Lightroom 6 is coming

Lightroom 6 is coming sometime this month, and here are some of the things it is has in store:

  • Environment nondestructive
    Unleash your creativity in a nondestructive editing environment that allows you to test your ideas freely. The originals remain intact and you can easily cancel your edits or save multiple versions of a cliché.
  • Advanced conversion feature black and white
    Monitor closely the tonal qualities so essential to the black and white photos. Combine precisely the information of eight color layers in the grayscale conversion.
  • Face Recognition
    Quickly find pictures of loved ones, even without metadata tags. You select a face on the photo, Lightroom and search the person it belongs to all of your other shots. Sort and group your photos by faces.
  • Sophisticated Healing Brush
    Get best pictures with one touch. Set the brush size and move it according to specific plots. Unwanted items and other imperfections, including irregular shapes son type, magically disappear.
  • Upright (Vertically)
    Straighten skewed images with a single click. The Upright tool (Vertically) analyzes the image and detects horizontal or vertical lines inclined. It can even recover images without horizon.
  • Fusion panoramas
    Realize XXL ultra detailed panoramas. Photo merge technology lets you merge multiple images, including raw files, to create panoramas out of the ordinary.
  • Performance gains
    Import and refine your photos in record time. Lightroom leverages compatible graphics process to get you better performance, especially when you edit your images in the Develop module.

Sean Bagshaw’s “Developing for Extended Dynamic Range”

I’ve learned so much from Sean Bagshaw’s awesome video tutorials, and so I was excited when I found out that he’d updated his “Developing for Extended Dynamic Range” videos.

If you don’t have them (or you have the old ones) I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you pick these up. This is the best $60 that you’ll spend when it comes to improving your processing. You’ll also need Tony Kuyper’s excellent TKActions Panel for Photoshop, but if you don’t have these, then you really need to pick them up. When I first took a look at these videos a couple of years ago, they took my photography to a whole new level.

Sean Bagshaw’s new videos cover:

  • Evaluating dynamic range
  • If, when and how to bracket exposures
  • Raw adjustments and Photoshop adjustments for better dynamic range balance in single exposures
  • High dynamic range 32bit processing using Lightroom and Photoshop
  • Advanced exposure blending techniques in Photoshop using selections and masks: Simple, complex, forests, water, nighttime cityscape, architectural interiors, trees against sky
  • TKActions Panel is used to demonstrate how luminosity selections and luminosity masks can be used for tonal adjustments and complex exposure blending

Go get them. Now! You won’t regret it.

Sometimes the light is just right

A big part of photography is being in the right place at the right time, and having your camera with you at the time! I love those times when I’m out and about and all of a sudden the conditions turn from “meh” into “just perfect!” This is when carrying about 30 pounds of gear about pays off.

And when that light becomes “just right,” it’s time to act fast, because it won’t hang around for long!

Good times!

Lightroom 5.7 released

Adobe has released Lightroom 5.7. This update which brings brings new features , new lens profiles and bug fixes.

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II finally gets support, along with over a dozen other cameras., while the Nikon D810 and D4S gets tethered capture support.

On the lens profile front, there are now profiles for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the Go Pro Hero 4 cameras, and a long list of other new lens for Leica, Nikon, Canon, and Sony cameras.

There’s also a new plug-in that allows for the importing of Aperture and iPhoto libraries on the Mac (handy given that Mac is discontinuing support for Aperture).

Mac –

Win –

Behind the Camera: ‘Fire Flower’

There are a lot of fireworks shots about, so I thought I’d try something a little different here and stack a few shots.

Over a period of about 20 minutes I shot some 2,200 images (I was reminded of that quote from Aliens “Look at those ammo counters go!”) and ended the night with only space for 240 on the card I was using. But taking a lot of shots meant I had plenty to work through, and the odds were good that I’d get some nice captures. It also meant that I had series of images captures of explosions, and that meant I could stack them.

The stack process is simple – Select the images in Lightroom and open them as layers in Photoshop and them select all the layers and change the blend mode to ‘Lighten.’ This makes the light from all the layers show through, giving this timelapse effect.

The end result is something that looks a little different.

I was shooting from some two miles away from the display, so I was using my 70 – 200mm lens at 200mm F4.5, ISO 1,250 and a shutter speed of 1/8th of a second.

Behind the Camera: ‘Melting Mist’

The mist melting over Loch Garry.

This shot was taken from a very popular roadside pull-off spot on the A87. There were dozens of cars and a handful of coaches in this spot, and literally hundreds of people milling about.

I’d never been to this spot before and I’d expected it to be quiet – after all, it was just a roadside layby – but in the Scottish Highlands even the oddest and most out of the way places that are accessible by car can be insanely busy, especially when the weather is anything but the dreariest. And if the spot is marked on a map as a viewpoint, then you should expect anything ranging from bedlam to mayhem.

Do not roll up to one of these spots expecting to have it all to yourself at any time. You might get lucky, but don’t count on it. To avoid frustration always assume that you’re going to have people milling about the place, and that you’re going to have to work to the best spot slowly and methodically. If you try to go against the flow, you’ll just feel frustrated, and this will show in your work.

