All posts by thelightweightphotographer

I am a Landscape Photographer based in the North West of England. Unlike most photographers I believe smaller and lighter is better when it comes to cameras and equipment.

New Book Launch: Essential Adobe Photoshop CC

The Hope Valley cement works. The Peak District.
The Hope Valley, Peak District. Fuji X-T3, Fuji 55-200, ISO160, 1/180″ at f/11.0. Tripod mounted.

Today I’m happy. My latest book “Essential Adobe Photoshop CC” is available on Amazon. It’s the longest book I’ve created by some way and I’ve been writing it for the past 6 months. That’s quite a project.

It’s written for people who are either new to or struggle with Photoshop. It’s priced at £6.49, $7.49 or similar in other currencies. You can use the link http://viewbook.at/amazon-photoshop-cc to view the book on the Amazon website for your country and download a sample.

Now I’m working on the print version and furiously trying to learn my new publishing software. I’ve decided the popularity of my print books requires an improved layout and design. That means new and unfortunately much more complex software. It will be worth it though.

Friday Image No.227

I love a good atmospheric black and white image, but I often think of bad weather producing the best results. But in this example, the weather was glorious and sunny rather than cloudy and raining. I think this conversion to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro has worked well.

For anyone familiar with the Peak District, you’ll probably recognise the scene. This is the cement works in the Hope Valley. I shot the image earlier in the evening on the same day as last week’s heather photo. At that time the sun was still quite high in a clear blue sky. Fortunately, a lot of atmospheric haze has saved the shot.

I captured the image with a Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 55-200 lens at full reach. At f/11 and ISO160 I had a shutter speed of 1/180”. Although this is fast, I still mounted the camera on a tripod and used a cable release. I wanted to be sure I would avoid the risk of camera shake.

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

Shooting the Dawn Landscape at Mellon Udrigle

Pre-dawn at Mellon Udrigle, Scotland. Fuji X-T3, 16-55 Fuji Lens, ISO160, 20″ at f/11.0. Kase Wolverine 0.9 Soft Grad filter. Tripod mounted.

I said in my previous post that I had a few more images from my recent Scotland trip. This shot is one of them. I took it at a location called Mellon Udrigle which was around an hour drive from Ullapool in daylight. That might not sound like much but when you want to be in position by 6:00am, it makes for a long day. The drives also lengthened by the need to keep a look out for deer which emerge from the side of the road at an alarming frequency.

Putting all these difficulties aside, this was an excellent location to visit. I took the shot around 20 minutes before sunrise when the sky was nicely coloured by the sun below the horizon and everything was a strong blue/pink. I used a 0.9 (3 stop) Kase Wolverine soft grad filter on the sky and a 16-55 Fuji lens on my Fuji X-T3. The shutter speed was 20” at ISO160 and f/11.0.

I think this demonstrates the need to start shooting before the sun comes up. Once the sun came up the colours turned quickly to orange and yellow and the contrast in the scene increased sharply.

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

More Landscape Photography from the Scottish Highlands

Lake Assynt, Scotland. Three shot panoramic with a Fuji X-T3. See below for full description.

Today I wanted to share another image from my recent Scotland trip. I suspect there will be a few more yet to come. Originally, I had intended this to be a black and white shot, but it doesn’t work as well when converted. The problem is that the trees become lost against the background.

To be entirely honest, it doesn’t quite work in colour either, but the scene is so tranquil that I still love it. Had I been able to, I would have liked a little more height so that I would be looking down on the island. This would have placed the trees against the water, balancing them with the reflection. Unfortunately, I was already on the highest point; such is the challenge of landscape photography.

I shot the image using a Fuji X-T3 camera. In case you’re wondering, yes, I do think it’s an improvement on the X-T2 but it’s difficult to put into words why. It just is. I was using a Fuji 18-55 lens which is the kit lens that came with my X-T2 and is simply excellent. I also used a Kase 0.9 ND Graduated filter which I inverted to darken the light reflecting off the water in the foreground (I appear to be using the Soft ND Grad filters a lot more these days). Without this the exposure became too unbalanced. I had the camera mounted on a tripod to capture three frames of 1/17” at f/11.0 using ISO160 (the base ISO on the X-T3).

