Sometimes it can be hard as a photographer to keep your motivation up and I think this is especially true with Landscape Photography where the weather is often uncooperative. This is where the personal project comes in.
Having a personal project helps you find the motivation to get out and shoot. But even then it can be difficult if your project isn’t something accessible and near to where you live. I personally have been searching for something near to home for some time but without success. Then it dawned on, I have the moorland of Saddleworth all around.
Now if you have ever tried shooting moorland, you will know that it can be some of the bleakest, depressing and most challenging of subjects. I have tried many times to shoot the area but failed miserably (unless it’s been snowing). But that’s before I was trying to shoot a project.
Once I resigned myself to multiple visits, I suddenly found a degree of patience that I hadn’t experienced before. No longer was I looking for that single amazing shot. Instead I was looking for scenes that would allow me to explore and represent the moors.
Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I didn’t post the usual Friday Image on Friday. My apologies for this but I am still battling with too much to do and too little time. I have fallen some way behind in responding to emails and queries as the numbers have shot up recently. I love replying to everyone but it takes time.
Anyway, I set out on a walk in the Peak District today with a camera. I was going to take the new G16 but in the end I went for the RX10. I really do love this camera but it’s been somewhat of a frustrating relationship. My first ever outing found that the white writing around the edge of the lens reflected onto my filters when the sun was at certain angles. The other major frustration I have is that the image stabilisation is poor. Sometimes I find myself keep checking if it is actually on.
It’s very easy to find the shutter speed has dropped below 1/25″ as I like to shoot at the base ISO of 80. I find that 1/25″ is pretty much as slow as I can risk, even at the wide end of the focal range (the camera has a 24-200mm f/2.8 constant lens). Below this and camera shake is evident and ruins pretty much every shot unless you are lucky. That’s one of the problems with a sharp lens, you notice the smallest of movement.
More recently I have become attuned to this problem and now push the ISO to 200 or 400. This goes against the grain with me as I always want to shoot at the lowest ISO and I hate noise. But you know what, even at ISO400 you can barely notice it and the image quality is that much better.
So this has been a bit of me rambling (pun intended) to tell you that the RX10 is one of the most enjoyable cameras I have and the one that I increasingly turn to when I just want to walk and can’t be bothered with different lenses.
In my last post I shared an example of the false infrared colour technique and explained how it was achieved. I also confessed that in general I don’t like the effect, although in some cases it does work well. I thought it would be good to share another example that I think works reasonably well (although not as well as the previous post) although I will admit that I still prefer the traditional black and white conversion.
This example is a little more stylised than the previous image and was created by first converting the image to colour before applying a Fuji Provia Slide Film simulation in Exposure 6. This was then further edited with a boost to the Vibrancy slider and a negative Clarity to give the soft effect. My reasoning for these adjustments was to prepare the image for conversion to black and white but I found I quite liked the colour image.
When converting the images with the Channel Mixer it can seem a bit hit and miss. It appears to help if you have both sky and foliage in the image. With a Red/Blue channel swap such as shown here the sky will turn blue and the foliage will go red. Most other areas (in landscapes) tend not to be affected.
You can improve the results by picking a white balance point during RAW conversion which causes the foliage to take on a blue tint. Typically this will leave the sky with some red tint and when the channel swap is made with the channel mixer the red tint in the sky turns blue and the blue tint of the foliage turns red.
Also try to avoid images which have been shot in the shade (such as tree lined country lanes) as you won’t get such a good effect. You really need direct and strong sun to make this work well.
Hope this helps anyone who is also struggling with Infrared false colour.
Before I get into the details of this post I need to point out that I’m not a fan of the false colour effect in infrared. That said I do quite like the look of the image above. I realise this is a personal choice and you may or may not like the effect. Despite not liking this effect (other than the odd image) I continue to use the technique as I find it often helps in the conversions to black and white. The increased colour seems to make it easier to separate objects in black and white .
The starting point for the conversion is an infrared image that has been correctly white balanced. You can see the starting point below.
As I have mentioned previously in this blog, getting the white balance correct in Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW can be problematic. Here is an example of the image as seen in Lightroom despite using the correct custom white balance.
I have now found out how to correct this and will post something separately on the subject.
Once you have your image white balanced, take it into Photoshop. Here we will do something called a channel swap between the red and blue channels using the Channel Mixer. You can see a screenshot of the channel mixer below.
In case you are wondering there isn’t a cannel mixer in Lightroom or Elements.
First select the Red channel in the channel mixer. You will notice the red slider is at 100% and the other two sliders are at 0%. Change these sliders so that the blue channel is at 100% and the others are at 0%.
Now repeat this process selecting the blue channel. This time set the blue slider to 0% and the red slider to 100%. The channel swap is now complete and you will see an effect similar to that above.
You can also swap any two channels and are not restricted to the red and blue. The red and blue channels tend to produce the best results though.
Now as I mentioned at the start of this post, I use this technique to support conversion to black and white. With that in mind, here is the final image back and white image. Let me know which image you prefer.
After I posted this black and white image taken from near the summit of Great Gable in the English Lake District a number of you wanted to know what the starting image looked like. Well here is it.
Looks great eh and you can immediately see how I turned it into the finished version above (only joking). If you can’t and want to know how I achieved the conversion, take yourself over to my Lenscraft website and register as a member – don’t worry it’s free. This entire conversion will be detailed in Summer 14 newsletter which I will be publishing shortly. Members receive an email notification when the newsletters published. You can also be sure that I won’t spam you as I HATE spam email.
I have been so busy this past week that I hadn’t realised Friday had come round again. Then I realised that I didn’t have an image to share so I started to look back over my shots from last year. A lot of the folders I have done nothing with. Despite this there are a few images that show some promise but which I overlooked at the time.
Here’s one example shot at dawn at the Marina in Ambleside. The weather didn’t play out quite as we had hoped for and the bank of heavy cloud failed to clear. It’s still quite a pleasant image though.
I love reflections., I find them fascinating and beautiful whether created on manmade surfaces or in nature. I suppose the ones we find in nature are the ones that really enthral me and I can’t help reaching for my camera.
Here is one from my walk last weekend in Jumbles Country park near to Bolton. I just printed this and my immediate thought was that it has a lovely soft quality to it. It was shot on an RX10 which is an easy take anywhere camera. Such a shame it’s so expensive and twice the size of the Olympus EM5.