This shot was taken with a 70-200mm lens at 70mm. I wanted a good depth of field so went for F16, and at that worked out well. If it wasn’t for the trees in the foreground – which were quite close – I could have chosen any aperture as beyond the infinity point of the lens, depth of field is irrelevant. You can shoot landscapes at F1.8 like the great Moose Peterson does here. Bit I wanted the trees and the distance in focus, so had to go small.

Behind the Camera: ‘Into the Distance’

When I started out as a photographer I would take a machine gun approach to shooting, blasting anything and everything in sight. I had a “shoot first, sort out the mess later” approach. Then, over time, I started to learn to calm down. I learned to tell the difference between things I could the photographed, and things that couldn’t, and at the same time got a better sense for what makes a good shot and what, quite frankly, sucks. It wasn’t that I was wasting film — I was shooting digital — it was that I wasting time on things that wouldn’t work, and making the post-process job a lot bigger than it needed to be.

Something else that has developed — no pun intended — is my eye for what makes a good shot. I don’t always get it right — far from it — but my hit to cull ratio is a lot better than it was even a couple of years ago.

Another aspect that has improved is that part of my brain that spots good shots when I’m not actually thinking about it. Quite often that’s when I’m in the car, and that means that I’ve also had to work on perfecting my “pulling over as fast as is safe to do so” part of my brain (also my “turning around for the shot” part has had a workout).

There are a lot of good shots out there waiting to be taken, just begging to be seen.

Like this shot. I was driving along and all of a sudden realized that the clouds and the mountains and the light were all playing nicely together and that there was a shot waiting. What photographer David Noton calls “the decisive moment.” It’s then a matter of whipping the camera out as fast as possible, dialing in what my gut says are the right settings (I might get a chance to tweak later) and make some exposures.

The humble lens cloth

As photographers, it can be hard to know what bits of kit to take with us and which bits to leave at home, but if there’s one bit of kit that I already regret leaving at home, it is the humble lens cloth.

I never deliberately leave my lens cloth at home. No, what happens is that I’ll decide to go out with minimal gear – leaving the main pack either at home or in the car – and the lens cloth gets left behind with it. And then it’ll either start to rain, or I’ll be doing seascapes and get splashed, and then I have to resort to using an item of clothing to wipe the lens or filter.

While I don’t feel that using a t-shirt or sleeve will damage a lens or filter, the results are questionable at best.

I try to keep a cloth in my pocket or car glove box, but they seem to be one of those things that get lost. I don’t know how many lens cloths I’ve bought over the years, but I always only seem to have one that I can find.

I don’t believe in overspending on lens cloths because I seem to go through them. I just search for ‘lens cloths’ or ‘glasses cleaner’ on Amazon and buy a few microfiber cloths.

All hail the humble lens cloth.

‘Blackness and Light’

I’m a big fan of black and white photography. Yes, color is fantastic, but there are times when shifting to a monochrome format helps to focus the eye and draw out detail by removing the distraction of color.

The other day I set myself a challenge – do something different with black and white. A pretty broad remit, but I let this idea rattle around in my head for a bit and came up with this. It’s a shot of a roadside waterfall I took in Scotland. And by ‘roadside’ I mean a waterfall that had just appeared on the side of the road because it had rained heavily. Despite being only about 8 feet tall, I thought it was an amazing – and impromptu – sight.

What I’ve done here is remove a lot of the detail from the rocks and the surroundings and focused instead on the interaction of the water with the rocks and the light, and used this to pull out the details from the surface. This means I can focus in on the interaction between these elemental forms without everything else in the exposure screaming for attention.

What’s really odd is that after I processed the image, something clicked. I realized that this is how my brain had seen this little waterfall in the first place. While the camera catches every little detail – from the sky and the surroundings to the tiny blades of grass – my mind had removed all this. What drew me to this waterfall was the interaction of the water and the rocks and how this affected the light, and this image does something similar.

I’d like to print this out, but I fear that it eat a lot of black ink, so I might get it done professionally.

Behind the Camera: Brushing the Sky

Brushing the Sky

When I take a photograph, it’s all about what my eye is drawn to when I look at a scene. In the mountains, I can’t help but stare in wonder at the strange aesthetic land where landscape and clouds intermingle. If I were standing above that ridgeline, I would of course think I was surrounded by fog. Some distance from the mountain, it is clear that a large cloud is pouring over the hillside, like custard over a christmas pudding.

It’s a little like the first time I flew in a plane as a small child and was amazed to discover that planes could fly, not only through clouds, but above them too! Before this I hadn’t known that clouds had tops to them as well. I’d thought they went all the way up – although I’m not sure where I thought they stopped. When they started bumping into the moon, perhaps?

I often wonder if children raised among these hills express such surprise that clouds and fog are one and the same. To me, fog was a just one kind of weather on a particular kind of day – and no more related to those things in the sky than a puddle is to the rain. To children growing up on the sides of mountains though, it must always always be self evident that a foggy day is just a very cloudy day…

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