Category Archives: Friday Image

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.

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.