Lightroom Presets

If you use Lightroom then I hope you’ll be interested in this post. It’s a sort of review and a sort of promotional one.

A few days ago freelance photographer Samuel Zeller, a Fujifilm ambassador (X-Photographer) based in Switzerland, offered a set of presets to celebrate an event on Instagram. This was to be a free set of tools to assist in image editing. It’s a very useful package containing presets, curve settings and a set of eight of Samuel’s RAW images each to match a specific preset. Providing one’s own images to others is a very rare occurrence, indeed, I can’t remember any pro photographer doing so.

I’ve downloaded Samuel’s package and I have to say that I’m delighted with the results. I’m still playing with presets and curves on my own images and I really like the results. I’ll post an image later this week, all being well.

Even if you are not an Instagram member, you can still obtain this set of presets by registering your e-mail address at presets.samuelzeller.ch and Samuel will send you a link to the download. Full instructions for installation are contained in the package along with a licence agreement.

There is a likelihood that further presets will be made available and I’ll keep my eyes open for future packages and pass on the details to you here.

The presets are NOT specific to Fujifilm cameras and should work on RAW files from most camera platforms.

Processing

Sunday’s shoot in Snowdonia was very enjoyable even through it was more than a little rushed. As a result, some of the images were either over or under exposed. I have a rule that if I have to spend more than five to ten minutes on an image it gets bumped out of the archive. This meant that there would be the task of seeing what needed to be done so that I had some publishable images.

Of course, the real dilemma is: How much processing is too much? Well, that’s a very good point. I looked very carefully at the images I made during the shoot and from the 47 (94 including the JPEGs) I chose all 47 images for consideration for my blog, Flickr, Steller and/or Instagram (see earlier note!). I am very conscious of over-manpulating images; for example, I don’t like HDR images, focus stacking or any other time-consuming processes. Too much time spent processing images means less time in the field honing your camera skills.

I mentioned dodging and burning earlier. These are two processes of the most useful methods of improving shadows and highlights; dodge to darken highlights and burn brightens shadows. All of Adobe’s image processing software have these tools on hand and it takes a little while to master the them but it is very much worth the effort. Alien Skin’s Exposure X also has these tools but is a little more intricate and not quite as effective as Adobe’s.

I’m a very big fan of Ansel Adams and I’d like to think that when you finally see all the images, you’ll see a find a little of the master’s touch in my processing. If you don’t know Adams, I can tell you he was a very fine photographer but a better printer. He was a past master of knowing just how much to “dodge and burn” images to get the very best from the negatives, often glass ones, Just pick up one of his books – I would recommend “400 Photographs” and if you wanted to know  more about his printing techniques you can try “Examples – The Making of 40 Photographs”. Both are also excellent sources of inspiration for your own images.

Another photographer/printer worth exploring is Eddie Ephraums, who writes a regular column in Black+White Photography magazine. He is based in the UK where he teaches all the skills that the modern photographer needs either in the darkroom or using computers. If you can find a copy, have a look at his book “Creative Elements; Landscape Photography – Darkroom Techniques”, Whilst this book is centred on the analogue darkroom, many of the ideas and techniques he uses can be used in todays digital world. The book goes into great depth with lots of examples of how the techniques look and work, By examining the original image you can see how he selects the areas for treatment. It’s then easy for you to spot the areas in your images that need either a lift or toning down a little.

I’ve published below another of the dozen images I’ve already processed; this is a view of The Glyderau and Pen-yr-Ole-Wen, all mountains of above 3,000 feet, seen from the eastern edge of Llyn Ogwen.

Not all the 47 images I started with will be used but I’m quite pleased with the 25% that have “made the grade” thus far. And, yes, due to the quality of light and my haste to get a few images “in the bag”, each has taken a little longer to process than my five to ten minute “rule”. My excuse? It’s been a wet day and I needed some amusement!

Snowdonia 2016 #2

Image © Tony Harratt/The Fuji Freak – 2016

NOTES: For those interested, Ansel Adams’ “400 Photographs” can be found under ISBN-10: 0-316-11772-2 or ISBN-13: 978-0-316-11772-2; “Examples – The Making of 40 Photographs” can be found under ISBN 978-08212-1750-4. Both are published by Little, Brown.

