Today I’m returning to an image that I’ve probably shown before. It may not be the same identical file but it’s possible you’ve already seen this. I’m doing this because I’ve been back through my image library and reprocessed quite a few of the RAW files.
The reason for this is because I noticed some of my image quality problems of the past are fixed by changing RAW converter (no, I’m not talking about Fuji). In fact, some of the lens and camera performance problems were so bad I ended up selling the camera/lens. Now I’ve discovered the problem was mostly my RAW converter. If you want to see five examples here’s my video.
But back to the image above.
I shot this with an Olympus EM5 (micro 43) using the Olympus 9-18mm lens at 10mm. The camera was tripod mounted and I used an ND grad on the sky (2 stops I think). In the past when I processed this file it was a struggle. There were noisy shadows which lacked detail and a blown-out sky. The image also had a lot of distortion, especially in the corners of the frame.
The difference is that I used DxO PhotoLab to process the RAW file.
Now I’m not recommending switching to DxO, but it is interesting how good the RAW processing now seems to be. What I am recommending though is to always shoot in RAW format and hang onto your files. At least that way you can take advantage of future developments in software.
An unfortunate side effect of all this though is that it’s made me think of buying another Micro 43 camera.
hope you like the image and have a great weekend.
Something that always seems to cause confusion amongst photographers, is Luminosity Masks. I think a lot of the confusion is down to people hyping the technique. There seems to be a lot of photographers that for whatever reason, want to make the subject confusing.
Why does this appear to be the norm with many people involved in photography? If someone thinks they have an edge, they won’t share it. But some even try to make it harder to learn to keep that edge.
Even if you don’t want to enrol in the course, I made the Introduction section free to watch. It has some useful information about masks and Photoshop that you might find helpful.
To watch the Introduction, use the discount link above. When the information page opens scroll down to the Curriculum section. Here you can use the Preview buttons to watch the videos in the introduction.
On Monday, just before the arrival of the snow and arctic winds in the UK, I visited Blackpool. I have already shared one of the images from that trip, where the performance of the Fuji 18-55 lens quite literally amazed me. This post shows another image from the trip, also shot with the same lens. The processing was applied in Lightroom and then with the Nik Collection.
If you’re interested in the processing, I posted the entire thing to my You Tube channel.
The image was captured handheld with the Fuji X-T2 using the Fuji 18-55 lens. I would have loved to have used a filter on the sky, but I didn’t have any with me. There was also some clutter in the bottom left of the frame that has been cropped out in the final image.
Recently I posted a video on You Tube explaining why I like to use the Nik Plugin’s from Photoshop rather than Lightroom. This came about because in all my Nik videos I start with a RAW file in Lightroom This is then converted to an image that I edit in Photoshop. A couple of people asked why and so I recorded the video for You Tube.
The video has been very well received but given it’s only had a few hundred views. To ensure everyone has access to the information I decided to also post this blog. Whilst I am referring to the Nik Collection in the video, the same argument applies to most filters.
The problem I have when using a plug-in for Lightroom is that you can end up creating lots of new files. This can be hard to manage and quickly becomes messy. If you are working on a RAW file you have no option but to convert the RAW file to an image before editing it with (what Lightroom calls) an external editor. This creates a new file, duplicating the original RAW file with adjustments.
After you have edited your image, you may need to apply a second filter to the image. When this happens, you have the option to work on either another copy of the image file or apply the adjustments to the image you created previously. The first option creates yet more image files. The second provides no “back-out” in case you make a mistake; you would need to start again from the RAW file.
Photoshop is better option as each adjustment filter can be applied as a new layer. The Nik Collection even has a setting you can use to automatically.
Once you are working with layers in Photoshop, other options are available to you:
You can reduce the opacity of the layer if you find the effect you applied is too strong.
You can use layer masks to hide or reveal areas of adjustment in the image. For example, you might like the sky in the adjusted image but not the rest. You could use a layer mask to hide the adjustment but then paint back the adjusted sky. You can even create quite complex masks using luminosity and channel mask techniques.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is that you can convert layers in Photoshop to Smart Objects. When you apply a Nik filter to a Smart Object, all the settings you apply in Nik are saved, including control points. This means when you save your finished image as a PSD file, you can open and adjust the settings in your Nik filter, even moving control points.
If some of this doesn’t make sense, watch the video below. If you want to know more about the Nik workflow, look at my book “Nik Efex from Start to Finish”.
or watch the video here (please note the video doesn’t show up in email, only on the blog).
If you’re a Lightroom user and aren’t familiar with changing your Camera Profile, be sure to watch this. There is a second part to this video which is coming soon and I doubt many people will have seen anything like it before.
The image you see above is the RAW file used in the video once it’s been fully processed.
For those of you who are Nik users, you might be interested in a new video I uploaded to You Tube. I’ve had a lot of correspondence in the past where people have struggled with how to use Nik Color Efex and why it’s different from Viveza.
Generally speaking, Color Efex is all about adding special effects to your work. But there are also a few of the filters that I think are essential. These can help you improve your photography or correct problems very quickly and I use them regularly with my own work.
This video looks at the first of these filters, which was used to enhance the image above as well as correct a serious colour cast. Even if you don’t currently use Color Efex you might find the video interesting.