Tag Archives: Landscape Photography

Friday Image on Saturday – oops

The Scottish Highlands. Four image stitch using a Fuji X-T3 and 50-200 lens. ISO160, 1/25″ at f/11.0. Tripod mounted and Kase 0.9 ND Soft Grad filter.

I’m starting with an apology for not posting this week’s Friday Image on a Friday.

The past week has been rather frantic with quite a few time critical things:

  1. The Lenscraft June newsletter needed finishing and publishing. If you haven’t subscribed, you can read it here (https://lenscraft.co.uk/photography-tutorials/read-lenscraft-in-focus-photography-newsletter/).
  2. This week’s YouTube video tutorial explaining how to use the Nik Collection from Capture One needed publishing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XipDxh7tlbM&t=19s).
  3. I had to launch my new Luminosity Masking course. The course is only a month late but, in my defence, it’s almost 5 hours of video. You can find out more and watch three preview lessons here (https://lenscraft.teachable.com/p/the-photographers-guide-to-using-luminosity-masks/).
  4. Unusually I needed to prepare next week’s YouTube video a week in advance. This is a big review, but I can’t reveal any more at this time. The video goes out on Wednesday at 14:15 UK time so if you don’t already subscribe to my YouTube channel you may want to consider it.

But let’s get back to the image.

This is yet another image from my Scotland trip. I shot it just after dawn and as you can see the sun is just creeping up over the horizon. It’s a stitch panoramic created from 4 shots with the X-T3 in a horizontal format.

I had the camera mounted on a tripod that I had spent quite a bit of time getting level. This allowed me to pan the camera across the range without it dipping to one side. This was important because the lens, a Fuji 55-200 was at the 200mm end because I was so far from the mountain range. I had my doubts that this would create a usable image, but I’m really pleased with the finished result.

In terms of filters, I was using a Kase 0.9 (3 stop) soft graduate over the sky. Ordinarily, I don’t like to use a filter when there is a lot of clear sky in the frame as it can make it appear unnatural. But in this shot, I needed anything to help me prevent the image from having too much contrast. I also had to tackle the problem of potential underexposure which I did by having the camera in manual mode.

The finished image is sizable. If I printed it at 240dpi it would be 47” x 17” without any resizing.

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

Shooting the Dawn Landscape at Mellon Udrigle

Pre-dawn at Mellon Udrigle, Scotland. Fuji X-T3, 16-55 Fuji Lens, ISO160, 20″ at f/11.0. Kase Wolverine 0.9 Soft Grad filter. Tripod mounted.

I said in my previous post that I had a few more images from my recent Scotland trip. This shot is one of them. I took it at a location called Mellon Udrigle which was around an hour drive from Ullapool in daylight. That might not sound like much but when you want to be in position by 6:00am, it makes for a long day. The drives also lengthened by the need to keep a look out for deer which emerge from the side of the road at an alarming frequency.

Putting all these difficulties aside, this was an excellent location to visit. I took the shot around 20 minutes before sunrise when the sky was nicely coloured by the sun below the horizon and everything was a strong blue/pink. I used a 0.9 (3 stop) Kase Wolverine soft grad filter on the sky and a 16-55 Fuji lens on my Fuji X-T3. The shutter speed was 20” at ISO160 and f/11.0.

I think this demonstrates the need to start shooting before the sun comes up. Once the sun came up the colours turned quickly to orange and yellow and the contrast in the scene increased sharply.

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

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. 218

Looking towards Ullapool in the Scottish Highlands. Three frames Fuji X-T3, Fuji 55-200 lens at 100mm. ISO160, 2.5″ at f/10.0. Tripod mounted with Kase 3 stop soft ND Grad filter.

I don’t have a great deal to share this week other than a recent image. The week’s flown by and I haven’t even posted a video on Youtube. Instead, I’ve been concentrating on developing my new in-depth Luminosity Masking course. I do though want to share this photograph that I shot from my recent Scottish Highlands trip.

The reason this image is important is because it’s an excellent lesson in how to shoot landscape photography. You see landscape photography is less about equipment and composition than most people think. The important things (assuming you can take a decent image) are being able to plan, understand the local conditions/changing light and make decisions based on this.

The evening I captured this photograph, we were about an hour drive from this location. We had been in position on a beach, waiting for a sunset. The weather forecast was positive and for a while the cloud cover looked like we were on for a stunning display. But then as sunset came closer the cloud started to thicken and the sun became lost. At this point we realised there was only a slim chance of a sunset remaining.

The decision to make was, do we wait it out on the beach in the hope of a sunset or head back and hope to catch the blue hour light nearer to Ullapool.

Given everything we knew about the location, the excellent blue hour light in recent days and the time it would take to drive back, we opted to leave. Fortunately, everything went to plan, and I was able to shoot this three-image stitched panoramic looking towards Ullapool. It’s exactly as I had envisaged it and I love the soft pastel colours and smoke rolling across the mountains.

So, was there a sunset at the beach? I have no idea, but I’m happy with the shot I captured.

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

Editing Sunset Photos in Nik

View from the Roaches, Leek, Stafordshire. Fuji X-T3, Fuji 16-55mm lens, ISO200, 1/7″ at f/10, Kase 0.9 Soft ND Grad filter, Tripod.

