The last time I published anything to this blog was the 5th July. Apologies for that but I decided to take a holiday and headed off to Cornwall. The scenery there is spectacular but looking through my images (yes I was still working) everything looks like a stock photo. Nice if you received them on a postcard but you wouldn’t say it was great photography.
I think the problem was that although this was a holiday, I
was still taking photos. And whilst I was taking photos, I was thinking about
how I could use the images. If I’m completely honest with myself, when I took
most of my photos I was thinking about stock usage which raises two interesting
When you shoot stock photography you change your
approach. You approach the scene with a specific mindset that affects your
framing, composition and to some degree what you shoot.
After photographing with this mindset for a
while it becomes difficult to switch to another. This makes it very tricky to
produce creative, innovative and arty shots of the type I really want capture.
Friday Image No.223
The reason I mention the point about getting your mindset right is because of this Friday photo. Having carried a camera with me most of the days, I decided to head out one evening for the sunset. The weather looked promising, so I headed over to Godrevy Lighthouse. I planned my arrival with an hour to scout out the location and find a shot. This should have been plenty of time to find something good.
Actually, it was plenty of time, it’s just that I couldn’t see any great shots. That’s why I ended up with this OK shot rather than something more creative. Yes, it’s nice, but it’s what I class as a typical postcard or calendar shot. My mind was still in the mode of shooting stock photography. I hadn’t given it time to switch over to being innovative which is one of my big problems.
If you’re interested in the technical details of the shot
here they are:
Last week I wrote that I had been out, but I failed to shoot
any usable images. I’ve changed my mind and decided to share this one. It’s not
as I imagined at the time but there is something about the hillside that I like.
What I don’t like is the strong orange of the sky, but then again that was the
scene. It just goes to show that sometimes you need to get some distance from a
shoot before you can appreciate your images. I will probably need to go through
these again in a few weeks once the memory of the evening has faded.
I captured this scene from Derwent Edge in the Peak
District. The body of water you can see is Ladybower reservoir. I haven’t used
any filters but did mount the camera, a Fuji X-T3, on a tripod. The lens is a
Fuji 16-55mm which is super sharp but lacks image stabilisation, making the tripod
essential at times.
I processed the image from a RAW file using Capture One for Fuji (Pro edition). I’ve decided to invest in the Capture One software after being so impressed by the results from the Express version. You can read about my reasons for switching on my website blog.
My latest newsletter is also out if you haven’t seen it. In there I share some tips about avoiding lens flare ruining your images when shooting into the sun. One of the techniques involves shooting two versions of an image and in one of these, you use your finger to block the sun. This removes the lens flare and allows you to merge the two images later. If you would like to see how I’ve just released a YouTube video explaining the technique.
I hope you like the photo and have a great weekend.
I headed out last night to meet up in the Peak District a
good friend. The intention was to visit one of the dramatic stone formations on
Derwent Edge and shoot this for tonight post. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn
out quite as planned.
The first problem I found was the weather. It was a clear
blue sky with not a cloud in sight. This doesn’t make for good images
especially when you’re facing the sun.
But my bigger problem by far was that I hadn’t shot any
landscapes since my trip to Scotland at the start of April. I found myself
struggling to see compositions and then when I found one, I just couldn’t capture
it. Looking at my images this morning, most if not all are dreadful. That’s why
I’ve fallen back on yet another of my shots from Scotland, but I love this one.
Over the past week, I’ve restarted work on a new edition of my Essential Photoshop book. When I wrote the original book, I wanted it to be version independent and work with old and new versions of Photoshop alike. I even illustrated it using Photoshop CS5. Following a few requests, I’ve decided to revise the book to create Essential Photoshop CC, based on the 2019 version. Importantly, I’m creating a print version of the book as well.
One of the difficulties in creating a print edition and even
a new eBook version for that matter is image resolution. What used to be the
maximum eBook image resolution on Amazon doesn’t satisfy customers just a few
years later. It’s also too low a resolution to print. This means I need to
recreate many of the original screenshots which involves a lot of reprocessing.
And that’s where I found this week’s Friday Image.
This is the image I use to demonstrate tonal correction
using Photoshop Curves, although it’s a colour image in the book. As I
processed the scene I thought “I bet that looks great in black and white and so
I ran it through Nik Silver Efex Pro. I don’t think I’ve created a masterpiece,
but I do like it and there’s potential when I have more time.