I then stitched the three frames to a panoramic using Adobe Lightroom. I used the Pro Contrast filter in Nik Color Efex Pro to fine tune the colour balance after which the Detail Extractor filter to open the shadows in the land. I then enhanced the Contrast and Structure of the foreground in Nik Viveza. This may sound like a lot of processing, but the changes were all very minor and subtle.

DxO Sale and the Nik Collection Free

I had an email earlier this week from DxO announcing their 30% sale on all their products until the 14th May 19. I wanted to share it in case anyone waiting for a DxO sale had missed the announcement. Unfortunately, the sale doesn’t appear to extend to the Nik Collection which I used for editing the image above.

But did you know you can still get the Nik Collection for free?

Whilst this is the old Google edition of the software it still works well for lots of people. It also appears that it’s not common knowledge how to do this, so I’ve published an article explaining how.

That’s all for now.

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

Have You Tried Topaz Gigapixel?

Scottish Highlands, Lake Assynt. Fuji X-T3, 18-55, ISO80, 1/6″, f/14.0. Tripod and Kase 0.9 Soft Grad.

Gigapixel from Topaz is an image enlarger. The hype on the website says it uses machine learning to create more detailed enhancements. The website also shows lots of comparisons between Photoshop and Gigapixel. I was intrigued but at the same time very sceptical of the claims, so I decided to try it out on some of my images. You can see one of these in the video below which I just published on my YouTube Channel.

If you decide to try Gigapixel (and I strongly recommend you try it before buying), please use the link on this page. It’s an affiliate link which helps me cover the costs of running the Lenscraft website, this blog and producing YouTube videos, but it doesn’t cost you any more.

Friday Image No.219

This week’s image is another from my recent trip to the Highlands of Scotland. If you subscribe to the Light and Landscape free magazine (it really is excellent) you may already have seen this in my interview.

The image is a great example of matching the content to the conditions. The conditions at the time were surprisingly calm and the loch which was usually very choppy became like glass. There was also a thick blue haze in the air which tended to fade the distant hills. This allowed me to throw more emphasis onto the island and its reflection.

I captured the image using a Fuji X-T3 camera and a Fuji 18-55 kit lens. I mounted the camera on a tripod, and I set the ISO to 80 and aperture to f/14.0. This was to slow the shutter to 1/6” so that the surface of the loche was smoothed a little and the reflection became more broken by the ripples. I tried other speeds, but they didn’t work as well as this. A Kase 0.9 Soft ND grad was used over the sky to help balance the exposure.

Iridient X-Transformer was used to convert the RAW file to the DNG format before processing with Adobe Lightroom. The colour image was then processed to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Lenscraft Newsletter

For members of my Lenscraft website, the latest newsletter goes out on the 4th May. It’s also published on the Lenscraft Newsletter page on the 4th May.

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

Friday Image No. 218

Looking towards Ullapool in the Scottish Highlands. Three frames Fuji X-T3, Fuji 55-200 lens at 100mm. ISO160, 2.5″ at f/10.0. Tripod mounted with Kase 3 stop soft ND Grad filter.

I don’t have a great deal to share this week other than a recent image. The week’s flown by and I haven’t even posted a video on Youtube. Instead, I’ve been concentrating on developing my new in-depth Luminosity Masking course. I do though want to share this photograph that I shot from my recent Scottish Highlands trip.

The reason this image is important is because it’s an excellent lesson in how to shoot landscape photography. You see landscape photography is less about equipment and composition than most people think. The important things (assuming you can take a decent image) are being able to plan, understand the local conditions/changing light and make decisions based on this.

The evening I captured this photograph, we were about an hour drive from this location. We had been in position on a beach, waiting for a sunset. The weather forecast was positive and for a while the cloud cover looked like we were on for a stunning display. But then as sunset came closer the cloud started to thicken and the sun became lost. At this point we realised there was only a slim chance of a sunset remaining.

The decision to make was, do we wait it out on the beach in the hope of a sunset or head back and hope to catch the blue hour light nearer to Ullapool.

