Landscape Photography

Manmade Fascination

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Ogden near to Newhey (North West England). Sony RX10 with 0.6 ND grad filter.

I’m pretty sure most of the regular readers of this blog can see that my passion is the beauty of the natural landscape. What many probably don’t realise is that I have a fascination for manmade objects that have become part of the landscape. Don’t ask me to explain why or how this developed, I just know that some objects in the landscape catch my attention.

The image above is one example. Every time I pass this group of Pylons I spend time trying to capture them with pleasing compositions. I used to think of these as being ugly and a blot on the otherwise perfect landscape. Now I see them and find the interesting. I’m not yet sure I can call these pylons beautiful but they are a challenge to photograph and create interesting shapes.

The wind turbines that now litter our moorland and coastline are similar. I used to think they are ugly but now find them almost majestic. I even included a full-length editing example in one of my books for a wind turbine image.

Does anyone else find these things interesting or is it just me?

Friday Image No.132

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Minimal Landsape. Fuji X-T2 + Fuji 18-55 lens. F/11.0, 1/60″ at ISO200.

It’s been another hectic and busy week. Wednesday evening was spent over at Llandudno Photographic Society giving a presentation on Landscape Photography and editing with Nik tools. Thank you very much to everyone who attended for giving me a great welcome.

Following this, it was over to Penmon the following morning to shoot some beach detail. Unfortunately, this was a complete failure as the video (hopefully coming soon) will demonstrate.

One thing that has worked out well this past week though is the new, improved website infrastructure. In the past I have received a few complaints about the slow speed of Lenscraft in some countries. I have tried all sorts of things to correct this but never seem to be completely successful. I can see that the UK and some European countries perform well but people in Australia have really been suffering.

Now I think I have cracked it by moving the site onto CloudFlare. The bounce rate (% of people who land on the site and then leave without doing anything) has fallen dramatically. I’m also seeing countries such as Australia, Canada and Brazil spend much more time. It’s early days but I am hopeful. Best of all, the site security is also reinforced.

With the week being so busy, I decided I wanted to share a very minimal image. I spotted this one when out for a walk with my wife. I shot it back in February and then ignored it. Now seeing it again, I quite like it. I also like the way that the Fuji RAW files need only a few tweaks in Lightroom to make them shine.

I hope you like it also and have a great weekend.

Friday Image No.131

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Ponta de Sao Lourenco, Madeira
Eastern end of Madeira, Ponta de Sao Lourenco. Olympus EM5, 12-40 lens, f/7.1, 1/400″ @ ISO200

For this week’s Friday image, I wanted to share another from my recent trip to the island of Madeira. This image is taken from the eastern edge of the island where a long strip of land juts out into the sea. This is taken towards the end of the strip, looking back towards the main part of the island. It’s quite dramatic to be standing on a relatively narrow strip of sea cliffs, able to look down on the sea to either side. Damned windy as well.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Checking my RX10

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Derwent Valley, The Peak District. Sony RX10 with 0.6 ND Graduated Filter

A few weeks back I wrote about my Sony RX10 and how it had to be repaired. The front element had a problem with mould growing on the inside and given the front element is part of a sealed unit ,the entire unit had to be replaced. Rather than use a Sony repair centre I opted to use The Real Camera Company in Manchester. These guys really know their stuff; I purchased my Bronica SQAi kit from them about a year ago.

Having received my repaired RX10, I have been unable to test it properly due to a combination of the weather, a trip to Madeira and having too much work on. At the weekend though I decided to take a walk in the Peak District and took the RX10 along in the hope of giving it a try. As it turned out, the weather wasn’t that good, clouding over quite heavily, and I didn’t shoot any great images. The image at the top of this page is probably the best.

What the trip did allow me to do was evaluate the replaced lens. In short, I’m very pleased. It’s as sharp as my previous lens and I’m confident that the results are much better. The corners are still a little soft, but the central part of the image appears excellent. The other point that I noticed is that more distant detail is now being retained better than with the old lens. Previously, you could see the finer details such as grass and rock turn soft. Now this isn’t noticeable.

I’m feeling very happy about my decision to have the camera repaired – it was certainly cheaper than replacing it. Could I do without the RX10? Yes. Do I want to? No way, it’s a brilliant camera and perfect for a walk in the countryside.

