Category Archives: photography

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.

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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