Exposure X4 Launches & YouTube


Yew Tree Tarn, The Lake District. Nikon D800, 24-120mm Nikon lens at 70mm, ISO100, 1/6″ at f/9.0

Exposure from Alien Skin is one of my long-time favourite processing tools and yesterday they launched Exposure X4. I’ve already got my upgrade and I can see a few enhancements and new tools. You can find out more about the enhancements on the Alien Skin website where you will also find a free trial version to download.

Despite the new tools and features, I’m not really blown away by any of them and I didn’t know if they justified the price of the upgrade. The Smart Collections is a nice addition and I can see Exposure is becoming more of a Lightroom replacement, but it’s not exciting me. Then I found the exception which is hard to quantify; Alien Skin has just described it as RAW processing enhancements.

Having processed the shot you see above with the software I thought that’s not bad. The RAW file came from a Nikon D800, so I thought I would try some RAW files from the Fuji. And that’s when I the results stopped me dead. The RAW conversions are incredibly clean. There isn’t a wiggly worm pattern anywhere to be seen and the detail is incredible. Even RAW files shot with the 18-135 lens look amazingly sharp and detailed.

Fuji X-T2 with 18-135 lens at 135mm. ISO400, 1/45″ at f/11.0. Capture sharpening only applied as part of processing in Alien Skin Exposure X4.

If you’re a Fuji RAW file shooter, do look at the trial version of Exposure. I would be interested to know if others also like the results.

Tomorrows YouTube Video

To celebrate Exposure X4’s launch I decided to answer the question I’m often asked about Exposure “what’s a good workflow”. The video will demonstrate this using Exposure X4 and goes live around 15:30 UK time.

Here’s the link to my YouTube Channel if you haven’t already subscribed.

Friday Image No.197


Wastwater, The Lake District.
Wastwater, The Lake District. Canon 5D MKII, 24-105L lens, IS)50, 1/10″ at f/16.0. Handheld.

For this week’s Friday image, I’ve decided to share an image I shot back in March 2010. Yes, it’s taken me just over 8 years to get around to processing this one. But that’s not the reason I want to share it.

When I shot this image, I realised there was a good composition and a nice scene. But when I tried to process it originally, it just didn’t work. I couldn’t make the image match what was in my mind at the time I shot it. To show you what I mean, here’s the original so you can see.

Starting image prior to correction

Each time I tried to process this it fell short of what I wanted to achieve so it’s sat on my hard drive since. Only now did I decide to edit the image again. Fortunately, my skills and the software have moved on and I quite like the result.

The reason I wanted to share the starting image is to show what you can achieve with a few relatively simple but careful adjustments. We no longer create great photography in the camera. The camera is only the start of the process. Image editing helps us develop the image and take it to a new level.

But we don’t create great photography in software either. We create great photography in our mind.

Future Blog Posts and Sharpening Tutorial


Wasterwater, The Lake District (2012)
Wastwater, The Lake District (2012). Canon 5D MKII, 24-105 lens, ISO100, 1/15″ at f/14.0. Handheld.

I haven’t posted much on the blog in the past couple of weeks. I’m quite short of time at present and the blog’s unfortunately taken second place to other important activities. I’m therefore going to change the direction of the blog a little. I suppose this goes back to my post at the end of last year when I was pondering its future.

Rather than trying to write educational articles, those will just appear on my Lenscraft website. The blogs going to be about sharing news and other articles, as well of course my photographs. You can think of it as a type of hub for my other work and news, which is more in line with what people might expect of a blog. I hope you still enjoy and find this helpful.

Now that I’ve sorted that, have you seen my latest Nik Sharpening videos?

I’ve posted two of these to YouTube recently and they appear to be going down very well with people. The first video covers Capture sharpening using Nik Sharpener Pro (RAW Presharpener). The other covers Creative and Output sharpening, this time with Nik Sharpener Pro (Output Sharpener).

In the videos I demonstrate sharpening the image on this page. I’ve since produced a large print of this and I’m very impressed with the results. The sky and water are perfectly clear and free from any visible noise or artefacts. At the same time, so much detail has become evident in the branches of the trees and the look like they are jumping out of the surface of the print.

My next video’s scheduled for Thursday 13th September at 15:30 (UK time). This one is discussing installing Lightroom Presets as there’s big problem. A lot of people are having difficulty installing these since Adobe changed the format and location of the presets. The old “recommended” method of installing presets doesn’t work with Lightroom version 7.3 or later. In the video I explain why and what to do instead.

I hope you enjoy these.

Friday Image No.196


Peak District. Nikon D800, 16-35 Nikon lens, ISO50, f/18.0, 1.3″. Tripod, Polarising filter and 3 stop ND filter.