I can’t tell you too much about taking the shot other than it was Zabriskie Point in Death Valley one afternoon in March. The weather was dull and a little hazy which created a low contrast scene. I know from the camera data that I used a Panasonic GX1 with a Panasonic 14-45mm lens at 45mm. Given the weather conditions and composition, I doubt I used any filters and I would have shot it handheld.
What I do remember very clearly though were the large groups
of photographers travelling around the park, shooting locations like this. They
all had huge cameras, tripods and lenses and on more than a few occasions would
push straight past, even standing directly in front of me to set up. I even had
a few ask me about my “quaint little camera” and suggest upgrading it to something
Apologies if you were waiting for last week’s Friday Image that
didn’t arrive. That’s because I was doing a bit of a tour around the UK and
couldn’t fit everything in. Part of my problem was unexpectedly managing to lay
my hands on an early release of the new Nik Collection. This allowed me to
prepare a video review in advance, but I hadn’t factored that into my plans for
the week. Anyway, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have a preview.
If you haven’t seen the new release already, it’s may be
worth viewing my video before deciding whether to buy the release or not.
New Website Host
The other big demand on my time has been switching website
Recently the company hosting my Lenscraft website was taken
over by a major hosting company. Since then the performance has been very
variable and I’ve received increasing numbers of errors. I therefore moved the
site to a different host and whilst it’s early days the performance has improved,
and the errors have vanished. Fingers crossed this continues.
Friday Image No. 219
This is another image from my Scotland trip; unfortunately, I
haven’t done much photography since. I still have quite a few nice shots I haven’t
shared though so I’ll keep working through them.
This image was shot from a single-track road, on top of a
hill, near to Achnahaird. We spotted the view whilst doing an initial drive
around the area and decided to take a chance one morning after shooting the
I stitched the panoramic from 4 frames in Lightroom. I took
these with the camera mounted on a tripod and used a 3 stop soft grad on the
I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.
Unusually I needed to prepare next week’s YouTube video a week in advance. This is a big review, but I can’t reveal any more at this time. The video goes out on Wednesday at 14:15 UK time so if you don’t already subscribe to my YouTube channel you may want to consider it.
But let’s get back to the image.
This is yet another image from my Scotland trip. I shot it
just after dawn and as you can see the sun is just creeping up over the
horizon. It’s a stitch panoramic created from 4 shots with the X-T3 in a
I had the camera mounted on a tripod that I had spent quite
a bit of time getting level. This allowed me to pan the camera across the range
without it dipping to one side. This was important because the lens, a Fuji
55-200 was at the 200mm end because I was so far from the mountain range. I had
my doubts that this would create a usable image, but I’m really pleased with
the finished result.
In terms of filters, I was using a Kase 0.9 (3 stop) soft graduate over the sky. Ordinarily, I don’t like to use a filter when there is a lot of clear sky in the frame as it can make it appear unnatural. But in this shot, I needed anything to help me prevent the image from having too much contrast. I also had to tackle the problem of potential underexposure which I did by having the camera in manual mode.
The finished image is sizable. If I printed it at 240dpi it
would be 47” x 17” without any resizing.
I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.
I have a new favourite lens for my Fuji X series cameras, but I can’t explain why. It’s the Samyang 12mm. That’s right, a Samyang lens.
It’s sharp, I mean really sharp and it feels very well made.
It’s manual focus only but at 12mm, there is so much depth of field you stop it
down to f/8.0, focus on infinity and click away. When you shoot into the sun,
as in the image above, the Samyang creates a wonderful 6-point starburst effect.
Best of all, I couldn’t see any flare.
This lens has made me want to buy more wide-angle primes. I
know it’s silly because I already have the excellent Fuji 10-24, but the prime
is a joy to use in the landscape.
The Friday Image
In all honesty, I’ve lost count of the number for the Friday
Images so I’m just going to keep publishing an image along with updates. It’s
yet another from my Scotland Trip. I couldn’t tell you the name of this bay,
but I could take you there. It was a rather opportunistic shot; we were just
driving past, and I asked to stop whilst I shot this. With the Samyang 12mm of
If you want to see other shots from the trips with a few location details, I published this video to You Tube recently. You may recognise some of the shots but there are a few new ones that I haven’t shared.