The book by Eddie Ephraums, “Creative Elements; Landscape Photography – Darkroom Techniques” was published by 21st Century Publications in 1993 under ISBN 0-9510147-9-X and is probably out of print. You’ll be please to know that a hardback copy from Amazon UK can be had for anything from £3.95 to £984.37! A NEW copy – three in total, also from Amazon UK – can be had for £9.98, £95.51 and £98.53! A paperback copy will cost from £5.00 to £74.44. These prices don’t include   delivery charges. I recently picked up my copy for £3.49 via Oxfam Books here in the UK.

Using white balance to take better photos

This weekend’s Fujifilm Photography Lesson helps out a little more with exposure: white balance; how to adjust it and how to make best use of it. As always, my thanks to Fujifilm UK for their support.

The Fujifilm Blog

white balancew360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerWhite Balance is a term that may seem foreign to most photographers. Especially as a setting that you could adjust that would make a drastic impact on your photos.

If you ever have taken a photo inside with fluorescent lights as your main source of lighting, you may notice a slight “bluish” look to your photos.

Why did this happen? All light sources have different colour tones based on a temperature reading scale ranging from red (warm) to blue (cold) known as Kelvin (K).

2

Your choice of lighting will impact the overall look of your image and the actual colours shown in your photo. A photo mainly lit with a candle will give off a slightly deep orange colour tone. Likewise a photo mainly lit by fluorescent lights will give off a light bluish colour tone. Usually undetectable by the naked eye, we only really notice the difference when we look…

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Split-Toning & Cross-Processing

A couple of days ago I posted an image called “Love in the Mist“, which I’d been trying to simulate into a split-tone to the image. I wasn’t satisfied, even less so when I got a little interest from a follower telling me he’d given up with the process, too. So… I’ve been trawling my books and I’m going to try and write a down and dirty (read QUICK!) Lightroom 6.3 tutorial on how to go about both processes.

Cross-processing is for colour images and was popular, and still is, in fashion photography. This process is the easiest to explain:

  • Get the colour image you want to use and process as you think fit;
  • When you’re done open the SPILT TONING module in DEVELOP;
  • We’ll tackle the shadows first and a green-blue HUE. Play around until you’ve got a satisfactory result. Do the same with SATURATION;
  • When you’re happy with the tones you might want to adjust the BALANCE a tad;
  • Now repeat the process for the HIGHLIGHTS. This time you’re looking for a red-orange-yellow HUE;
  • And that’s it!

It all depends on your eye and/or personal preferences. Experimenting is the best option. Don’t forget to make a virtual copy of the file you’re working on before you start any processing!

Split-toning is for black & white; you’ll be using the same modules in Lightroom. There are three popular split-tone styles: SEPIA, SELENIUM and DUOTONE amongst many others. Let’s see how they work:

  • SEPIA and SELENIUM; yes, you can get lots of sepia presets but sometimes it’s nice to do it on your own;
  • Firstly, tap the V key to convert the image to mono;
  • You just need to use HUE and select a value of between 25 and 40;
  • Now set the SATURATION to your personal taste. The lower values between 20-25 are more subtle;
  • If you want the SELENIUM effect, set the HUE to either 0-10 or 340-360;
  • There’s no need to go over the top with SATURATIONAround 20-25 should suffice, if at all.

DUOTONE is our final stop where we’ll be using both HUE and SATURATION. Here we go:

  • It’s a good idea to “cool down” the shadows and “warm up” the highlights;
  • For WARM HIGHLIGHTS set HUE to 50 and SATURATION to 50, too;
  • For COOL SHADOWS set HUE for 220 and SATURATION to 50;
  • IF you think you need to bring out the HIGHLIGHTS more, try changing the Balance to 20

And that’s about it! Okay… there is a little more:

With all the processes above you may need to add punch to draw more character into the image you’re working on.

