All posts by rnwhalley

Scottish Highlands Again

Friday Image No. 221

The Highlands of Scotland at dawn. Five images stitched. Fuji X-T3, Fuji 55-200 lens at 55mm. ISO160, 1.3″ at f/11.0. 3 stop soft ND Grad.

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.

I hope you like it and have a great weekend.

Death Valley Revisited

Friday Image No.220

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley. Panasonic GX1, Panasonic 14-45 lens, ISO160, 1/60″ at f/8.0

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 better (bigger).

I really miss that little camera and lens.

Have a great weekend.

The Nik Collection 2 Review

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 host.

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.

4 image stich using Fuji X-T3, 50-200 Lens, ISO160, 1/12″ at f/11.0 Tripod mounted, 3 stop soft ND Grad on the sly.

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 sunrise.

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 sky.

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

Friday Image on Saturday – oops

The Scottish Highlands. Four image stitch using a Fuji X-T3 and 50-200 lens. ISO160, 1/25″ at f/11.0. Tripod mounted and Kase 0.9 ND Soft Grad filter.

I’m starting with an apology for not posting this week’s Friday Image on a Friday.

The past week has been rather frantic with quite a few time critical things:

  1. The Lenscraft June newsletter needed finishing and publishing. If you haven’t subscribed, you can read it here (https://lenscraft.co.uk/photography-tutorials/read-lenscraft-in-focus-photography-newsletter/).
  2. This week’s YouTube video tutorial explaining how to use the Nik Collection from Capture One needed publishing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XipDxh7tlbM&t=19s).
  3. I had to launch my new Luminosity Masking course. The course is only a month late but, in my defence, it’s almost 5 hours of video. You can find out more and watch three preview lessons here (https://lenscraft.teachable.com/p/the-photographers-guide-to-using-luminosity-masks/).
  4. 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 horizontal format.

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.

My New Favourite Lens for the Fuji X System

Scottish Highlands, Fuji X-T3, Samyang 12mm lens, Kase 0.9 Soft ND Grad filter. ISO160, f/8.0, 1/00″ handheld.

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.

So how much did this cost me? Just £280 from Amazon would you believe (https://amzn.to/2HQoMi6).

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 course.

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.

Enjoy the video and have a great weekend.

No Friday Image

Water Tower at Spurn Point.
Water Tower at Spurn Point. Nikon D800, 24-120mm Nikon f/4 lens, ISO100, 1/160″ at f/13. Conversion to B&W in Nik Silver Efex Pro.

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you will have noticed there wasn’t a Friday Image last week. This is because I was in Amsterdam for a short break with my wife where we also met up with our daughter, her husband and our grandson. We returned on Saturday and I headed over to Spurn Point with a friend on Sunday.

As a lot of readers won’t be familiar with the area I should explain. On the North East coast of the UK we have the large city and port of Hull. If you travel through Hull and out to the end of the Humber Estuary you will come to Spurn Point, which is a tidal sand island. There isn’t much there except a lighthouse, Lifeboat Station and this old water tower.

Our intention had been to shoot some of the sea defences there. The weather had forecast cloudy and we thought it sounded promising. Unfortunately, the forecast was wrong. The sky was clear blue with the exception of a few wispy clouds on the horizon. The sea defences will be worth shooting in the future but not in the conditions we had.

When I spotted this water tower I could immediately see the potential for converting it to mono. What surprised me thought was that the colour version is quite nice.

Colour image prior to conversion with Nik Silver Efex Pro.

I also need to admit to something as a few of you will spot this and ask questions. I have bought another Nikon D800. The camera was an absolute bargain; it looks like new and has only a few thousand on the shutter count.

The last time I bought a D800 I hated it and sold it 4 months later. This time, I’m really enjoying it. The difference seems to be the lenses I bought. One of the lenses is a 24-120mm f/4.0 which this image was captured with. With this on the camera, I’m finding it a pleasure to use. It also has VR which allows me to shoot at surprisingly slow shutter speeds. This is never going to be my main camera (I like the Fuji X-T2 too much) but it’s very impressive and the results are excellent.

Friday Image No. 178

Wooden structure on Formby Beach
Wooden structure on Formby Beach. Fuji X-T2, 55-200 lens at 128mm, ISO200, 1/1600″ at f/5.6

In the sand dunes of Formby Beach stands a tall wooden structure. I’m not sure how tall it is but I would guess around 10m, perhaps more. At the top of the wooden structure is a large wooden triangle. What it’s for I have no idea, but it makes a great subject for a shot.

I have captured this object many times and always been disappointed. Even this image has sat on my hard drive for a couple of months and I never new what to do with it. Today I wanted a break from writing my next book so thought I would experiment a little with this image. This is the result.

I hope you like it and have a great weekend.