Given everything we knew about the location, the excellent blue hour light in recent days and the time it would take to drive back, we opted to leave. Fortunately, everything went to plan, and I was able to shoot this three-image stitched panoramic looking towards Ullapool. It’s exactly as I had envisaged it and I love the soft pastel colours and smoke rolling across the mountains.

So, was there a sunset at the beach? I have no idea, but I’m happy with the shot I captured.

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

Landscape Photography in the Highlands of Scotland

Sunrise in Assynt, Scotland. Fuji X-T3, Samyang 12mm lens, 1/15″ at f/11.0 and ISO160. Kase 0.9 ND Soft Grad filter. Tripod mounted.

If you were expecting a Friday image last week I apologise. I was in the highlands of Scotland for a week, trying to cram in as much landscape photography as possible. I had intended to make a post from there, but it turned out the broadband wasn’t working in the accommodation we rented. There also wasn’t any phone signal to speak of, although we found one location that had a full 4G signal. Unfortunately, that was on a hill in the middle of nowhere about an hour’s drive from the accommodation.  It’s also where I shot the photo above.

That’s right, the only time I had a phone signal that supported internet browsing was whilst taking this shot.

The location is not far from the town of Lochinver and is three frames from a Fuji X-T3 stitched in Lightroom. The lens was a Samyang 12mm and I used a 0.9 Kase Soft ND Graduated filter. The important part that’s often overlooked is that we had to get up at 4am in the morning to drive and walk to this location in time for sunrise.

Photoshop Content Aware Scale

If you would like to see another of my landscape photos from the trip, watch at my latest Youtube video.

The image I show is again a three-frame stitch from a Fuji X-T3 using the excellent Samyang 12mm lens (I love this lens). In the image the sun isn’t in the centre of the frame and the needs the left side extending to give it balance. The video shows how to do this firstly using the Photoshop Content Aware Scale command. It then compares the result with the regular Transform tool. I won’t say which was best here, but it was a surprise.

Know-How Transfer Easter Sale

I usually don’t mention software sales in the blog but I’m making an exception with Know-How Transfer. I have most of their products and find they save me time and are very good. They have a 20% sale on until midnight on the 25th April, just enter the code easter19 at the checkout.

And to be clear, I don’t have any connection with the company. I just like what they do.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Editing Sunset Photos in Nik

View from the Roaches, Leek, Stafordshire. Fuji X-T3, Fuji 16-55mm lens, ISO200, 1/7″ at f/10, Kase 0.9 Soft ND Grad filter, Tripod.

In this week’s YouTube video, I shared my favourite Nik Collection filters for editing sunset photos. The image used in the video is the one above, which initially didn’t have obvious clouds and colour. The video demonstrates how you can improve most sunset photos using one of three filters in the Nik Collection.

The adjustments in the video are a little strong to ensure you can see them, but the techniques and tips are solid. I also used all three filters on the image which I wouldn’t recommend. One or two of the Nik Collection filters are all you really need.

Luminar 3 Competition

If you haven’t seen yesterday’s post, do take a moment to read it. I’m giving away a Luminar 3 license which I bought by mistake. Yes, I can be that scatter-brained. The competition’s open until the 30th April 2019 when my wife will draw the winner at random.

Friday Image No. 217

Although I’ve used the Friday Image in my YouTube video, I did want to share it. I shot it last weekend whilst meeting up with a couple of friends that I used to work with. The weather on the day wasn’t quite as forecast. The initial fog quickly burned off (unfortunately) with a clear blue sky replacing it (not a cloudy one). Then, quite quickly, a strong blue haze developed with a few wispy high clouds. The high contrast conditions were terrible for landscape photography, but we persevered.

Towards the end of the day, we grew quite hopeful that we would have a nice sunset. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be and most of the compositions we had available didn’t work well with the conditions. The only composition that looked slightly interesting was the one you see above. I reasoned that I would be able to improve the sunset and enhance the light on the lake, by editing the photo in Nik. It isn’t a wonderful shot, but it serves a good purpose.

Have a great weekend.