Friday Image No.131

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Madeira cliffs. Olympus EM5 converted to Infrared.

For this Friday’s Image, I thought I would share another of the images from my recent trip to Madeira. Whilst the weather at the time might not have been perfect, the landscape is amazing. Look at the image above. This was the view from one of the coastal paths we were walking at a height of around 400m.

The weather for this shot was a combination of humid haze and rain. My standard Olympus EM5 couldn’t see the distant hills so I switched to my infrared converted EM5. This seemed to fair much better and could cut through the haze to some degree. I’m pleased that it did as the landscape was quite breath taking.

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

Alternatives To The Creative Cloud 2

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Blencathera, The Lake District. Captured as a RAW file using the Olympus EM5 and processed in Exposure.

A little while back I published a post concerning alternatives to the Adobe Creative Cloud. Whilst many people love using Lightroom and Photoshop (myself included) some don’t like the Adobe Subscription model. Today I will share the first alternative that might appeal to some of you; Exposure from Alien Skin.

I suspect many people reading this won’t have come across Exposure, or perhaps I should say Exposure X2 which is the latest release. Of those that have, you might be forgiven for thinking of it as a plug-in for Lightroom and Photoshop. Indeed, it can be used as an enhancement filter but it’s also a standalone solution.

The Browser is reasonably quick and allows for basic flagging and tagging of images. You are then able to filter the images in a folder based on flag, colour or star rating. This is all basic stuff but if you organise your images based on date shot and don’t need to add keywords, it might be all you need.

Exposure will read a range of image file formats including RAW. It would though seem to be limited to RAW files it recognises as my older version, Exposure X doesn’t recognise my Fuji X-T2 RAW images (the new X2 version of the software will though).

When editing images in Exposure you can take two approaches. The easy way is to use one of the many film pre-sets that ship with the software. In all honesty, I think these are brilliant and will produce a digital rendering very much like the films they simulate. It’s very quick to achieve good results with the pre-sets and you can also create and save your own.

The other alternative is to use the editing tools of which there are many. These are well thought out and surprisingly flexible. For example, you have a film grain tool that allows you to simulate different film sizes, roughness, colour variations, processing and then apply this in varying levels to the shadows, midtones or highlights. The tools are developed well beyond Lightroom in some respects.

In addition to the usual editing tools there are several special effects that can be applied to simulate all manner of old film effects such as light leaks, scratches, fading etc. My personal favourite is the Infrared processing that simulates the halation effect found in infrared films such as Kodak HIE. I use this tool frequently when processing my digital IR images.

If you haven’t guessed by now, Exposure is very much a film simulation tool but despite this you can create some very impressive adjustments. The limitation of the older versions (such as mine) is that the adjustments are global. With the new X2 version you also gain access to a layers feature which includes layer masking. I suspect this alone will persuade me to upgrade in the near future. There are also other feature which move the software towards being a one stop image editor.

I have been using Exposure since version 5 (that’s about 5 versions back) and I really like the results that can be achieved. The images you can produce have a feeling of maturity and sophistication that is difficult to explain. Where Exposure scores highly in my opinion though is in Black and White conversion and vintage film effects.

Newlands Valley, The Lake District. Captured with the Olympus EM5 and converted for a vintage photo look with Exposure X.

If you are looking for an alternative to the standard Creative Cloud tools, this is one worth evaluating.

Friday Image No.130

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Clearing Storm in Madeira. Olympus EM5, Olympus 12-40mm, ISO200, f/7.1, 1/320″.

I’m hoping you haven’t noticed, but this past couple of weeks has seen me take a holiday. I say I hope you haven’t noticed as I tried hard to keep the blog up to date with posts and replies to comments.

My break has taken me to the island of Madeira where I was trekking in the hills. It’s my first time to the island and whilst the holiday was good the weather wasn’t. I believe our flight was the last to land for a couple of days and some members of the walking party were severely delayed.

Despite the poor weather, the trip was very enjoyable. The weather conditions also created the opportunity for a bit of photography with my trust Olympus EM5. The image above is just one of the stunning locations on the island.

If all you Fuji shooters are now screaming why didn’t he take the X-T2, the answer is size. I can easily fit the EM5 together with three lenses into a small shoulder bag. This makes trekking with a full backpack and taking pictures very easy. There is no way the X-T2 with three similar lenses would fit in such a small pack.

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