Tag Archives: digital photography

More Landscape Photography from the Scottish Highlands

Lake Assynt, Scotland. Three shot panoramic with a Fuji X-T3. See below for full description.

Today I wanted to share another image from my recent Scotland trip. I suspect there will be a few more yet to come. Originally, I had intended this to be a black and white shot, but it doesn’t work as well when converted. The problem is that the trees become lost against the background.

To be entirely honest, it doesn’t quite work in colour either, but the scene is so tranquil that I still love it. Had I been able to, I would have liked a little more height so that I would be looking down on the island. This would have placed the trees against the water, balancing them with the reflection. Unfortunately, I was already on the highest point; such is the challenge of landscape photography.

I shot the image using a Fuji X-T3 camera. In case you’re wondering, yes, I do think it’s an improvement on the X-T2 but it’s difficult to put into words why. It just is. I was using a Fuji 18-55 lens which is the kit lens that came with my X-T2 and is simply excellent. I also used a Kase 0.9 ND Graduated filter which I inverted to darken the light reflecting off the water in the foreground (I appear to be using the Soft ND Grad filters a lot more these days). Without this the exposure became too unbalanced. I had the camera mounted on a tripod to capture three frames of 1/17” at f/11.0 using ISO160 (the base ISO on the X-T3).

I then stitched the three frames to a panoramic using Adobe Lightroom. I used the Pro Contrast filter in Nik Color Efex Pro to fine tune the colour balance after which the Detail Extractor filter to open the shadows in the land. I then enhanced the Contrast and Structure of the foreground in Nik Viveza. This may sound like a lot of processing, but the changes were all very minor and subtle.

DxO Sale and the Nik Collection Free

I had an email earlier this week from DxO announcing their 30% sale on all their products until the 14th May 19. I wanted to share it in case anyone waiting for a DxO sale had missed the announcement. Unfortunately, the sale doesn’t appear to extend to the Nik Collection which I used for editing the image above.

But did you know you can still get the Nik Collection for free?

Whilst this is the old Google edition of the software it still works well for lots of people. It also appears that it’s not common knowledge how to do this, so I’ve published an article explaining how.

That’s all for now.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Friday Image No.193

Steam at Seatoller, The Lake District.
Steam at Seatoller, The Lake District. Fuji X-T2, 16-55mm lens, ISO100, 2.3″ at f/11.0.

Last weekend I headed up to the Lake District with my friend Steve. This trip was a little different as we were going to meet up with our friend Ed who we hadn’t seen for four years. To mark the occasion, we decided to explore some new areas around Derwent Water that we might not usually visit. The image here is from one of those.

The weather wasn’t kind to us (I blame Ed as the weather is his line of work) and it rained for much of the day. We decided to shoot near to Honister Pass to explore some woodland that Steve and I had seen previously but were unable to stop the car. This time we found where to park and were able to scramble down to the river.

Initially, I had thought this was going to be black and white shot, but I now like the colour conversion. I have done very little to this image other than applying a Kodak Ektar film simulation in Alien Skin Exposure X3. After that, I added a vignette and positioned the centre of this in the lower third of the frame.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

Finding Hidden Gems in Your Work

Bamburgh, Northumberland.
Bamburgh, Northumberland. Canon 5D MKII, ISO50, f/18, 1.6″

Back in winter 2013, I visited Bamburgh in Northumberland with a friend. We had both been to the area quite a few times and we had high hopes for our trip. As we made our way down to the beach for what we were sure would be an amazing sunrise, our expectations were sky high. As it turned out, there was some faint colour in the otherwise stormy sky and we found ourselves battered by the wind and rain.

The following day was equally disappointing but for different reasons. We went down to the beach again and readied ourselves for the sunrise. It was already raining hard and the wind was making it very difficult to shoot, even with a sturdy tripod. We sat in the car wondering what to do, waiting for the last moment when, if the sun broke through we would run down and catch the scene.

What happened next was amazing. The sun did break through and lasted only a few minutes, but the sunrise was like nothing I have never seen before. It was as if a weeks’ worth of amazing sunrises were compressed into a few minutes. If I described the scene as nuclear it would not be an understatement. But I’m not going to show the shots from that sunrise. They simply look unreal. The best word I can use to describe the images now is vulgar. Even the unprocessed RAW files look fake.

What I am sharing though is one of the many “failed” images from the first morning. I happened across this image looking for examples to use in my Nik Silver Efex book (I decided the original needs an update).

But here’s the interesting things. There were dozens of great images from that first morning and I had been blind to them. I suspect the disappointment of the trip lingered long in my memory

when it failed to meet expectations. It’s only now when I come to work on the image, having separated myself from the shooting, that I can really see the beauty of the morning.

It’s always worth checking your old archives.

Friday Image No. 192.

Stairs in the Maritime Museum, Amsterdam
Stairs in the Maritime Museum, Amsterdam. Fuji X-T2, 18-135 lens, ISO200, 1/100″ at f/5.6. Post processing with Nik Silver Efex Pro.

