want to share a different technical issue that a lot of photographers will face.

I shared the above image on my Instagram feed just before I left for France. In all honesty, the processing was a little rushed so I thought I would reprocess it again (hopefully better) for this post. That’s when I discovered my latest technical issue; my graphics tablet won’t work with my Mac, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

A couple of days back I received a message that my Mac needed to apply updates. I didn’t think anything more about it and applied them. This turned out to a major update to the operating system of my main Mac.

The new OS is Catalina and was a huge 8Gb update. It made lots of changes including how my hard drive was partitioned. It’s also a pure 64bit OS which means any software with a 32bit element won’t work. This was frustrating enough but then I found I couldn’t run some software that was 64bit. Instead I now get a message saying that the software supplier needs to work with Apple to make software compliant and you can’t run it. I don’t know what “compliant” means but I’ve lost the ability to use some important software as well as hardware, including my graphics tablet. I find this completely unacceptable.

So, if you have a Mac and you see the message to upgrade, be careful. As I understand it from reading the many complaints on the internet, there isn’t an easy way to reverse the upgrade. If you’re running anything but the latest software and hardware drivers, you will probably find things are immediately obsolete.

On a lighter note…

Friday Image No.233

I captured this week’s image on my way to shoot the sunrise on Higger Tor in the Peak District. As I passed Ladybower and the trout fishery, I couldn’t resist pulling over. It was still around 20 minutes before sunrise and there was a lovely blue, pink colour to the light. I could also see the very tops of the cloud starting to catch some light and turn pink.

Because the scene is so light with the mist and water reflecting the sky the dynamic range was low, and I didn’t need to use any filters. I did, however, use a tripod and cable release as the shutter speed was 7.5” at ISO160 using f11.0. The lens I used was the new Fuji 16-80mm. Whilst I haven’t used this very much at present, I don’t think I’m that impressed, especially given the price point. Once I’ve used it a little more and made some comparison shots, I will share my thoughts.

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

Sunrise at Higger Tor

Rocks on Higger Tor at sunrise, The Peak District. Fuji X-T3. See text for technical details/settings.

Yesterday morning I managed to drag myself out of bed at 05:00am and drove over to the Peak District. I had been watching the weather for weeks waiting for the right conditions. It had been warm during the day but then the temperature was forecast to drop overnight, with only thin cloud cover and no wind for the next morning. The conditions were perfect for Landscape Photography and all being well there would  be mist/fog in the Peak District.

As I drove past Ladybower on my way to Higger Tor I ran into a few fog banks. I could also see the mist rising off the surface of the reservoir. As I passed the fishery, the high cloud was turning pink and reflecting on the calm surface of the water. I decided to stop and shoot a couple of frames, but I’ll save that for another time once I’ve processed them properly.

When I arrived at Higger Tor, the sunrise was in full swing and unfortunately, I think I missed the best of it having stopped at Ladybower. This shot was my second frame, the first being a reference shot to check the camera setup. As the sun was now just above the horizon and starting to catch the ground, I found this position where I could capture the light on the rocks and still retain a good sky.

Capturing a good shot was relatively easy as the sun wasn’t in the frame, but I still needed to use a ND Grad filter on the sky. Without it the ground and rocks just became too dark. I also took the opportunity to shoot the image with exposure bracketing. This would give me 5 frames from which I could select the best exposure to work with and if necessary, do some exposure blending.

In the end, the best image was a single exposure without any exposure compensation. This had a nice sky, but the rocks were a little too dark. I was able to correct this during my RAW conversion in Capture One. I’m now a huge fan of Capture One for processing the Fuji RAW files and swear by it.

Following RAW conversion, I applied additional adjustment using the Nik Collection and a little Dodging and Burning in Photoshop.

I shot the image using a Fuji X-T3 and the newly released Fuji 16-80 lens. This gives a focal range of 24-120 in full frame terms which is very useful. I like the lens and have a few observations to make in a future article. I had the camera set to ISO160 which is the base ISO. The aperture was f/11.0 which gave a shutter speed of 0.7”. I had the camera mounted on a tripod for this and used a Kase 0.6 (2 stop) hard ND grad on the sky.

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

Instagram and Friday Image No.231

Redwood trees in Whakarewarewa Forest near to Rotorua, New Zealand. Fuji X-T2, 18-135 lens, ISO1600, 1/8″ @ f/7.1.

I’ve had an Instagram account since early 2012 but never really bothered with it. In fact, the only reason I signed up was that I liked some of the filter effects. Recently though I’ve started sharing some of my photos on Instagram and I’m enjoying it more than I thought; you’ll find me on there as lenscraftphotos.

I’ve started to post something most weekdays (unless I’m snowed under with work), which is a lot better than I ever managed on Flickr. But what I really like is that it’s prompting me to look through my older photos to find and reprocess shots I like. This image of sun peeping through the trunks of redwood trees in Whakarewarewa Forest is a good example.

I shot this handheld with a Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 18-135 lens, which you can read about in my Lenscraft review. It was quite dark in the forest which forced me to shoot at ISO1600 to achieve a 1/8” shutter speed. That’s about the limit of what I could handhold. I also needed the aperture set to f/7.1 and underexposed by 1/3 stop. These settings allowed me to achieve a steady shot with the necessary depth of field.

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