Category Archives: Friday Image

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.

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.

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.

Upgrade Your Camera by Changing RAW Converters

Snow covered mountain on Rannoch Moor. Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24mm lens. ISO200, F/11, 1/420".
Snow covered mountain on Rannoch Moor. Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24mm lens. ISO200, F/11, 1/420″.

This week I feel the urge to highlight something to the readers of this blog. If the image quality from your camera and/or lens is disappointing you, don’t rush to change it. Instead, try a different RAW converter.

I’m seeing more and more that there’s a large variation in image quality produced by different RAW converters. You’re probably thinking there’s nothing surprising there, except it’s not necessarily one converter that comes out better than the others.

The Best RAW Converter Depends on Your Camera

As I investigate this further, what I’m finding is that a RAW converter that excels with one camera can perform poorly with another. And it’s not just the camera that seems to be a factor. Some RAW converters appear to handle some lenses better than others.

This is important. The image quality of some RAW converters with certain camera/lens combinations can fool you into thinking the lens or camera is at fault. Don’t fall into this trap.

A couple of weeks back I demonstrated this using RAW files from a Sony RX10 and RX100. This week I published this video on YouTube. It shows the results from four RAW converters, processing two Fuji X-T2 RAW files.

There are two interesting points to come out of this:

  1. The difference between the best and worst of the four RAW converters tested is significant.
  2. The best RAW converter changed with the RAW file. Although I didn’t highlight it in the video, this difference is down to the lens I used.

So, before you rush out to change that camera or lens that doesn’t quite perform, try using a few different RAW converters. It could save you a lot of money.

Friday Image No.215

I captured this week’s Friday Image in Scotland last week on the famous and Rannoch Moor. I was fortunate enough for my trip to coincide with a light snowfall. Had it been a heavy snowfall I doubt I would have thought I was lucky.

I used the Fuji X-T2 with a Fuji 10-24mm lens handheld. The pool of water you see in the foreground was really very small. It looks a lot larger than it is because I had the lens set to 11mm. To make the foreground loom large, I crouched down low and in close to the pool. I was also careful to avoid distorting the mountain with the super wide lens by keeping the back of the camera vertical. Had I tilted it the image the mountain wouldn’t have looked quite so impressive.

I didn’t use any filters for the capture as the camera could just about cope with the dynamic range of the scene. I processed the converted RAW file using a combination of Nik Color Efex, Nik Viveza and Luminosity Masks created with Lumenzia in Photoshop.

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

Friday Image No.214

Graveyard of the Trains, Bolivia. Five image stitch from an Olympus EM5.

Most of the photos I shoot are of landscapes; it’s the subject I feel most in touch with. But then from time to time I come across something and feel I must photograph it. That was the case with this image. The location was the “Train Graveyard” in Bolivia. It’s filled with old rusting steam trains from the past and is simply amazing – even if you don’t like trains.

What I also find quite amazing is how photo editing software has developed over recent years. When I shot this image four years back, I don’t think the panoramic stitching feature was available in Lightroom. That’s probably why the five images that make up this shot have sat on my hard drive for so long.

I captured the five images that make up this shot with an Olympus EM5 and Olympus 12-40mm lens. The camera was in the vertical position and the image taken handheld. Lightroom was able to stitch them very quickly and has made a good job. Except that is for removing the perspective distortion. To remove that I used DxO Viewpoint 3.0. I’m really starting to love this software and will be experimenting further with it in the future.

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

Friday Image No.213

Bolivian volcano. Olympus EM5, Panasonic 45-150 lens, ISO200, f/7.1, 1/320″.

It was 2014 when I shot this volcano image and it’s languished on my hard drive ever since. The volcano’s in Bolivia and this shot was from our base camp about halfway to the summit. Yes, I had the “pleasure” of climbing this. The lower rim (the coloured part) is 4,900m and the top part is 5,300m; I wish I could remember the name though.

Those days seemed much simpler to me in terms of camera equipment. I was using the Olympus EM5 with three lenses; 9-18mm, 12-40mm and 45-150mm. The entire kit would fit in a small shoulder bag which I could wear under my backpack. The Fuji now feels a lot larger somehow but doesn’t look when the two are side by side. I’ve even found myself considering another micro 43 camera; I suppose I should make more use of the EM5’s which I still have.

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

Friday Image No.212

Heswall. Olympus EM5, 9-18mm Olympus lens, ISO200, f/8.0, 1/25″.

Today I’m returning to an image that I’ve probably shown before. It may not be the same identical file but it’s possible you’ve already seen this. I’m doing this because I’ve been back through my image library and reprocessed quite a few of the RAW files.

The reason for this is because I noticed some of my image quality problems of the past are fixed by changing RAW converter (no, I’m not talking about Fuji). In fact, some of the lens and camera performance problems were so bad I ended up selling the camera/lens. Now I’ve discovered the problem was mostly my RAW converter. If you want to see five examples here’s my video.

But back to the image above.

I shot this with an Olympus EM5 (micro 43) using the Olympus 9-18mm lens at 10mm. The camera was tripod mounted and I used an ND grad on the sky (2 stops I think). In the past when I processed this file it was a struggle. There were noisy shadows which lacked detail and a blown-out sky. The image also had a lot of distortion, especially in the corners of the frame.

The difference is that I used DxO PhotoLab to process the RAW file.

Now I’m not recommending switching to DxO, but it is interesting how good the RAW processing now seems to be. What I am recommending though is to always shoot in RAW format and hang onto your files. At least that way you can take advantage of future developments in software.

An unfortunate side effect of all this though is that it’s made me think of buying another Micro 43 camera.

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