After a short break in Amsterdam last week, I’m now getting back into the groove of doing some work.

This week’s Friday image is one I shot whilst I was in Amsterdam (what a great city and nice people by the way – I’m definitely going to return for another visit). This shot isn’t what first springs to mind when you think about Amsterdam, but the view really caught my attention.

These stairs were inside the maritime museum. As you walked out onto the landing there were stairs leading down both sides before meeting on the landing of the next floor. As I walked down the stairs I couldn’t help but feel I had stepped into the Relativity drawing by Escher.

Correcting the perspective on this image was a little tricky and I can’t quite get it perfect. I did the conversion to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro and tried hard to emphasise the lines of the stairs.

I hope you like the shot and have a great weekend.

No Friday Image

Water Tower at Spurn Point.
Water Tower at Spurn Point. Nikon D800, 24-120mm Nikon f/4 lens, ISO100, 1/160″ at f/13. Conversion to B&W in Nik Silver Efex Pro.

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you will have noticed there wasn’t a Friday Image last week. This is because I was in Amsterdam for a short break with my wife where we also met up with our daughter, her husband and our grandson. We returned on Saturday and I headed over to Spurn Point with a friend on Sunday.

As a lot of readers won’t be familiar with the area I should explain. On the North East coast of the UK we have the large city and port of Hull. If you travel through Hull and out to the end of the Humber Estuary you will come to Spurn Point, which is a tidal sand island. There isn’t much there except a lighthouse, Lifeboat Station and this old water tower.

Our intention had been to shoot some of the sea defences there. The weather had forecast cloudy and we thought it sounded promising. Unfortunately, the forecast was wrong. The sky was clear blue with the exception of a few wispy clouds on the horizon. The sea defences will be worth shooting in the future but not in the conditions we had.

When I spotted this water tower I could immediately see the potential for converting it to mono. What surprised me thought was that the colour version is quite nice.

Colour image prior to conversion with Nik Silver Efex Pro.

I also need to admit to something as a few of you will spot this and ask questions. I have bought another Nikon D800. The camera was an absolute bargain; it looks like new and has only a few thousand on the shutter count.

The last time I bought a D800 I hated it and sold it 4 months later. This time, I’m really enjoying it. The difference seems to be the lenses I bought. One of the lenses is a 24-120mm f/4.0 which this image was captured with. With this on the camera, I’m finding it a pleasure to use. It also has VR which allows me to shoot at surprisingly slow shutter speeds. This is never going to be my main camera (I like the Fuji X-T2 too much) but it’s very impressive and the results are excellent.

The Drobo is Back

Newlands Valley, The Lake District.
Newlands Valley, The Lake District. Fuji X-T2, 18-135 lens, ISO200, 1/220″ at f/10.0. Post processing in Nik Silver Efex Pro.

After all my recent problems the Drobo is now back up and running. BUT, it only using three disks and not four.

In my previous post on the subject I mentioned that I had to return one of the replacement 3TB drives that had failed. To replace that drive, I ordered a new 4TB from Amazon. When this drive arrived, I tried to add it to the Drobo, but it didn’t seem to fit. It was actually loose in the drive bay.

After some head scratching as to the problem, I compared the drive to one of the old drives and realised it wasn’t as high. It wasn’t the standard size for a 3.5” disk drive. Checking Amazon there was nothing to indicate the unusual size but looking at the physical dimensions of the drive it listed the height as 2cm. Checking other 3.5” drives I realised they were all listed as 2.7cm.

So be warned, if you’re buying additional drives for your Drobo or NAS, check the height of the drive. There are now slimline disks on the market and they don’t fit standard drive bays.

I will pick up a fourth drive at some point, but I just wanted to get the Drobo up and running. I have now copied my backup onto the Drobo and recovered as many images as possible from my formatted memory cards. I’m missing a couple of hundred images but more annoyingly a lot of video I shot for a future YouTube posting. At least the bulk of my images are safe though and I hope you like this one.

Friday Image No.190

View down to Honister Pass from Dale Head, Lake District, Cumbria, UK.
View down to Honister Pass from Dale Head, Lake District. Fuji X-T2, Fuji 18-135 lens, ISO200, f/11.0, 1/125″.

If you know the Lake District, you will know there are a few amazing passes to drive:

  • Wrynose/Hardknott
  • Kirkstone
  • Honister

Whilst these passes are spectacular, you might not realise the best view is often above you.

The image here is looking down onto Honister Pass from the summit of Dale Head (753m). It doesn’t sound much but it can be a bit of a slog when you have walked around the other hills in the Newlands Horseshoe. You can see the road and the river running in parallel along the valley and in the distance is Buttermere.

Despite having walked the rout several times, this is one of the best views I have experienced. In the past it’s often been foggy or raining hard with poor visibility.

Initially I thought this would be a colour shot but then I tried the black and white conversion and thought, that’s the one. In case you’re interested, here is the colour version.

View down to Honister Pass from Dale Head, Lake District.
Colour version of the image.

Have a great weekend.

PS My Lenscraft July newsletter is out tomorrow.