I have decided to give away my bestselling book in March. On the 14th and 15th March 2015 you will be able to download “Essential Photoshop” for FREE on Amazon (here is the link for Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk). It’s intended to take you from knowing very little to having a good grounding in the key adjustment skills every photographer needs. So if you don’t already have this book grab yourself a free copy on one of these two days (depending on your country or time zone you may need to be patient as there can be some variation in the exact time the book becomes free).
Now I do want to ask a favour in return but it’s not a tough one – please share this blog post with every photographer you know so that they can also take advantage of the free download. Let people know in any way you can that the book will be free on the 14th and 15 March. Post the news on facebook, tweet it, share it on forums, send an email, perhaps even resort to just telling people.
Thanks and I hope you enjoy the book.
This week’s Friday image comes from my recent trip to the UK Lake District. I post this not because it’s a great image but because I started playing around with the RX10 image to see how much detail I could pull out of the image and also how much I could enlarge it by. The results have surprised me but I will save them for another time.
In the course of this processing “play time” I applied Topaz Detail to emphasise the detail in the grass and rocks. It made an amazing difference to the image detail but it also allowed me to make some adjustments to the colour that really lifted the image. I then went on to convert the image to black and white, first using Alien Skin Exposure 7 and the my old favourite, Nik Silver Efex Pro. Sometimes it just great to play with some of the wonderful software tools we now have.
I hope you like the images and have a great weekend everyone.
I mentioned in my last blog that I had been using the Sony RX10 exclusively over the last week and in doing so I noticed a few things about how to get a good exposure. Here is what I learned:
When the highlights clip they literally fall of a cliff. This can make the areas around the blown highlights appear very ugly. The Olympus EM5 highlights by contrast seem to behave much more like film, which seem to be more gradual.
One of the features of the RX10 is that you can display “zebras” in the live view. These “zebras” show you where the scene is exceeding the dynamic range of the sensor and the highlights are blown. You can also set the level of this so that you see a warning before the damage is done. For my camera I have this set at 100%+ so that if I see zebras I know there is clipping which as mentioned above can look quite ugly. I do this because I shoot RAW and can usually recover some of the damage.
What I have found is that there just isn’t much headroom in the RAW files beyond the zebras so you need to take care. With most cameras I have found I can expose to the right (deliberately overexpose the image) and then correct this by careful processing of the RAW file. This typically results in a higher quality image with less shadow noise and more detail. With the Sony RX10 this doesn’t seem to be the case and leaving the camera to calculate the exposure without any compensation seems to render very good images.
So how much can I over expose the image by? Well it seems to be only 2/3 of a stop. BUT a nice feature I have noticed is that the histogram that you can display whilst taking the image seems to reflect what is being captured in the RAW file whilst the zebras seem to indicate where the JPEG file will blow the highlights. I have noticed that I can be showing the warning zebras (set at 100%) but the histogram shows no clipping. The JPEG will show clipping but when I get the RAW file into Lightroom I can fully recover the problem areas.
Hope this helps other Sony RX10 owners out there.
You might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything over this past week. That’s because I have been taking a break in the Lake District enjoying some walking and a little photography. I had with me a range of cameras (you never quite know what you will need):
- Sony RX10
- Olympus EM5
- Panasonic GM1 (including a new 35-100 lens I have just purchased)
- Canon G16
I started the week using the RX10 as the weather was looking quite changeable and it’s easy to push the camera under a coat. I also didn’t want to be bothered keep changing lenses which is quite a pain when out on the hills. As a backup I had the GM1 in my backpack.
By the end of the week, interestingly, I had only used the RX10. I must admit that some of the images were a little blurred due to camera shake but I just shot a few of each composition to ensure I had at least one good image.
If you had asked me at the start of the week I would never have predicted that I would use the RX10 exclusively. I must admit that I loved it and best of all I learned a few new points about how the camera seems to work out exposures. I will share these with you in my next post.
It seems like ages since I have been able to post a Friday Image as there has always been something that got in the way. Hopefully things are improving after all the website issues. I also promise to catch up with the backlog of email queries people have been sending me but please be patient and I will be in touch. I do like to respond to everyone but it does take quite a bit of time.
I hope you like the image and have a great weekend everyone.
I’ve had the RX10 for around 14 months now so I should be in a position to say if it’s a good camera or not. Had you asked me this question 12 months ago I would probably have said (if I was being totally truthful) that it was a bit of a letdown.
You see my expectations were way too high having previously owned a Sony R1. The reason I expected so much was that the R1 had an amazing lens and the RX10 looked pretty much identical. It’s a huge Zeiss lens with a tiny sensor bolted to the back and a bit of a grip to hold on to. It won’t win any awards for being beautiful but it certainly feels good in the hands.
Part of the reason I felt let down also was that the EM5 produces such sharp, crisp, detailed images. I had dearly wanted the RX10 to produce the same “quality” but it doesn’t. It also has corners that are a little distorted and soft in comparison. What I had failed to realise and what only dawned on me when I bought the Nikon D800 is that most cameras suffer from this. In fact the RX10 is a very good performer, it’s just different. In fact, I’m now really quite pleased with the image quality I am able to achieve. The images make lovely prints all the way up to A2 (I haven’t tried anything larger).
But it’s not the image quality that I like, it’s the handling. It’s very easy and intuitive to use. I like the aperture ring on the body of the lens (isn’t this something we had on all lenses at one time). I also like the huge zoom range from 24mm to 200mm and the fast f/2.8 constant maximum aperture. It even has a great battery life.
In all, this is a very impressive camera and great when you don’t want to carry around multiple lenses. I am starting to find myself reaching for this camera more and more, especially when I am out walking.
I’m pleased to announce that my new book is now available on amazon. It’s titled “Beginning photography the right way: Taking control of the camera”. I decided to write this book following many conversations with photographers, some quite experienced experience, who really didn’t understand the core skills of camera control.
Whilst they knew about terms such as aperture and shutter speed they didn’t appreciate how these could be used creatively in their work. Typically when shooting landscapes they might stop their aperture down as small as possible and make comments such as this was to maximise image sharpness.
This book tries to set people on the right track with the essential knowledge required to use their cameras in the creative mode and covers the essential camera skills every photographer should learn.