I have written here many times about my love of software used in the image creation process and in particular filters. But this wasn’t always the way. At one time I was a hard core Photoshop users and believed there was very little any filter could do that I could do using Photoshop.
But times have changed and filters have developed substantially. I no longer view filters as a way of taking money from less experienced users but as a way of making advanced image editing accessible to everyone. Most importantly, filters now allow you to make complex, advanced edits to your images very quickly and with little learning. This is the essence of Lightweight Image Editing.
Despite my early dislike for filters, there were some that I owned and use. These were tools such as Neat Image for noise reduction, Genuine Fractals for image enlargements, Topaz Detail and Enhance, Contrast Master from PhotoWiz and a very good masking tool that I can’t recall the name of. Over time I began to favour some of these tools over others, ultimately standardizing much of my work on the Nik Efex range of plug-ins.
But I’m now reconsidering my standardizing on Nik and have started to use OnOne software Photo suite once more. Whilst Nik tools are excellent and very flexible, I have found the need to be careful when editing image files from Micro 43 cameras. These files seem to have a “noise pattern” that would become emphasised when the image was edited using some Nik filters (and it’s not just Nik tools). The difference I found with OnOne Photo Suite 10 is that I can make quite extensive and strong edits without negatively affecting the image quality.
At the moment I am only really using the Effects module but the results are very impressive. Best of all, if you’re not familiar with the software, there is a free version you can download from the OnOne site
Whilst this doesn’t provide all the filters of the full version, it does include some excellent and very useful ones. If like me you like to use software as part of the creative photographic process, this is well worth looking at.
I have to admit that I have never been very good at taking detail shots. I’m not talking here about macro work but about identifying and shooting abstract details and patterns close up. This is the sort of work that photographers such as David Ward have become well known for. It’s not that I don’t appreciate this work, I do; I am actually in awe of people who are able to do this well. I simply struggle to create something pleasant myself.
When I look back at the times I have tried this in the past, I seem to struggle to visualise and spot the opportunities. I think this is partly because much of this type of work uses a square format. As much as I like the square format, finding it very balanced, I can’t seem to create compositions within it myself. If I do happen to spot something I then find it difficult to translate this into a composition on the camera. My shots never looked quite right.
Recently however I took a trip to Whitby with some photography friends. When the conditions became less than ideal for Landscape work we switched to trying to capture details on the beach. Typically this would be things such as sand patterns and rock details. At first I tried using my DSLR (which I have now sold) but then switched to using the GX1 Micro 43 and Sony RX100 compact camera. Suddenly I found this world opened up to me simply because I wasn’t hunched uncomfortably over a tripod trying to use a DSLR.
I found that I was able to visualise and compose much better images by holding the camera away from me and using the image on the back of screen as feedback. Whilst I still struggled to compose images within a square frame, at least I was able to see and appreciate this. I then switched format and surprisingly (because you don’t see it often with detail shots) I found the 16:9 format much more rewarding.
Whilst I still have a way to go with producing this sort of work I have at least captured some images that I might be happy to share. I will also be trying this type of photography much more in the future.