Nik, as an application, has been around since 2000 when it was was first incorporated into Nikon’s RAW software called Capture NX2. What made the software special was something called U-point technology. In a rather trite naming convention, it is supposed to refer to the fact that '‘you point somewhere, and it works'’. Yet, this is pretty much how U-point does work. Nils Kokemohr (founder and CTO of Nik Software), managed to create an application that looks at luminosity, colour and tone as a way of selecting an area for image editing. To this day, it is one of the most intuitive and effective ways to select localised areas in an image for colour editing. At any rate, Nik’s intellectual property has passed through several hands from Nikon, to their own, to Google and thence to DxO. In a nutshell, the selection tool that was first introduced in 2000 is still going strong, yet there are photographers who still aren’t aware of it’s power and how to use it effectively.
Depth of field in an image can sometimes be quite tricky to get right. Some images need an area to be in focus that is beyond the physical capabilities of the lens in use. Stopping down the aperture to achieve a greater depth of field comes at the significant cost of sharpness. Due to diffraction limitation, the sharpness of an image declines as you stop down past a certain point (around f8 in most lenses). With some images, even using a small aperture like f22 still doesn’t get the required amount of depth of field (this is particularly the case in close-up photography). In the past it was possible to achieve this extended depth of field using a Tilt/Shift lens taking advantage of something called the Scheimflug effect (basically tilting the lens so that the focus plane can effectively be extended). However, Tilt/Shift lenses are expensive, complicated and slow to use, and to top it off, are heavy. Thankfully digital photography allows us to achieve massive depth of field through something called ‘focus stacking’.
The number one reason why images fail, is focus (possibly it’s a tie between that and poor composition, but even the latter can be excused by some as art 😉). There’s that gut twisting realisation when you are going through the images from a shoot only to realise that the focus was out. What could have been fantastic, gets added to the trash pile. We now have blistering fast auto focus, face detection, dynamic tracking, 3D tracking, a gazillion focus points, micro-tuning (automatically calibrated on some cameras even) and more. You’d think that it would be as simple as pressing a button and shooting. But it’s not. Although we can get passably sharp results almost every shot, we still miss critical focus from time to time (if not more occasionally) and it is mind-numbingly frustrating!
There are a number of things we can do to try and improve focus when we are shooting, whether it’s shooting a landscape, a moving animal, or a close-up. I personally feel that correcting focus falls under these three broad categories of; Calibration, Settings and Technique.
The weather is going to be terrible. Just prepare for it. Absolutely bloody awful. Iceland is renowned for the fickle moods of its weather. For the island, weather is like a petulant teenager, blowing hot and cold with gale force tantrums and days and days of melancholy gloom interspersed by moments of extraordinarily beautiful sunshine. At least that’s how the theory goes. In fact in 2018 the year’s weather held pretty much to this pattern. When we arrived in June of last year we were greeted with 2 days of half sunshine. “Oh, you’ve seen our summer”, exclaimed a waiter who was serving us at the famous Ork Pizzeria. So, drenched and cold we visited and shot waterfalls and mountains, streams and extraordinary vistas in the drizzle and downpour.
I am admittedly stubborn when it comes to post-production. Although I am a firm advocate of continuously learning new techniques, I do tend to be late on the uptake. As is the case with Adobe’s Merge to HDR pano feature in the latest version of Camera RAW (version 11.3). For a long time I have had a tedious, but effective, workflow creating HDR panoramic both for my own images, as well as for clients. The technique has involved layering images and selectively blending them into individual frames which are then stitched together to form a panoramic. The technique was long-winded, difficult to learn, easy to mess up, but extremely effective. Then Adobe gives everyone the ability to do it at the click of a button. It seems almost like cheating it’s so easy.
Here is the new process in a few easy steps:
One of the headline features when Capture One Pro 12 (C1 announced earlier this year the ability to create luminosity masks and apply adjustments in a layered fashion to an image). This is a fantastic addition that means there is one reason less (potentially) to dive into Photoshop. It isn’t quite as accurate as working with luminosity masks and layers in Photoshop itself, but it is close enough that for many photographers it can negate the need for the fully fledged bitmap editor (PS).
It is quite an eerie experience when the silence is so profoundly deep that it roars in your ears. The vastness of space seems to swallow everything and you are left feeling tiny; insignificant against the towering walls of red sand that enclose the vast arena where you stand. Still and silent, the skeletons of trees long dead raise their boughs to the sky in a kind of preparation; a graceful slow dance with its movements in epochs rather than moments. Time slows.
Photographers who do a lot of landscape photography are well aware of the dirt and debris that can build up inside the tubes and locks of their tripods over time. It actually isn't that difficult to strip and clean a tripod, but a lot of photographers are nervous about doing it. Below is a short video outlining the easy steps to dismantling, cleaning and re-greasing your tripod to ensure a longer life and better handling. Enjoy.
One of the easiest ways to improve both the speed with which you work on your images, as well as your overall experience when working with an editing app, is knowing the shortcuts. So, we've put together the shortcuts that we use the most when editing images.
Yes, there are going to be some shortcuts that are missing from this collection. These are the ones that we use all the time. You can also see the full set of shortcuts that are available to Lightroom isn't as customizable out of box as Photoshop is unfortunately. If you want to change keyboard shortcuts you have to do so via the actual operating system (Windows/ Mac OS) by diving into System Preferences. It's easier to get used to the shortcuts on offer quite frankly.
The trick to learning shortcuts is to choose one shortcut for a tool that you use regularly and force yourself to use just that one shortcut instead of the menu item for that day (e.g. use the key B instead of selecting the brush tool from the tool palette). In almost no time a muscle memory will start to develop and you will soon forget how to find the tool through the menu (this can be equally frustrating though). Still, I personally prefer knowing the shortcut and not knowing where it is in the menu to having to menu-dive every single time I work in PS.
Below is a downloadable files for both Mac Os and Windows PC versions of our Lightroom Shortcuts that matter. Let us know if they help.
The hard red dirt feels almost like concrete underneath the feet. Despite the hardness, loose dust is kicked up in the air as soon as the hard ground is broken. Apart from a thin, barely visible line of clouds on the horizon, the sky is an open blue expanseless blue. Groups of men, their skin shades of chocolate, their eyes, lost under the shade of every variety of hat and cap, walk in conversation with one another. Herds of long-horned cattle, the famous Zebu of Madagascar grunt and low as they are coralled and herded into tight groups under the gaze of the elder men.