Tag Archives: photo editing

Changing my Photo Editing Approach

Curbar Edge winter sunrise, Peak District, UK
Winter sunrise on Curbar Edge, Peak District. Fuji X-T3 with 10-24mm lens. Further details in the blog post.

Over recent years I’ve become increasingly unhappy with my photography. Well it’s really my photo editing that I’m unhappy with. I feel that I’ve somehow become victim to the trend of colourful and overly saturated landscapes. But the more saturation and colour I use, the less I notice it which leads me to increase it further. It’s left me feeling somewhat dissatisfied which is where this week’s photo comes in.

I captured this image on Curbar Edge recently at sunrise. The temperature was cold at -4C (cold for the UK at least) and the sky filled with high, light cloud. On this morning the landscape had a lovely pink/blue tint to it. Initially the sky was strong and intensely colourful, and I shot quite a few images. My natural inclination was to favour those images but after working on them for a while I quickly tired. That’s when  I found I preferred this more subtle image.

This one’s from soon after sunrise when the light from the sun was just catching the foreground rocks and the edge in the distance. There’s something more real about this image that I like, and I think the colours are lovely and subtle. I don’t yet know how this will play out in my photography, but it could mark a change in direction for me.

I shot the image using a Fuji X-T3 with Fuji 10-24 lens set to 10mm. The camera was set to ISO160 using f/14.0 giving a shutter speed of 1.2 seconds. It was tripod mounted and I used a 2 stop Kase ND Grad filter on the sky to balance the exposure with the ground.

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

Photographing the Heather in the Peak District

It’s Friday again and I’ve managed two days photography this week. The reason, besides the weather not being too bad, is that the heather is out.

Both shoots were in the afternoon and both in the Peak District. The first was Bamford Edge where I captured this shot. The other was near to Surprise View, but you will need to wait to see those images.

Before I explain a little about how I captured this image I should mention the accompanying video.

Landscape Photo Editing Workflow – The Miniseries

With my latest book in proofreading, I decided to take advantage and publish a video showing my editing workflow. To do this I used another image from the same evening shoot as this one. But rather than publish a long video which may be hard to watch, I’ve broken it into a small series.

There will be four videos in total:

  1. Assessing the image.
  2. RAW Processing
  3. Nik Processing
  4. Special Effects

I’ve already released the first two and I’m planning to do the other two next week.

If you want to watch the videos, here’s a link to the playlist on YouTube. And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to my channel.

Friday Image No.225

I shot the image for this post around 5-10 minutes after sunset and up until this point, I had been struggling. Because we were facing towards the sun and the contrast was high, most of my shots had a harsh look that I didn’t like. It was only once the sun had set below the horizon that I was able to capture the dynamic range and open the shadows. Even then I needed to use a graduated ND filter (0.9 Soft) on the sky.

Another advantage of waiting until after sunset (besides lowering the contrast range) is that the heather glows and comes to life. This isn’t always the case, but if you are facing towards the stronger light, it works well. Turn away from the light and the heather looks grey and lifeless.

In terms of the shot, this is a single image captured using RAW on the Fuji X-T3. I used a 0.9 Soft Kase Grad filter as mentioned. I also had the camera mounted on a tripod and used a cable release. The image I used for the video is like this one and I used the same approach if you want to know more.

I hope you like the image and videos 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.

Alternatives To The Creative Cloud 2

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.

Google Releases Entire Nik Collection for FREE

I can hardly believe it but it’s true. There’s no catch and they are even promising a refund for those of us who purchased the software. Here is the link

https://plus.google.com/+NikCollection/posts/AFGsG2Di7EK

If you haven’t downloaded the software do it immediately before they come to their senses.

Favourite Filters

Wet tree bark. Captured witht he Olympus EM5 + Olympus 12-40 lens. Post processing with OnOne Effects.
Wet tree bark. Captured witht he Olympus EM5 + Olympus 12-40 lens. Post processing with OnOne Effects.

I have written here many times about my love of software used in the image creation process and in particular filters. But this wasn’t always the way. At one time I was a hard core Photoshop users and believed there was very little any filter could do that I could do using Photoshop.

But times have changed and filters have developed substantially. I no longer view filters as a way of taking money from less experienced users but as a way of making advanced image editing accessible to everyone. Most importantly, filters now allow you to make complex, advanced edits to your images very quickly and with little learning. This is the essence of Lightweight Image Editing.

Despite my early dislike for filters, there were some that I owned and use. These were tools such as Neat Image for noise reduction, Genuine Fractals for image enlargements, Topaz Detail and Enhance, Contrast Master from PhotoWiz and a very good masking tool that I can’t recall the name of. Over time I began to favour some of these tools over others, ultimately standardizing much of my work on the Nik Efex range of plug-ins.

But I’m now reconsidering my standardizing on Nik and have started to use OnOne software Photo suite once more. Whilst Nik tools are excellent and very flexible, I have found the need to be careful when editing image files from Micro 43 cameras. These files seem to have a “noise pattern” that would become emphasised when the image was edited using some Nik filters (and it’s not just Nik tools). The difference I found with OnOne Photo Suite 10 is that I can make quite extensive and strong edits without negatively affecting the image quality.

At the moment I am only really using the Effects module but the results are very impressive. Best of all, if you’re not familiar with the software, there is a free version you can download from the OnOne site

https://www.on1.com/apps/effects10free/

Whilst this doesn’t provide all the filters of the full version, it does include some excellent and very useful ones. If like me you like to use software as part of the creative photographic process, this is well worth looking at.