I do hope you aren’t getting tired of these Peak District and heather images. The season for shooting heather is past us now but I still wanted to share another photo. I captured this in the Peak District, just above the Surprise View car park. I couldn’t resist the clump of heather, trees and bracken all blowing in the wind.

It was quite tricky to find all the elements in a composition that worked where I could place a rock in the foreground. The reason I needed the rock is to emphasise the movement in the other elements and show that the camera is steady. The still rock makes a nice contrast to the foreground heather blowing in the wind.

When I shot this, I had in my mind that I would convert it to black and white. I’m not sure why but I had a black and white image in my head. Now that I’ve seen it I’ve completely changed my mind; it’s a colour image. I did briefly toy with the black and white conversion, but it looked dreadful.

To boost the image colour and exaggerate the movement I used a polarising filter and 3 stop Kase Wolverine filter. I’ve been using Kase filters for almost a year now and I must admit they have exceeded all my expectations. I do still have my Lee 100mm and Lee Seven 5 filters, but I only use the Seven 5 filters. The Seven 5 system is so convenient for the smaller format cameras.

I’m off now to continue working on the Lenscraft Newsletter for tomorrow.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Friday Image No.195


The Peak District, Nikon D800, Nikon 16-35 at 30mm, 1/3″ at f/18.0. Kase Wolverine 0.9 Soft ND Grad, Tripod.

I’ll start with an apology that I haven’t posted to the blog this week. I’ve been out taking photos (that’s what I’m supposed to do after all) and working on the Lenscraft website.

If you follow my YouTube Channel you will already have seen todays Friday Image. I won’t make any apologies for this though as I really like the shot. I’ve wanted to photograph this scene with heather for some years, but I never seem to time it quite right. This year is probably the best I’ve managed, but the heather isn’t brilliant, probably because of all the dry weather we had earlier in the year.

If you haven’t seen my video showing the processing of this shot and you’re a Nik Collection user, it’s worth watching (but I would say that). I do everything in Color Efex Pro, just to demonstrate the potential of the filters.

Now that I think about it, I probably need to reprocess the photo using more tools.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Image No.194


Bamford Edge, The Peak District.
Bamford Edge, The Peak District. Complete with flowering heather and rainbow. Nikon D800, 24-120mm lens, ISO100, 1/50″ at f/11.0. Handheld.

I was out at Bamford Edge last night with a friend. It’s somewhere that I have wanted to photograph for a long time. Despite living only 50 minutes away and walking regularly in the area, I have never been. But with the heather being out, I couldn’t miss the opportunity.

In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve only ever seen one shot from the area which is usually at sunset looking over to Ladybower Reservoir. But what a surprise and what a great location this is. I could have spent many more hours up there except that it went dark. I’m definitely going to be returning.

On reviewing my images, I decided I’m not going to share the usual view. Instead I have this one looking in the opposite direction.

I hope you have a great weekend. I’m off to photograph more heather.

I Bought a Lensbaby


Flower shot with the Lensbaby Composer Pro Sweet 35
The only flower I could find was a weed. Fuji X-T2 with Lensbaby Composer Pro Sweet 35. ISO800, 1/8″. Can’t recall the aperture and it’s not recorded.

Recently, I decided to buy a Lensbaby for my Fuji X-T2. I’m not really sure why, but I had this idea that I wanted to do some macro work with it. I’ve seen some great flower shots done with a Lensbaby in the past and thought, with all the nice weather it would be good to try my hand at some.

If you’re not familiar with Lensbaby, they started life selling a very simple lens which you can tilt. This distorts much of the image except for a sharp area which you can position. If you know about the Holga plastic film cameras, the effect isn’t too dissimilar. As the Lensbaby became popular they brought out more variants as well as serious lenses.

The model I purchased was the Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Sweet 35. The Sweet is the lens that has a sweet spot that you can move around the frame. What I like about the Composer Pro is that you can buy separate optics to use with it. That’s fortunate as I now think I would have preferred a 50mm lens rather than the 35mm I purchased. I also bought the macro adapter, so I can use the lens close for flower shots. This is a nice idea and is nothing more than a simple extension tube.

Did I do the right thing?

Currently I’m undecided. I realise it’s a gimmick and so needs to be used carefully. It’s well made but at the same time expensive for what it is.

I think ultimately what’s bothering me is that I have only been out with it once and it rained all day. In fact, since I bought the Lensbaby, the weather seems to have taken a turn for the worse and there’s no flowers out. Perhaps it will come in handy for photographing the heather.

Making Mirrorless Work

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