  • You’ll be using the three sliders in the BASIC section of DEVELOP module. These are:
  • CONTRAST – increase by as much as +30;
  • CLARITY – increase by +10 to increase grittiness and mid-tone contrast;
  • DEHAZE – if you have it on Lightroom CC v6.3 increase it to +16 otherwise see my note below

HOT TIP: This is the Fuji Freak blog so this ONLY applies to Fujifilm X-System users. If you want to slightly desaturate images in-camera then Olaf Sztaba, a Fujifilm X-System user suggests the following settings:

  1. SHARPENING +1
  2. COLOUR -2
  3. HIGHLIGHT -1
  4. SHADOWS 0 OR -1

This may just save you a little time when using colour  and enhance your cross-processed images. Use at your own discretion!

NOTE: If you haven’t got Lightroom CC then you’ve not got the DEHAZE function, which is very useful tool indeed! There are some clever people out there and there are at least a couple of workarounds and I’ll write about those another time.

I hope you find this informative and useful. I’ve tried to keep it simple and tried to provide suggested settings. There are other ways of doing cross-processing/split-toning and I’d recommend looking in your local library for a book that may go into the techniques in a little more detail. Do experiment and perhaps if you’re following this blog, post a few images for the benefit of other bloggers.

Have fun!

Love in the Mist

You may struggle to find “love” in this image, which I’ve just been tinkering with! I’ve been playing around with split toning – it’s a dull old day here – but I couldn’t find a suitable setting. Rather than park the image in Lightroom, I thought I’d share it with you…

Love in the Mist

Image © Tony Harratt/The Fuji Freak – 2015-2016

The Joy of JPEG’s

Following on from yesterday’s post about Fuji’s X-Trans files I’ve made a JPEG image using my X-T1 and Fujinon XF 16-55mm ƒ2.8 zoom lens. My aim was to see just how good the Fuji X-Trans JPEG files could be.

The image below was shot hand-held at 1/180 sec & ƒ8; the lens was set to 53mm. After capture I downloaded the images into Lightroom v.6.3, where I cropped it slightly to reduce some dead space to the right. Next, I removed any chromatic aberrations in the Lens Correction module and… that was about it! No need for any tweaking but please bear in mind that this is a very low resolution image.

Here’s the result:

Shadow Play #1

Shadow Play #1(detail a)

I then took the image a stage further by adding a tonal contrast preset to the image. With just one click of the old mouse, the image was transformed into this:

Shadow Play #1(tonal)

Shadow Play #1(detail)

The additional detail from the preset really sets off the image, I think. Total time processing the images was about five minutes for all four.

It’s not a scientific experiment but I do feel that it shows just how good the Fuji X-Trans files can be.

Comments and questions most welcome on this post…

All Images © Tony Harratt/The Fuji Freak – 2015-2016

Fuji X-Trans Files

I’ve been reading quite a bit about processing Fujifilm’s X-Trans files, both RAW and JPEG, this past couple of days. Fuji files are slightly different than most other camera makers in that they do not use a Bayer array on their sensors. For those editing files in Lightroom and other image editing tools, there’s a slight drop in quality. The latest Lightroom build, v.6.3, has addressed some of the issues but the images continue to be a little soft.

If you’re interested in getting a little more out of your Fuji files, take a look at two blogs UK landscape photographer Pete Bridgwood has produced. Here’s the links:

The first looks at post-edit sharpening -> http://petebridgwood.com/wp/2014/10/x-trans-sharpening/#more-1432

The second is a video looking at new Lightroom 6.1 and Fuji X-Trans files -> http://petebridgwood.com/wp/2015/06/lightroom-6-1-and-fuji-x-trans/

One of the things Fuji’s sensor array does improve is the quality of JPEG’s. The Fuji JPEG’s are highly regarded by photographers – see Pete Bridgwood’s comments in his video tutorial. To prove the point, here’s a JPEG image that I spent all of five minutes with. I could have posted it without any software tweaks but I wanted to boost the colour saturation, sharpen a tad and to crop. I think you’ll agree that it’s very difficult to tell the difference between a RAW file and JPEG! Indeed, it’s also my Something for the Weekend post.

Winter 2015-2016 #11

Image © Tony Harratt/The Fuji Freak 2016