Category Archives: Software

I’m Giving Away Luminar 3

I’m giving away a copy of the innovative software Luminar 3, from Skylum. I purchased a second license key in error when Luminar 3 launched but didn’t use it. I’ve been in contact with Skylum who confirm I can give the license key away, so that’s what I’m doing.

Free Prize Draw

This is a free prize draw with my wife drawing the winner at random, after the competition closes at the end of April 2019. To enter, all you need to do is provide me with a short review for any of my books that you’ve read, using the entry form I created on Google. Here’s the link if you want to enter.

https://goo.gl/forms/Efv7H2eeouo3YwWE2

The odds of winning are currently very high; only four people have entered since the launch on Saturday 30th March.

Good luck.

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.

How to use the Nik Collection in Lightroom

HDR image created with Nik HDR Efex in Lightroom. Do you know how to open Nik HDR Efex from Lightroom without looking it up?

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? If you want to use the Nik Collection in Lightroom, you right click and choose “Edit in” from the popup menu. You can then pick the Nik Collection plugin you want to use from the list. But life and Lightroom aren’t always quite this simple.

Have you tried to use Nik HDR Efex with this technique? By default, you can’t. It’s not in the list of available plugins. And what about all those new image files each time you launch the Nik Collection from Lightroom? How can you better manage those?

There’s a lot more to using the Nik Collection in Lightroom than is immediately obvious. That’s why I’ve published a free video tutorial explaining how to best use the Nik Collection in Lightroom. I even demonstrate how to add the missing HDR Efex plugin to the “Edit in” menu.

You will find the video on my YouTube channel with this link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl4hCzK35Gk&t=2s). I’ve published an accompanying article on Lenscraft about using the Nik Collection with Lightroom; the article also has the video embedded within it.

This is the first of a series of Nik Collection tutorials I’m intending to publish. I’m calling the series Bitesize Nik Tutorials, with each video being between 5 and 10 minutes (but don’t hold me to that). I already have 12 ideas to progress, but if you have any requests, please let me know. I will be publishing a new video on YouTube each week, usually on a Thursday. If you want to be sure not to miss any, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel.

I hope you enjoy the video.

Nik Collection 2018 by DxO – Is it worth it?

I have been receiving a lot of emails asking me if I have looked at the new Nik Collection which DxO released last week. Yes, I have looked at it and purchased a copy.

In short, the new software is all about fixing bugs and problems. The interface is the same as before and there’s no new functionality. And now you’re probably wondering why I shelled out hard earned money for software that does just what it did before.

If you are, I have three reasons which I explain in my video review of the software on You Tube.

 

Friday Image No. 183

Blea Tarn, The Lake District, Cumbria.
Blea Tarn, The Lake District, Cumbria. Fuji X-T2, 16-55 lens, ISO200, f/11.0, i/105″. Kase 2 stop ND grad (hard).

Before I went to Italy for a couple of weeks, I started experimenting with Luminar 2018 from Skylum. Now I’m back I have been looking at the software more and I’m even more impressed with the results I’m getting. Looking back to the earlier versions of Luminar this wasn’t the case, but they have improved the software significantly.

I now see myself working more with Luminar, On1 and Alien Skin in the future (as well as some Topaz tools). This is especially true now the future of Nik is uncertain once more, with DxO Labs in financial difficulties.

Anyway, I wanted to return to some images from the end of last year to see how they could be improved with Luminar. The one at the top of this post is an example of one that I initially passed over. After a little work in Luminar it seems to have an appeal and has retained a natural look.

I just love learning and working with new software.

Have a great weekend.

 

(This page contains some affiliate links. If you buy any of the software following these links, I earn a small commission but it doesn't cost you anything extra. This helps me continue publishing free photography resources.)

Friday Image No. 177

Derwentwater sunset, Keswick, The Lake District. Fuji X-T2, 10-24 lens, ISO200 1/20″ at f/11.0. Kase 3 stop reverse ND grad. Tripod mounted.

It’s great how a nuclear sunset can cheer me up. I’ve had a lot of problems thrown at me this week and been let down a couple of times. Then I decided to process this image and I was smiling again.

It’s one I shot a few weeks back and have been struggling to bring out the amazing colours I remember. But now I have an idea of how to do it properly. This was a quick trial for the blog and it has a couple of flaws. For example, the glow effect I used is too strong on the rocks, most obviously the one in the centre. It’s made the image look a little like HDR even though it’s not. I had intended to use it on the distant hills and sky, but my masking was a little shoddy.

I captured the image on the Fuji X-T2 and used a Kase Wolverine 3 stop Reverse Grad on the sky. That really is an amazing filter. Post processing was in On1 Photo RAW 2018, but I do need to make some further adjustments as well as be a little more careful.

The other news from this week is Adobe Lightroom Classic CC version 7.3 has been released. There are a few enhancements which frustratingly move some important sliders to new locations. There’s also a couple of changes that seem to be flagging future developments. If you want to know what’s happened I published a video to YouTube earlier.

If you want to Subscribe to my free YouTube Channel use this link (https://goo.gl/GCZq33).

I hope you enjoy the video and have a great weekend.

DxO Photolab and DNG

John Rylands Library, Manchester.
John Rylands Library, Manchester. Fuji X-T2, 10-24mm at 12mm, ISO800, 1/3″ at f/7.1. Handheld leaning on the stair handrail for support.

I have been experimenting with DxO Photolab again. I really like the software but before I can commit to buying it, I need it to support the Fuji XTrans RAW file format. If I can’t process the Fuji X-T2 files, it’s only going to work for a fraction of the images I shoot.

Then I had an idea. What if I convert the RAW file to DNG first using Iridient XTransformer. I felt sure I had used a much earlier version of DxO to process RAW files.

Unfortunately, my excitement was short lived. DxO Photolabs couldn’t read the file.

So instead of writing about a great work around, I’m going to share an image shot with the Fuji X-T2 and converted in Lightroom. This has then had a little post processing with On1 Photo Effects to emphasise the shadows. The stars around the lights were enhanced very slightly using Topaz Star Effects.