In this week’s YouTube video, I shared my favourite Nik Collection filters for editing sunset photos. The image used in the video is the one above, which initially didn’t have obvious clouds and colour. The video demonstrates how you can improve most sunset photos using one of three filters in the Nik Collection.

The adjustments in the video are a little strong to ensure you can see them, but the techniques and tips are solid. I also used all three filters on the image which I wouldn’t recommend. One or two of the Nik Collection filters are all you really need.

Luminar 3 Competition

If you haven’t seen yesterday’s post, do take a moment to read it. I’m giving away a Luminar 3 license which I bought by mistake. Yes, I can be that scatter-brained. The competition’s open until the 30th April 2019 when my wife will draw the winner at random.

Friday Image No. 217

Although I’ve used the Friday Image in my YouTube video, I did want to share it. I shot it last weekend whilst meeting up with a couple of friends that I used to work with. The weather on the day wasn’t quite as forecast. The initial fog quickly burned off (unfortunately) with a clear blue sky replacing it (not a cloudy one). Then, quite quickly, a strong blue haze developed with a few wispy high clouds. The high contrast conditions were terrible for landscape photography, but we persevered.

Towards the end of the day, we grew quite hopeful that we would have a nice sunset. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be and most of the compositions we had available didn’t work well with the conditions. The only composition that looked slightly interesting was the one you see above. I reasoned that I would be able to improve the sunset and enhance the light on the lake, by editing the photo in Nik. It isn’t a wonderful shot, but it serves a good purpose.

Have a great weekend.

Have you Seen Lightroom Enhance Details?

Snow Covered mountains on Rannoch Moore. Fuji X-T2, Fuji 10-24 lens at 11mm, ISO200, 1/340″ at f/11.0. Handheld.

Have you seen the recent Adobe Lightroom Enhance Details feature? The release in February almost passed me by but then I tested it. It isn’t perfect; some people say it’s too slow and it does produce large file sizes. BUT I suspect Adobe will develop it further in the future.

Enhance Details is a new feature that’s supposed to extract additional detail from your RAW files. I’ve tested it on a few RAW files, and I can’t see much improvement. Unless that is, you’re shooting with a Fuji. When you process the Fuji RAF files using Enhance Details you don’t get the dreaded wiggly worm effect and the image quality is very good. If you want to see my evaluation you can find it on YouTube or watch the video below.

Friday Image No.216

This week’s image is another from a recent trip to Scotland. I shot this whilst on a walk on Rannoch Moore that turned out to be a bit of a failure. We were stopped in our tracks by a river in full flow which had rather too much melt water. I managed to cross but my wife couldn’t make it (short legs). Rather than carry on alone I crossed back, and we returned to the car. Who said there’s no gentlemen left?

The image at the tp of this post is a single shot in RAW format using the Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 10-24 lens at 11mm. I didn’t use any filters as the snow on the ground did a nice job of balancing the exposure with the sky. Although there is a bright patch in the sky on the left where the sun was breaking through the cloud there isn’t any clipping. I also decided to leave it like this for a more natural look.

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

Upgrade Your Camera by Changing RAW Converters

Snow covered mountain on Rannoch Moor. Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24mm lens. ISO200, F/11, 1/420".
Snow covered mountain on Rannoch Moor. Fuji X-T2 with Fuji 10-24mm lens. ISO200, F/11, 1/420″.

This week I feel the urge to highlight something to the readers of this blog. If the image quality from your camera and/or lens is disappointing you, don’t rush to change it. Instead, try a different RAW converter.

I’m seeing more and more that there’s a large variation in image quality produced by different RAW converters. You’re probably thinking there’s nothing surprising there, except it’s not necessarily one converter that comes out better than the others.

The Best RAW Converter Depends on Your Camera

As I investigate this further, what I’m finding is that a RAW converter that excels with one camera can perform poorly with another. And it’s not just the camera that seems to be a factor. Some RAW converters appear to handle some lenses better than others.

This is important. The image quality of some RAW converters with certain camera/lens combinations can fool you into thinking the lens or camera is at fault. Don’t fall into this trap.

A couple of weeks back I demonstrated this using RAW files from a Sony RX10 and RX100. This week I published this video on YouTube. It shows the results from four RAW converters, processing two Fuji X-T2 RAW files.

There are two interesting points to come out of this:

  1. The difference between the best and worst of the four RAW converters tested is significant.
  2. The best RAW converter changed with the RAW file. Although I didn’t highlight it in the video, this difference is down to the lens I used.

So, before you rush out to change that camera or lens that doesn’t quite perform, try using a few different RAW converters. It could save you a lot of money.

Friday Image No.215

I captured this week’s Friday Image in Scotland last week on the famous and Rannoch Moor. I was fortunate enough for my trip to coincide with a light snowfall. Had it been a heavy snowfall I doubt I would have thought I was lucky.

I used the Fuji X-T2 with a Fuji 10-24mm lens handheld. The pool of water you see in the foreground was really very small. It looks a lot larger than it is because I had the lens set to 11mm. To make the foreground loom large, I crouched down low and in close to the pool. I was also careful to avoid distorting the mountain with the super wide lens by keeping the back of the camera vertical. Had I tilted it the image the mountain wouldn’t have looked quite so impressive.

I didn’t use any filters for the capture as the camera could just about cope with the dynamic range of the scene. I processed the converted RAW file using a combination of Nik Color Efex, Nik Viveza and Luminosity Masks created with Lumenzia in Photoshop.

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