Landscape Photography

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.

Free Book Offer – This Weekend

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Mastering Your Camera
Mastering Your Camera. Free Book Offer

This weekend my book “Mastering your Camera” is available for free. It’s only available on the Saturday and Sunday (25th and 26th March) so be sure to pick up a copy. And don’t forget to let your friends know.

Here is the link to book but you can also find it by searching for the title.

Mastering Your Camera

If you find the book isn’t immediately free in your Amazon store, try again a little later. I understand the timing of the offer is based on one of the US time zones. I know last time I did a free offer, people in Australia and New Zealand hand to wait until the following day to take advantage.

Important

Although this is a Kindle eBook, you don’t need to own a Kindle to read it. Many people miss out as they don’t realise there is a free Kindle software from Amazon. This allows you to read Kindle books on various devices including PC’s, Mac’s tablets and phones. My personal favourite is my phone. It works very well and is with me most of the time.

If you haven’t seen the Kindle software before, here is the link.

Link to Kindle Software & Apps

Enjoy.

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Friday Image No.129

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Somewhere in the Borders of Scotland. Three image stitch taken with the Fuji X-T2 + 18-55mm lens. 1/105″ at f/11 and ISO200. 0.6 ND Graduated filter.

A couple of weeks back I showed a Friday Image that was a little different. It featured some grass on a beach, bathed in lovely evening light. This time I would like to share another very simple image. It’s a little different from the last but I find it very calming.

It’s three images taken with the Fuji X-T2 and which have been stitched in Lightroom. The bulk of the editing required was to switch the Camera Profile from Adobe Standard to Fuji Provia.

I hope you like it and have a great weekend.

Friday Image No. 128

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The Roaches in the The Peak District. Three images with the Fuji X-T2 merged in Lightroom to a panorama. Post processing in Nik Silver Efex Pro.
The Roaches in the The Peak District. Three images with the Fuji X-T2 merged in Lightroom to a panorama. Post processing in Nik Silver Efex Pro.

If you have been watching my You Tube channel, you may have seen this image already. It’s 3 images shot with the Fuji X-T2 which were stitched together in Lightroom. I then processed them using Nik Silver Efex Pro and a Film Noire preset. The results looked a little too strong for my taste so I backed off a little and opened some of the rock detail in the foreground a little.

The results were OK but I felt the image processing was a little forced, as though I were searching for something without having a clear starting vision. Then something odd happened. I returned to the image the following day and I really liked it. Now the more I look at it, the more I’m drawn into it.

I hope you like it and have a great weekend.

Return of the RX10

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La Rochelle, France. This is a 5 image sequence shot on the Sony RX10 and stitched in Lightroom. ISO80, f/5.6, 1/640″. Click the image to view a larger version of the file.

I previously commented on how my beloved RX10 was struck down by mould. This was on the front element of the lens and was inside a (supposedly) sealed unit. Rather than taking this to Sony for a repair I went to The Real Camera Company in Manchester. One of their engineers has now replaced the affected unit and the camera is back with me in a little over a week from my authorising the repair.

Whilst the camera has been away for repair it felt like I had lost something quite major. I had been used to taking the RX10 out on hikes across the moors where I live. The alternative was to take the Fuji X-T2 or Olympus EM5, both of which produce higher quality images than the RX10. Despite this, the inconvenience of never having the right lens on the camera at the point you want to use it, or needing to change lenses and filters frequently in the field was what can only be described as a pain in the butt.

The RX10 produces excellent detail and sharpness in the central area of the frame, but it softens near the edges and distorts a little in the corners (at the wide-angle end of the lens range). I suspect much of this is due to a lot of lens correction being applied in software. Despite this, the camera is a joy to use and produces images which have a lovely feel to them. The convenience of having a 24-200 focal length in a constant f2.8 lens, all bolted onto a 1” sensor is a great combination, especially when out walking.

So far, I have only taken a few test shots in the garden to check the camera functions correctly (it does.) I’m really looking forward to some good weather to put the RX10 through its paces. I would also like to say well done to The Real Camera company for their help and a job well done.

Friday Image No.127

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Grass and dunes at sunset. Fuji X-T2 with 18-55 lens at 44mm. 1/1250" at f4.0, ISO200.
Grass and dunes at sunset. Fuji X-T2 with 18-55 lens at 44mm. 1/1250″ at f4.0, ISO200.

I’m sat here this evening searching my images to find a Friday image to share. As I do so, the overwhelming feeling I have is that all the images are too “in your face”. They are all competing too hard for my attention and as a result none of them hold it.

But with Yin there must be Yang (my Tai Chi teacher would be impressed) and this image has subtly held my attention. I remember at the time the vivid, sunset light falling onto this grass as I walked through the dunes. I decided to make the grass and consequently light the centre of attention. To retain a sense of place I included the sea in the background but deliberately threw it out of focus. You know it’s a beach at sunset but if I didn’t tell you it was Bamburgh, you wouldn’t known.

Ultimately, the more I look at this image, the greater the feeling and sense of place it evokes. That’s very odd for a generic beach scene at sunset. Then again, perhaps it’s because I was there and it doesn’t do anything for you.

Apologies for my ramblings. I hope you have a great weekend.